I have been on a bit of an interview kick lately (Gino Bucciol of Officina Stellare, David Kriege of Obsession Telescopes, and Alan Traino chairperson of NEAF). However summer is on its way in the Northern Hemisphere and star parties are popping up everywhere so I decided to use this blog post to talk about one of the best. If you've never been to an astronomy star party or if you're looking for something new then I would highly recommend the 2010 Golden State Star Party (GSSP) which runs from Saturday July 10 through Wednesday July 14. My wife and I went last year and we had a fantastic time. If you haven't been before, here are some things you should know:
- Be prepared to meet some of the nicest people ever. While dark skies and good weather are important, the people really make the difference and the Golden State Star Party is filled with really great people. Case in point: we hadn't been at the star party more than an hour last year when one of the attendees came over with a rope and helped us tie down our E-Z Up canopy.
- The skies really are dark – very dark – from horizon to horizon.
- You should be prepared for any kind of weather. We had a big storm come through during our first night last year. The tent my wife and I were in held up fine but some people weren't as lucky. If you’re in a tent make sure you think about water drainage when you set it up and make sure your tent is properly tied down. (By the way, the weather during the rest of the star party was very good.)
- Bring your own shade. If you don't bring shade, you won't have shade (unless you rely on the communal tent used for meals, etc.).
- Bring warm clothes for observing. We made a big mistake last year and didn't bring clothing that was warm enough. The temperature at night can be pretty cold.
- The shower truck was fantastic – yes, fantastic. The super friendly staff from Fireline Support Services of Northern California thoroughly cleaned each shower after every use. They did it quickly and efficiently and that's important when you have a line of people waiting.
- The Golden State Star Party is held at the Frosty Acres Ranch in North-Eastern California. The location has plenty of room for hundreds of people. It really is ideal for an astronomy star party.
- They have wireless internet access. I know this doesn't matter to some people. However, it makes a big difference to me and any one else "tethered" to their business.
- As the GSSP web site says, don't leave the kids at home. Last year there were many activities for children like kite flying and hay rides.
Be sure to check out the Golden State Star Party (GSSP) web site for lots of good information! If you go, have a great time!