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10/16/2013

Utah Star Party


Well, it's been in the books for two weeks and with a four day weekend for fall break, I need to catch up my blog.  I've been using Dicken's It was the best of times, it was the coldest of times to describe this star party.

On Thursday,  our friends Mark and his wife Sally got out to the site first with their trailer and set up at the site. All the comforts of home with a good dark site! Mat left before I did and got out second. It took me a while to load up the Pathfinder and I had it filled to the rim! I had to use my mirrors to see out.  I got out there third and the weather was very cloudy and cool.  Mat and I set up our tents, unloaded what we needed and then left our equipment in the car.

That first evening the sky did clear and Mat used his 8 inch dob and I used my 4 inch refractor to do some viewing. I looked at M31 and its companions; the Double Cluster and M13.  I wanted to look at the Veil but it clouded up and I put my equipment away.  At this point we retired for the night and I read 2001 A Space Odyssey in the tent. I was warm that night but man, the cold drained the drink out of me and a couple of times I got up and had to relieve myself. The first time it was snowing! The next time was late at night or very early in the morning and Orion and Canis Major were beautifully up in the southern sky with Jupiter near Zenith! Here are some pictures.




Here is my Pathfinder with a dusting of snow.  



My shadow (I'm bundled up pretty good) with my tent site. The dusting of snow has melted. 


Looking west from the camp site to the Sheeprock Mountains. 



Mat's van showing the dusting of snow on the front of the van. 



A closer look looking west to the Sheeprock Mountains on Friday morning. 




Looking south to south-east with a slight dusting melting off quickly. 




Above is looking west to south-west towards the Sheeprock Mountains on Friday morning. 



Looking south-west to the Sheeprocks again with clouds down low on Friday morning. 



Forest Road 006 looking north. 


 Here is Mark's trailer and my tent.  Math is beyond this behind the Pathfinder. 


Friday night Mark and Sally and Mat and I headed to the Silver Sage in Vernon so they could get something to eat.  I just got a drink and enjoyed the atmosphere.  Seems the Silver Sage hamburgers were the best to eat.  That night, the sky cleared off wonderfully and a night of observing occurred.  
The next day I drove the 4 miles from the observing site to the Vernon Reservoir to see if the bathrooms were open. They were and the reservoir was very low due to the on going drought we have here in Utah (though we sure are getting a lot of clouds and storm this year!).  



Vernon Reservoir Above



There is this wonderful open field (here looking west) at the camp site at Vernon Reservoir. Lots of people use the sites and they are first come first serve but a decent star party could be held there if enough people got out to take up the camp sites on this side of the reservoir. 




Forest Road 6 looking north as I drove back to the observing site. 

Saturday night as you can see here was clear and wonderful.  I got three sketches in and some good observing.  I was fatigued by the third night and found I couldn't observe that late into the night. By 1:30a.m. I was breaking down and loading up and getting ready to head home on Sunday morning.  On Saturday night by SQM reading at the site (average of 4 taken) was 21.69. I left the site about 9:00a.m. on Sunday and got home around 10:20a.m. I unloaded, showered and rested the rest of the day. I think next year we are planning to hold the 2nd Utah Star Party on September 26th and 27th, a Friday and Saturday, right after new moon. We may return to Vernon or we may look at going out by Notch Peak which is one of the darkest sites in Utah. The Wedge Overlook may be another area to consider due to the darkness of the site. I'd like to be near enough to Salt Lake so people will come out, but I'd like to introduce others to some other dark sites here in Utah.  Anyway, we had a great time, we got to know each other better and met new people, and saw some great sites! Not a bad 1st annual Utah Star Party. 

New Eyepiece Case




A couple of weeks ago I was in Wally World, not a place I frequent but I needed some camping supplied for the Utah Star Party and that was the closet location.  Well there I noticed they had a new Plano Pistol case with four sturdy clamps, two that lock (the front two).  It is deeper and bigger than the old Plano cases I had been using and more trusting in holding my Pentax and Televue eyepieces.  So I picked it up.  The price tag said $24.99 but it rang up for $41.99, the regular price. However since it was marked that way, they gave it to me for the $24.99 price, lucky me!  So here is a review of it before I put the eyepieces in it. 





Above you can see the case on an old observing chair that has been relegated to use with my refractor.  You can see the locking front clamps here and the nice yellow handle.



Here you can see the one of the two side clamping locks.  The upper clamp has to fit correctly, and then you can snap the bottom yellow one in place. To release you hit the yellow button, pull down and then up.  Very sturdy, very strong.



Here is the other side, the right one with the other clamp that locks securely into place.



I have undone the side locks in the above picture and am starting to undo the front ones.


Here is the case open up.  The egg carton foam is in the top and there are two layers of pluck foam. I only needed one so I have kept the other to use. 


Here you can see the two pluck foams in the above shot.


This is how I used the case now.  One pluck foam and the egg cartoon foam.  This case now holds my Pentax 20mm, 14mm, 10mm, 7mm, 5mm XW eyepieces. It also holds my 17mm and 12mm Televue Delos and my 27mm Panoptic.  Is it perfect? Probably not but it is sturdy, locks really well in place, is a good size and holds my important eyepieces. So if you want a cheaper alternative to more expensive cases check this out at your local Walmart. Warning. This will go away when hunting season ends.