Set-up advice for newbies

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    Lee Davidson

    This will be our first trip to TSP. We’ve been to BFSP in PA a few times, so have some idea of what a star party is like. We will be camping, and we are relaxed almost-beginner astronomers doing no imaging. My wife is disabled, so proximity to meals and restroom facilities are a boon.- I see the Bath at the north side of the Lower field, and the Bath House at the north side of the Central field. Are these comparable? The Bath House looks much larger.- The Upper field looks like it may be for more dedicated and serious astronomers. If that’s so, we’d probably avoid it. On the other hand, only on the upper field is it clear where it is OK to park your vehicle and put up your sleeping tent. Are the other fields more like BFSP, where people park and set up beside their vehicles and/or tents?Is there a place to put the tent in the shade? Ideally for us, for example, we set up camp along House Creek in the shade, and set up an observing area we leave set up for the duration out in the middle of the lower field. Or do something similar in the middle field. Suggestions along these lines most welcome.Are vehicle lights on the highway a problem at the lower field?Last, how is AT&T cell coverage? From the coverage map, it looks like voice and 2G data may be possible.



    Welcome to the darkest skies in Texas!

    The middle field is probably your best option. The bathhouse is at the north end of the observing field and the entry is level with the approach as I recall and easier to get in and out of than the bathhouse near the lower field (it has steps). You will be shielded from the traffic that does illuminate the lower field occasionally, though the cars are few and far between after the McDonald Observatory activities are over. It’s really not a problem if you are not shooting images. You can setup such that your car is nearby, especially along the eastern perimeter. The down-side is there is no shade on that side of the field so you may want to erect a shade shelter.

    Bring some good old landscape spikes to anchor your tent guys and shade shelter should you bring it as the ground is very hard and rocky. A good drilling hammer to put them in and a pry bar to get them out is required!

    See you soon,

    The upper field is where the serious AP and Visual observers hang out, however there are only port-o-lets located on the south end.

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