danprater wrote:So, anyone know anything about looking at red-shift?
Unfortunately, even with a very good telescope it is very hard to discern any color whatsoever in galaxies because the light from them is so dim. Looking at galaxies is often severely disappointing to newcomers to amateur astronomy, because they typically just appear as a very dark grey fuzzy spot - if you can see one at all. The reason that you cannot see them in color is that dim objects are picked up with the monochromatic rod cells in the retina of the eye, not the cone cells which allow you to differentiate colors. Typically one actually spots galaxies by looking out of the corner of ones eye, where there are more rod cells.
The stunning pictures of galaxies that you see are taken by exposing film (or a CCD) for several minutes. Other than possibly Andromeda or a few other local galaxies, I imagine that it would be difficult if not impossible to see any color at all with the naked eye, even through a huge telescope.
All of the stars in our galaxy, as well as Andromeda and the other local galaxies in our group which you might have a chance at seeing the color of, are actually not expanding away from us. Andromeda is actually coming towards us and should collide with our galaxy in the next few hundred million or billion years. It is only at an extremely large scale, on the order of 100 million light-years, that one sees everything receding away from us uniformly. So all of the many galaxies that actually are redshifted are so far away that it is barely possible to see them with the naked eye at all, much less in color.
Even if you could see the color of galaxies expanding away from our local group, the wavelength shift is only on the order of 0.1% or so, so the difference in hue would probably not be detectable - you really need a precise spectrometer to be able to tell the difference.
In addition to these difficulties, I imagine that it would be difficult to convince many amateur astronomers to bring very expensive optics to the harsh environment of the playa. I decided not to bring my $400 pair of binoculars, even though the stargazing would have been spectacular by east-coast standards, as I was afraid of what playa-dust might do to the lens coatings.
I hate to be so negative as I like the spirit of your idea. One thing that the playa is good for is lasers, and you could put an array of lasers on a motorized mount and point to distant galaxies, even if these galaxies would probably not be visible to the naked eye. You could then have pictures of the galaxies on display, with details of how much they are redshifted, how quickly they are receding away from us, and how long the light from them has taken to reach us.
There are a lot of cool things that one can see with the naked eye on a reasonably inexpensive telescope. Saturn and Jupiter are truly spectacular, and there are many star clusters which are beautiful as well. Large scale structure of the universe is just harder to see.