View Full Version : AstroCache Event??

02-09-2010, 09:10 PM
Just wanted to toss this in the loop to see if there is any interest in it. I haven't saw it done anywhere yet, although it could very well HAVE been.

The idea came to me a few nights ago, on a day when I had found a few caches during daytime, & followed that up with finding a few sky-treasures that night. I wonder if the 2 can be combined. I think they can.

In case anyone hasn't figured it out yet, my handle is a portmanteau of "astronomy" & "david". I am an extremely active amateur astronomer & have been for over 2 decades. (Cooder once thought the "dav" stood for DisAbledVet, which also applies, but that ain't it :) )

Although VERY early in the "brainstorm" phase, here's the general idea. A good rural location is reserved for an event. Right off the top of my head, Mt. Magazine would be ideal. But I haven't approached the Park Service about this yet. However, I DID approach them a year or so back about hosting a monthly star party up there, & they seemed highly interested. So I don't think that will be an obstacle.

The event could be laid out in 1 of 2 ways. Either starting with eats at around 4 p.m., then some evening caching, finishing up with yours truly giving everyone a guided tour of the night sky with the telescopes in my arsenal. I currently have 4, ranging in size from a 3" to a 12" computer controlled monster. I could easily throw in some other activities also. I hosted an astro-radio show for a couple years, & have been a guest-host for several star parties. I'm full of ideas & these things are really fun, no matter if you are a kiddy or a grandparent.

Or it could be a night-time only event. The schedule would be about the same as above, but starting at around dark. Rather than simple temporary caches, there would be 3 or 4 nice temporary NIGHT caches laid out for the event.

And too, if the interest was there, it could be done as a regular event like what we know, with an entire night section added to the end of it. Around August would be the best time. The weather would probaly be easier to plan around then. Something like this would 100% have to have a clear sky, no rain, & little wind, or the "astro" section would be undoable. A warmish night is also much more comfortable than what we might have at other times of the year.

I'm not going to get into any more details here, since this is just to initially see what interest is out there. Just basically, how many people would be interested in an evening or night caching event, with a mini-Star Party thrown in afterwards, chocked full of hi-tech telescope viewing, sky-stories, & maybe even a nice meteor shower, if it's scheduled on the right night.

Let me know. If it sounds cool to enough people, I'll start tossing around some ideas & plans. Others can help too. Don't be shy....I'm not. :) :)

02-09-2010, 09:39 PM
I was with cooder on trying to interpret your name.

I would love an event like this. I have fond memories of my Boy Scout days when we would look at the stars and learn the names of the constellations and I would love for my daughter (seven-years-old) to experience the same thing. I love Mt. Magazine!

02-09-2010, 09:44 PM
That sounds like tons of fun astrodave. I would definitely be interested in something like that.

02-09-2010, 10:01 PM
OH WOW AWESOME!!!! I'll bet I could even get geo-j to make a personal appearance for this! COUNT US IN!!!

02-09-2010, 11:07 PM
I'd be interested. I'm an amateur astronomer myself.

02-09-2010, 11:16 PM
I was with cooder on trying to interpret your name.

I would love an event like this. I have fond memories of my Boy Scout days when we would look at the stars and learn the names of the constellations and I would love for my daughter (seven-years-old) to experience the same thing. I love Mt. Magazine!

I am a DAV. I served slightly over 13 years & fought in Panama & Kuwait, where an RPG impact scrambled some of my insides up, took my left-side hearing, & shattered my left shoulder. I tried to stay in, but eventually had to retire. But honestly, that "D.A.V." part never even occured to me when I made up that "astrodav" name. I was actually taken by surprise when CptCooder mentioned that several months ago at Russelville. I guess I was just assuming that everyone was suppose to know I was David. AstroDav was simply the nickname I used on the radio shows.

And it's unique too, so I don't have to worry about someone else already having it. Curiously however...I was going to register the domain "astrodav.com" or "astrodavid.com" for an astro-website. Turns out there are at least two other "astronomy davids" in the world, because both were taken. I got stuck with astrodavid.NET. But I never did anything with it, although I do still own it & use it for personal reasons.

