Grand Canyon Star Party
GCSP Future Dates
|June 16-23, 2012
||June 17-24, 2017
|June 8-15, 2013
||June 9-16, 2018
|June 21-28, 2014
||June 22-29, 2019
|June 13-20, 2015
||June 13-20, 2020
|June 4-11, 2016
NOTE: Volunteer spots for those arranging their own lodging are full for 2011.
NOTE: Volunteer spots for those camping for the week are now full for 2011.
NOTE: The free cabin at Kaibab Lodge is full for the week. You are welcome to arrange your own lodging there at the
lodge or at DeMotte Campground and show the sky if you like. Please just let me know so you're included in the information packets.
for one week, the National Park Service allows a group of amateur
astronomers to set up their telescopes for the enjoyment of the
visitors. The astronomers stay up far into the night, as long as there
are people there and objects to see, just to show the general public
the splendor of the night sky. Since 1991, there has been a public star
party at the South Rim, and since 1994 one at the North Rim as well.
These events were coordinated to coincide with each other, the dark of
the Moon and the busiest time of year for the public.
Sponsored by the Tucson Amateur Astronomers Association, the South Rim
has been a huge success with the public and the park personnel. The
North Rim event is now sponsored by the Saguaro Astronomy Club and
promises to be just as successful.
My name is Steve Dodder. My wife Rosie and I will be
your hosts for a delightful time under the stars. You'll find volunteer
and visitor details below, and questions can be answered by emailing me
directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
What Visitors Should Expect
This star party is for the visitors to the park and is included with
the price of admission. If you happen to be at Grand Canyon while the
party is in progress, you're invited to join us! We present an
astronomy-related slide presentation in the auditorium, adjacent to the
front desk. After that, you're free to have dinner, return
to your cabin for warm clothes, or just hang out and admire the canyon,
whatever you wish. As it gets dark, we will begin looking for any
bright planets that may be in the sky at the time. Once it gets dark, around 9:00 pm, we'll start showing double
stars, star clusters, dying stars, galaxies and maybe a supernova or
two! We'll stay as long as it isn't cloudy and there are interested
There is a tool we use to locate objects in the sky. It is a green
laser, and has proven invaluable for pointing out constellations and
where our scope is pointed. Please, do not ask us where to get one. Due
to the abuse of some, (flashing airplanes and even police helicopters),
there is a movement afoot to regulate them and restrict their use. The National Park Service would rather limit their use to our volunteers to prevent friction. No offense to you, it's just
safer that way.
The astronomers are volunteers and are not to be compensated by
visitors. The Grand Canyon Star Party North Rim t-shirts are provided
to identify our volunteers and are not for sale to the general public.
For visitors that have never been to a star party before, there are certain matters of ettiquete to be followed. In a public setting, they can be somewhat relaxed, but the closer they are followed, the better the experience for everyone.
First, the telescopes you'll see are the property of the individual astronomer. They are fairly sensitive to rough handling, so we'd appreciate it if they were treated with care. The eyepiece is not a handle or support for you. If you can't see anything through it or it appears fuzzy, ask for assistance.
Second, please do not use a white-light flashlight or your cell phone on the veranda. Bright light deprives the eye of its ability to adapt to the dark. Once you leave the lodge, just wait a few moments and you'll be able to see. If you have a red flashlight, or can cover your white one with a red cover, that should be fine.
This star party is intended for the public. We are
there to show them what it means to observe under a dark sky and
hopefully inspire them to get involved in restoring or preserving our
night time for future generations. If you want to observe from this
site and not share with the public, you are free to do so at any time.
Just don't expect to do it while this party is under way. This one's
for the visitors, with the incentive being a free camp site for a week,
really showing someone what a dark sky can show, or just for the
"Wow's". If you enjoy volunteering at your local school or science
museum or planetarium, this is a solid week with that kind of reward.
for this particular public star party has many rewards. First, it is
held at arguably one of the most beautiful spots on the face of this
Earth. Second, meeting the variety of people from all over the world is
wonderful to experience. Third, showing someone the night sky for the
first time is tremendously rewarding for you and enriching for them. I
guarantee, if they don't remember your name, they will remember the
view! Fourth if it's true what I tell people, that amateur astronomers
are "paid" by the "wow", I get very rich every year. Fifth, if you
enjoy making someone smile, this is your party. Even in the dark, you
can see them.
