Return of the Star Parties

Canyonlands Star Party
This star get together was held in 2015 to have a good time the designation of Canyonlands National Park in Utah as an International Dark Sky Park.
NPS / Chris Wonderly

Almost each year for so long as I can bear in mind, my prolonged household has packed their tenting gear and telescopes into as many as three vehicles. Together, we paraded to the high of Breezy Hill close to Springfield, Vermont, to attend the granddaddy of all star events, Stellafane.

Last year the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the cancellation of virtually all gatherings and occasions throughout the globe. Like many of you, I watched with a heavy coronary heart as star events round the nation canceled one after one other. Together we spent the summer season having fun with the stars from our backyards alone. But as we begin to see the gentle at the finish of this lengthy darkish tunnel, life is slowly returning to (largely) regular. 

Field of Telescopes at Stellafane
Telescope makers and spectators wait in entrance of the Pink Club House at Stellafane as judges make their rounds.
Courtesy Sabrina Garvin

Now, many golf equipment are as soon as once more getting ready to carry their annual star events. That means we’ll be again to staying up all evening chasing after faint nebulae and globular clusters below some of the darkest skies in the nation. If you’re new to the pastime, or it’s your first time attending a star get together, right here’s what to anticipate. (Scroll down for a listing of upcoming star events.)

The largest attraction at star events is, of course, the stars. Observing in a crowd below darkish skies is a distinct expertise from doing it alone in your yard. Even for those who don’t have your personal telescope, you possibly can nonetheless take part on the enjoyable by telescope hopping (although please comply with your star get together’s restrictions on sharing telescopes this year). Star events are additionally an ideal place to check out astronomy gear if you’re seeking to purchase a telescope. Of course, for those who simply wish to take a peek by one of the monster scopes, that’s okay, too.

Girl looking through telescope
Solar telescopes and filters permit us to watch throughout the day as nicely.
Courtesy Sabrina Garvin

Make certain to pull your self out of your sleeping bag the subsequent morning. There are sometimes loads of issues to do throughout the day, together with a range of casual lectures and workshops directed in direction of a variety of ability ranges. As a child, I spent many summer season weekends racing my cousin and siblings up and down the mountain between Stellafane’s mirror-grinding workshops and the youngsters’s arts and crafts lessons at McGreggor Observatory. And for those who’re attending a star get together that holds an novice telescope-making competitors, you’ll want to test it out! Also you’ll want to cease by the swap tables, the place amateurs promote a myriad of used gadgets, together with telescopes, lenses, equipment, binoculars, and books. That’s the place I purchased my first telescope and my first clarinet.

Two younger ladies hear intently to 1 of Stellafane’s well-known mirror-grinding workshops.
Courtesy Sabrina Garvin

Of course, star events most likely aren’t going to be the identical this year. Astronomy golf equipment wish to make it possible for all of their attendees can get pleasure from the star get together safely, so many are limiting the quantity of folks in attendance. Some star events who often make use of indoor services are holding their lectures outdoors. And many distributors received’t be capable of attend this year. Event planners are asking contributors to comply with state-recommended social distancing pointers. And some golf equipment have opted to nonetheless maintain their occasions on-line.

Stargazing from Your Computer

Virtual Texas Star Party 2021
The Texas Star Party went reside on June tenth this year on a number of social media websites, together with Sky & Telescope’s Facebook web page.
Sky & Telescope

A number of revolutionary people and organizations have discovered that digital star events work as a placeholder for outreach occasions that golf equipment needed to cancel. While digital star events already existed earlier than the pandemic, they turned extra prevalent because it progressed. Some occasions are staying on-line this year, too, together with the Texas Star Party and the Grand Canyon Star Party.

Like their in-person counterparts, digital star events characteristic a variety of actions, together with lectures and panel discussions. Plus, presenters are taking full benefit of on-line assets like interactive 3D fashions and planetarium software program to boost their talks. Event hosts preserve viewers concerned with raffles, Q&As, and trivia.

Don’t fear. There’s nonetheless loads of observing at digital star events. Experienced astrophotographers take benefit of their video cameras and residential observatories to share their love of the universe with others reside. Some skilled observatories have even gotten in on the enjoyable, providing seems by their large telescopes and excursions of their services.

Good Stars with Good Friends

Large Telescope at Stellafane
Telescope lovers wait in line for a better have a look at this large scope.
Courtesy Sabrina Garvin

Whether you’re a star-party veteran or beginner, there’ll all the time be a horde of pleasant faces to welcome you and one thing new to be taught. Just don’t shine any white lights on the dark-adapted eyes of sleep-deprived observers. S&T workers members and contributing editors like to attend star events. If you occur to identify one of us (or our digital avatars), say hey.  

Below is a listing of some of the star events, each in-person and digital, taking place throughout North America this year. Due to the pandemic, the standing, location, and dates of these star events can change all of the sudden. Be certain to test their web sites for up-to-date info and COVID-19 pointers. You can even take a look at our Event Calendar for much more occasions.  

Stay protected and clear skies!

Star Parties Happening in 2021

Name Location Date
Nebraska Star Party Valentine, NE August 1-6
Oregon Star Party Indian Trail Spring, OR August 3-8
Saskatchewan Summer Star Party Maple Creek, SK August 4-9
Stellafane Convention Springfield, VT August 5-8
Northwoods Starfest Fall Creek, WI August 6-8
Mount Kobau Star Party Osoyoos, BC August 7-15
Maine Astronomy Retreat Washington, ME August 8-14
ALCON 2021 Virtual August 19-21
Thebacha & Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Festival Fort Smith, NWT August 19-22
Northern Nights Star Fest Palisade, NM September 1-6
Rocky Mountain Star Stare Gardner, CO September 2-6
Alberta Star Party Starland County, AB September 3-5
Michiana Star Party Vandalia, MI September 3-6
Merritt Star Quest Loon Lake, BC September 4-12
Great Lakes Star Gaze Gladwin, MI September 9-12
Idaho Star Party Bruneau Dunes State Park, ID September 10-11
Connecticut Star Party Goshen, CT September 10-12
Astronomy at the Beach Island Lake State Recreation Area, MI September 24-25
Acadia Night Sky Festival Mount Desert Island, ME September 29- October 3
Black Forest Star Party Cherry Springs State Park, PA October 1-3
Okie-Tex Star Party Kenton, OK October 1-9
York County Star party York, PA October 6-10
Hidden Hollow Star Party Mansfield, OH October 7-10
Illinois Dark Skies Star Party Chandlerville, IL October 7-10
Fall Astronomy Day Everywhere October 9
Jasper Dark Sky Festival Jasper National Park, AB October 15-24
Peach State Star Gaze Deerlick Astronomy Village, GA October 31- November 7
Eldorado Star Party Eldorado, TX November 1-6
Deep South Star Gaze Sandy Hook, MS November 2-7


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