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.
“A 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 binocular
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.
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.
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.