I attended another great star party in October, this month it was the 2016 Fall Staunton River Star Party. I believe this year’s fall event was the largest to date with over 160 registered attendees! I attended all 6 nights of the event. While we experienced quite a bit of dewing many nights and some clouds here and there, I was able to observing 5 of 6 nights, one night to 5am!
The host of the star party is Staunton River State Park in Virginia. As always, the park rangers and staff were incredibly gracious and supportive. The facilities are top notch with a well maintained observing field, clean bathrooms, a large meeting hall and food service available 22 hours a day during the star party. Check out the aerial view taken by another attendee:
One aspect that makes star parties so much fun for me is comfort. Late last year we sold our trusted pop-up tent camper after using it for almost 8 years. We purchased an A-Liner this spring and I have attended 2 star parties so far with it this year. It is quite easy to setup, much easier than the popup. It is also more insulated and thus more comfortable. With a 3-way frig/freezer, microwave, 2 burner stove, sink, heat, A/C, wet bath/toilet and a couch/dining area that converts for to an almost queen size bed, I have all the comforts of home. Add to that my outdoor kitchen with grill, 2 burner stove, gas powered drip coffee maker and I feel like I’m living the high life. Below are some pictures of our 2016 A-Liner and my set up for the 2016 Fall Staunton River Star
I was even to get in some good solar observing – there was some decent activity visible in the limb of the sun.
The first night of the star party I was plagued with equipment issues, not least of which were my cables from the scope were not long enough to reach to the my canopy that provided shielding for observations done via Video Astronomy on my computer. I was only able to get one observation in by the wee early hours at which point I was just too tired from a day of packing, driving and unpacking.
The second night of Fall 2016 SRSP was a bit colder than the first night but I was able to get most of the bugs worked out with my gear. I borrowed hunting blind loaned to me by a fellow Raleigh Astronomy Club member which allow me to get me closer to the scopes with my existing cables but still shield out the light from the screen. Clouds were intermittent.
I forgot to log details of the 3rd night of the star party.
The 4th evening of the star party started out with lots of thin clouds obscuring most of the sky. However clearing came and went so i decided to lay back in the hammock and check out the sky with a new set of binoculars a gentleman gave me for free…free to a good home. They are vintage Celestron 11x80s!
The last night of the SRSP and it was the public night. I had about 20 or so people swing by to check out by gear and look at objects. Mainly showed off the CPC 1100 with the video on objects like the Ring, the Dumbbell, the Eagle Nebula and the Sculptor Galaxy.
Here are the highlights of the over 60 objects I logged during the star party.
Clear and Steady Skies!