Star Party Parameters & Reservation Guidelines
star party is organized with the satisfaction of the general public
foremost in mind. Second in mind is the National Park Service and the
North Rim Lodge. Last is the volunteer. We are here for the visitors,
not for ourselves.
The largest limiting factor of this event is the
amount of space on the veranda that is available for telescopes. We
want as many as we can get, without overcrowding the visitors or
restricting the movement of the scopes. The number of scopes I came up
with is about 12, depending on the sizes of scopes supplied. Any more
than this can create friction between astronomers, lodge personnel,
rangers, volunteers and right on up to the visitors themselves. We
could fit a couple smaller scopes, like a refractor or two, but big
Dobs are generally at a limit. (I hate to call it a "limit", but in
reality, that's what it has to be, not by my choice, but by the
conditions on the veranda.) There is a site under study for limited
expansion if needed, but any expansion must take place through the
coordinator and not any other individual, club or group. The minimum
number of scopes needed for this event appears to be about 6. There
will be lines, but it's still manageable.
The next factor is lodging. There are a limited number of campsites
available-83 total at the North Rim as compared to over 320 at the
South Rim. Cabins are available when you make your own arrangements. To
keep things balanced, I need your help.
If you plan to make your own lodging arrangements, I need to know as
soon as possible so I can schedule you to make sure we have the entire
week covered. In 2008, we came up a bit short on the final night-we
only had 3 scopes and a couple pairs of binoculars. If you'd like to
volunteer for only 2 or 3 days, you must contact me before you make
reservations. I can then balance the schedule to cover the week. If
you're making your own arrangements and wish to attend for the entire
week, (or at least 6 of the 8 nights), I need to know that, too.
Volunteers staying in the campground have priority regarding setup
because it's easier to communicate with them. Once you're approved,
please inform me of your cabin number so I can get in touch with you if
I need to.
To be eligible for this event as a volunteer, you must agree to set up
at least 6 of 8 nights we are there, (if staying the week, regardless
of lodging). If you arrange your own lodging, I ask that you contact me
before doing so, so I can assure we have enough volunteers for each
night, and an even mix between week-longers and short stayers. If you
reserve a camp site or cabin for the week, and have to cancel after
May, you'll have to wait a year to be considered again. It just leaves
us in a bind for volunteers, and when there's a limited amount of space
available, one absence can have a big impact.
So, here's what I'd like to happen. Volunteers making their own lodging
arrangements will contact me first, between August 1, 2009 and December
31st, 2009. I'll accept as many as I can schedule to provide 6
telescopes on the veranda for the week, regardless of length of stay. I
really need to hear from you before you make reservations. I can't
stress that enough. People with presentations for the evening program
may take precedence.
Beginning January 1st, I'll take reservations for the free camping
sites, again, until I have another maximum of 6 telescopes on the
veranda for the entire week. The number of campsites reserved will
depend on the number of scopes available, not number of volunteers.
(Say you have 3 people in your party-yourself, your spouse and one
child. You operate a scope and so does your spouse, but the child does
not. That's one camp site and two scopes. See?)
This arrangement gives me some flexibility in reserving campsites from
the Park Service, and lets them get back some of the spots later on.
(They seem to like this arrangement.) And the sooner I have filled the
veranda, the sooner and more useful are the returned camp sites.
As a hedge against cancellations, I'd like to accept commitments from
volunteers willing to reserve the week of the party for possible
attendance on an "Alternate Volunteer" status. If someone has to cancel
late just before the event, you could step in and fill their spot. If
you're not called on to fill in, you'll get a complimentary Grand
Canyon Star Party North Rim t-shirt, and priority on a reservation for
Camping at the north rim is different than the south rim. There are no
hookups at all at north rim. There is no separate Trailer Village.
There are showers available for a fee, a small general store and fresh
water available, as well as a dump site and trash pickup. Gas
generators are allowed, but only between the hours of 7 - 9 am and 6 -
8 pm, strictly enforced. WiFi hotspots are located at the general store
and the saloon. Cell phone coverage is spotty, at best. I strongly urge
you to assess your camping skills and preparedness before committing to
a camp site, and be sure to ask me before reserving a cabin or room on
your own. Once you arrive, I normally have everyone checked in already, but you should check in at the campsite kiosk to verify your campsite.
