MAS / ASP Starparty 2001
July 13th, 2001

The MAS invited Universe 2001 participants to attend a star party on Friday, July 13th at our Onan Observatory site located in Baylor Regional park just outside of Young America, Minnesota

Thanks to all the MAS volunteers who contributed to the success of the star party conducted for members of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific on Friday, July 13th. Close to 30 portable telescopes supplemented the observatory's 16" cassegrain, providing guests views of Mars, Comet LINEAR and many summertime deep-sky favorites. Guests were also treated to a nice Iridium flare event, and enjoyed the many amenities of the observatory. The observatory, the MAS and the star party all received rave reviews from the visitors who represented astronomical interests from across the county.

(Click on any thumbnail to see a larger 1489x992 JPEG image)

Setting up


Setting up scopes

Paul Wright sets up

Dave Olmstead and scope

Chuck sets up warning 
tape markers

dusk

Setting up a dobb

Here comes the bus

Larson scope line

Food and Handout tables

Mars in Scorpius

Onan Star party

John Tredwell & scope

Stargazers and Scorpius

Startrails

Sagittarius / Scorpius

Larson Scope viewers

MAS/MNSFS Display Table @ ASP

My thanks to :

        Michael Kibat
        Chuck Jorgensen
        David Eagen
        David Olmstead
        Jackie LaVaque
        John Skorczewski
        John Treadwell
        Paul C Walker
        Paul Wright
        Peter Butchko
        Ron Schmit
        Roy Cameron Sarver
        Steve Korzenowski
        Thomas E. Hawkinson
        Tom Youngblood
        Loren Nelson
        Ralph Nelson
        Michael Kauper
        Doug Brown
        Greg H.

and everybody else who helped out with the ASP star party that nite. It wouldn't have been as great without you.

--Ben President of MAS


Where to begin? At the beginning, I guess...

I arrived on-site around 6:30 p.m. to find Dave, Ralph and the Voodoo Traveling All-Star Performance Team furiously installing cabinets. I later learned that this was the continuation of a round-the-clock work party that ran until 2:30 a.m. at Ralph's shop, included a 4:30 a.m. run to Baylor to deliver the cabinets, and, ended with an all-day session of installation. The cabinets. bunks and drawers are substantially installed (with a sliding door and a drawer or two yet to install) thanks to the tireless efforts of Ralph, Dave, Christine, Jackie, Chuck, John and others over the past several weeks. The fit, finish and functionality of the cabinets are testament in particular to Ralph Nelson's creativity and attention to detail that has served the Onan project so well throughout the years of his involvement. ASP visitors were very impressed with the results, as was I!

Even before the ASP bus left the St. Paul Radisson with tour guides Tom Y. and Jackie L. on board, we had a crowd gathering out at the observatory consisting of MAS members, campers and the general public (turns out that a local paper mistakenly listed last evening as a public night!). By the time the bus rolled in, we had over a dozen telescopes up at the observatory and another a half dozen (or more?) down by the parking lot.

As it turned out, just a little more than half the registered ASP star party attendees came out (in the neighborhood of 60 people). But, when combined with the MAS members and other visitors, we had quite a sizable crowd. Some ASP members wandered among the telescope, others joined Ron Schmit on the plaza for some satellite viewing (including a nice Iridium flare), while others just stayed around the observatory enjoying the displays and refreshments (thanks to Chuck J. and his wife!). Across the board, those in attendance marveled at the observatory, the impressive Larson telescope (which was behaving very nicely that night, thank you), the organization of the star party in general and the friendliness and competence of the MAS volunteers. All-in-all, our ASP guests left with a very favorable impression of the MAS. The ASP bus finally departed around 11:45, leaving behind a still sizable crowd of MAS'ers, ASP guests with alternate transportation and many local visitors.

We were very fortunate to have David Levy join us for a considerable portion of the evening. He shared views through his Questar telescope, talked about his experiences as a comet hunter and writer, and shared astronomical anecdotes with those in attendance. David and his traveling companion had their own transportation, so he was able to stay long after the ASP bus departed. (Tom Youngblood was able to hitch a ride back to St. Paul with David -- how was it, Tom?)

The evening continued on with all the participants relaxing in the afterglow of an event well-executed and well-received. Some continued observing until well after moonrise, others kicked back with an adult beverage or a cold soda and some freshly popped popcorn (thanks, John T. -- but next time, don't forget to take the plastic wrapper off before tossing it in the microwave! ), a few just stood around and chatted. Finally, around, 3:00 a.m. or so, the last diehards were staggering to their cars (from exhaustion, NOT the adult beverages!) and heading for home.

Ben has already sent a thank you to many of those whose names we were had from our requests for volunteers, but I noticed a number of people there who didn't get recognition: Michael K., Doug B., Greg H., the woman on the west side of the terrace with the small Meade telescope -- sorry, I didn't get your name! --, and several others. It's always tough to keep track of everyone during these events, so my apologies if you weren't specifically named. Your contributions are no less appreciated than those we were able to identify!!!

Every time we have an event like this, we learn something new about running a public observatory. Last night we learned we can competently and successfully handle a large crowd of astronomically savvy visitors (good practice for next year's NCRAL). We also learned that our organization is starting to emerge as a leading astronomy group not just in Minnesota, but in the nation. It is an exciting time for the MAS, and I couldn't be more pleased or more proud to be a part of it, along with all my good friends, especially those in attendance last night. Thanks, guys and gals, for making it a memorable and enjoyable evening!!!

--Mike Kibat


Photos by Ben Huset

Last revision July 19, 2001
by Ben
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