Longmont Astronomical Society

About LAS Star Parties

What are star parties?

In basic form, a star party is an informal gathering of people with one purpose in mind: to observe astronomical phenomena. Attendance is always optional and groups can be as small as two or as large as 30. Many members bring their own telescopes and related observing equipment, but one doesn't have to own any kind of telescope to enjoy an LAS star party. Members are eager to share their knowledge and celestial views with newcomers and experienced observers alike. Star parties are also an excellent place to learn about the night sky and to discover the types of views that diverse astronomical instruments provide. Of course, as any astronomer knows, star parties are highly weather dependent and we have yet to devise a telescope that can see through clouds! 

The schedule of LAS Star Parties and other events can be found on our events calendar.


Guidelines for star parties supported by LAS

Timing

The best part of the month for star parties is near the first quarter moon. In general we do not support events that are near the full moon or the new moon. 

Friday nights are usually a good time for school events. 

   

 ‘My dear Kepler, what would you say of the learned who…have steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the telescope?’

            -Galileo Galilei
The event should begin about 45 minutes to an hour after sunset and end a couple hours later.

We will set up our telescopes at sunset; it usually takes us about 20 minutes to set them up and the same to pack them up. We do not want or need any assistance in handling equipment.  

In Colorado, the evening sky is cloudy around 40% of the time so cancellation is always a possibility. Sometimes it's pretty obvious that an event should be cancelled, though sometimes not. We try to inform our volunteers at least 3 hours prior to the event if it is to be cancelled.  If that happens, we will try to reschedule the event if possible.


Location

You should choose a location that has reasonably clear views to the southeast, south and southwest. There should be no street lights that are less than a block away in the viewing direction. The glare from street lights is annoying for everyone and makes it very difficult for us to locate objects. If lighting at your location is excessive try contacting your city or county parks department for suggestions.

Keep in mind that some of our telescopes are large and quite heavy; some weigh a couple hundred pounds or more. It is important that we have nearby access to our vehicles for loading and unloading.

Typically we only support events that are less than 30 miles from Longmont. Otherwise the travel time and expense are excessive for our members.


Preparation

For school events, we suggest you have one adult volunteer for every 20 to 25 students. These volunteers can help with wait lines, remind students of viewing tips, arrange step stools for viewing, etc.

Please provide us with a rough estimate of the number of people attending so we can plan accordingly. We can handle a maximum of about 150 people per evening.

For classroom discussion prior to the event, we can provide information about the various objects the students will be seeing.

NASA’s Night Sky Network has information on how to enhance your viewing experience: NASA's Night Sky Network viewing tips

You can improve attendance at the star party with plenty of advance publicity. Remember to include a link to our website! 


Viewing tips

Enjoy the view, but don't touch the telescope lens or move the telescope.

Don’t use flashlights or smart phone lights in the viewing area. (Astronomers use red light filters when they need illumination. You can also buy headband-style lights with a red light setting.)

It can take up to 30 minutes for your eyesight to maximally adjust to the dark.

Ask questions-our astronomers are very knowledgeable, and they love to talk about their favorite topic!

Take enough time at the eyepiece for your vision to adjust to it (at least 5 seconds). Ask the astronomer for help if you are having trouble seeing through the eyepiece (this is normal).


Copyright Longmont Astronomical Society, 2019. All rights reserved.
The Longmont Astronomical Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. P.O.Box 806, Longmont, CO 80502-0806, USA

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