Explore Alliance Events: David H. Levy Arizona Dark Sky Star Party

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$ 119.00
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First Annual David H. Levy Arizona Dark Sky Star Party at Kartchner Caverns State Park

Schedule (Updated 10/17/2019)

Date Time Activity Who Area Notes
10/23/19 1:21 a.m. Moonrise Begins    Waning Crescent Moon 27%
Wednesday 5:11 a.m. Astronomical Twilight Begins      
  6:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Arrive and Check In; Pick up Registration Pack and Gifts Scott Roberts Kent Marts and Park Rangers Group Camp for Telescopes; RV Spots for RV's; Tent areas for Tent Campers Kartchner Caverns Opens
  6:33 a.m. Sunrise      
  10:00 a.m.

Orientation and Tour

Registration Pack pick up resumes

Scott Roberts and Kent Marts Outdoor Ampitheater  
  12:00 p.m. Lunch Break ADSSP Attendees Recommended: Bat Cave Café at Kartchner Caverns Bat Cave Café is open 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  12:07 p.m. Solar Noon      
  1:30 p.m.

Introduction and Orientation

Registration Pack pick up resumes

David Levy & Scott Roberts Outdoor Ampitheater  
  3:00 p.m. Lecture Mike Weasner Kartchner Caverns Discovery Center Theater Protecting Dark Skies
  3:12 p.m. Moonset    Waning Crescent Moon
  4:00 p.m. Lecture Bob Garfinkle Kartchner Caverns Discovery Center Theater Fantasy Flights to the Moon
  5:00 p.m. Lecture Jack Newton

