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A40farinagolf

I've never been to a star party - what happens?

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A40farinagolf    191

I'm considering attending a star party for the very first time but before I do I'm looking for a bit of general guidance.

I'm located in Mid Cheshire, I have my own transport but don't have a tent or any camping equipment.

How would you proceed if you were in my position?

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carastro    2,153

I would set about acquiring some camping gear in the first instance.  There are normally toilet blocks and washing facilities, and most camps have washing up facilities.  

You'll need to make sure you don't show any white light at night, all white lights need to be covered in red film including open the car which is really frowned upon at astro camp.

Other than that, make sure you have plenty of warm clothes in layers, some water proof shoes and a red torch and you'll have a great time.

Carole 

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mapstar    5,578

Agree with Carole

If It's just you a small tent, sleeping bag, thermarest or blow up bed, something to make warm meals and drink's and showering kit.

Warm clothes and good boots be prepared for the worst

Most of all learn and have fun. Lots of friendly helpful people to talk to.

Damian

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DRT    4,799

I have been to one, SGL9. I don't do camping.

I decided it would be ok to sleep in the car because I would be up all night looking at the stars. It was cloudy, so I had many hours of cold, damp discomfort.

This year I plan to hire a Transit van. I will be bringing lots of telescopes and a proper Divan mattress, sheets, quilt, pillows and an electric fan heater. A kettle, microwave, mini fridge and DVD player are likely to accompany me if there is room in the van.

If you have never done this before do not make yourself uncomfortable, it will most likely spoil the experience :wink:

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steppenwolf    4,135

Star parties are as much about socialising as they are about star gazing so even if the weather is poor, expect to have a good time.

Always be mindful of others, especially when it comes to extraneous light - I heard a story about some idiot who left his caravan awning light on all night destroying everyone else's view when the clouds departed in the wee small hours - he mysteriously disappeared and was never heard of again.........

Sent from my iPhone from somewhere dark .....

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Scott    4,695

Star parties are as much about socialising as they are about star gazing so even if the weather is poor, expect to have a good time.

Always be mindful of others, especially when it comes to extraneous light - I heard a story about some idiot who left his caravan awning light on all night destroying everyone else's view when the clouds departed in the wee small hours - he mysteriously disappeared and was never heard of again.........

Sent from my iPhone from somewhere dark .....

I hear tell, that if not for his providing of coffee and cake, a lynching may well have occurred ;)

edit: Sorry, I digress. As mentioned, it's about having fun as much as stargazing. when the weather is poor, you can usually find  bunch oflike minded folk discussing the art of processing, splitting doubles (stars), collimation, splitting doubles (whiskey) or just having a laugh:D.

just be conciderate of others, try to plan things so lights aren't turned on (maybe remove the bulbs in the car) and planfor it to be arctic, take enough clothes to deal with it being arctic, then take some more :D. loads of blankets are also the order of the day 

above all ENJOY

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nightfisher    6,513

A star party is a good place to go, so long as you think you will enjoy camping, i love being out under canvass and more so at star parties, its a great buzz chatting and socializing with like minded people, and looking through other scopes 

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Lowjiber    814

I don't camp... period.

If a star party is a one-night affair, I just catch a nap in my Jeep... as I'll be heading home in the morning.

However, star parties that last two, or more, nights require a more civilized approach IMHO.  My wife and I rent a decent-sized RV similar to the one pictured below.

With its own generator (for air-conditioning during the day); propane tank for cooking/heating; plenty of room to transport equipment; nice bed; shower; and roll-out awning for daytime chats with friends, it can't be beaten.

Most rental places allow the user to pay a "clean-up" fee ahead of time.  We just drop it off and the end of the trip, much like a rental car at the airport... zero work.

post-38191-0-88132800-1423922823.jpg

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A40farinagolf    191

The RV option looks good but unsure how available they are in the UK, won't be as popular as they are in the US.

Is there a list somewhere of the UK events that gives dates / location / programme details etc?

Looked at FLO website for details of SGLX and I'm struggling to find anything worthwhile, I've found the dates and ticket info but that's it - can someone send me some info please.

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carastro    2,153

When I got fed up with all the packing and pitching involved in camping (don't mind living in a tent, just got fed up with all the effort involved), I tried for a long time to see if I could hire a campervan for Star parties, but not only are they extremely expensive, but most places won't hire them out for less than 2 weeks.

