Texas Star Party noob questions

Texas Star Party noob questions

Postby joe-khalaf » Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:34 pm

Hello everyone,

This year will be my first time attending the Texas Star Party, and I was hoping to get some advice from the veterans in the group. Any answers are greatly appreciated. To give some background, I will be headed out to the Prude Ranch on Tuesday, and will stay through to the end of TSP. I'm planning on bringing my 12" Meade LX200 to observe with. I've also heard from others there are some essential items I need to bring that I don't currently have, like a rug/mat/tarp, a scope cover, and stakes/tie downs.

1. What kind of scope covers have you vets out there used and had success with? I want something that will provide adequate protection for my scope, but it doesn't have to be something that's going to last me 10 years. Also, should I use a weight for the scope cover?

2. I've heard I needed a large outdoor rug (recommended over a tarp.) Is there a an ideal size you guys recommend? I know it has to be big enough to have my scope, table, and chair on it, as well as allowing me room to walk around. What size have you all used in the past? Is there a particular type of outdoor rug to use? This might be thrown away after TSP is over. Not sure yet, however.

3. What do you use to tie down your scopes? Will rope and 10" heavy duty steel stakes suffice, or do I need something else?

4. I've heard some people say they bring two telescopes. I'm only going to do visual observing, so does it make sense to bring a second scope?

Again, I look forward to hearing from you veterans.

Joe
H.A.S. President
Meade 12" LX200GPS
Celestron 8" Advanced Series GT
Celestron NexStar 8SE
Meade Coronado SolarMax II 60mm
Vixen 16x80 Giant ARK binoculars
Vixen 10x50 Ascot Super Wide binoculars
User avatar
joe-khalaf
 
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 3:14 pm

Re: Texas Star Party noob questions

Postby chris-ober » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:15 pm

Something that reflects the heat and keeps any rain off is fine for a cover. There will be dust and not much you can do about that. Bring bungee cords or a way to secure it and not get blown off.

Your ideas of a tie down are good but bring extra and a hammer. Expect to bend a few of them -- you will hit rock just about every place you stake down. I used tent stakes and rope when I brought the G11. Bring some kind of mat or ground cloth too. I like the mesh RV mats. They don't hold water like a tarp. My first two years I brought two scopes and it ended up being more of a hassle and only ended up using one most of the time anyway.
0 .· ` ' / ·. 100
I have a high sarcasm rate. Deal with it.
include('sarcasm.php')
User avatar
chris-ober
 
Posts: 55
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:05 pm

Re: Texas Star Party noob questions

Postby debbie-moran » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:53 pm

Some use heavy stakes and a sledge hammer which makes it easy. If you don't have one, it is often possible to borrow from someone for a few minutes, but make sure your hammer is heavy. I have also made the mistake of forgetting to bring something to anchor my tarp which can easily blow around. Steve and Amelia bring a porous Astroturf-like surface that lets water run through it...great idea!

The vendors often have various sized thick durable reflective scope covers which are ideal for TSP as the days can be brutally hot and I concur that bungee cords are the easiest way to keep it on. If you don't think you can have a cover on the first day, bring a heavy trash bag and possibly some aluminized Mylar until you can get something different at TSP if available.

Years are variable there, but it can get quite cold at night, so be prepared with warm clothing. The snack bar is usually open til 3:00 am, but I regret it every time if I don't have a way to make a hot drink in my room.
debbie-moran
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:13 pm

Re: Texas Star Party noob questions

Postby bmenius » Tue Apr 12, 2016 11:40 pm

Joe -- Here's a different idea about how to fasten your tarp/rug to the hard ground at TSP. I have successfully used hex-head lag screws and large fender washers rather than spikes. They can be screwed into the ground with an electric hand drill and nut-setter (like a socket wrench) in place of the usual drill bit. Lag screws that were 1/4" x 6" (+ fender washers) worked nicely for me on the upper field last year. They installed (and removed) MUCH more easily that stakes with a hammer, and they were very secure. Obviously success may vary depending on the ground below, but I highly recommend them based on my experience. I used them only for tarp holding, but they should also work for scope tiedown.

Take and use secure plastic containers for storing all snacks/food. Mice will find anything you leave out, even in some of the motel rooms.

