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HAS Dark Site Orientation

HAS Dark Site Orientation

HAS Dark Site Orientation

Other Decks in Science


  1. For Members & Guests only ✴ The HAS Dark Site

    location is intended to provide members and their guests with a dark location for astronomical observation. ✴ It is located well outside the majority of the light dome of Houston and its suburbs. ✴ Currently provides approximately Bortle Class 4-5 skies.
  2. What do we mean by the Bortle Scale? ✴ At

    Class 4: ✴ Milky way reveals structure (but not fine detail) when high in sky. ✴ M33 possible, but difficult (even averted), but M31 visible. ✴ Light pollution domes evident in several directions. ✴ Sky is brighter than terrain. ✴ Visible magnitude limited to 6.1-6.5
  3. So, what can you see at the Dark Site? ✴

    With the naked eye, on a clear, dark night, M31 is visible naked eye. ✴ With binoculars, nearly all Messier objects are visible. ✴ With an 114mm / 4.5” scope all Messier objects and many objects down to about 10th or 11th magnitude. ✴ With an 200mm / 8” scope, you probably can get around 13th magnitude or fainter.
  4. Reasons to go ✴ Dark skies: much darker than even

    the outer suburbs of Houston (not nearly as dark as Texas Star Party, but certainly worth the drive). ✴ Facility dedicated to astronomical use. ✴ Peace and quiet (except for the dogs next door). ✴ Camaraderie of your fellow observers.
  5. When you arrive on site ✴ There are two gates:

    N Entrance Gate (Westernmost) Exit Gate (Easternmost)
  6. Opening the Gate ✴ To open the gate, you must

    enter the combination. Once entered PUSH IN on the lock, then pull outward. You must push in first! ✴ Please make sure to close AND lock the gate behind you, whether coming in or going out. Reset the lock combination to 0000.
  7. Opening the Gate (Continued) ✴ There are now multiple locks

    on the gates: make sure to fasten the lock to the end links of the chain so that both locks are able to unlock the gate. ✴ The other locks are for the utility companies if they need to access the site for maintenance or repair purposes
  8. Multiple locks: Right Both locks can independently open the gate.

    Only one lock can open the gate, the other lock is useless here. Wrong
  9. Arrival at the site (continued) ✴ Drive slowly to reduce

    dust. ✴ If you arrive after dark, do NOT use your headlights. Use red lights only.* ✴ You may use parking lights up to the picnic area – but NOT on the field. ✴ Do NOT drive over or park on concrete observing pads. *Discussed later
  10. Site Layout 1 North Entrance Gate Exit Gate Observatory Building

    Restrooms Bunk House Restrooms Entrance Exit Ladies & Family Bunkhouse Observatory Building
  11. Site Layout 1 ✴ There are two gates: the westernmost

    is the entrance gate, the easternmost is the exit gate. ✶ The entrance gate is recessed from the road. The exit gate is not. ✶ For site users with large vehicles (e.g. trailer/RV), the entrance gate may be used for both entrance and exit: proceed with caution. ✴ The major buildings of the site include the Observatory building, the bunkhouses, and the bathroom. They will all be discussed separately in this orientation.
  12. Site Layout 2 North Locations of Power Outlets on Field

    Main Observing Field (38 Concrete Pads) Locations of Private Observatory Sites
  13. Site Layout 2 ✴ Though the photographs do not show

    it clearly, on the north end of the field, flanking the Observatory building on either side, are 12 private observatory sites.* ✴ The main observing field is in the center of the site. It is comprised of 38 concrete pads (aka Padhenge). There is a box with power outlets in the center of the main ring, and 3 poles with outlets along the southern arc of pads. *Discussed later
  14. Site Layout 3 ✴ On the East side of the

    field and along the eastern half of the North access road (red boxes) are trailer parking spots. MOST of these are reserved.* ✴ Along the rest of the North access road and the western side of the field (yellow boxes) are locations for future trailer parking spots. *Discussed later
  15. Site Layout 4 North Picnic Area 3 Private Pads Silver

