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January 26, 2009
Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
[NOTE: Participation in Special Interest
Groups is limited to MAS members only. For information about
joining the MAS, please visit the membership
page at www.mnastro.org/membership.]
Research and organize field trips to local or regional
events, such as star parties and observatories.
You don't need to be a party animal to appreciate star parties. There are fascinating amateur astronomers all over the world. And incredible skies that are literally beyond our horizons. I, for one, would like to meet and see as many as I can. You're Invited!
- Find out what particular star parties are like. Some are good places to observe (Texas Star Party)....some are not (AstroFest). Some have professional level programs (TSP, Stelafane); others are purposefully anarchistic (Grand Canyon). This info is available but not always accessible.
- For newer members or persons going to a party the first time, a lot can be gained by knowing how things work at that party. Logistics vary. Experience counts.
- Want to show off that new equipment? Or learn what is new, what works and doesn't? These are the places to do it.
- Many can be expensive to get to on your own, but affordable with shared transportation, lodging, etc. Although we are not a travel agency and cannot take responsiblity for your trip, we will do our best to coordinate resources for those going.
- Trip reports are cool! Send them to us.
Upcoming Meetings / Events
We like star parties more than meetings. The participants for each road trip may or may not meet to
organize their trip. Each trip is Ad Hoc.
From Al Savage's 5/20 e-mail -
"For all of those of you who like to live vicariously through others, I
though I would tell my extended version of the Yerkes road trip.
"The drive down was very long but I was lucky to carpool with
Helen and her new VW. After swapping many old stories we had to consult
Patti's accurate directions and made it to the hotel a couple hours
early. Other MAS members were early and we all seemed to explore the
area on our own for a while. We found a couple of garage sales in the
quaint old town (but limited our purchase to a bowl)
"We all met back at the hotel and learned that Patti couldn't
make it. We felt bad she couldn't come so we decided to drown our
sorrows with lots of food. The hotel desk suggested a supper club on
Lake Geneva so we all convoyed off to eat. Unfortunately we left Doug
behind! We felt guilty for ditching him but he made it to the
restaurant in time to eat after a visit to the observatory. The food
was plentiful and tasty and we were ready to tour the observatory.
"But when we arrived at the domes the lights were out and no one
was home! Someone found Professor Kyle Cudworth
who called the guide.
Cudworth stood out in the cold with out a coat and talked about what was
going on at the observatory. Our guide Rich Dreiser
showed up half hour
later and was very enthusiastic about the building. He pointed out many
non-symmetrical details on the exterior of the building. Hundreds of
animals, stars, faces, designs, dragons and gargoyles were everywhere.
"We went inside as it got darker, warmed up and went to look at
the 40 inch refractor. It was huge! You couldn't get it all in a
(you had to buy the
postcard) We tried to guilt him with his tardiness into letting us look
through the scope it but with no luck. We took turns going for a ride
on the moving floor and then headed down to the basement. This was my
favorite part of the tour. Old pieces of dusty telescopes parts, old
computers and junk were scattered everywhere. It was your worst
out the old garage" nightmare. Helen "boldy" went under the
the guide said "no one had gone before."
"We went outside and there was the other tour group, a bus of
students. We tagged along and got to see the old Star Wars adaptive
optics project http://astro.uchicago.edu/vtour/science/adapoptics.gif
and other projects. We then went shopping for Tee shirts and
meteorites. I bought a meteorite from the Sahara desert that is 4.5
billion years old - it is really cool and was on sale! The kids went to
the big scope and we just wandered around the building. The library was
full of dusty books and current editions. The rest of the building was
full of little back rooms with old telescopes in every corner.
"Finally the remaining group reluctantly left and went to a local
bar in Williams Bay. We played darts and drank beer until 1am and then
went back to the motel for some rest. The clouds never really let up so
our scopes made the long journey only to never see the Wisconsin night.
The morning brought lots of donuts, bagels, coffee and juice then we
headed home dodging the State Patrol the entire way. We all agreed it
was a great time and well worth it. Thanks to everyone who made it
SIG Members Web Sites
Useful Resources on the Internet
Links to Star Parties
If you don't see what you want, post a message on the RoadTrip forum
Calendar of "Some" Star Parties (let us know of others!)
- Cedar Key Stargaze -Florida - February 5-12, 2005
A very informal astro event in a great vacation spot. No programs, but good viewing, excellent local food and lodging.
- Star Party of the South Pacific - Australia - March 11-13, 2005 Excellent viewing and camping at a dark sky site three hours from Sydney. Good food available on-site. The best part is the friendly, knowledgable people. Several great astro sites a few hours north. If you can go, "Good on you, mate!"
- Texas Star Party - May 1-8, 2005
The ultimate for serious astro programs. Multiple distinguished presenters and many of the amateur astronomy heavy hitters are there. Excellent viewing with occasional high winds/storms. Prude Ranch is in a good location and lodging is moderately priced. Fort Davis is a few miles away and has B&Bs, and good food.
- Southern Skies Star Party - Bolivia - June 4-11, 2005
A week of awesome southern skies with a 4 star hotel for a very reasonable price. Rick Singmaster donated a 21" Starmaster that is on-site for use.
- Wisconsin Observers Weekend - Waupaca, WI - June
An informal get together at a state park. Lots of great telescopes. Not much for programs. Good folks, a lot from the Chicago area.
- Jeffers: Starry Night, Prairie Night - July 7-9, Sep/Oct
- Nebraska Star Party - JulyAwesome skies. See an upcoming issue of Gemini or the RoadTrip forum for a write-up
- Chippewa Valley - Northwoods - Eau Claire, WI - August
A small, but very professionally done party. And it's less than three hours away. Good camping, reasonable viewing, good folks and group meals. Some very nice programs.
- AstroFest - Illinois - September 8-10, 2005
One of the best astro flea markets around with most of the major vendors. Fair to poor viewing, but some very good programs. Some camping on-site.
- ICSTARS Star Party - Missouri - October 9-11, 2005
A great, family oriented star party hosted by tour guides and photographers Vic & Jen Winter. This has been the weekend after the Great Plains Star Party which is southwest of Kansas City, but that website is not up yet. A great trip would be to do them both in about 10 days.
- Okie-Tex - Oklahoma - October
Great viewing, big winds. See the Winter 2004 issue of Gemini.
Star Parties I would like to do
Other Star Parties Listings
What about the Weather?
Discussion Forum Instructions
A web-based discussion forum is available to facilitate communication
members of the SIG.
To join the group, visit the MAS discussion forums (www.mnastro.org/forums)
and, if you are not already a member, register. You'll
then have full access to the 'Road Trip SIG' forum. (Only
registered members can post to the forum, but you can read
postings without registering).
For more information regarding this Special Interest Group,
Please route inquiries to the 'RoadTrip SIG' forum at http://mnastro.org/forums,
or to Kirby Richter (firstname.lastname@example.org)