Starfest 2014 near Mount Forest Ontario

Starfest 2014 near Mount Forest Ontario

It’s been 10 years since Kim & I last attended Starfest (near Mount Forest Ontario)… 2004.
That was the year of a big storm microburst that destroyed out tent while we were inside of it trying to hold things down.

We now have a minivan and a tent trailer, so in a similar event, would have better protection.
We headed off on early Friday morning, avoiding the 400 series highways with the trailer. With 1 hour of stops along the way for lunch and gas and shopping, we arrived 7.5 hours later (going along highway 7 straight across).

Registration was only two people at the front, much more streamlined than in the past with 4 or 5 people manning a large tent inside the grounds.

Remember the tall hill just east of the tent where we set up the 60cm Venor telescope one year? It’s been flattened. There are also a lot more “permanent resident” trailers than in the past.

The close-in to the tent area was filled in pretty quickly. By the evening we were setup south of the tent near the treeline and quickly surrounded by other campers.

It was cloudy and after a very long day we packed it in before 23:00 It cleared up a little after that

Saturday was better, we got in some Solar observing, attended a lot of great talks. Spealing of which.. Rose-Marie (and others) go to
Yuichi Takasaka is what I would consider Canada’s foremost aurora photographer. I attended his friday night talk and two workshops on Saturday, all of which gave great practical tips on photography.

Our highlight speaker, and the main reason we went to Starfest after the long hiatus, was Carolyn Porco, lead of the Cassini spacecraft imaging team.
We had watched her recently on the BBC series the Sky at Night and she was great there as well.

Dinner was good, fast service and not overcrowded. Paul Gray’s son Nathan, took home the “Bring Home the Bacon Award” for his supernova discovery.. the 2nd or 3rd award in the family now!
We did not have a lot of time to spend with Paul and the family. They headed back home to Nova Scotia immediately after the presentation.

We ran into a lot of people while wandering around.. mostly good, some not so great.. arrgg. politics!
Saturday night was mostly clear and observed and imaged as long as we could, up to just before midnight.
Sunday was up late, breakfast and packing up to hit the road by 9am. For once in a very long time, we did not get rained on during the packup… although it did rain on us from Arthur to Orangeville.

The rest of this is just a bunch of random thoughts and notes:
* the permanent trailers were well redlighted out and did not cause us any issues
* there were always too many vehicles moving about at night.. at least a couple without red coverage
* almost everyone there had modern powered telescoes… a big change in 10 years. We got along with our dobsonian.
* comet E2 Jacques was great visually, as were the Saturn/Mars conjunction in the western sky.
* the imaging salon competition was now all digital (it used to be prints posted on boards, like our FallNStars contest) – awesome.. 185 entries from 10? people. 90% were world class. The video presentation of them is available for viewing .. somewhere…
* normand fullum was there from montreal, the artist who recoated the 16″ torus mirror for us 2 weeks back.
* we had a *long* talk with Constantine Papacosmos of Montreal. From the August 2005 Regulus:

> I also gave a tour to David and his Montreal Centre friend, Constantine
> Papacosmas, both of whom had participated in our Kingston Centre mall display the previous
> day, and both of whom later that year presented to our Centre the original 10″ telescope (built by
> Constantine and David) that we promptly named in honour of Dr. Douglas

He and others convinced us that Stellafane near Springfield Vermont is a great place for ATM (Amateur telescope Makers).
Turns out it is about as far away from us as Starfest is and would be something new.

* tips from Yuichi Takasaka: get a *great* tripod. do not extend the vertical head. use a remote trigger. bring along very large ziplock bags to put your entire camera and lens system into when done and before bringing indoors. Put them both into your camera bag as well to allow for as slow warmup as possible.
do not get frostbite. yellowknife is one of the best places in the world for aurora photography, clear skies and cold temperatures. September is very good up there as the bugs are gone and it has not yet reached -30 or -40 C. The good aurora season runs from early December to early April. don’t by cheap nonname chinese batteries or remotes.. they don’t work so well. always have two camera batteries.. at least.
he uses 64GB very high speed memory cards. use .RAW format instead of .JPG. do not use in-camera dark frame processing, but at the end of the imaging session take 4 or 5 dark frame shots (with lens cap on).
* mount forest has grown a bit… the grocety store closed and a large No-Frills has opened. Ask at the gas station where is the LCBO and most people did not know. Turns out it is in the same place.. a back street and very unobtrusive.
* no signs to starfest .. with GPS I guess most people can find it now.
* our new 5 day ice cooler worked like a charm!
* the swap table event was pretty small… paper copies of sky& tel were available. I offered chris $10/box… where he would pay me $10 a box)… he declined
* Bonnie and Andreas are looking good
* both memory cards for our cameras did not have the CHDK software on them.. so we were limited to 15 second exposures on the tripod… some still turned out nice!

Summary: all in all, if you have not been to Starfest, go. If you go alone, you will still be meeting and observing with new friends. If you have been before, things are much the same as in the past.