Tag Archives: camping

First Day and Night at Stellafane 2014

Hi all.

It’s late, but I wanted to let you know I made it.

Here’s the camping setup for my gypsy wagon (aka Prius). Made it there with a side trip to Albany on a full tank of about $28.00 of gas.


There will be more later. Suffice it to say, my viewing from here on in around Philly is now ruined.


T-4 Days….

Until Stellafane!

I’ve been busy starting to do packing work and realize I have a bit more packing to do in front of me.  I’ll be ready in time, though.

I’m looking forward to Stellafane, hanging out with fellow members of the Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers, and learning about amateur telescope making (ATM).  I already have two telescopes (10″ and 8″ reflectors) as well as three binos, so after I get a 80mm refractor, I’m done.  But, I’d like to see how they are made.

I’d also like to try to pick up an 11mm Nagler eyepiece for mid-range observation (I have a 24mm eyepiece).  I also have my eye set on a 3-6mm Nagler for really up close work, but that resides on my Amazon Wish List and won’t happen until after my next quarterly bonus.

I’ll have a bit more to post after this coming week after I go to Stellafane.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out this cool commercial for the Weather Channel about Cherry Springs State Park in the boonies of PA.  That’s my next major destination.

First trial run of Prius car camping


Big Dipper taken from inside my car using Night Moves, an iphone photo app, and Photoshop Express, another Iphone app.
Big Dipper taken from inside my car using Night Moves, an iphone photo app, and Photoshop Express, another Iphone app.

Last night I did a test of car camping to see how it would go.  I didn’t have all of my equipment (that’s a chore for a later trip.  In addition, I use a C-PAP, and the car charger I purchased for it decided not to keep a charge, so I had to run it off the battery in READY mode (otherwise know as “ON”).  It used perhaps the larger part of a gallon of gas for the whole night.  Other than that, it was a suitable trial run.  If the kids are willing (not likely), I might be up to taking them on a real overnight in the Poconos or Assateague in June for a maiden voyage.


The weather forecast was spotty, so I knew i’d have to hurry with the setup.

10404560_10203166702184022_1356505905_oI used a Habitent (from Habitents.com, also see my earlier post) as the main shelter add on to the Prius.   I also put up a sun shield for privacy.


On the rear side windows I put no-see-um mesh to allow ventilation.  The mesh windows are from Skeeter Beater (http://theskeeterbeater.com/) and were simple to install.  I plan to get rain guards for the windows of the Prius so that if there is rain, ventilation can still happen.

10379243_10203170725044591_497141305_nI chose the camoflauge pattern to break up the view of what is inside to help with privacy.  It worked pretty well last night, although I do think one skeeter bit my butt, however, you probably didn’t need that image.

The inside was set up pretty much as I stated in my earlier post.  I basically put what equipment I did have in the car in the front seats.  I used my great kilt as my sleeping bag, simply folded once under and over me (What’s a great kilt? ) on top of a Thermarest pad and exercise pad.



I also had a DD 3×3 tarp which I originally wanted to put up over the Habitent, but it didn’t work.  Instead, I stored things under it in leanto mode.

10396492_10203170725564604_1398246402_n10396322_10203170725724608_893767593_nIt’s held up by REI Hiker staffs that have street hockey balls on the spikes to make them more socially friendly.  In retrospect, I’m not happy with that setup, as it is still too low.  However, I’m not guaranteed trees to set up with.  I’m seeking ideas on what to do with that.

If you are used to tarp camping and wondering why I set it up in such a haphazard way, the reason why is because I was rained out!

10416763_10203167421802012_1150230112_nI was pretty much just able to set it up like that in time to run into the car and wait out the storm.  The tarp held up, so I just left it as is.


I finally got settled and hooked up my C-PAP and went to sleep around 10p.  Around 11:30, I was awoken by a flashlight shining on my face.  Turns out my daughter Noel, who earlier had stated she didn’t want to try camping, changed her mind and decided to camp with me.  So, I moved what equipment I had around, and put some in the front seat, some under the tarp, and she got sleeping supplies and joined me.

Around 2 AM, I got up to watch the Camelopardalids meteor shower.  I nudged Noel to see if she wanted to see it also, but she is a teenager.  At first there were quite a few clouds, then they cleared and I got out of the car to look.  Unfortunately, I was not out in the desert of Arizona, but in my driveway, which is near Philadelphia, PA.  I know that a meteor shower happened because I would see occasional streaks, but the tree, street light, and ambient light pollution kind of got in the way, sadly.  You can see those meteors, right?

10385239_10203169778980940_482661334_nI settled in for the rest of the night after that, waking up to a little bit of a backache, which was resolved in a half hour.


The night went well overall.  There was some condensation on the tent, but no leakage, despite a storm.  Both the tent and tarp worked as advertised.  The Skeeter Beater did its job, although one or two may have gotten through anyway.  Ventilation was only a problem during the storm, so I plan to get rain guards for the windows to help alleviate that.  The C-PAP worked fine, although I still need to work out an arrangement due to the fact that the engine makes noise when it kicks in to recharge the battery.  I do need to rethink how to handle the tarp so that I can get more height and thereby use out of it.  The Prius handled the two of us comfortably.

I’d love your suggestions for ways to improve the setup, and I look forward to the next attempt!





What is a Star Party?

If you have an hour to spare, this video will show you.  Even though it is a bit dated, it will still show you what it is like, from what I understand (my first one will either be at the end of June or the end of August).  More importantly, it does a good job of explaining why people do amateur astronomy, the reasons for which are simply timeless.