In the end I considered just hiring a van, but didn't like the idea of being enclosed in the back of a van with no windows.  So I bought a campervan in the end (or at least a van that had been partly converted).  

So if you don't have camping gear, you could just hire a van and sleep in that.

Carole 

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John    17,532

This section of the forum has some information on star parties and similar events including non-SGL ones. Keilder and Kelling are the big ones:

http://stargazerslounge.com/forum/45-star-parties/

This section has information and some photos from the past SGL star parties and a section on this years one (which is where this thread is !):

http://stargazerslounge.com/forum/202-sgl-star-parties/

This is where the SGL ones are held:

http://www.lucksallpark.co.uk/

Looking through the photos of previous parties will give you a good idea of what its all about.

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Mr Spock    5,060

Other things to bring: Something to drink, something to sit on, something to eat on and something to eat with.

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fondofchips    284

Ordinary Transit vans are cold magnets due to the lack of insulation & the large area of metal in the body.  You will need a good mattress/air bed & line the sides with something warm as well.

We once hired one for a weekend at Yarmouth & took a large tarpaulin with us to line the van.  We were freezing in the van, in the end we went down on to the beach & slept in our sleeping bags under the tarpaulin in between the sand dunes.

It was cold but still warmer than inside the van.

Take plenty of warm stuff & clothing, you cannot have too much.  Remember you may need to have replacement clothing in case you get wet.

Enjoy!

Edited by fondofchips

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DRT    4,799

Ordinary Transit vans are cold magnets due to the lack of insulation & the large area of metal in the body.  You will need a good mattress/air bed & line the sides with something warm as well.

We once hired one for a weekend at Yarmouth & took a large tarpaulin with us to line the van.  We were freezing in the van, in the end we went down on to the beach & slept in our sleeping bags under the tarpaulin in between the sand dunes.

It was cold but still warmer than inside the van.

Take plenty of warm stuff & clothing, you cannot have too much.  Remember you may need to have replacement clothing in case you get wet.

Enjoy!

Thanks for the advice. I will have an electric hookup on my pitch and plan to take a small fan heater that I use in my garage to keep it warm enough so that the freezer doesn't start to defrost. My main challenge is to find a van with some sort of ventilation otherwise the heater might cause condensation on the roof which would then turn into rain in the middle of the night :lol:

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reddoss    703

I'm considering attending a star party for the very first time but before I do I'm looking for a bit of general guidance.

Its the initiation ceremony you have to worry about !!!!!!!!  :grin:

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JemC    672

The RV option looks good but unsure how available they are in the UK, won't be as popular as they are in the US.

Is there a list somewhere of the UK events that gives dates / location / programme details etc?

Looked at FLO website for details of SGLX and I'm struggling to find anything worthwhile, I've found the dates and ticket info but that's it - can someone send me some info please.

I believe there is a place not far from you,

Priory rentals at Northwich, they seem to be quite reasonably priced

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PeterW    414

Beer or coffee can help while away the "looking at clouds". If there is a mobile signal there will be lots of checking different sites and prognosticating when the clear bit will reach you! Best advice is to always stay up till dawn, there is nothing worse than knocking off at 3am only to be told the next day that the "skies were amazing" at 3:30!!!!!!!!!! You will end up feeling like a zombie, but at least you won't have missed any observing opportunities.

The Isle of Wight SP has nice comfy catered beach huts, you could see if they still have space. I don't tent either, but there you don't have to,,, don't want to... The wind off the sea can be Arctic!

A list of things to go hunting for is important, nothing is worse than gawping at all those stars and wondering what to look for next....

Know your kit well and be able to use it in the dark, some spare bits are always handy. Make a packing list well in advance, the "chuck it in the car" option risks leaving behind important little bits like adapters, power supplies that stop you using the rest of the kit you have brought.

Oh, white lights are only one step worse then green lasers.... Most star parties take a very dim view of their use! Also try to get a dim red light and keep it pointed down so that it does not dazzle others.... I have been near blinded by red (though searchlight bright) headlights... Bye bye dark adaption!

Sure others will think of things I have missed.

PeterW

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Spikey    1,287

Careful, Moonshane, don't scare him off by showing him what the imagers get up to :eek:

I'm the one on the left.

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PeterW    414

The imagers either sit hunched over a dim red screen grumbling when their auto guider loses lock it they are sitting inside drinking teas letting the scope and computer enjoy the clear skies....

PeterW

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