What is a Star Party


A Star Party is an event held at night where large telescopes are set up for astronomical viewing. There are many annual Star Parties held by various local astronomical societies around the United States. Some of the larger ones are Stellafane (recognized as the first one, held in Springfield, VT since the early 1920’s), Winter Star Party, Texas Star Party, Riverside Star Party and the largest one held in Colorado called the Rocky Mountain Star Stare, sponsored by the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society. I have been participating and conducting Star Parties for nearly 40 years.

  • What kind of telescope do you have?
    • First of all, telescopes are compared by aperture NOT power! Aperture is the diameter of the lens or mirror (called the objective). When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, a 6-inch aperture was huge and the largest available was 8-10 inches. My first telescope, purchased in 1985, was an 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain. This has been a wonderful scope as you can do deep sky observing (outside our solar system) and also makes for a very stable photographic platform. I still have and use this telescope today. In the 1980’s a new type of telescope became very popular which is called the Dobsonian Telescope. Actually, the telescope itself is what is called a Newtonian Telescope invented by Sir Isaac Newton. The mount is an alt-azimuth mount. An amateur astronomer from San Francisco, John Dobson, put the two together and made it popular. The big advantage of a Dobson is that the aperture of the objective can be increased substantially. My telescope has an aperture of 22-inches! It is hand made in the United States by Obsession Telescopes.
  • What can be seen with a large telescope?
    • In addition to the large aperture of the telescope, they have now integrated a computer drive into the telescope, so it will not only counteract the rotation of the earth, but also find astronomical objects. This greatly, increases the number of objects which can be observed in an evening (looking at them instead of looking for them!). With this combination of the largest portable telescope in the world along with the computer drive, virtually anything can be observed. All the way from the planets (yes, including Pluto!), open star clusters, globular star clusters, nebulas, binary stars, galaxies, quasars, etc. You can tell me in advance of any particular objects you would like to see and I can design an observation schedule, catering to your interest.
  • What kind of experience do you have?
    • I just retired from banking after 40 years, primarily as a commercial real estate lender. But astronomy has been my number one passion since I was 6 years old which brings my experience to over 60 years. I taught astronomy and conducted Star Parties for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for many years, provided pictures to NASA and published a 3D coffee table book on the Aurora Borealis. I own a 4-inch, 8-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch, 16-inch, 20-inch and now a 22-inch telescope. I have attached a Bio and Resume for specific information pertaining to my astronomical experience.
  • How many people should I have at my Star Party?
    • It really depends on how many objects you want to observe during the evening. Each person typically takes 1-2 minutes at the eyepiece per object. If there are 10 people then in an hour each person can observe 2-3 objects. If you have 50 people then only one object per hour, per person. Conversely, I have done small families where we could observe many objects in an hour.
  • What about location?
    • When trying to see astronomical deep sky objects it is very important to have as much of the horizon as possible, however, of prime importance is darkness i.e. no street lights, house lights, neighbor lights, in other words, no lights. If we just have a family or two, we can always meet at a dark location in a national park, etc.
  • What is the process of conducting a Star Party?
    • Conducting a Star Party is nearly a whole day effort. This includes packing all the equipment, driving to the location, unpacking the equipment, setting up the equipment, collimating the telescope, hosting the star party, packing the equipment, driving home and unpacking.
  • What does it cost to have a Star Party?
    • Just a few points on the cost:
      • As indicated, this is a whole day+ process.
      • My 22-inch Obsession is the largest truly portable telescope made today (hand made in the USA!).
      • Far as I know, I am the only one hosting Star Parties in Colorado with a telescope of this size.
      • Once in a life time experience.
      • Tour of the Universe.
      • Have a party of 10 friends and split the cost.
      • You get up to four hours of personal astronomical attention during your tour.
    • Cost of Star Party for a personal tour of the Universe through a world class telescope -

$1,000 plus $.50 per mile re: google earth. It takes about an hour to set up and take the equipment down.

  • What happens if it rains?
    • We will decide 24 hours before the event whether or not to proceed with the program.
    • I do have an excellent backup which is my 3D show on the Aurora Borealis which I have done in lieu of observing. Clients were very satisfied with the alternative.
  • Other things:
    • I can host Star Parties for schools, clubs, scouts.
    • I have done 3D Aurora Borealis programs for many schools for as little as $2 per child!
    • Fund raisers
  • OK, I want to talk to Bryan further about this...