Have a Star Party at your school
A star party is a gathering of amateur astronomers who set up their telescopes and observe the dynamic night sky, with students and their families invited to come and participate as well. It is a great way for non-astronomers to see things they don't typically take the time to ponder.
How can I arrange one for our school?
You can get in touch with an ATMOB Starparty Coordinator to arrange a date two ways:
For a Starparty to be practical your school must be in a region where ATMOB members live reasonably close by.
Your school is responsible for assigning a Starparty coordinator, keeping order among the attendees, and supplying a venue- usually a dark place on school grounds with outside lights turned off when possible. You should also advertise it to the people you want to come. ATMOB will notify its members of your event and will supply the telescopes and astronomers
How much does it cost?
A Star Party is a no-charge event for schools and non-profits and is open to astronomers and non-astronomers alike. We do ask that schools provide refreshments for astronomer volunteers, since they use up a lot of energy standing out in the cold all night.
When is the best time of year for a star party?
Star parties are best scheduled during first quarter and waxing gibbous Moon. During full moon, the moon is so bright it obscures a view of other celestial objects and even the Moon is best viewed when NOT full. Early spring and late fall are usually excellent times to hold star parties, as the night time temperatures are reasonable and it gets dark early enough. However, star parties can be held at any time of year.
Should I bring a flashlight?
If you do, bring only small ones to keep the stray light low. Flashlight etiquette - point it toward the ground only. Cover it with several layers of red cellophane or use a red LED light. Red light doesn't affect our adaptation to night vision unless it's too bright or pointed directly into someone's eyes. You will find that after a few minutes in the dark, without looking at the white beam of a flashlight, you will be able to see enough to walk safely on a paved path toward the astronomers. It takes 3 minutes to reach 30% of full night-vision-adaptation; 30 minutes to reach 65%; but 3 hours to reach full night-adaptation. One flash of light in your eyes will start the process all over again! So, please be respectful of others who are trying to get night-adapted
What kind of clothing should I wear?
In Winter the rule is dress warm – have several layers – bring a hat and gloves. Temperatures in Winter months can get very low in the evening.
In Summer the rule is wear long sleeves, and apply bug spray before going outdoors.
Remember that you may be outside for several hours during a clear night, when it is significantly colder or cooler than during the day. It is best to dress in layers, so you can remove or add as needed.
What if there is bad weather?
Clouds or extreme low temperatures would cancel observing. We will consult local weather forecasters and make a decision by 2:00p on the day of the star party. To get a GO/NO GO status on the star party contact your school coordinator.