CalStar '10

Info for First Time Attendees

Suggestions for First Time Visitors

A multi-day star party is different than local star parties for more reasons than just the darker skies. This section will answer your questions if you have never attended a multi-day star party before or you have never attended this one.

You should probably take the tour of the site to get a better idea of the layout.

Do I have to camp?

The answer to this is no, but...

Most of the people do decide to camp. That is because many of the guests will observe all night long if the skies are good. It is safer and more convenient to collapse into a near by tent, RV, or car than to try to drive to other lodging.

Multi-day star parties also try to protect the night vision of their guests by restricting the use of cars. Moving cars in the middle of the night is disruptive since there is almost no way to do it without costing some portion of other guest's night vision. Thus CalStar and other star parties restrict the movement of cars after dark. Because of our layout we do not need to do that across the entire area reserved for us, however in the areas where the roads are closed they are closed. You may not operate a car within those areas after 8PM.

Guests wanting to stay in a hotel room will have to leave their cars in the Early Departure Area / Late Arrival Area. You can elect to observe from their also or set up your scope in one of the more restricted areas and walk past the road closure.

How do I walk around at night in the dark?

It is actually easier than you think. Once you get fully dark adapted it is amazing how much you can see at night. Try it for yourself (if you can do this safely) get up in the middle of the night and notice how much you can see in your room. You may even be able to walk to the bathroom without lights. Now turn the lights on and then off. You are now virtually blind and will remain that way for quite a while.

The CalStar roads and fields are not regular surfaces. We recommend that you use red flashlights to show where you are walking. After a while you may find you don't even need these.

Can I use a white flashlight in my RV or tent?

This depends on the area you are in. The Dark Enforced area is, well, dark enforced. No there means no. As you move to other areas the rules become less restrictive. Review the details table for more information.

Where should I set up?

The first question is whether you are spending the night or not. If you are not then either you will need to walk to your parked car or set up outside of the road closures.

If this is the first time you have ever visited a multiday star party you should probably not set up in the Dark Enforced area. I did not my first year. Instead I set up in the Casual Area and walked into the Dark Enforced area to chat with more experienced people. I am glad I did that because my laptop was not quite shielded enough, I forgot a dome light, ...

If you are spending the night are you willing to use only dim red light?. If so, come on into the Dark Enforced Area otherwise the casual area may be more enjoyable or even the Late Arrival area.

What do I need to bring?

Water is available at the site

Should should plan to bring most groceries. There is a convenience store at the boat ramp where you can purchase ice and convenience items.

Enough battery power to support yourself. You can recharge batteries in the nearby campground, but SJAA is not providing anything formal this year.

There are dumpsters on the site. Please pick up your area.

What should I do with my equipment during the day?

In most multiple day star parties people leave their equipment set up during the entire star party. Unfortunately there is no way SJAA can provide security for your equipment during the day. You definitively need to lock up all items that are portable and/or high value. It would be prudent to use the same rules you would any time you are visiting a park (i.e. Leave Nothing Visible)

Two more immediately problems than theft are heat and wind. You will have to protect your scope from heat during the day. The sun can be pretty vicious even in at the time of year CalStar is held. I used to use some Mylar bags (e.g. Desert Storm), but lately I have been using space blankets.

Wind is another problem. The surface area of a big Dob is surprising large. LSA is not known for its wind, but protecting a scope from windmilling into something or being lifted off its mount is just plain a good idea.

Star Party Etiquette