Kartchner Caverns Discovery Center Theater

Breaking the Boundaries of Astrophotography
  5:42 p.m. Sunset      
  6:00 p.m. Dinner Break   Recommended: Adolfo's Taco Shop - 541 W 4th St, Benson Adolfo's closes at 9:30 p.m. ; (520) 586-2298 ; https://m.facebook.com/adolfostacoshop/
  7:04 p.m. Astronomical Twilight Ends      
  9:00 p.m. Lecture: Astrophotography Demonstration Robert Vice Ampitheater For beginners who wish to see how to make their first astrophotographs
  Night Star Gazing & Astrophotography ADSSP Attendees Group Camp Recommended: Bring portable power for your telescope
10/24/19 2:29 a.m. Moonrise Begins    Waning Crescent Moon 16.9%
Thursday 5:11 a.m. Astronomical Twilight Begins    
  6:34 a.m. Sunrise      
  8:00 a.m. Breakfast Break   Order Box Lunch To Go: There are no food facilities at Kitt Peak - Limited snacks and drinks may be available at the Kitt Peak Gift Shop
  8:45 a.m. Leave for Kitt Peak    Recommended: Carpoolers should congregate and park at the Walmart Parking Lot in Benson 2 hour drive to Kitt Peak (101 miles from Kartchner Caverns State Park)
  11:00 a.m. Kitt Peak VIP Tour Kent Marts and Timothy Hrutkay Kitt Peak Visitor Center  
  12:00 p.m. Lunch Break
  12:07 p.m. Solar Noon      
  2:00 - 3:00  p.m. Return from Kitt Peak      
  3:53 p.m. Moonset    Waning Crescent Moon
  5:00 p.m. Dinner Break   Recommended: Magaly's Mexican Restaurant - 675 W 4th St
Benson
Closes at 7:00 p.m. Call for reservations (520) 720-6530 - http://www.magalysmexicanrestaurant.com
  5:41 p.m. Sunset      
  7:03 p.m. Astronomical Twilight Ends      
  8:00 p.m. Lecture Ed Guenther Ampitheater  
  Night Star Gazing & Astrophotography ADSSP Attendees Group Camp Recommended: Bring portable power for your telescope
10/25/19 3:38 a.m. Moonrise Begins    Waning Crescent Moon 8.7%
Friday 5:11 a.m. Astronomical Twilight Begins      
  6:34 a.m. Sunrise      
  8:00 a.m. Breakfast Break ADSSP Attendees  
  12:00 p.m. Lunch Break ADSSP Attendees Recommended: Bat Cave Café at Kartchner Caverns Bat Cave Café is open 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  12:07 p.m. Solar Noon      
  1:00 p.m. Recommended: Explore the Area ADSSP Attendees Recommended: Go hiking, bird watching, visit historic Tombstone  
  3:00 p.m. Lecture Fred Espenak Kartchner Caverns Discovery Center Theater Eclipses
  4:30 p.m. Lecture David Levy Kartchner Caverns Discovery Center Theater A Nightwatchman's Journey
  4:31 p.m. Moonset    Waning Crescent Moon
  5:40 p.m. Sunset      
  6:00 p.m. Dinner Break   Recommended: Benson City Grill - 926 N Madison Ave, Benson  Closes at 8:00 p.m. Call for reservations (520) 586-2525
  7:02 p.m. Astronomical Twilight Ends      
  8:00 p.m. Lecture: Astrophotography Demonstration Robert Vice Outdoor Ampitheater For intermediates who wish to see how to take their astrophotography to the next level
  Night Star Gazing & Astrophotography ADSSP Attendees Group Camp Recommended: Bring portable power for your telescope
10/26/19 4:47 a.m. Moonrise Begins    Waning Crescent Moon 3.1%
Saturday 5:11 a.m. Astronomical Twilight Begins      
  6:35 a.m. Sunrise      
  8:00 a.m. Breakfast Break    
  11:00 a.m. Lunch Break ADSSP Attendees Recommended: Bat Cave Café at Kartchner Caverns Bat Cave Café is open 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  12:07 p.m. Solar Noon      
  1:00 p.m. Kartchner Cavern Group Tour I Kartchner Caverns Visitor Center Tour of the Rotunda Throne Room  Arrive 30 minutes early; See rules
  1:20 p.m. Kartchner Cavern Group Tour II Kartchner Caverns Visitor Center Tour of the Rotunda Throne Room  Arrive 30 minutes early; See rules
  4:00 p.m. Astrophotography Showcase Robert Vice Kartchner Caverns Discovery Center Theater A Collection of Astrophotographs with Interpretation of how they were made
  5:00 p.m. Lecture and Doorprizes Scott Roberts Outdoor Ampitheater Explore Scientific and the Explore Alliance
  5:08 p.m. Moonset    Waning Crescent Moon
  5:39 p.m. Sunset      
  6:00 p.m. Dinner Break   Recommended: Benson City Grill - 926 N Madison Ave, Benson  Closes at 8:00 p.m. Call for reservations (520) 586-2525
  7:01 p.m. Astronomical Twilight Ends      
  Night Star Gazing & Astrophotography ADSSP Attendees Group Camp Recommended: Bring portable power for your telescope
10/27/19 5:11 a.m. Astronomical Twilight Begins      
Sunday 5:56 a.m. Moonrise Begins    New Moon (0.4%)
  6:36 a.m. Sunrise      
  8:00 a.m. Breakfast Break    
  10:00 a.m. Sign Up for ADSSP 2020; Closing Remarks David Levy & Scott Roberts Outdoor Ampitheater  
  11:00 a.m. Packup - Leave for Home      
  12:00 p.m. Lunch Break ADSSP Attendees Recommended: Bat Cave Café at Kartchner Caverns Bat Cave Café is open 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  12:07 p.m. Solar Noon      
  5:46 p.m. Moonset    New Moon
  5:38 p.m. Sunset      
  7:00 p.m. Astronomical Twilight Ends      

 

The First Annual ADSSP event will get underway October 23rd and run through October 27th 2019, featuring special lectures from the legendary Comet Discoverer David H. Levy, world renowned Eclipse Expert Fred Espenak, iconic Astrophotographer Jack Newton, Scott W. Roberts Founder of Explore Scientific, Astrophotographer Robert Vice, Dark Skies Champion Mike Weasner, and astronomy outreach enthusiasts Ed Guenther and Bob Garfinkle. 

Thousands of dollars worth of door prizes are being supplied by Explore Scientific, Optolong, APT Astrophotography Tool, and Amateur Astrophotography Magazine. 

Every paid participant will receive gifts from the Explore Alliance, which includes a membership, an Explore Scientific Red LED Flashlight, a Wil Tirion Double-Sided Plansiphere, and a $20 Explore Scientific Gift Card. 

This is a very limited engagement to 50 people, so there will be plenty of opportunity to meet with our featured experts. 

Kartchner Cavern Daily Parking Fee

The State of Arizona charges for day use per vehicle (1-4 Adults): $7.00 each day. 

Telescope Field/Group Camp Site

You will have full access to the group site where we will be setting up our telescopes. There is 24-hour access to bathrooms on the observing field, showers are also available at the state park.