Funny you mentioned constellations. That's my main most astro-speciality. I've studied VERY deeply into everything associated with all 88 of them, their history, who made them, when they were made, what they represent, & the mythology involved with each. I taught myself to read Latin, so that I could better understand the untranslated tales written about them centuries ago. This enabled me to give more accurate stories about them on my shows.

But enough of me. I sorta figured this might be a popular idea, since it's so different than any caching event I have saw yet....and it still DOES have caching at it's core. The astronomy part is just a neat extra that we can tack onto the end of it. Everyone in the world likes looking through high quality scopes & learning what something they see every night with their own eyes really is.

So hopefully we can put these 2 things together later in the year. It'll be fun, I can guarentee that.

02-10-2010, 11:56 AM
Another great idea. This sounds like it will be a great time. I am sure there are many places that this could take place. One good viewing place was Hickory Nut Mt. I am not sure just how much room is there as it was dark when we got on top but the stars were sure pretty. These kind of ideas are what make this group so exciting to be a part or. Thanks for offering to share your talents.

02-10-2010, 01:00 PM
This sounds like a super idea, I have always been fascinated by astronomy, always like looking at the stars, without really knowing what I a looking at!
Hopefully it would when the weather is a little warmer..

02-10-2010, 04:17 PM
There is quite a bit of room up at Hickory Nut. It would be very convenient to the site of "Harbor Happening in a few weeks. I would love to see some stars and have some things pointed out to me. This has always interested me, but it seems like I always have other stuff to do.

02-10-2010, 04:25 PM
I hope you can put it together, I have have always wanted a telescope, maybe you can steer me the right way on a middle of the road one...

02-10-2010, 05:10 PM
Something to keep in mind though, in order to do this the way it SHOULD be done, there needs to be electricity. My big scope is computer controlled & the 5" has a clock-drive on it. Ideally, I would need to have my laptop there & I could give some basic examples of how we image through the scopes with digital cameras & CCDs, & then stack & process the images on a computer to make them really cool.

Strictly visual observing is fine too. But modern technology has made imaging VERY quick, simple, & just hugely interesting to watch happen. The scopes CAN be operated from a big rechargable battery pack. But I only have 1, they are expensive, & it wouldn't last very long if I had 2 scopes, dew heaters, & the computer hooked to it.

All this stuff can also be operated from a cigarette lighter. But once again, multiple equipment would run the battery down quickly. So you'd have to leave a vehicle running at least part of the time, or use just 1 rig to 1 piece of equipment, so there was little drain on the battery.

A generator is a definite no-no. The electricity they provide is much too "dirty" to trust with a mount which costed a couple thousand $$$'s. So in order to do this the right way, for convienience, simplicity, & max enjoyment, we'd need a place that we could arrange to hook up to electricity. State Parks LOVE star parties.....they do them on Pinnacle several times per year.....so they already understand what is needed to set one up.

But, of course, there's always just purely visual peeking through the scopes, story-telling, & using a laser to point out objects in the sky. That doesn't require electricity, but takes away half the fun & works the heck out of whomever is controlling the scopes. There's no computer to help out, so the operator has to rely on paper, charts, manual setting circles, & mathematics to find the targets.

But it CAN be done that way. Electricity just makes it so much easier & adds a ton of stuff to what can be included as an activity.

02-10-2010, 07:31 PM
I used to belong to a local astronomy club here in the River Valley. We used to hold star parties on Mt. Magazine, once where the new lodge is located and other times at the horse camp on the east end of the mountain just before you head downhill toward Paris. I think that would still be a good spot.

02-10-2010, 08:58 PM
Yeah, I had a couple places in mind. The horse camp was one of them. Another is the parking lot beside the visitor center. Only thing there is trees would limit how low you could view the southern sky....but you don't need to be looking THAT low anyway. And I'm not sure if they have 24/7 nightlights in that parking lot or not. I've helped host some parking lot parties when they showed us how & where to turn the lights off. If no nightlights were there, I don't think that any lights from the visitor center would bother us greatly.

