What is a Star Party?
A star party is where a group of astronomers set up their telescopes and then invite people to come out and look through them. For free! It’s your chance to get outside and explore this amazing universe we all live in, with experienced stargazers as your guides.
Be aware that clouds and weather may cause a cancellation of the event. If in doubt, please check elsewhere on the site for event updates, or follow us on Facebook for event updates.
Perhaps the most important rule involves light. We ask that you DO NOT use white light flashlights and to refrain from using flash photography. White light ruins your dark adapted vision which prevents you from seeing details of deep sky objects in the telescope. All it takes is a split second of exposure to bright light to ruin your dark-adapted eyes. Red LED flashlights are good to use as an alternative, since red light will not disrupt your night vision. If you do not have a red LED you can simply take a normal flashlight and cover the end in red plastic film (like the kind used to fix broken taillights). Glow sticks or similar things can be used as well.
Our star party events are kid friendly, in fact we encourage you to please bring the whole family! But since we are operating in a dark environment, we advise that you maintain a close watch over small children who might try to run around the observing site (as little ones, being little ones, are prone to do). This way we can make sure that no one trips over anything or knocks over any expensive equipment.
Please do not touch telescope eyepieces or lean upon the telescopes themselves. Feel free to adjust the focus of the telescope for your own eyes. If you don’t know how, just ask. If you wear glasses you may want to try observing both with and without them to see what works best for you.
What to Bring
Dress in layers as the temperatures will likely be cooler after sunset. Please do not spray aerosols such as insect repellent while you are around the telescopes as this could damage telescope optics.
What should you expect to see?
If you’ve never looked through a telescope before, be aware that the image will never appear like a photograph taken with the Hubble Space Telescope as the human eye is not capable of gathering as much light as the Hubble’s very expensive and high-tech cameras. Keep in mind that when you look though a telescope eyepiece you are engaging with the universe directly with your very own eyes. The image you are seeing represents photons of light that have been traveling across the gulf of space for tens, dozens, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years. You can never see the universe as it is right this very moment, you can only see it as it was at some point in the past. In a very real sense, the night sky is a kind of time machine.
Ask us Anything!
Do not be afraid to ask questions about what you are seeing or about the equipment being used. As Albert Einstein once said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” It’s your universe, explore it and enjoy!