Welcome to the second AHSP Registrant Notes for the year. We send a series of updates to AHSP registrants through the summer. This is to highlight what is the same and what is new at AHSP this year, and to provide hints and reminders as you prepare.

For more information, always see the website at <www.ahsp.org>. We try to keep that up to date on all aspects of the star party.

Where we stand

AHSP will run from Friday morning through Tuesday morning, August 14-18. When you read this, registration will be closed since we have reached the comfortable capacity at TMI. We think this is the earliest (6 weeks before) that AHSP has sold out.) <http://www.ahsp.org/home/directions-and-location/camping-and-amenities/>. Among activities requiring advanced registration, the NRAO tour, NRAO observing, caving, and summit  hike are full. Canoeing has one available slot. The Durbin Rocket train trip is still available; we have a nice large group of more than 50 adults & kids for that, but there is adequate capacity. If you would like to add TMI meals, you still have time to do that.

Apparel design has been chosen, and can be seen at <http://www.ahsp.org/home/ahsp-apparel/>. It’s a nice composite of popular themes from past years.

The speaker and activities agenda is full. We have a mix of professional researchers, educators, and advanced amateurs who will entertain and inform. You will see the tentative speaker schedule below. Some favorites have returned, and new faces have volunteered.

Contact us at info@ahsp.org if you wish to make additions to your registration.

Updating what is new

The volunteer committee has several ideas to improve the attendee experience at all levels. We are moving forward with ideas for mentoring and telescope tours. Plans are not yet final.

Mentoring. We plan to extend NOVAC’s successful mentoring program to AHSP. Whether you are new to amateur astronomy, or have some new equipment with which you are not familiar, we will work to find another amateur who can help you get started. John McDonnell, who coordinates NOVAC’s mentor program,  and Rich Grauel are the POCs.

Telescope tour. We will be looking for proud owners who would like to show others their equipment or innovations. This tour will include examples of various telescope, mounting, and accessory types, as well as individual amateurs’ innovations. There may be a separate tour for juniors. The tour may have two parts: a daylight tour of telescopes and their features, whether handmade, purchased, or a mix; and an evening tour or “open house” for optical performance.

We will ask you when you check in whether

  1. You have equipment you would like to show on a telescope tour.
  2. You would like help learning to make best uses of your equipment, and what h you have
  3. You are willing to provide help, and what equipment/techniques you know.

For 1 & 2, we will make note of your location. We are working on some means for identifying locations.

Astrophotography seminar. Bob Traube is organizing a series of talks on Monday afternoon which will cover current topics in astrophotography from beginning to advanced. The seminar will run most of the afternoon, from lunch to dinner in the Yurt.

Evening program. We are facing the fact that we rarely (never?) have four clear nights. As a result, we are preparing some activities for the evening after the last speaker. The featured activity is an astronomy Jeopardy game created by Cathy Bunge. This will be for players of high school age and above.

Bring along your family-friendly sci-fi classics, and we can share them in the main yurt using the laptop and projector.

We figure the more we are prepared for cloudy nights, the less likely they are to occur.

The AHSP program is set – plan accordingly

The presentation schedule has been tentatively set. You will find descriptions and bios on the AHSP website. We have a full schedule of activities from Friday afternoon through Monday evening.

[“TBA” means “to be announced”, based on weather and other conditions.]
Fri 4:00-5:15 West Virginia music and lore Carrie & Michael Kline
Fri 6:30-8:00 Hubble Space Telescope’s Greatest Science Achievements Bob Naeye, writer and former S&T editor
Sat 10-11:30 The Atmosphere of the Sun: what is it and how do we study it? Dr. George Doschek, NOVAC & NRL
Sat 1:30-3:00 Occultations with the ADVS Elizabeth Warner, UMd
Sat 6:30-8:00 Astronomy the Old Fashioned Way:  The Joys of Visual Rod Mollise, writer & blogger
Sun 10-11:30 Heliophysics Education Ambassador Program for Informal Educators Skip Bird, Westminster Astronomical Society
Sun 1:30-3:00 New Horizons of Pluto Dr. Harold Geller, GMU & NOVAC
Sun 6:30-8:00 Invisible Light with ALMA Dr. Sabrina Stierwalt, UVa
Mon 10-11:30 The Atmosphere: Astronomer’s Friend or Foe? Alan Goldberg, NOVAC
Mon 1:30-4:30 Astrophotography Workshop Bob Traube, John Sojka & Jan Wisniewski, NOVAC
Mon 1:30-3:00 Phun with Physics kids program Skip Bird, Westminster Astronomical Society
Mon 6:30-8:00 Alien Worlds* Dr. Geneviève de Messières, Smithsonian Institution
*also, a demo on detecting exoplanet occultations, time TBA
TBA 8:00-?? Astronomy Jeopardy group program Dr. Cathy Bunge, NVCC & NOVAC
Other scheduled events for the amateur astronomer
Fri 4:00-5:30 Astronomy swap table
Sat & Sun 3:00-4:30 Solar observing from the deck
Sat & Sun 3:00-4:00 Introduction to celestial navigation led by Alan Goldberg
Sat & Sun 3:00-4:00 Observatory open house guest of Dr. Joe Morris
Sat 4:30- NRAO observing led by NRAO staff (for those already registered)
TBA evening Alignment tutorial by Rod Mollise
Sat. 3:30-5:30 Telescope walkabout  let by Bob Bunge
Outings and other organized events nearby open to everyone
Sat 9:00-12:00 Canoeing trip led by TMI staff (for those already registered)
Sat & Sun 9:00-11:00 Birding hike led by Ian Carmack
Sat 10:00-12:00 Geology hike led by Lyle Mars
Sat 10:30-4:30 NRAO tour led by NRAO staff (for those already registered)
Sun 9:00-12:00 Spruce Knob summit hike led by TMI staff (for those already registered)
Sun 10:00-12:00 Durbin Rocket historical railroad departs Durbin, WV
Sun 1:30-3:30 Caving trip led by TMI staff (for those already registered)
Sun 4:30-5:30 drawing for door prizes you need to be present to win
TBA 8:00-?? Sci-fi movies (cloudy evenings, only)