Drive-by blinders might be a problem there. But I don't think we are really looking at an all-night hard-core star party here, with people trying to take 30 minute CCD images or finding those extremely faint fuzzies which require perfect night-vision. So an occasional automobile wouldn't really ruin it.

There are at least 2 places on Petit Jean which would work. I don't know the status of electricity availability at either. And at least 1 of them is also near a highway.

Either end of Nebo would work also. But since we would surely have several kiddos around, the nearby cliffs wouldn't be a good idea.

And it doesn't just absolutely HAVE to be on a mountain. A nice wide field would work too. I own a large hill-top directly behind my house that is perfect for observing....full horizon views & I have control of most of the lights that are visible. But it's not a good location for a group. There's no road that goes up there. But dew is always a problem in Arkansas, even with dew heaters on the scopes. Being on top of a mountain usually negates a bit of that problem however.

02-10-2010, 11:39 PM
Count me in. That would be Way Cool 8)

BTW, I just have a special place in my heart for our veterans, especially the disabled ones. I salute you for your service, and your geocaching excellence!

02-11-2010, 06:09 AM
BTW, I just have a special place in my heart for our veterans, especially the disabled ones. I salute you for your service, I second what cooder said.

02-11-2010, 10:49 AM
We are ready - what can we do?

We, also, agree that Hickory Nut would be a perfect spot. Plenty of room and definitely a great spot for observing the stars.

02-11-2010, 11:16 AM
Village Creek State Park holds a star viewing each year. It's always neat to get to see the stars up close!

Sounds like fun!

02-11-2010, 11:24 AM
How about the planetarium at UALR? Then it could be a daytime event. :lol:

02-11-2010, 04:42 PM
Sounds like a load of fun! My kids would really like it too.

02-21-2010, 09:04 PM
I've been approached by the team which sets up April's MOGA mega-event in Missouri to see about incorporating something like this into that get-together, since this years theme is "space".

One possibility we discussed ... they are having a cache-seek for kids, that goes from planet-to-planet. At each coser planet, they'll be required to do some type of simple puzzle to find the coordinates to the next planets cache.

The telescope part would be used at 1, perhaps 2, of the stations (planets). The coordinates for the next cache would be written on a piece of cardboard, a certain unreadable distance away. The trick would be to use the scope at that station, in order to magnify the coordinates enough to read them.

I have 2 smaller scopes which would be ideal for this. Since kids are involved, even though an adult would be present full-time, there's always a chance that someone would kick a scope over. That would be a mega-disaster with a big scope, but not much of one with the smaller ones. And too, the complex mirror/lens set-up in the big scope makes it difficult to use for terrestrial purposes. (The image is upside-down, flipped sideways, & rotated to a certain degree, depending upon mount position) The smaller scopes simply require a fairly affordable image-decombobulator-thingy.

And there will also most likely be some night activity available on the big scope & small ones too. This may not actually be scheduled, but just going on for anyone who wants to stay up late & wander over to the parking lot.

I've posted another thread asking if anyone was interested in teaming up for a MOGA trip in April. I'll also bring that up here also. The big scope, with all necessary equipment, weighs around 100 pounds. For pure safety purposes, since it's delicate optics, it's risky moving it around without help. And at night-time activity, especially with kids involved, there needs to be a full-time adult at EACH scope ..... I'd have at least 3 of them set up.

I'm sure MOGA people will volunteer for helping out, but if any of my local caching friends want to volunteer, that'd be cool. The event is on Friday, Saturday, & Sunday. Night-time viewing will probaly be set up for Friday & Saturday night. The daytime stuff MIGHT be some late Friday evening, but definitely Saturday, & perhaps Sunday, up to about noon. So there will be several sessions when the equipment will have to be set up, taken down, & moved to another location. I'll make sure to give you a 35mm film can to show my gratitude .... I'll even camo it for ya with Wal-Mart duct tape. :D :D

(Well, actually, I don't use film cans. So you'd get something a little more elite, like a Baby Coke Bottle :lol: )

P.S. I haven't forgotten about the actual purpose of this thread, the Arkansas event. But that really needs to be in the summer, so we have plenty of time to discuss it.