Star Parties

Information is available on this website about previous star parties as well as upcoming star parties,

Just to make sure everyone knows what we are talking about when we refer to star parties, here is the American/Wikipedia definition of a star party and we try to organize our star parties along these lines.

star party is a gathering of amateur astronomers for the purpose of observing the sky. Local star parties may be one night affairs, but larger events can last up to a week or longer and attract hundreds or even thousands of participants. Many regional star parties are now held annually and are an important part of the hobby of amateur astronomy. Typically a dark sky site away from light pollution is chosen as a location. Participants bring telescopes and binoculars of all types and sizes and spend the nights observing astronomical objects such as planetscometsstars, and deep-sky objects together. Astrophotography and CCD imaging are also very popular. At larger star parties, lectures, swap meets, exhibitions of home-built telescopes, contests, tours, raffles, and other similar activities are common. Commercial vendors selling a variety of astronomical equipment may also be present. As with any other hobbyist gathering, there is much camaraderie and discussion of various aspects of the hobby at any star party.

The crew that organized the first Southern Star party (SSP) in March 2011 – Martin Lyons was unfortunately absent when the photo was taken
The third SSP – April 2012
The fourth SSP – September 2012

Star parties may be held in urban areas where there are potentially more people to attend them, but where the light pollution levels are quite high. These are held primarily to bring the stars to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to view them. In contrast there are the star parties held in remoter areas with darker skies (like our SSP or the Karoo Star Party) which attract more experienced amateurs and enthusiastic newcomers.

Notable star parties in the United states include the annual Winter Star Party held in the Florida Keys, the Mid Atlantic Star Party held on the east coast, the Oregon Star Party, the Stellafane Convention held in Vermont and the Texas Star Party held where everything is darker, bigger and better.

The telescope area at the Karoo Star Party which is held adjacent to the Kambro Farm Stall on the N12 north of Britstown in the Central Karoo

A star party is not new idea and is supposed to date back to George IIIof the United Kingdom, who incidentally also employed William and Caroline Herschel as astronomers.  On nights when poor weather blocked the view of the real stars and planets, he is said to have instructed palace servants to hang paper lanterns marked with drawings of stars in strategic places for the guests to look at.  This was probably innovative for his time but it is not quite our idea of a star party.

Find out more about upcoming and previous Southern Star Parties.

If you require any further information about any of our tours, outreach activities, star parties or deep-sky events, please go here for a contact form.