This is an update for those who have already registered for AHSP2014, to take place Friday-Tuesday Aug 22-26 at The Mountain Institute. We again expect to be filled to capacity for this extraordinary event, and the organizing committee is happy to have so many committed observers joining us this year.

This time, we’re highlighting the next telecon, registrations, apparel design, observing lists, and speakers this time


The newsletter is intended to highlight changes from previous years, and to give you hints and reminders about the event. Of course, you should go to the AHSP Website at any time to get the most up-to-date information we have. Chris Lee and others are updating the website, but retained information from AHSP 2013 may remain where new information is not yet available — the update status should be clear. Website tip: from the home page, when you click on a tab at the left, you then need to click on the photo to jump to the chosen tab topic.

The committee is continuing to host telephone conferences to answer questions from both first-timers and returning observers. The second telecon will this Wednesday, July 16 at 7:00 p.m. until 7:30 or so. The phone number is 703 349 9500 and the conference code is “AHSP” (2477). This will be a great opportunity to ask about how AHSP works, or to find out what is new. Please join us.

We plan on one more telecon (tentatively on Friday August 15) and several more emails.

If at any time you need to reach us with a question or comment, email us at <>.


 As of this week, AHSP 2014 registrations have filled more than 3/4 our self-imposed cap on registrants. You should encourage your friends who are considering coming this year to act soon.

The Green and Yellow observing fields are fully occupied, leaving the Red field. That field is designed to give the most users the best horizons; you camp by your equipment, but your car must be left in the separate parking area.

The caving excursion is full. Some space is still available for the other activities requiring preregistration, including the National Radio Astronomy Observatory tours, the Cass railroad excursion, and canoeing.  AHSP will have the local nature hikes and trips of previous years, led by a combination of NOVAC and TMI experts.

Volunteer opportunity

We could still use some Field Assistants to explain field layout to arriving attendees, direct them to the field for which they are registered, and help them understand the layout.  All shifts are still available.  Friday 12-2, 2-4, 4-6; Saturday 10-12,12 -2, 2-4, & 4-6.  If you can help with any of these shifts, please let us know.  You can contact Donna Blosser directly or reply to AHSP.


Site arrangements

Our introduction to “what to expect” at the AHSP star party can be found here.

 The larger number of port-o-johns scattered among the camping areas worked well, and will be retained, with some adjustments in locations to make them more easily accessible, especially in the dark. Of course, full toilet/wash/shower facilities will still be there. TMI is installing a new water filter system, to maintain the high quality.

 We will try to improve the system for dishwashing after TMI meals. Neither AHSP or TMI has had any problem with the sanitation of their traditional wash system, We will help with more frequent water changes. That should speed the process, as well as improving the perception of cleanliness. 

All of the familiar conveniences will be back: power, phone, & wideband data at the Yurts, hot showers & flush toilets at the bath house, home cooked meals by the staff, and more. ‘Family radio’ walkie-talkies are again recommended for communicating on the mountain.

BTW — many of the both small and large improvements at TMI have been sponsored by your donations, purchases, and door prize tickets through AHSP.


What’s new and different

AHSP already has a full agenda guest speakers for afternoon and after-dinner talks, as well as other daytime activities from Friday through Monday. We have invited favorites to return from previous AHSPs, and also invited several popular speakers from recent NOVAC meetings. Presentations include:

“Uncle Rod” Mollise                        What Goes There? (Saturday keynote)

  • Bob Naeye                                         The Origin of Everything: How Things Got to Be the Way They Are Right Now” (Pt. 1 Friday keynote & Pt. 2 Saturday afternoon)
  • Skip Bird                                            Skynet Junior Scholars (SJS); Light: it’s all Astronomers Get, or What to do When it’s Raining Outside
  • Guy Brandenburg, NOVAC             ATM Workshop
  • Harold Geller                                     On the Probability of the Nature of Extraterrestrial Life Forms in Our Galaxy Today
  • Alan Goldberg                                   Understanding the ‘Magic’ in a GoTo Telescope
  • Bob Parks                                          The Future of Dark Sky Protection
  • Greg Redfern                                    The Future of U.S. Manned Spaceflight
  • (TBD)                                                  Astrophotography Workshop

More details will be posted as the schedule is finalized under ‘Events Overview’ on the website.

All of last year’s member and TMI-led activities will return. The model rocket launch, a surprise last year, will be held on one or two of the days — well away from the observing & camping areas, and with lots of trained supervision.

Rules for the photo contest are being revised, and will be posted soon. Other activities related to observing include the sky tours, solar observing, and swap table.

Hints for observing and camping

The biggest variable year over year is the weather. Rule #1 is to expect variability: hot to cool, wet to dry, windy to calm. A rainstorm in the afternoon can be followed  by a clear night in the 40s.  Dress in layers, be prepared to protect yourself and your equipment from strong sunlight, and prepare your campsite for wet ground. The best way to get at least one outstanding observing night is to plan to stay as many of the 4 AHSP nights as you can.

The summary of hints we prepared last year remain relevant. We have tried to catch all the changes in updating it..



The shirt, hat, and other item designs are done. The 2014 design picks up motifs from the designs used over the past 10 years. See them here.


Of course, the high point of any weekend at TMI is the quality of the observing. We’ll discuss observing tips in more detail in the future. The help with your planning, John McDonnell’s observing lists has been loaded to the Web site. A guide to solar system objects is there, as well.

 We will repeat the battery shuttle each day, to get your batteries from the observing fields to the power supplies at the Yurts each morning and back each afternoon. The charging location near the yurts will be conveniently off the ground, to make connection and disconnection easier.

One perennial planning notice: start getting your dew-prevention equipment ready for your telescope, finders, and eyepieces. The clear skies at TMI frequently come with a lot of dew at the surface as the radiative cooling takes hold.

If you’re a newbie to astronomy, or moving toward advanced…

 … let us know what help, information, or mentoring you might need. Lots of participants like to share their knowledge, experience, and equipment hints with fellow observers at all levels. Based on what we learn about demand, we will try to hook up among birds-of-a-feather at the event. Astrophotography is a likely topic for informal collaboration.

In the meantime, you might want to look at photos from recent years.

Looking forward to a successful weekend in 6 weeks,

— Alan Goldberg, for the AHSP volunteer organizing committee.