Who has been to a Star Party?

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Who has been to a Star Party?

Postby Gfamily2 » Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:16 am

I thought it might be interesting to see who has been to a Star Party and what you thought of them.

We've been to several - I think our first was in West Wales, near the Presceli Mountains in Pembrokeshire, in which we had about 40 minutes of clear skies on the Friday evening before the rain set in for the rest of the weekend.
Excellent talks though

We have enjoyed several Peak Star Parties - though I think we only had about 4 clear nights over the 4 years we attended. One year, we had none at all - but we had some clear days, so we had some solar sessions, and the talks were uniformly excellent - the main organiser was very good at getting good speakers.
Sadly, these came to an end as his work commitments increased, and he couldn't find local people to share the admin burden.

We've been twice to the Astrocamp 'Spring' meet, and can recommend it - the most enjoyable feature is that they keep the middle part of the campsite free as "the common", so most of the visual observers set up there, and you can wander around and have a look through other people's scopes. I had a great evening the first time, when basically I spent an hour helping a couple of newbies set up their 127m Mak for the first ever time.
Last year I managed to 'win' the signature "Champion of the Universe" quiz - basically I was tied when I got 2 out of 10 'main' questions right, and was 'not as wrong as the other team' on the tiebreaker. But it's all good fun, and decent speakers.

What we've found is that people are very happy to spend time with you - so one cloudy afternoon, we spent time with someone who gave an informal workshop on using remote observatory time to image a comet. Admittedly, not something you'd necessarily want to do yourself. But...
We've just booked for Spring 2019

Last year we tried out Solarsphere for the first time (the organiser is a friend of someone we know through our local Astro Soc, so we thought "why not?"). Actually, it was one of my highlights of the year. OK, partly because we knew some of the people already - our mates, one guy who we'd met at Astrocamp, someone else from a local astro event, but...
The quality of the speakers was 'superb' - we had someone senior from ESA, someone who writes for S@N magazine, people from universities, but (importantly), people from universities who were prepared to stay on a hillside in Mid Wales in Mid August because it's a really relaxed vibe.
It's a mixed astro and music festival - but the two don't clash.
Booked again for 2019

We've also been to Bluedot festival at Jodrell Bank and can recommend it. Obviously it's hugely bigger than Solarsphere, so the status of the Bands is a bit higher, and there are more speakers ; but there's been a LOT of overlap in speakers who were at both, and what you'll find is that the speakers will generally stick around at Solarsphere so you can catch them at the bar for a conversation.
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
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Re: Who has been to a Star Party?

Postby Phil and Linda » Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:01 pm

I would like to say thank you for sharing your experience, as a newcomer to astronomy it was an interesting insight. Sounds like something to consider. We are probably not able to camp any longer, so are there are that include accommodate on site etc? thanks in advance
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Re: Who has been to a Star Party?

Postby Gfamily2 » Wed Nov 14, 2018 5:55 pm

Phil and Linda wrote:I would like to say thank you for sharing your experience, as a newcomer to astronomy it was an interesting insight. Sounds like something to consider. We are probably not able to camp any longer, so are there are that include accommodate on site etc? thanks in advance

I don't know any that specifically include on-site accommodation, but if you keep an eye out for star parties on sites like GoStarGazing.co,uk or StarGazersLounge.com you could contact the organisers to see if they can help. Alternatively, hiring a camper van may work for you in terms of comfort.

There are some that have local B&Bs that may be suitable - it's not essential to stay up all night observing, so if you're staying locally and can walk off site to somewhere at about 11pm it could be a nice introduction, and the daytime events will be easy to attend - they're not likely to be too early anyway.

If you are going to bring your car to drive back to a B&B, you need to be very careful to leave it so you can drive off site without headlights - that's a big no-no, so parking off-site is preferable; again, the organisers will be able to give advice, and very often will assign an area nearby for 'day' visitor parking. But even so, parking so only your rear lights will show is being considerate.

Star Parties can be great fun, there will be people there who are always happy to share a view through their scopes (always ask of course), and even if it's cloudy, there'll usually be something going on.
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
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Re: Who has been to a Star Party?

Postby The Man with the Corrugated Iron Roof » Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:54 pm

Been??? I've organised them. One of my faves was showing sunspots to a group of Year 5 and 6 kids. I've also attended and organised day events where I have shown people the views through my PST. One of those I enjoyed was the chance to try out a 70mm hydrogen alpha telescope and Telescope House left me in charge of it to demonstrate it to visitors.

Now it's not all about the Sun but it is the Sun that I am most imfamous for! As a "mere" attendee I remember seeing M65 and M66 through an 8" SCT. I also remember seeing the Beehive (M44) through binoculars for the first time.

I once hosted a "mini-star party" in Buenos Aries. I was allowed to take my telescope to the hotel roof on one condition! I had to show the stars and planets to the staff. I have also shown the Sun to my classes while teaching abroad.
How can I be one with the universe when we don't know what 96% of it is.

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Re: Who has been to a Star Party?

Postby Gfamily2 » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:05 pm

The Man with the Corrugated Iron Roof wrote:Been??? I've organised them. One of my faves was showing sunspots to a group of Year 5 and 6 kids. I've also attended and organised day events where I have shown people the views through my PST. One of those I enjoyed was the chance to try out a 70mm hydrogen alpha telescope and Telescope House left me in charge of it to demonstrate it to visitors.

Now it's not all about the Sun but it is the Sun that I am most imfamous for! As a "mere" attendee I remember seeing M65 and M66 through an 8" SCT. I also remember seeing the Beehive (M44) through binoculars for the first time.

I once hosted a "mini-star party" in Buenos Aries. I was allowed to take my telescope to the hotel roof on one condition! I had to show the stars and planets to the staff. I have also shown the Sun to my classes while teaching abroad.

Where's the Like button?

Best I did (other than being one of the 'experts' at the local club) is being able to show Saturn to our daughter's Brownies group.
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
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Re: Who has been to a Star Party?

Postby Graeme1858 » Sun Nov 18, 2018 10:13 am

The closest I've come to a star party is a couple of viewing sessions with the Mid Kent Astronomical Society with members' telescopes and the club's 16" SCT at Canterbury and a few group viewing sessions on the courses I did at the Royal Observatory Greenwich both visual and binocular and also the Greenwich Great Equatorial 28" refracting telescope.

I've been to quite a few music festivals over the years and I've been to a lot of astronomical talks and lectures so the idea of a music festival with astro talks and viewing sessions sounds brilliant! Perhaps I should get up off my rear in 2019 and do something about it!

Regards

Graeme
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