Hope you have more clear skies than we did last year.
Bob Menius
bmenius
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Texas Star Party noob questions

Postby rene-gedaly » Wed Apr 13, 2016 7:47 pm

A sleep mask and battery operated fan if you hope to sleep until 11 or so; mornings can get bright and hot depending on where you're staying. If you use printed star charts, extra red film to cover lamps in addition to using red light bulbs. If you use a computer, red taillight tape to cover the green or white power cord light. Red lighting appears brighter at TSP, enough brighter to prevent good dark adaption. A zero gravity chair to lay back and figure out where everything is the first few clear hours you're there: "My God, it's full of stars!" :D
Rene Gedaly
Membership, Observatory Trainer, Texas 45-V, WSIG
User avatar
rene-gedaly
 
Posts: 491
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:30 pm

Re: Texas Star Party noob questions

Postby buster-wilson » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:18 pm

Each year at TSP there seems to be less vendors. Get everything you need at HOME. Walmart in Ft Stockton might help you with small things you remember while you are driving west. Is a small hdwe in Ft Davis, a much better one in Alpine maybe 30 miles away. Scope Cover: Scope Stuff makes some pretty good ones at different prices. If you pick a mylar one put a large cloth or sheet over the scope first. Mylar tears easily but your handy duct tape is a quick fix. Don't worry about the saying it holds moisture underneath, yours won't be covered very long. No more moisture than a wet dew night at the site. Astrosystems makes a good cover too but needs repellent spray put on from time to time. I bought a C-14 size for my CG-11 for extra length and room. Extra nylon straps with buckles, get a handful of'em. Our astroturf stuff with thin backing has been to more TSP's than you would believe. I used to bring it home and drape it over a fence and hose it down and sun dry. Now I just roll the damn thing up and put it in a large plastic bag. Its always ready for the next time. Recycling Prude dust, sort of ! I have used the same 16p spikes with fender washers for many years too. Just enough to keep the carpet down so wind doesn't get under it. Tie/secure down your tripod feet somehow. Expect strong wind sometime, usually in the afternoons. Extra guy ropes for a tent too. Rubbermaid makes some good plastic boxes for dust protection. Your name on things may help them to come back. A real RED astronomy flashlight that dims. Red cover for electric charts if you use them. A can of "spray air" for the finer dust removal. And yes, one scope is enough for one week and there will be plenty of things left over to see for the next time ! Pleae ASK anything. Have some pics on file too. *BW*
buster-wilson
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:14 pm

Re: Texas Star Party noob questions

Postby buster-wilson » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:27 pm

Setting up on the lower field can be a advantage . . . . the yummy snack bar is a short walk away. Otherwise you may need to bring your own along. The influence of Hickory wood smoke, a little piggy flavor and some beef may just turn out ok. *BW*
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
buster-wilson
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:14 pm

Re: Texas Star Party noob questions

Postby joe-khalaf » Fri Apr 15, 2016 12:52 pm

Thanks for all of the good information, folks. It's obvious I've got some shopping to take care of here in the next few weeks. I'm not getting in until Tuesday, so does that pretty much mean the lower field is probably going to be full?
H.A.S. President
Meade 12" LX200GPS
Celestron 8" Advanced Series GT
Celestron NexStar 8SE
Meade Coronado SolarMax II 60mm
Vixen 16x80 Giant ARK binoculars
Vixen 10x50 Ascot Super Wide binoculars
User avatar
joe-khalaf
 
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 3:14 pm

Re: Texas Star Party noob questions

Postby rene-gedaly » Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:18 pm

In my experience it's the spots on the upper field that go first. Last year I arrived mid-week and there was still room on the lower field.
Rene Gedaly
Membership, Observatory Trainer, Texas 45-V, WSIG
User avatar
rene-gedaly
 
Posts: 491
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:30 pm

Re: Texas Star Party noob questions

Postby joe-khalaf » Tue Apr 26, 2016 6:23 pm

So, I noticed that most of the permeable RV mats I've shopped for online measure about 9'x18' or 8'x20'. Is this a good dimension to use. That'll be plenty big to accommodate my gear, but I also don't want to take up too much space if I don't need to.
H.A.S. President
Meade 12" LX200GPS
Celestron 8" Advanced Series GT
Celestron NexStar 8SE
Meade Coronado SolarMax II 60mm
Vixen 16x80 Giant ARK binoculars
Vixen 10x50 Ascot Super Wide binoculars
User avatar
joe-khalaf
 
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 3:14 pm

Next

Return to Star Party Link Up

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

cron