The Kaibab Lodge Event is ON!
management of the Kaibab Lodge has agreed to supply a cabin for
astronomers for 2011. It's a cabin with two separate rooms, so privacy is enhanced from last year. Please contact me if you’d like to volunteer,
for one night, two nights, or even the week. If you happen to know someone you'd like to share the cabin with, that can contribute too, do invite them. So far, it looks like two to four astronomers will be plenty until the word gets around. I expect you to show the night sky to visitors, using a telescope and viewing through your eyepiece. Use of a green laser to point out objects or constellations would be nice if you have one.
There’s a nice, flat area
to set up, and I’m assured it is secure, (with a little improvisation
on my part), so you won’t have to break down each night. I don’t expect
you’ll have visitors very late, so you’ll be free to stay up observing
as long as you want. There may be some lights from the lodge,and perhaps the gas station across the highway, (I'm working on that, too), but it
wasn’t too objectionable last year, so you should be fine. I’ll most
likely join you for one night, as I did last year. If you could keep a
rough tally of the number of visitors, (or an exact count if you like),
it will really help promotion and possible expansion for the future.
You can drop me an email, or give my cell a try during or after.
Contact info is below.
Daytime activities are as they
are at the rim-do what you want, hike, sightsee, show the Sun or
nothing at all. (Of course, telling everyone you meet about the party
is a good thing, too.) The more you promote during the day, the more visitors you'll have at night, and the better the chances for an expanded event next year.
I'd appreciate it if you'd keep in contact with me about how the party goes from night to night. There's wifi at the lodge, (slow), so an email would work. If you have any suggestions, I’d welcome the input. If you have any problems with management, please let me know sooner rather than later.
Grand Canyon's North Rim Lodging
either of these events, you can contact me directly at my email
address, email@example.com, or call my cell phone at 602-390-0118. For more information
about the South Rim event, visit the official site of The Grand Canyon
Star Party by clicking the "Official GCSP Page" link above.
Coordinator, North Rim Grand Canyon Star Party
The North Rim park has a lodge, motel rooms, cabins, and camping facilites.
Outside the entrance to the North Rim park is the Kaibab Lodge.
Rim Lodge, Motel Rooms, and Cabins:
Forever Resorts now manages the Grand Canyon North Rim lodging (cabins,
hotel and motel rooms).
The main web page is now: http://www.grandcanyonlodgenorth.com.
Rates and lodging information: http://foreverlodging.com/lodging.cfm?PropertyKey=181
Reservations: 877-386-4383 (877-Fun-4-Ever)
Their web site says they offer hotel and motel rooms and cabins inside
the North Rim park from $107 to $146 per night.
* North Rim Camping - National Park Service:
These sites are managed by the National Park Service. From their web
Sites are shaded by large ponderosa pine and quaking aspen trees. Campground
is at 8,200 feet elevation. Ranger programs and visitor center nearby.
Bathrooms and water located throughout campground. Laundry and showers
near the campground for a fee. Wood and charcoal fires only in grills
provided at each site, dependent on fire restrictions. Sites are restricted
to 6 people, 2 vehicles, and 3 tents (or an RV). NO HOOKUPS AVAILABLE.
A vehicle which is towing a trailer, pop-up, tent trailer, a fifth wheel,
or a motorhome pulling a vehicle is considered 2 vehicles at your site.
Check in at the Campground Kiosk upon arrival. If arriving late, reserved
sites will be posted after closing. Check in 11am, check out 10am MST.
Off road camping or parking not allowed. Sites 11, 14, 15, 16 and 18
provide a great view of the canyon and are $25 premium sites. Note that
the North Rim is ONLY accessible by vehicle from May 15 to October 15.
Use the online National Park Service Reservation Center
U.S. callers: 800-365-2267
U.S. and international callers: 301-722-1257)
* Kaibab Lodge:
This is a private lodge outside the gate to the North Rim.
Stay tuned for details on this addition
to the Grand Canyon Star Party!