    “Dob” Shed 2 Larger Pads – Special Use/Reserved
  16. Site Layout 4 ✴ Behind the bunkhouses and trailers on

    the eastern side of the field is the picnic area. Tent-campers must pitch tents in this area. ✴ Just North of the observing pads is the silver “Dob” shed which contains a number of loaner telescopes for use at the site. ✴ There are 3 privately-held pads that should NOT be used without permission. ✴ The largest two pads on the southern arc (in the middle of the arc), are reserved for people with mobility issues or telescopes with 18” or larger apertures.* *Discussed later
  17. Site Layout: Traffic Pattern North Full headlights OK to this

    point after dark Parking Lights ONLY after dark ok along north road NO vehicle lights allowed beyond this point after dark
  18. Traffic Pattern: Entering ✴ From the entrance gate, follow the

    access road in and turn left along the northern access road. ✶ If arriving after dark, up until the point you turn left, you may use headlights as this area is shielded from the field by the trees. ✶ Once you turn left toward the field, you MUST reduce lights to parking lights only. ✴ The road turns right along the eastern end of the site to head down toward the field. ✶ If arriving after dark, all vehicle lights should be extinguished at this point. ✴ Follow the eastern road down to the main field. If you are using a pad on the southern arc, drive behind the pads to reach your selected pad. If you are driving inside, take the shortest path AROUND (not across) the inner ring to get to your selected pad.
  19. Traffic Pattern: Parking/Exiting ✴ If not parking next to a

    pad, you may park near the picnic area if there is room. ✴ The Observatory parking area is for Observatory users ONLY. ✴ The parking areas for private observatories are for private observatory users only. ✴ Exiting should be done through the exit gate. If exiting after dark but before dawn, you may use parking lights once you are heading north on the access road, and full headlights once your vehicle is entirely inside the tree line North of the field. ✴ Owners of extremely large vehicles (trailers/RV’s) may use the larger entrance gate (and thus avoid the turn out of the site) to exit the site – but do so with extreme caution.
  20. Reserved Pads ✴ As has been previously noted, the two

    pads at the center of the southern arc are larger and are reserved for special-uses. ✴ If a user has mobility issues (cane, crutches, walker, etc…) he or she gets preferential selection of these pads. ✴ If no such users are present, those with telescopes with 18” or greater apertures may use the pads. ✴ If no such users are on-site, the pads are free to all – but MUST be relinquished to someone with needs as above. ✴ For those who need the pads, they may be reserved by contacting [email protected].
  21. Private Observatories and Pads ✴ There are now 26 private

    observatory sites on the northern portion of the site. ✴ These sites are rented out to users on an annual basis. ✴ There are also currently 3 privately rented concrete pads. ✴ Members interested in renting an observatory site or being on the waiting list may contact the Observatory Director for more information. ✴ The Private Pads and observatory sites should NOT be used without permission.
  22. Observatory Building Use ✴ The Observatory building is available to

    users who have completed the separate Observatory training. ✴ Members interested in the Observatory training should contact the Observatory Director.
  23. Trailer/RV Parking Areas ✴ There are currently several trailer/RV parking

    spots which have been rented out for private, member use. ✴ At least one such spot is left available for occasional use and can be reserved. ✴ For those with trailers/RV’s wishing to camp longer than 10 days, fees will apply.
  24. Camping ✴ Only camp or park your trailer or RV

    in designated camping spots – NOT on the observing field! ✴ Tents should only be pitched in the picnic area – NOT on the field. ✴ Red “bug” or “mood” lights should be used in tents and RVs. ✴ Daytime campfires must be contained in a fire ring or metal BBQ pit. ✴ Open or nighttime campfires must be pre-approved by the Observatory Director. ✴ No RVs or other personal items may be left at the site without permission from Observatory Director. ✴ NOTE: Please see the Observatory Director for details on camping and trailer/RV policy.
  25. Arrival After Dark ✴ It is STRONGLY recommended that you

