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
There are some changes in the way admission to the park and setup permissions will happen this year. Basically, the fee waiver is eliminated and replaced by the Volunteer Agreement form. Specifics will be included when you volunteer.
This 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 space available on the veranda.) There is a site under study for limited expansion if needed, (see below), 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. Or, campers and self-lodgers if you like. 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, 2012 and December 31st, 2012. I'll accept as many as I can schedule to provide 6 telescopes on the veranda for each night of 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?)
In 2012, we held an experiment that placed telescopes on the trailhead of Bright Angel Point, also very close to the rim. I'd like to do that again for 2013 with a couple of changes. Security will be increased, allowing telescopes to remain set up for the duration. Some of the lighting issues will be addressed, too. The main difference will be, I'd like to get some volunteers specifically for this location. Two or three telescopes per night seems to work well. The reservation rules still apply as above. Self-lodgers interlaced with free campers.
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 next year.
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 2013. 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.