Cass Mountain Scenic Railroad
Bald Knob Run
Saturday, September 7, 2013
[The following information is for the 2012 event. New information for 2013 will be entered soon!]
- Train departs at noon; meet on outdoor deck at 8:15 am (early cars) to 10:15 am (latest) for carpools.
Based on members’ suggestions and and a successful previous outings, we have added a field trip to the Cass Scenic Railroad as a daylight activity on Saturday. Fortunately, it does not conflict with the NRAO tour, so you do not have to choose this year. AHSP has reserved a private car for the 4½ hour trip to Bald Knob at 4800 ft, with historical stops along the way. Definitely a family activity, for any weather. We plan a picnic lunch of sandwiches at the summit stop on the way — more flexibility in choices, and less waste than last year.
Tickets for the train ride, the historical sites, and lunch are $40 for adults and $20 for children. This activity is limited to the railcar capacity. Cass is about an hour south of TMI, just beyond NRAO. We will be back in time for the TMI dinner and evening program.
Bob Bunge wrote in 2010: “Cass is unique and very much a treasure of mountain history and culture (much like TMI). It has the largest operating fleet of geared locomotives in the US. One of their locomotives, Western Maryland #6 is the largest Shay type locomotive ever made.
“The trip up the mountain features steep, steep grades; at some points, there are “switch backs” where the train will stop, backup and move forward again since there either isn’t room or the grades would be too steep even for the geared locomotives. The engines work very hard up the mountain, if you are into anything industrial and enjoy sound, the combination of the different noises, the roar of the exhaust, the steam whistle and screech of the wheels is a real treat.”
Last year, volunteer restorers showed us and discussed their work restoring and maintaining the Cass locomotives. It was a highlight of the day. The restorers have set their work schedule for the summer, and they will be working with the shops open on our visit day.
Volunteer carpools will meet on Saturday morning on the deck after breakfast. Those who wish to be at Cass for the Locomotive Works tour should be prepared to leave TMI by 8:15 for a 9:30 arrival. Those who are going for the train ride only should be prepared to leave TMI by 10:15 for 11:30 arrival. Leaving in between will give you some time to explore the town around the Cass depot. We ask that carpools leave right after the train returns, so that we will be back to AHSP in time for TMI dinner and evening activities at 6:00.
A guided tour of the former paper mill and the current rail yard will leave from the flagpole at 9:45.
Our current plan to is to have a do-it-yourself picnic lunch of cold sandwiches and sides at the Bald Knob summit stop. Those who have registered for the Cass trip were sent a form requesting lunch preferences, and asking about carpooling arrangements (offer/need/have a ride, departure time), so that we can make best possible advanced plans to accommodate everyone. Lunch suggestions will needed to be received by Friday, 10 August.
Because we expect a full house this year, those who wish can make their sandwiches before we depart from Cass. We will set up just for sandwich making at the picnic shelter at the far end of the parking lot. The sandwich line will also be set up at the summit stop, as well as drinks and sides. Some snacks will be on the train, we we are not yet sure how accessible they will be while we are between stops.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
NRAO: Behind-the-scenes Tour
Sunday, September 8, 2013 – Meet on outdoor deck at 10:30 to form carpools for noon departure.
The tour will be a “behind-the-scenes” tour, so participants will get to visit labs and the telescope control room —locations that are normally off-limits to the public!
Hands-on Radio Astronomy
Sunday, September 8, 2013 overnight
We have arranged for access to NRAO’s 40-foot educational dish on this evening. Participants will stay overnight at NRAO and return the next morning. No prior radioastronomy experience is required; NRAO will provide instruction and support. Space is very limited!
If you’re going on the Behind-the-Scenes Tour, you’ll simply stay at NRAO following the conclusion of the tour. Otherwise, you should plan to be on-site at NRAO by 3:45 p.m.
If you will be observing using NRAO’s 40-foot educational dish, you may wish to look over the observing manual before you arrive at AHSP. Here is a pdf copy of The 40-Foot Observer’s Manual.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Cameras are welcome at NRAO. In order to prevent radio-frequency interference to observations in progress, the observatory prohibits the use of digital cameras (and electronics-laden film cameras) in some locations close to the telescopes. Bring a simple film camera if you’d like to get some pictures up close to the instruments.
Events and Speakers – Info Still to come for 2013!
Saturday, September 7, 2013, 4:00-5:30 pm on the Yurt deck
Bring your astronomy, observing, or space-related items to sell. Bring your cash to get those items you need. Bring more cash for the items you want. Bring even more to get items you didn’t even know exist.