    arrive before dark. ✴ If arriving after dark, as previously noted you may use parking lights along the North access road, but all lights must be extinguished prior to moving South toward the field. ✴ If you cannot clearly see to drive, please park your vehicle, get out, and ask someone on the field (or another occupant of your vehicle) to lead you onto the field with a red flashlight.
  26. Arrival On Site: Pad Selection ✴ Choose an observing pad

    and setup your equipment. ✴ All pads (except the 2 large pads on the South arc) are on a first come, first serve basis. ✶ The two pads above are reserved for larger telescopes or people who need more room for mobility reasons. ✴ While there are rarely problems with overcrowding, you should only use one pad per person with a telescope ✶ Example 1: if you bring one scope: use one pad. ✶ If you bring two scopes, but are alone: use one pad. ✶ If you bring two scopes, but there are two users: you may use two pads.
  27. Arrival On Site (Continued) ✶Park next to your pad or

    outside of the ring/arc facing away from the center of the field. ★ This is done in case you accidentally trip your headlights during the night – if parking facing away, they are less likely to disturb other observers. ✶NEVER drive over or park on the pads – they are only about 2” of concrete and could easily crack. Pads are for equipment and foot traffic only.
  28. Arrival On Site: Using Site Power ✶If plugging into site

    power, tie your electric cords around the post before plugging into the poles. Route cords away from walk areas wherever possible to minimize trip hazards. ✶If on an observing pad, you should never be further than 100’ from an outlet. ✶The outlets on the field are now GFI protected at each outlet. ✶Laptops and electronic equipment should be covered with a “red screen” and positioned away from others to preserve our dark adaptation.
  29. Guests ✴ Users are welcome and even encouraged to bring

    guests. ✴ Users hosting guests are responsible to make sure guests understand the rules and follow them. ✴ This is particularly the case with the light discipline policy.
  30. Observing Etiquette ✴ Respect others’ equipment – don’t touch without

    asking. ✴ Take care around extension cords, ladders, and equipment. ✴ Don’t litter! Since we have no trash service, please take your trash home with you. ✴ No smoking in other’s observing area & take your butts with you when you leave. ✴ No smoking in restrooms, bunkhouses and Observatory building.
  31. Bad Behaviors ✴ No dangerous, rowdy, mischievous, intoxicated, obnoxious, or

    obscene conduct will be tolerated. Offenders will be required to leave the site immediately. ✴ No hunting or shooting at any time. ✴ Use of fireworks is prohibited at the site. ✴ No pets are allowed on the observing field, and no pets should roam freely on the site. ✴ Use a leash or pen to contain your pet. And, of course, you must clean up after your pet.
  32. Light Discipline Principles ✴ The HAS Dark Site requires users

    to adhere to light etiquette guidelines ✴ Failure to adhere to light guidelines and procedures can affect other observers' dark adaptation and imaging. For this reason, we require members and their guests to follow these guidelines.
  33. General Principle ✴ The main idea is to prevent degradation

    of night vision and harm to imaging processes of other observers. ✴ Our light recommendations are for the enjoyment of everyone at the Observatory site. ✴ These recommendations are in effect from sunset to sunrise so as to not affect the dark adaptation of others on the field doing photography, imaging or visual observing.
  34. Red Light Only! ✴ While there are exceptions* members and

    guests at the HAS Dark Site are required to only use dim red lights when light is necessary. White and other light sources should not be used. Additionally, very bright red lights should also be avoided. ✴ In particular this applies to: ✶ Flashlights ✶ Cell Phones ✶ iPads/Tablets ✶ Computers ✶ Car interior lighting ✶ Matches and Lighters *Discussed later
  35. Flashlights ✴ Only flashlights with red bulbs or LED's or

    that have been covered with some sort of filter to only allow for the emission of red light should be used. ✴ Preferred flashlights have red LED elements or red light bulbs ✴ Flashlights can be covered with a red filtering material such as red Plexiglas, red lighting gel material, or another red filtering agent. As long as the only light emitted is red, the flashlight is properly equipped.
  36. Flashlights (Continued) ✴ Such lights should not be overly bright.