Telescope Power

Kartchner Caverns does not have sufficient electrical power at the observing field for your telescope gear and computers. Generators (including the so-called quiet ones) have to be off by 10:00 p.m. so, consider that you will be working off-grid. If you need power, bring your rechargeable power equipment. Explore Scientific offers the USB Power Bank with Red LED Flashlight.

Kitt Peak VIP Tours

Kent Marts will be your Group Event Manager. Perhaps for some of us it will be the first time to visit this amazing city of observatories. There are several things to consider:

  • We should leave for Kitt Peak no later than 8:30 a.m. Many of us will be in Benson having breakfast by 8:00 a.m. For those of you who have arranged with your friends to carpool, we recommend parking your car at the Walmart in Benson. Note that we are not providing transportation nor lunch. 
  • The tour starts at 11:00 a.m. sharp at Kitt Peak Visitor Center, and lasts until about 3:00 p.m. or later, depending on us. We will pause at noon, so you can eat your lunch that you bring with you. 
  • The drive from Kartchner Caverns is about 101 miles. To get there you will exit the Park or leave from Benson starting North on AZ90 to I-10 West to Tucson; Take exit 260 to merge onto I-19 S toward Nogales: Take exit 99 for Ajo Way; Continue on AZ-86 W. Drive to AZ-386 S; Turn left onto AZ-386 S; Continue to the Kitt Peak Visitor Center Parking Lot
  • Kitt Peak is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.096m (6,877ft) above the sea level, located in Southern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. This is an isolated climb in southern Arizona about 40 miles southwest of Tucson. 

  • The road to the summit, the highest point in the Quinlan Mountains, is called AZ-386. It is two lane road with sharp curves. Take your time and stay alert. It’s a paved and maintained road in very good condition throughout and there is minimal traffic the entire climb. The road to the summit is pretty steep, with moderate grades (6%) but some sections up to 9-10% .

  • This is a walking tour. Bring comfortable shoes. And be prepared for weather extremes. At 6800' weather can range from hot to freezing. Stay hydrated, and bring medication, including aspirin if you suffer from altitude headaches. Bring sunglasses, and sunblock. 
  • Fully charge your phones before you go. It is required that your phone is put on Airplane Mode for the duration of the tour because of the Radio Telescopes being used at KPNO.
  • (520) 318-8720 is an Emergency Phone Number at Kitt Peak for your use should circumstances arise. 

Kartchner Caverns Tours

We have two group tours on Saturday. We will advise you which group and time slot you will be in. Note that we will accommodate, but not guarantee, preferences as much as possible but space is limited for each group. Tours are at 1:00 p.m. and 1:20 p.m. Please arrive at the Discovery Center 30 minutes earlier than the tour time so that you are not left behind.

Cavern Tour Rules:

  • No cameras, cell phones, or video equipment of any kind.
  • No lights or lasers allowed.
  • No bags, purses, backpacks, or waist packs of any kind.
  • No food or drink, including no water.
  • No chewing gum.
  • Only a set of keys and a wallet is allowed.

If you bring in things that are prohibited, you have two choices: Lock them in your vehicle or use 4 quarters and lock them in one of the lockers in the Discovery Center. 

What is Not Included?

Note that the registration fees do not include hotel accommodations, camping fees (overnight parking counts as camping), or meals. If you wish to camp at the Group Camping Site, please select the number of nights (up to four) that you need (note that overnight parking counts as camping). Here are the other options for tent camping, RV camping, and hotels:

The two-loop campground is located off of the main road past the Discovery Center on the southwest end of the park. Parking and overnight parking/camping fees are payable with cash, Visa or Mastercard at the Contact Station the day of arrival, or at the Discovery Center the following day, but be sure you make reservations early as camp sites fill quickly. 

*Attendees that have prepaid for the Group Camping Site are covered and do not have to pay additional parking or overnight fees.

Getting There

Kartchner Caverns State Park is a 45 minute drive from Tuscon International Airport: Get on Interstate Highway10 E from E Corona Rd, S. Alvernon Way and E. Valencia Rd; Follow I-10 E to AZ-90 S in BensonTake exit 302 for AZ-90 E toward Ft Huachuca/Sierra Vista; Follow AZ-90 S to Kartchner Caverns State Park.

