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Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston
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Star parties

Jupiter

A star party is a gathering of amateur astronomers who set up their telescopes and observe the night sky. It is a great way to see things that you normally can't see without a telescope and may not typically take the time to ponder.

Our star parties are hosted by local schools; however non-profit organizations may also request a star party.

Request a star party

You can request a star party a couple of ways.

  • Email: You can email an ATMoB star party coordinator at starparty@atmob.org to arrange a date or request more information about arranging a star party
  • Online: If you are familiar with the process and already have a date in mind, you can complete our online request form

Hosting a star party

Cost

A Star Party is free for schools and non-profits and is open to both astronomers and non-astronomers alike.

Location

For practical reasons your school or non-profit must be in a region where ATMoB members live reasonably close by.

Your school/organization's responsibility

  • Assign a star party coordinator to arrange the event
  • Supply the venue. This is usually a dark place on school grounds with outside lights turned off when possible
  • Assign adult(s) to help keep order among young attendees
  • Advertise your event to the people you want to come
  • We request that schools and organizations provide refreshments for astronomer volunteers, since they use up a lot of energy standing out in the cold all night.

ATMoB's responsibility

We will notify our members of your event and supply the viewing equipment like binoculars and telescopes and astronomers.

When is the best time of year for a star party?

Star parties can be held at any time of year however, here are some things to think about when choosing the date.

  • Star parties are best scheduled 3-4 evenings before or after first quarter moon, especially for youngsters and adults who have never looked through a telescope. During full moon, the moon is so bright that it obscures a view of other celestial objects.
  • Early spring and late fall are usually excellent times to hold star parties. Night time temperatures are reasonable, and it gets dark early.

Should I bring a flashlight?

Yes, but we ask that you follow these flashlight etiquette rules:

  • Use a small one to keep the stray light low.
  • 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.

What kind of clothing should I wear?

  • Winter: Dress warm in winter! Wear several layers and bring a hat and gloves. Temperatures in Winter months can get very low in the evening and you want to be comfortable so that you can enjoy the experience.
  • Summer: In summer the rule is wear long sleeves and apply bug spray before going outdoors. If you apply bug spray at the star party, please do so away from the telescopes and other sensitive equipment!
  • All the times in between: Remember that you may be outside for several hours during a clear night and that it could be 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 decide by 2:00 p.m. on the day of the star party. To get a GO/NO GO status on the star party contact your school coordinator.