Events specially appropriate for younger participants. For all events, the only limitations on participation are safety and attention span.

Fri 4:00-5:00 West Virginia  music and lore Carrie & Michael Kline
Sat & Sun 9:00-11:00 Birding hike led by Ian Carmack
Sat 10:00-12:00 Geology hike led by Lyle Mars
Sun 10:00-12:00 Durbin Rocket historical railroad dep Durbin, WV
Sun 4:30-5:30 Kids door prizes some prizes are reserved for kids
Mon 1:30-3:00 Phun with Physics Skip Bird
TBA Rocket launch led by Arlen Raasch
TBA Kids telescope tour
TBA eve Astronomy Jeopardy Cathy Bunge
TBA Exoplanet occultation demonstration Genevieve de Messieres

Being ready to enjoy camping and observing at TMI

The observing fields at TMI are sited so that everyone can observe at their camp. There is no electric power available on the field. There are port-o-johns distributed at several locations, and one point along the road where you can get potable water. WiFi may be received on the field from the relays at the yurts. Last year, some people were able to connect to AT&T cell service from the ridge, but don’t count on it.

We will again assist with a battery shuttle from pickup points on the field to power outlets at the yurts. You are responsible for drop-off and pick-up at designated locations on the field, and for connecting to your charger at the yurt.

Generators are only permitted during the day, and to the extent that they do not disturb neighbors.

We always suggest covering your equipment when not in use, because brief showers can happen almost any time on the mountain. Aluminized tarps are great because they also reflect bright sunlight, keeping your equipment cool. Experienced observers also suggest a tarp under your equipment, to help when (not if) you drop something. It is best if you arrange the ground tarp so that it doesn’t collect rain during those surprise showers.

See <http://www.ahsp.org/news/communications/what-to-expect/> for an overall orientation to the AHSP experience.

Other area activities

If you can spend time in the area before or after AHSP, there are several resources for information.

The AHSP website lists several area highlights here < http://www.ahsp.org/home/directions-and-location/local-attractions/>

The Monongahela National Forest includes the Spruce Knob – Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. You can find information at <http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/mnf/home>.

Local businesses have produced these brochures:

Opportunities to help

Every year, there are a few areas where we can use some help. One is for helpers at the registration table on Friday and early Saturday. Responsibilities include greeting those who arrive, giving them their registration materials, and directing them to the correct field. Contact Donna Blosser <fblosser1@verizon.net> if you can help with this.

Finally, the volunteer committee can almost always use a few more helping hands, especially for setup. Contact info@ahsp.org if you can help in any way.

Communications schedule

Notes via email. We will send more of these Registrant Notes through the summer, about every two or three weeks. They will be on the AHSP web site for future reference. You might also look at last year’s newsletters, as well. One future newsletter will make suggestions about preparations.

Registrant teleconferences. We schedule teleconferences for people to ask questions and hear what is on each other’s minds about AHSP. This is especially useful for first-timers, either to any star party or to this one, who have specific questions about how to get the most out of the weekend. The first telecon was June 10, and the second will be Tuesday, July 14 at 7:00 p.m. The phone number for the dial-in is 703 983 2020, and the conference ID is 869838.

Let us know

If you need to add to your registration, have special needs or requests, have any questions, have suggestions, or are willing to help, contact us at <info@ahsp.org>.

For the AHSP Staff,

–          Alan Goldberg