Explore the Stars Program 2014 - Star Parties

An exciting amateur astronomy project occurs each summer and fall at Palomar Mountain's Observatory Campground on the Palomar Ranger of the Cleveland National Forest.  A group of amateur astronomers from across southern California bring the beauty and the awe of the night sky to more than a hundred non-astronomers at a location only two miles from the world renowned Palomar Observatory.

.Large telescope  with some kids near it

The Explore the Stars program hosts Star Parties that provides visitors an opportunity to see views of the universe rarely seen by the public.  Only a short drive from light-polluted Southern California cities brings you to the beauty of dark skies and the power of large telescopes provided by knowledgeable amateur astronomers. The Explore the Stars program provides an entertaining, educational, and very memorable experience to visitors of all ages.

The program, jointly sponsored by the southern California astronomy community and the Palomar District of the Cleveland National Forest, brings together an unusual combination at each event: amateur astronomers, dark skies, and more than a hundred non-astronomers.  Typical star parties put on for the public are held in populated areas where the moon, planets, and a few of the brighter double stars make up the major venues. The urban skies just aren't dark enough to show off the grandeur of deep sky objects. On the other hand, amateur astronomers typically seek out dark sky sites far from light pollution, such as Observatory Campground.  We do ask that visitors respect the Star Parties and minimize the use of lanterns, lights, and campfires during these events to ensure a dark sky for stargazing. 

Make plans to attend one of these free Star Parties in 2014!  Star parties are conducted on Friday and Saturday nights once a month during the spring, summer, and fall. Party goers can attend both nights or just one night.  If planning to camp in the Observatory Campground, camping spaces are on a first come, first serve basis or you make reservations in advance at www.recreation.gov.  The nightly camping fee at Observatory Campground is $15 for a single site, $30 per night for a double unit, and $5 per night for an extra vehicle.  Observatory Campground has accessible sites, flush toilets, and coin operated hot showers.  RV hookups are not available.  Plan to bring water for drinking and cooking.  Visit this link for more information on Observatory Campground:  http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/cleveland/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=47560&actid=29 

If only attending the Star Party and not camping, limited parking is available so plan to arrive early.  Free interpretive programs take place on Saturday nights in the campground’s amphitheater and begin at dusk.

Very large dome telescope

 


 

2014 Explore the Stars - Star Party Schedule to be determined

 

April 25 & 26

 New Moon

 We will see Jupiter

May 30 & 31  

 New Moon

 We will see Saturn 

June 20 & 21

 3rd Quarter

 We will see Saturn and the Milky Way

July 25 & 26

New Moon

  We will see Saturn and the Milky Way

Aug 22 & 23

 New Moon

 We will see Saturn and the Milky Way

Sep 26 & 27  

New Moon

We will see the Milky Way

Oct 17 & 18  

3rd Quarter

We will see the Milky Way and Andromeda

 

 
Explore the Stars is a joint program administered by the U.S. Forest Service and Orange County Astronomers.  Orange County Astronomers welcome amateur astronomer volunteers regardless of club affiliation or lack thereof, and can provide limited reserved parking for volunteers who sign up in advance, bring telescopes and participate in the program.  To volunteer, please visit this web link:  http://www.nanzscience.com/explore/index.html
 
Additional Information:  The dark skies of Palomar Mountain are what make our Star Parties such an interesting events.  Part of Observatory Campground has been converted into an "astronomy-friendly" environment.  No bright lights (such as lanterns and white lights) are permitted in the northern end of the campground after 9 P.M.
 
In 2014, the program, will be in its 12th year, has wowed audiences not only with true dark sky observing of deep sky objects, but also with predicted passes of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.
 
Over the years, more than four thousand people have attended our Star Party events.  Many attendees leave with a new hobby, while all leave with a new understanding of the recreational resource right over their heads as they understand that excitement of astronomical exploration and observation!  Astronomy is for anyone who wants to take the time to find a dark sky, and look up.  Getting a pair of binoculars and a good book on astronomy (with star charts) is the best way to get started in the hobby.
 
Types of objects you will see:
 
Galaxies
  Whole galaxies containing billions of stars with your own eyes through large telescopes.
 
Globular Clusters
  Beautiful clusters composed of millions of stars that look like fine jewelry cast into the night sky.
 
Planetary Nebulae
  The results of stars blasting their outer gaseous shells into outer space.
 
Supernova Remnants
  The dramatic results of stars that have destroyed themselves through incomprehensible stellar explosions.
 
Double Stars
  Beautiful double stars whose companions are made up of various colors: baby blues, oranges, golds, and greens.
 
The Moon and Planets
  The Moon is always an impressive sight in a telescope. Jupiter, Saturn, and other planets will be viewed as conditions permit. 
 
Questions and comments about this program may be directed to:
 
Cleveland National Forest
Palomar Ranger District
1634 Black Canyon Road
Ramona, California 92065
(760) 788-0250
 
Visit the Orange County Astronomers web page at:  http://www.nanzscience.com/explore/index.html