    A properly filtered red flashlight should illuminate the area directly around the observer (e.g. up to a few paces in front while walking), but should not be so bright as to be a nuisance to users on adjacent observing pads. ✴ If a light is too bright, it is expected that the user will find some way of dimming it (e.g. additional filter material, using a piece of cloth like a handkerchief or t-shirt), to reduce it's brightness.
  37. Flashlights (Continued) ✴ If a flashlight is dual or multiple

    mode capable (e.g. white and red, red, white, green, blue, etc...) the user should either disable the other color(s) or place the light against his or her hand before turning on to verify that only the red light option is used. ✴ Guests of members (including children) are expected to follow these rules as well. It is the member's responsibility to explain this to his or her guests.
  38. Computers ✴ Laptop computers (and occasionally desktop computers) must also

    be red- shielded. ✴ The best option for shielding computer screens is red Plexiglas. This is available online from multiple sources. ✦ (example: https://www.estreetplastics.com/Transparent_Red_Plexi glass_Sheet_s/57.htm).
  39. Computers (Continued) ✴ Another option is red lighting gel sheets

    for stage lighting. ✦ (example source: http://www.performingartssupply.com/stage- lighting/gels.html) ✴ Some users prefer using Rubylith, a red film available from many sources. ✦ (example: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search- alias%3Darts-crafts&field-keywords=rubylith)
  40. Computers (Continued) ✴ A final option is red cellophane, however

    this will usually require multiple layers to provide adequate filtering. ✦ (example source: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=a9_asi_1?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ared +cellophane&keywords=red+cellophane&ie=UTF8&qid=142809795 0) ✴ One option which is NOT acceptable is a red "theme" or "red-light mode" on the electronic device itself. While up close it appears that only red is being emitted, in truth multispectral light is being released. From even a short distance this is obvious. For this reason, the screen MUST be shielded with red filtering material. ✴ The software red screens are not dark enough to preserve night adaption.
  41. Cell Phones, iPads, Tablets, etc… ✴ Due to the touch-screen

    nature of such devices, red Plexiglas is not a usable option. ✴ However, red lighting gels and Rubylith usually are acceptable and will usually provide touch-screen ability. ✴ Red cellophane may work, but the requirement for multiple layers may degrade touch screen performance.
  42. Car Lighting ✴ Interior dome lights can usually be easily

    disabled. You may also shield them or replace the bulbs with red bulbs. ✴ Headlights and parking lights should NOT be used outside of accepted light windows. ✴ In some vehicles it is not possible to disable headlights or they come on when doors are opened or the car unlocked. ✶ If these cannot be disabled, then it is recommended you not open the doors to the car or lock/unlock the car unless absolutely necessary. ✶ You may also elect to remove fuses from the car and disable lighting. This is not a requirement, but may be a good option if you are comfortable doing so. ✶ If you choose to go this route, please be sure to store the fuses in a safe location so that they can be re-inserted when needed.
  43. Matches, Lighters, other flames ✴ For smokers, matches and lighters

    should only be used where they can be entirely shielded from other observers’ view. ✴ No other sources of flame should be used during observing hours.
  44. Light Windows ✴ Light windows offer brief (10 minute) periods

    twice per night for users and their guests to use white light. ✴ This is primarily intended as a time to leave the site using headlights. ✴ This is not time to pack up – that should be done prior to the light window. This is time to go.
  45. Light Window Times ✴ Two ten minute light windows will

    normally be available: ✶During Central Standard Time months (Currently November through March) ★ 10 PM and 12 Midnight ✶During Central Daylight Time months (Currently March through November) ★ 12 Midnight and 2 AM
  46. Light Windows During Events ✴ During an official club event

    such as a star party or an organized prime night, the light windows will be announced and managed by club officials and/or their appointed assistants. ✴ Unless otherwise specified, these will be at the customary times
  47. Calling for a Light Window ✴ If you intend to