All transactions will be simply private between buyers and sellers. Sellers should stay with their items as long as they are on display.
Informal Visual Observing Workshop
Evenings, Saturday through Monday. Meet at Donna’s location on the Yellow Observing Field (look for the red marker light).
Donna will be available every night at dusk to chat with beginners on a variety of observing topics. This informal get-together could cover anything from how to locate and recognize deep sky objects, types of objects to observe, tips on seeing faint objects, etc. Beginners questions will steer the topics discussed. Drop by for a short while or stay until the chat winds up for the evening. This is informal! Appropriate for observers of all experience levels.
Saturday [tentative] at 8:30 pm on the Yurt deck
Achieving imaging-quality polar alignment is not as hard as it sounds. Come to this always-popular workshop and learn all you need to know to master polar alignment.
Other on-field activities schedule pending, and will be subject to sky conditions.
Outdoor Events – Updated for 2013, more details to come!
Saturday & Sunday, September 7 & 8, 2013 at 9:00 am
Whether you are a seasoned birdwatcher or a casual observer you are sure to enjoy one of our two birdwatching sessions. Don’t miss this opportunity to see what West Virginia has to offer this time around. It will be later in the season and we expect cooler-climate populations to delight us with a visit.
Birdwatching sessions will occur Saturday and Sunday morning right after breakfast, weather permitting.
Bring binoculars if you have them. We will be walking through some uncut grass, so shoes (boots) that can withstand some dew may be a good idea.
Saturday or Sunday, September 7 or 8, 2013 at [later morning]
This is a fascinating hike for those interested in learning more about the geology of the Spruce Knob region. No prior knowledge of geology needed.
Summit Hike and Canoeing
Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 9:00 am.
The Mountain Institute Staff
The Mountain Institute’s staff will lead two prime outdoors activities for the area: a Spruce Knob summit hike and a canoeing trip. Both will depart from the Yurt deck at 9:00 on Sunday
The Mountain Institute Staff
The Mountain Institute’s staff will lead a Spruce Knob botany hike, presenting the plants and natural history of the local area.
Caving … is back!
Monday, September 9, 2013 at 9:00 am & 1:00 pm
The Mountain Institute Staff
The Mountain Institute’s staff will lead a trip to a local Shenandoah cave. After many years of caves being closed for fear of spreading White Nose Syndrome in bats, it has been determined that caving is not a contributing factor. TMI staff will lead two caving trips on Monday. Prepare to get muddy!
AHSP Photo Competition
Organized by Chris Lee
Judged by Arlen Raasch and Kathryn Scott
Here are the basic rules:
1) Photos will be accepted in one of the four following catagories:
- Solar system photos
- Deep space photos
- AHSP event photos (including AHSP sponsored activities, e.g. Cass Scenic Railroad, NRAO Tour, geology hike, etc.)
- Youth photos (photos taken by a person 12 years old or younger)
2) Photos must be submitted in jpg or png format and must be loaded by the entrant via their media (thumb drive or compact media). There will be a laptop in the presentation yurt to use to upload your photos or you can use the form from your own computer.
3) Photos must be taken during the current AHSP event.
4) Photos are to be taken at The Mountain Institute or one of the AHSP sponsored activity locations.
5) Each person submitting photo contest entries must be a current AHSP registrant, and may submit up to a total of ten photos to be judged.
6) All rights to the photos will be retained by the person creating the photo. Each person may elect to allow their photos to be used to promote future AHSP events.
7) The prizes which will be awarded to the photographers will be announced at AHSP.
8) Photos can be submitted from Saturday on and the deadline for photo entries is 8:30 am on Monday.
9) The prizes will be awarded on Monday, before dinner (5pm).
Additional details on where and when to submit photo entries will be posted at AHSP.
AHSP is bringing back its raffle this year.
- There will be one special item, limited to one entry per AHSP registrant.
- Attendees will receive several regular raffle tickets with registration, and can buy more.
- Extra tickets will be given to children who are attending, and which can be used exclusively to enter for items appropriate to their ages.
- The raffle drawing will be Sunday before dinner.
- One “trustee” volunteer will hold tickets for those who are away at the NRAO overnight observing. All others must be present to win.
[Details subject to adjustment.]
- Each adult registrant will be given blue tickets, which can be used for the special raffle item, or general items.
- Each child registrant will be given yellow tickets, which can be used for children’s items, or general items.
- Each registrant will be given red tickets, and can buy more red tickets, which can be used to enter for general items.
All events, times and dates are subject to change based on sky conditions and other factors.