Thanks for signing up early for AHSP.

We like to communicate with the registrants over the summer, to try to prepare the first-timers and remind the repeat participants with insights about this very special star party. Every couple of weeks we will send you an email with notes about the event, reminders, and planning tips. As we approach the weekend itself, the notes will become more specific.

The organizing committee will also host call-in discussions about plans for this year. See below for more details

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact the committee at <>.

Last year, we were challenged by the remnants of Hurricane Irene still hitting the East Coast at the beginning of the weekend. Many who planned to attend were either unable to get away, including our guest speaker, Kelly Beatty of S&T, who “called in” his presentation from Boston. Those who did get to Spruce Knob were rewarded with glorious skies at the end.

First, we’ll give a status update and some news about plans for this year. Then there is a reminiscence of the 2010 event to give newbies a feel for AHSP.

[Note: If your email displays with plain text only, you may lose a bit of formatting.]


AHSP2012 advance registrations are already at more than 80% of capacity. Each year, we limit registrations to a number than can be comfortably accommodated by the observing space, parking, and other physical accommodations of the TMI site.

The scheduled caving on Monday is sold out. We anticipate adding another caving trip Monday afternoon — email to add this to your registration. If you’ve already signed up, prepare to get muddy! For the first time in many years, caving is again permitted. Unfortunately, it is not that the White Nose Syndrome problem in bats has been solved, but simply that human presence is not now deemed to be a cause for its spread.

Based on early reservations, we will again have a private car for the Cass historic railroad excursion on Saturday. This year, the NRAO tour will be on Sunday, and there is no conflict between the events. As of this writing, openings remain for Cass, the NRAO tour,and the overnight radio astronomy observing. The Cass trip proved very popular last year — in particular, we were treated to some extra time with the volunteer train restorers in the railroad shops in the morning before the train departed at noon. The Cass volunteers plan to be working again on restoration when we visit this year.

We are looking for volunteers to help with 2-hour shifts at the Check-In desk on Friday & Saturday. Contact Donna Blosser<> if you can help.

We also have openings for additional speakers for the AHSP. We are looking for a diverse range of topics that will be of interest to attendees. Individuals interested in presenting a talk should contact Bob Parks <> by July 3. The days that will have program are Fri-Sun 8/17 – 19. Please include a brief abstract (less than 100 words), what days that you are available, and the length of your proposed talk.

Other news

  • The first information call-in for AHSP2012 updates and questions is scheduled for July 12 at 7:00. Call 703 349 9500 and enter the meeting code 24772012 (“AHSP2012”). Call in with questions about the site, the event, or observing preparations; to hear an update on plans; or to make suggestions.
  • Prof. Dan Werthimer of U.C. Berkeley, chief scientist of SETI@home, will speak Friday after dinner on SETI and distributed signal processing. Make your arrival plans accordingly! In addition, “Uncle” Rod Mollise  <> has been an extremely popular speaker evening at AHSP, and will return this year to speak and help with telescope techniques.
  • AHSP has arranged for high speed Internet to be extended to the yurts, and we plan to have non-interfering WiFi at least in that vicinity. You have probably noticed the new and improved AHSP website <>, which includes features optimized for mobile devices. So the WiFi will not only help your personal communications, but we hope it will also serve for improved communication within the event throughout the weekend.
  • The major raffle prize last year — stabilized binoculars — was very successful. We will be do something similar again this year.
  • The photo contest will return, as well, this year. Combined with the WiFi, we expect that picture submission will be easier and faster.
  • The website has been updated with a sky almanac for AHSP2012. This should help your observing planning.

Questions and registration issues

The AHSP committee is working to update the website pages to the most current information as it becomes available. Take advantage of the conference call on July 12, mentioned above. If you have any questions not answered on the site, or wish to add items to your registration, the “magic” email address is <>.

Of course, if you know of anyone still considering whether or not to come, suggest they decide soon!

BTW, we understand that AHSP2012 includes the end of Ramadan and Eid. If anyone needs special arrangements please let us know.

Spirit of AHSP

While the weather on the mountain in 2011 was not nearly as bad as in 2010, we want to quote from a great observing report written by our own peripatetic Allan Meyer. Allan captured much of the fun and wonder of the 2010 AHSP. Judge for yourself:

AHSP Observing report 2010  – Allan Meyer 9/8/2010

I’d just like to add a little more here while I still recover. I’d almost have to write a book to cover all the incredible viewing !

The winds Friday night, and Saturday morning were fierce. But I love weather, so in an odd way this was icing on the cake for me. I enjoyed the howling wind. Bring it on ! My tent almost achieved liftoff velocity Saturday morning around 6am… I loved it !(being soaked in the rain Friday afternoon was another matter tho….)

M 33 was naked eye three nights in a row. M 31 and many other DSO’s were as well. But M 33 just stood out and caught in my mind. Through Phil’s 15 x 50 image stabilized binoculars the views were just amazing. Same with M 31. (spiral structure visible) M 110 instantly visible here as well. If my brain was working properly I’d have tried to hunt down globular clusters in M 31 with my scope…..

Seeing the spiral arms in several galaxies is not something I’ll ever forget. M 51 was awesome even though not well placed for viewing.

The North American nebulae was a perfect fit in my 8 x 42 Celestron Noble binoculars as well.

The Double Cluster was glorious !! Another lasting viewing experience.

The Veil (piece by piece) through Bill’s 20 inch Obsession along with M 8 were incredible. Made me forget how much I hate ladders. From 27 years of having to use ladders for work this says a lot for me.

M 8 was awesome not matter how I viewed it. M 20 showed the wishbone clearly, no filter needed. M 17 was stunning as was M 16. Who needs an O III filter in skies like that. M 24 was beautiful to scan.

My personal all time favorite and very first time to view for me was the Sculptor Galaxy ngc 253.I spent hours on it. A lasting memory. Stunning, with mottling all across the disc. My C 11 spent the most time pointed at that… Views that are etched in my mind.

There were soo many deep sky objects that were naked eye, and binocular visible it was mind boggling !! I spent the better part of Monday night just scanning the heavens with my puny (but quite nice) binoculars and was not disappointed ! I also did a globular cluster marathon on Monday night and saw almost too many to count. Amazing………. I then just scanned the Milky Way with my 16 x 80 finder scope. Almost made me forget there was a C 11 underneath it. So many objects were seen with others in the same field of view with it.
The rest of the night was binocular viewing. The most I think I’ve ever done.

Bob Noye {sic} and Rod Mollise were soo cool and approachable it was fantastic talking to them. Both spent time talking to people and helping them out. Rod spent time helping a new club member with his new scope, (Chris you had a once in a lifetime tutoring experience here !!) Bob spent time explaining all kinds of stuff with people.

The top of the cool scope list has to go to John McDonnell’s Lundt 152mm solar scope !!!
OMG I’ve never seen the Sun like that, the views were something I never imagined. I (we) spent many many hours watching the Sun work in real time. Who says nuclear power is bad ? I’ve looked through a lot of big scopes in the past 30 + years, but this one is at the top of the list now. You Da Man John ! To see filaments arc off the Sun, separate and then slowly vanish, amazing !!!! The Sun’s disc in this scope looked huge !! And at high magnifications the surface detail was something I thought I’d never see with my own eyes ever.
Seeing part of our universe work in real time, WoW !

I was surrounded where I camped with 20 inch plus Obsessions. Who could ask for more !

This Star Party was truly an Almost Heaven experience for me………………

Allan Mayer


For the AHSP2012 volunteer committee,

Alan Goldberg