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Grand Canyon Star Party, June 4-11 2016

Discussion in 'Star Parties, Clubs, and Outreach Events' started by Jim O'Connor, Sep 17, 2015.

Grand Canyon Star Party, June 4-11 2016

Started by Jim O'Connor on Sep 17, 2015 at 1:05 PM

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  1. Jim O'Connor

    Jim O'Connor Active Member

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    The 26th annual Grand Canyon Star Party (GCSP) will be held the nights of June 4 through 11, 2016, in northern Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park. GCSP is an annual collaboration between the National Park Service and astronomers from around North America to bring astronomy outreach to Park visitors. New Moon will be at the beginning of the week, making for interesting photo opportunities at sunset on the Canyon rim.

    Amateur astronomers with a telescope and love of the sky to share, and the interested public of all ages, are invited to experience the beautiful Arizona nights in an exploration of the heavenly Grand Canyon skies. Not an astronomer? Drop in for an unforgettable and fabulous vacation for families, singles, and seniors.

    GCSP will be held concurrently on both the North and South Rims. Visitors to the park are free to show up at their leisure, and observe through any or all telescopes. Astronomers choosing to set up for the event need to register in advance with the appropriate coordinator below. The South Rim can accommodate 80 or more telescopes, and we have not had to limit South Rim attendance thus far. The ten or so North Rim slots on the Lodge veranda, however, usually are accounted for by the end of February.

    In general, volunteer astronomers are responsible for securing their own lodging, and, due to the nature of the venues for both rims, telescopes generally need to be set up and taken down each night. Please see the North Rim site for unique arrangements for that venue. For the South Rim, we have space reserved for larger instruments, and a second reserved area at the entrance for live video setups, that may be left in place for the duration

    Web sites and contact information are shown below. Please contact Steve for the North Rim, or me for the South Rim, if you are interested in attending or for questions you might have. Note the dates on the two web sites below and some other information are still 2015 related, so please be patient until they get updated.

    North Rim

    http://www.saguaroastro.org/content/2015GrandCanyonStarPartyNorthRim.htm

    Steve Dodder
    Coordinator, North Rim, Grand Canyon Star Party
    53750 W. Prickley Pear Rd.
    Maricopa, AZ 85239

    E-mail: fester00 [at] hotmail.com
    Phone:602-390-0118

    South Rim

    http://tucsonastronomy.org/gcsp-2/ (NOTE: The dates and FAQ information on this site will be incorrect until the site is updated)
    Jim O’Connor
    Coordinator, South Rim, Grand Canyon Star Party
    P.O. Box 457
    Cortaro, AZ 85652
    E-mail: gcsp [at] tucsonastronomy.org
    Phone: 520 546-2961
     
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  2. Jim O'Connor

    Jim O'Connor Active Member

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    Here's a reminder and some major updates to the 2016 edition of the Grand Canyon Star Party. GCSP '16 is the 26th annual collaboration between the National Park Service and astronomers from around North America to bring astronomy outreach to Park visitors. The event is held concurrently on both the North Rim, coordinated by the Saguaro Astronomy Club, and the South Rim, coordinated by Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association. The level of public interest and involvement, and the opportunity to make major contributions to public education and awareness, is profound. Last year, over eight days and nights, we logged over 70,000 visitor contacts. Our speaker list on the South Rim this year will include several nights by Dean Regas of Cincinnati Observatory, one of the successors following the death of Jack Horkheimer on PBS for the Star Gazer series.



    First, This year has been designated by the Park Superintendent as "2016 Grand Canyon Star Party - in Memory of Joe Orr":

    https://www.nps.gov/...CP_JUMP_5151934



    The late Joe Orr participated in many GCSPs, as well as providing a portion of the funding to rehabilitate the Clark Refractor at Lowell Observatory, contributions and labor to develop and rehab many hiking trails and other park facilities, as well as supporting McDonald Observatory in Texas financially and being a member of the board of directors, and making many physical and financial contributions to parks and observatories across Arizona and Texas. Unfortunately, Joe passed away pretty young in late 2013 due to pancreatic cancer.

    Also, during this GCSP, the International Dark Sky Association will announce that the Grand Canyon National Park has earned Provisional International Dark Sky Park status, with much of the credit due to Joe Orr's and other major donors' contributions to the 2012 Grand Canyon Association Dark Skies Project.



    Finally, we've had a web site overhaul. General information regarding South Rim GCSP, including lodging links, is now found at

    http://tucsonastrono...yon-star-party/



    Please let me know if you're interested in supporting this exciting and

    extremely rewarding event for one night, eight nights, or anything in between!
     