The map below shows the park and the areas that we will primarily use for the event. The group camp/telescope field is about a mile drive from the entrance:

2019 ADSSP at Kartchner Caverns State Park

Site Coordinates, Time Zone, and Weather

Star Party Etiquette 

Because this is a designated Dark Sky Site, no white lights are allowed. Red filtered lights are okay. Computer screens will need to be filtered or otherwise managed for red only illumination. Lasers are prohibited. Be courteous to your neighbors, this includes no loud music, loud conversation, etc. 

Safety

Kartchner Caverns State Park is a state park of Arizona. This is in the desert, where you can expect creosote bush, mesquite, barrel cactus, prickly pear, and other desert flora and fauna. You need to dress appropriately for temperature extremes. Open-toed shoes are not recommended. Bring any medicines that you think you may require, and stay hydrated. Don't forget sunblock, a hat, and sunglasses, and a basic first aid kit. Alert the Park Rangers in case of any emergency. 

Facilities of Kartchner Caverns State Park 

About Kartchner Caverns and the State Park

Kartchner Caverns Big Room

Discovered in 1974 and kept secret to protect its amazing treasures for 14 years, Kartchner Caverns State Park was named the number one attraction in Arizona by the USA Today Reader’s Choice Awards in 2017. This amazing “living” cavern system is carved out of limestone and filled with spectacular speleothems which have been growing for 50,000 years or longer, and are still growing. The Park preserves a set of ‘living’ limestone caverns whose known passages total 3.9 km (2.4 miles).

Kartchner Caverns is of Arizona's Best Attractions

A complex system of air-lock doors, misting machines and other equipment, are required to properly conserve the delicate interior conditions that allow the cave to continue growing while allowing for public visitation of its chambers. The park also includes several kilometers of hiking trails outside the caverns for public use.

Why was Kartchner Caverns State Park Selected for the Arizona Dark Sky Star Party?

Some star parties boast ultra dark skies (often very remote and isolated), while others offer astronomy in a unique setting that are closer to attractions that everyone can enjoy. We opted for very dark skies in a comfortable setting with plenty of attractions within an hour's drive (not to mention the Kartchner Caverns itself and the adjacent Coronado National Forest). Kartchner Caverns was selected as a "Silver Tier" Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association through the efforts of Robert L. Gent (1947-2019) and Mike Weasner through the IDA in 2013.

The site is only 30 miles away from the historic Old West town of Tombstone with four star hotels, colorful day and nightlife, and the infamous O.K. Corral. Benson is the closest with hotels and plenty of places to load up on supplies. 

A Designated Arizona Dark Sky Park

International Dark Sky Association Dark Sky Park

Kartchner Caverns State Park is the 5th International Dark Sky Park in Arizona! The facility achieved a remarkable 99% initial compliance with its Lightscape Management Plan, the result of Park-led efforts to substantially improve outdoor lighting codes at the county level and in the nearby city of Sierra Vista. Mike Weasner who promotes the many benefits of dark skies and the International Dark Sky Association will give a special presentation at this event. 

Astrophotography Workshops

Jack Newton Teaching Astrophotography at his Observatory. Image by: Robert Burdan

Available to all registered attendees, our Astrophotography Workshops will be conducted by Robert Vice with special guest Jack Newton. The first session will be for beginners, the next is for those who are already experienced, but want to take their imaging to the next level. Together, Newton and Vice will inspire you to begin taking images of celestial treasures and teach you how to make images you will proud of. 

The Kitt Peak Observatory VIP Tour

The Kitt Peak Observatory VIP Tour

Get a behind the scenes tour of one of the world's iconic research facilities at Kitt Peak Observatory.  This is a new, not-to-be-missed, all-encompassing tour intended for any group with a desire to learn more in-depth knowledge of the historic and scientifically important observatories on Kitt Peak. Spanning 4 to 5 hours, this tour will cover the entire summit of Kitt Peak. The program requires extensive walking, and most facilities visited are not wheelchair accessible. 

World Class Birding

Gilded Flicker by Bruce Taubert

Nearby Ramsey Canyon is a birder's paradise drawing serious enthusiasts from around the world. This area is a mountain and riparian habitat, with Hummingbirds, resident birds, and migrant birds. In all, over 200 species can be found in this region.

Learn more about birding in this region from the Tucson Audubon Society

Where to Stay

You will need to make your own arrangements for camping or at other nearby accommodations. If you are bringing your own astronomy equipment and want to camp near your setup, we have reserved the Group Camp Site for 20 camp sites. Make your reservations early!

*This page will be updated with lecture and activity schedules, star party rules, door prize details, etc. 

 

 

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