Black Forest Star Party 2001 (extended)
The Central Pennsylvania Observers hosted the BFSP 2001. Attendance was listed at around 400! Weather was great on 4 out of 5 nights. What a great trip! Everything was there for both visual and astro-imager. Here are some of my memories of the week.
- CSSP is an outstanding dark sky location.
- The new showers at Ole Bull State Park (about 20 minutes away) are awesome. I thought I would never say that a $2 shower was worth it, but Ole Bull is. Lyman Run is building showers, so the drive will be even shorter soon.
- Keynote speech by Ed Ting was just right in content and tone - Thanks Mr. Ting.
- Just about all equipment you could want to see was there.
- Could not meet a nicer group of people in attendance
For more details on the event and site see the official website at http://www.bfsp.org/starparty/
The Site: Cherry Springs State Park
The drive up from the south of CSSP affords this beautiful scenic view. The state park is in the Susquehannock state forest. It truly is a beautiful place for a star party.
Limiting Visual Magnitude: I personally did not perform a visual limiting magnitude. I heard others estimate some nights in the 6.6-6.7 range. The conditions were just fine for astrophotography:-)
Light domes: Only under the worst conditions can you spot a slight light dome in the area of Coudersport. There are no light domes that impact the site at all.
The field: The observing field is quite large and has a little more room for more participants. It provides excellent horizons. Electricity was available on the field courtesy of the Central Pennsylvania Observers and the local Galeton Rotary club. Thank you!! The growth of the star party is probably leading to the necessity to section off the field for a more efficient use.
I arrived on Wednesday evening and met Nick and Ken, both deep sky observers with beautiful truss dobs. My apologies to the deep sky observers, but for me, this meeting was an imagers dream. There were more imagers in attendance at BFSP 2001 than at any other star party I have attended. I learned a lot of new techniques. Below are some of the imaging setups at BFSP.
I did not get the name of this imager, but his imaging system was very impressive. A C-14 on a Losmandy HGM200 mount with an ST8 camera. The night we visited he had some beautiful raw images of NGC 6946 on his computer monitor.
John Varljen with a great imaging platform: an AP 155 with 4" focuser, AP 1200 GOTO mount, nitrogen purge, ST-4, and Pentax 6x7 camera. I learned many new techniques from John. Thanks!
Anthony Davoli with his Vixen 102 and homemade G-11-type mount. Great craftsmanship on Anthony's part. Thanks Anthony for all of your help with handiwork on site!
Fellow APMLer Warren Keller. It was great meeting Warren. He educated me on the use of the STV and twisted my arm to buy one:-) Thanks Warren. Another great imaging system with the Mak-Cas on GM8, Nikon F2, and STV autoguiding.
Best Views: I thought the best views for transparency and seeing were on Sunday night.
- Binoviewers are awesome. The best views for me were of M13 through Ken's 14.5" Starmaster with a TV Binoviewer. Don't remember the eyepieces, but M13 was spectacularly 3-D.
- Saturn in a Binoviewer. Again, Ken shared a tremendous view of a 3-D Saturn just sitting out there in space revealing all of its intricate details. Thanks Ken.
- Most intriguing view was shared by Gary Honis of an extra-galactic globular cluster associated with the Andromeda Galaxy. I believe the designation was Mayall or G-1. It was an observing challenge for me, but very cool.
- Dave Barrett always has the greatest views through his 24" Tectron. In addition to the Horsehead views, his views of Saturn on Sunday morning were simply awesome. My little 5" AP had some pretty nice views of Saturn as well:-)
- Nick helped us frame a photo object by showing us the Elephant trunk in IC1396.
- Gary Honis shared a great view of NGC 253 were dark lanes were very obvious.
- We had some tremendous daytime solar observing as well through Fran's 6" refractor and my TV85/SolarMax. Several flares were noted, prominences were changing rapidly, and sunspot rotations were noted during the course of 5 days.
- After this event, Cherry Springs reputation has only grown as being a great gathering place for observers and imagers. The Central Pennsylvania Observers did a tremendous job, especially considering the tragic events earlier in the week. BFSP is definitely a priority event on my schedule. I only hope to be able to get to CSSP more often than once a year. Clear skies!