people watching football on their outdoor projection screen
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After the seemingly endless dog days of summer, it’s kind of a relief to see the days getting shorter. This October 1st, the Minneapolis sunset occurs at 6:53pm, and by October 31st the sun will be setting at 6:02pm. Then in November, Daylight Savings Time ends and everything scoots up another hour! Of course you’ll want to set up your backyard theater system while you still have plenty of daylight to see what you’re doing (and before your friends come over, so you’ll be able to socialize). As we get into the fall and winter months, this might require laying out the equipment as soon as you get home from work. Fortunately our systems take only a few minutes to set up, but it still pays to plan ahead.

How dark do you need it to get before you can enjoy your outdoor theater system? While our projectors produce a powerfully bright image, enhanced further by the reflectivity of our QuikScreen, we recommend that you let “dusk,” otherwise known as civil twilight, pass into nautical twilight before showing your first film. Nautical twilight occurs about half an hour after dusk; the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon, casting insufficient light to compete with the central attraction on the screen. Keep in mind that most projectors take a few minutes to achieve their full brightness, so you may want to fire up the lamp in advance.

If you really want to get scientific about your screening schedule so you can plan ahead for months at a time, check out the U.S. Naval Observatory’s Sun or Moon/Rise Set Table for One Year and view up to 12 months of detailed sunset/twilight data for your city or town. Now that’s what we call being prepared!

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Summer vacation is over, and it’s time for kids of all ages to grab their new book bags and set out on a new school year. Maybe you sympathize with your kids, maybe you’re excited for them, or maybe you remember your own school days (fondly or not). So allow us to suggest a few movies with a “back to school” theme that might appeal to a wide range of audiences:

Back to School – The perfectly-named film is also the perfect place to start. Rodney Dangerfield plays a self-made, uneducated tycoon who enrolls in his son’s college and becomes big man on campus in this goofy comedy.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – This smash hit launched a whole series of films about Harry, a young orphan who discovers a world of magical powers at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Bet your first day at school was never like this!

Fast Times at Ridgemont High – Moving up to the teenage-and-older crowd, this raucous comedy featuring Shawn Penn as the world’s most clueless stoner dude will reawaken your memories of high school in the ‘80s with a vengeance.

Mean Girls – Lindsey Lohan scored at the box office in this 2004 film about a girl who gets a big dose of reality when she makes the transition from home-schooling in Africa to public high school in the U.S. with its cliques, vendettas and, you guessed it, mean girls.

Animal House – Graduating from high school to college brings us to this classic 1978 film. Tom Hulce, John Belushi, a young Kevin Bacon and a dorm full of supporting players will have you laughing at the antics of Delta House, the worst frat house on campus (and probably the world).

Enjoy your back-to-school experience!