[quote="mburn16, post:5, topic:314505"]
Popes are not Cardinals, and, in fact, bestow their red cap upon a new member when they are elected. Since the Pope is over the age of 80 anyway, its largely moot.
As for when it would start - traditionally there is a waiting period, due to the need for Cardinals to travel, prepare, etc...but this has applied to the death of a Pope, which is generally something of a surprise.
Personally, I could see a final mass by Pope Benedict, perhaps including something like an address and laying his Miter on the altar of St. Peter's, followed the next morning by the opening of the conclave.
We're really in uncharted water though.
Oh, man, I want to cry now, both from sadness and joy. Even though it is bittersweet, I can't help but think how awesome it is to be alive at this time in the history of the Church, to be able to witness such an historic event.