    use a light window: ✶Make an announcement on the observing field to everyone ★ At least 30 minutes prior to the light window…and.. ★ 10 minutes prior to the light window…and… ★ Immediately before the light window ✶The purpose of these announcements is to allow everyone to prepare for the window ★ (either to prepare to leave or to protect their night vision and imaging) ✶The simple goal… AVOID SURPRISES!
  48. Light Rule Exceptions ✴ If everyone at the site agrees

    that there will be no observing, then light rules may be suspended. ✴ If you need to leave before a light window, please park along the exit road. ✴ Ask others at the site if you have any questions or concerns. They may allow you to use a different time for a light window to exit the site. ✴ If there is a medical emergency, a safety hazard, or other urgent conditions requiring white light, try to warn others before you expose others to white lights, but do what you need to in the interests of safety.
  49. Your Responsibilities ✴ Warn before any white lights are turned

    on! ✴ Exit quickly, quietly, safely, and with only the lights you require within the 10 minute window! ✴ PLEASE…Be considerate!
  50. Before you leave the site… ✴ Pick up and remove

    your trash from the site! Please do not litter! ✶We do not have trash collection or maid service at the site. Please take out anything you bring in with you and clean up after yourself. ✴ Complete a Site Log report ✶Logs can be filled out online on the HAS website: https://www.astronomyhouston.org/about/has- observatory#overlay=node/add/observatory-log- report.
  51. Wildlife at the site ✴ Be aware, you are in

    the country. ✴ Wild animals may be present. ✶ Deer have been seen frequently ★ NOTE: Hunting is NOT allowed ✶ Venomous snakes have been seen in the tree line, but have never been a problem on the field. ✴ Ants, bees, wasps, hornets, ticks and spiders also reside there. ✶ Other than the ants and ticks, the others are not likely to bother you if you don’t bother them. ✴ There are also gophers on site ✶ Take caution when walking across the field to avoid tripping over a gopher hole
  52. Bathroom Instructions ✴ The bathroom is about 10-15 yards up

    the exit road. ✴ There are two bathrooms, both are unisex. ✴ Please keep them clean – we all have to share these facilities. ✴ The bathrooms are equipped with red lights. An optional white light circuit is available. ✶ To activate the white lights, there are two buttons on the wall opposite the door, press the first, then the second and the white lights will come on. ✶ The white lights automatically go out once you open the door. ✴ When exiting bathroom…make sure door is fully closed, but also unlocked when you leave!
  53. Showers at the site ✴ There is a shower stall

    in each bathroom for your usage. ✴ Hot water is available, but the hot water heater must be turned on first. ✶To do so, press the hot water heater button on the wall and wait about 30 minutes for water to heat up. ✴ Hot water heater will stay on for approx. 4 hours. ✴ However, the water tank is small, so quick showers are strongly recommended.
  54. Men’s Bunkhouse ✴ The men’s bunkhouse is provided for individuals

    who wish to sleep at the site but do not have a camper/RV or tent. ✴ The men’s entrance door is on the picnic area side of the building. ✴ Check this web page calendar at the bottom to see what beds have been previously reserved. https://www.astronomyhouston.org/about/has- observatory ✴ To reserve a bunk bed, send an email to: [email protected]. Any unreserved bunks are available on a “first come, first serve” basis. ✴ There is air conditioning and heating available, but it must be activated before use. ✶ There is a black button on the back wall to activate this circuit. ✶ One push of the button is good for about 5-6 hours of power to the AC/heating. If you need longer, press the button again. ✶ This button also activates the white light circuit. ✴ No food is allowed in the bunkhouse to minimize insect and rodent infestation. Keep food in your vehicle in a closeable container. ✴ No pets are allowed in the bunkhouse, due to potential allergies of future occupants.
  55. Ladies Bunkhouse ✴ The ladies bunkhouse is provided for individuals

