This is the final set of notes to registrants for AHSP 2015. We have a great program set and the long range forecast is very promising.

This message includes new information and some important reminders. See you in a few days.

New events: The Events Overview has been updated with event details. In addition to previously announced events, we have these:

  • HAL observatory. Chis Todd will describe the restoration of the vintage Watson reflector and its recent housing in the Howard Astronomical League Observatory.
  • Occultation demonstration. Genevieve de Messieres will be our evening speaker on Monday, speaking about detecting exoplanets. She will present a demonstration of the technique on Sunday at 11:00.
  • Meteorites hands-on. Genevieve will also bring a selection of meteorites from the Smithsonian collection for a hands-on explanation of their origin and differences. Saturday 4:30.
  • Telescope walkabout. Bob Bunge will lead a tour of typical and unique telescopes on Saturday at 3:30 starting at the entrance to the Red Field. Contact Bob now or on-site to have your scope included.
  • Kids telescope tour. A tour by kids for kids of the telescopes they built or use. 8:00 Saturday — final arrangements TBA.


Kids programs: Summarizing activities suitable for or specifically for younger attendees:

  • Rocket launch or other kids activity (Sat 3:00, Sun 3:00, & Mon 10:00, depending on conditions) Includes finishing and launching rockets (when the weather conditions permit), and suitable activities for younger children. Parents need to participate with their children.
  • Durbin Rocket railroad                        (Sun 8:30, check with me if not already registered)
  • Geology hike                                         (Sat 10:00)
  • Skip Bird’s ‘Phun with Physics’          (Mon 1:30)
  • Hands-on meteorites                          (Sat 4:30)
  • Kids telescope tour                              (Sat 8:00)
  • NRAO behind the scenes                    (Sat 10:30, if already registered)
  • Loft of the kitchen yurt                       (open all the time)
  • WV music & lore                                  (Fri 4:00)
  • Alien worlds demo                               (Sun 11:00 demo, Mon 6:30 talk)
  • Astronomy Jeopardy                           (TBD evening, weather dependent)
  • SciFi movies                                           (TBD evening, weather dependent)
  • Solar observing & sextant use           (Sat 3:00, Sun 3:00)

Route clarification

On the directions page, Google usually shows a different route between Moorefield and Petersburg, WV than our narrative directions. The Google route continues further along the H-corridor, is rated as ~2 min. faster and 8 mi. longer than the route we’ve used in the past from the D.C. area. If you need a meal or shopping on the way, the conventional route goes through towns that give you a chance. We haven’t found anyone who’s taken the new Google route yet, so you can decide which way you want to try.

Health, safety, and comfort

  • In the rural mountain environment, we are concerned about fire and injuries. We have an Emergency Plan that you should review before you arrive, or print for reference. Luckily, the summer has been wet on the mountain, so the fire hazard is no very high. However, any medical concerns should be attended immediately, because help is not around the corner.
  • With the anticipated sunny, dry weather this weekend, remember UV protection and drinking enough water will be important.
  • With low humidity, it may get down to the 40’s at night. Get the coat and sweater out of the closet for observing, and the blanket for sleeping.
  • Shoes and boots: remember that both woods and fields are uneven, and even without rain the fields can be soaked with dew. Bring sturdy, waterproof footwear.

Raffle items and other ‘stuff’ you need

You can find the current list of raffle prizes and their donors here. Also remember that Hands on Optics will be present for some items you might find you need. Gary Hand is a supporter;  Skip Bird — who will be at AHSP — can bring items you might decide you want to see on the mountain. Also, we have an amateur astronomers’ swap table on Friday before dinner.


Richard Grauel will be the matchmaker for mentors and mentorees. Especially if you are new to amateur astronomy, have a new telescope you would like to learn better, or are looking for help in upgrading, contact Richard and he will try to find someone who can help you. And remember that informal montoring goes on informally throughout the weekend; if you see someone doing something interesting, just ask to learn.

Collected notes from former years.

There are two pages on the web site that summarize a lot of the collected recommendations from previous years. We have tried to make up-to-date for this year. Especially valuable for first-timers.

Planning your trip describes routes and resources

What to expect describes what happens at AHSP itself at TMI.

DVDs appropriate for evening viewing

We plan to let people watch scifi or other appropriate videos should an evening not be good for observing. Our plan to prepare for clouds may be working to keep them away. Still, bring a DVD you would be willing to share. Be sure that it is appropriate for the age groups that will be present – at least middle school and up.

Early arrival – sorry, you can’t

Every year we get some questions about arriving Thursday night, or earlier. Because of our arrangements with TMI and the need for volunteers to set up the entire facility, AHSP cannot accept early arrivals before 10 a.m. Friday. There are many public and private campgrounds nearby in the Seneca Rocks area and the National Forest.

  • Spruce Knob Lake Campground is closest to TMI, further up Sawmill Run Rd. by just a few miles.



You can still send questions to us at, although the volunteers are becoming increasingly busy with direct preparations for the group and themselves.

At AHSP, you can ask at the registration tent when you arrive, and will be able to recognize volunteers throughout the weekend by their distinctive lanyards.

Clear skies,

— Alan