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  3. george

    george Developer

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    Great stuff Jim thanks for the update, I know I was looking to goto this if I get the chance. Maybe setup a road trip with the family :)
     
  4. Jim O'Connor

    Jim O'Connor Active Member

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    Great, George. I hope you can make it some time with your family, either as a volunteer astronomer, or a visitor. I often tell astronomers wondering which choice to make that sometimes it's more fun to look through 15 or 20 of the 60 or more scopes we set up each night rather than spend time at your own scope with a couple of hundred visitors.

    Usually, we run about 60 scopes and 1450 or more visitors a night. Each visitor looks through about 7 telescopes each, and we end up with over 75,000 total contacts for the 8 night week.

    If anyone has questions, just ask or check the links above. If you want to be a volunteer astronomer, it's best to plan earlier in the year so you can arrange accommodations, although if you like rough, dry camping we have some sites the park lets us use for astronomers who commit to at least 6 of the 8 nights.

    We put the party in star party!
     
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  5. Jim O'Connor

    Jim O'Connor Active Member

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    It's been over two months since the spectacular event, and I thought I'd post the Thank You note I sent out to the volunteers for whom I had an email address.

    Grand Canyon Star Party Volunteers,

    I am sending my personal thanks for all your efforts, and to thank you all for how well everything came out. I’ll apologize for being somewhat late in getting this out; some of you know I had short-notice heart surgery four days after GCSP, and rehab is as good an excuse as any for the delay. All is going great, however, so call it luck of the Irish.

    This was an extremely special event, with the International Dark Sky Association designating Grand Canyon National Park as a Provisional International Dark Sky Park. There are now three years to complete the modifications for full status, which will correspond with the 2019 100th Anniversary of the Grand Canyon National Park. All of the volunteers at GCSPs over the 26 years played a role in this award, accomplishing an essential education and environmental awareness function that goes into the award determination. Well Done, everyone!

    CBS Morning News recognized this noteworthy event with a feature on Dark Skies along with the IDA award to GCNP. If you missed the showing of the news feature on August 12, you can view it at:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/grand-canyon-star-party-dark-sky-designation

    or on YouTube at

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3NpqDu__Cw

    It focuses attention on dark skies including video of a night at GCSP, and interviews with Ranger Rader Lane, IDA Program Director John Barrentine, and a great personal touch by our own astronomer volunteer Marina Corrieri.

    Mike Magras has established a Dropbox picture sharing site to post or view GCSP photos: https://www.dropbox.com/home/GCSP 2016, or contact Mike at mike@sargamites.net)

    I have to thank the NPS for all of the support before and during the event; Ranger Marker Marshall's exceptional coordination and behind the scenes arrangements and patience with my fumbling efforts, Rangers Mike Weaver, Ty Korlovetz and Rader Lane for their great assistance, and especially my grandkids Karina and Stephen who always looked for more to do, to help move things along.

    The weather was less favorable than recent years, but we set a record for volunteers at well over 120 astronomers, so the total contacts we accomplished will again be impressive. Our A-Team of outreach practitioners from around North America, England, and France made thousands of people aware of their universe, and touched a lot of people's lives.

    Special thanks to Kevin LeGore, founder and director of Focus Astronomy who arranged the donations of eight Celestron First Scopes to the Grand Canyon Association, which we awarded to eight young visitors at drawings at the end of the night theater talks.

    I really need to thank Mae Smith and Dr. Mary Turner for the special day time hands-on demonstrations of Space Rocks they did in front of the Visitor Center. What a great, personal interaction with the visitors! And thanks to all of you who set up during the day around the park with solar and planetary observing and spread the word of the night activities.

    Thanks also to our evening speakers. Each talk was a unique look at the night sky, from our place in the universe, wise lighting and light use, the inner workings of stars and their signatures, how eclipses occur and how and where to view the American Eclipse of 2017, personal interaction with the night skies, the starry nights of the Grand Canyon, and the unification of astral and geological effects and using several forms of light to compose striking images.

    Thanks again to Gary Fix (www.garytheastronomer.com) from Massachusetts, who once again presented his daily sextant lessons at the visitor center, then nightly set up with us out back and presented his study of Italian cathedrals their architectural demonstration of True North.

    Thanks also to George Barber and all of you helpers for all the effort to continue our traditional Thursday huevos rancheros breakfast!

    Finally, special gratitude to Mae Smith, who not only arranged the design contest, inventory purchase, and sales of this year’s GCSP T-Shirts, but also volunteered to be our point of contact in Mather Campground. Thanks VERY much, Mae!

    Once again, we left the Grand Canyon charged up for next year, June 17-24, 2017. THANK YOU ALL!!
     
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