    who wish to sleep at the site but do not have a camper/RV or tent. ✴ There are 2 single beds and 2 folding cots. ✴ The ladies entrance door is on the North side of the building. ✴ Check this web page calendar at the bottom to see what beds have been previously reserved. https://www.astronomyhouston.org/about/has-observatory ✴ To reserve a bed, send an email to: [email protected]. Any unreserved beds are available on a “first come, first serve” basis. ✴ When reserving a bed, you will be given the door code. ✴ The air conditioning and heating unit is mounted on the wall. ✴ There are ceiling fans with red lights. ✴ No food is allowed in the bunkhouse to minimize insect and rodent infestation. Keep food in your vehicle in a closeable container. ✴ No pets are allowed in the bunkhouse, due to potential allergies of future occupants.
  56. Family Bunkhouse ✴ The ladies & family bunkhouse is provided

    for individuals who wish to sleep at the site but do not have a camper/RV or tent. ✴ There are 2 single beds and 2 cots. ✴ Check this web page calendar at the bottom to see if this room has been previously reserved. https://www.astronomyhouston.org/about/has-observatory ✴ To reserve this bunkhouse, send an email to: [email protected]. If this bunkhouse is not reserved, then it is available on a “first come, first serve” basis. ✴ The family bunkhouse entrance door is located on the East end of the building, by the deck. ✴ The air conditioning and heating unit is mounted on the wall. ✴ There are ceiling fans with red lights. ✴ No food is allowed in the bunkhouse to minimize insect and rodent infestation. Keep food in your vehicle in a closeable container. ✴ No pets are allowed in the bunkhouse, due to potential allergies of future occupants.
  57. Bunkhouse (Continued) ✴ The bunkhouses are a “first come, first

    serve” basis. ✴ The bunks have mattresses, but you will need to bring your own pillow and blanket or sleeping bag. ✴ When leaving, sweep and clean up and take the trash with you. ✴ Turn off air conditioner/heater and all lights. ✴ Please do not bring food into the bunkhouse. ✴ The air conditioning/heating temperature is set by the first person in the bunkhouse.
  58. Internet Usage Policy ✴ The Houston Astronomical Society is providing

    Internet service at the site to all its members that use the site. We are limited on the bandwidth that is being provided, so there are a few rules that apply for this privilege. ✴ NO downloading of movies, live streaming, viewing of inappropriate sites, games/gaming will be permitted. You are permitted to check email and weather forecast and the downloading of software for telescope problems. These rules apply to all members. ✴ If bandwidth allotment is exceeded for the month, bandwidth will be reduced to dial-up speed for the remainder of the billing cycle.
  59. Internet Usage Policy (Continued) ✴ Please disable any and all

    computer/tablet/mobile device updating while on site. ✴ Please avoid all high-bandwidth sites. ✴ Please be courteous to your fellow members. ✴ The case-sensitive password for internet access is available at: https://www.astronomyhouston.org/about/has -observatory/internet-usage-policy-rule. ✴ Any problems with the site internet should be reported to the Observatory Director.
  60. Internet Usage Policy: Bringing your own access ✴ Users with

    their own internet access via cell phone or wireless hotspot may do as they wish with such devices – as long as those devices ARE accessing directly with your mobile carrier. ✴ Users with Sprint and AT&T have reported good signal strength. Verizon users have reported poor access.
  61. Emergency Contacts ✴ Observatory Director ✶Chris Ober – 210-410-9161 ✴

    Backup Contacts: ✶Steve Goldberg – 713-385-4072
  62. In Case of Emergency: Directions to the Hospital ✴ From

    the Dark Site: ✶Take I-10 East toward Columbus/Houston ✶Take the main exit (696) to Columbus ✶Turn left at the intersection heading North. ✶Bear left at the split. ✶Turn left at the light (right in front of Whataburger) ✶Hospital is at the end on your right. ✶110 Shult Drive, Columbus, TX 78934 ✶Hospital Phone: 979-732-2371
  63. Complete ✴ Now that you have completed the orientation, you

    are required to take a 12- question quiz on the content of this presentation. Once you have completed the quiz, you will be provided with the combination to the locks on the gate and directions to the Dark Site. ✴ If you have any questions or problems with the quiz or this presentation, please contact the Observatory Director.