What IS a Star Party

Banner Creek
Science Center
& Observatory
RCOS 20-Inch Telescope
(click image to enlarge)


Our Mission:  To provide hands-on scientific education in harmony with the ecosystem and Native American culture.
Our Vision:  BCSCO will operate as a premier natural and physical sciences educational and research facility to attract students, scholars and tourists to the region.

Come for the Stars, stay for the Science.  Our astronomy and science Mini-Classes and Seminars are designed to convey why science matters; to ignite flames of curiosity; to stimulate an interest in the STEM fields; to have fun making discoveries along the way; to create an attitude of "Wow! I've got to find out more about this!"
~ Image thanks to DakotaLapse web site ~ Click the image to enlarge ~
~ Image thanks to DakotaLapse web site ~ Click the image to enlarge ~
What IS a Star Party?
A Star Party happens when people get together to look at the night sky!
Star Parties have been conducted in backyards, vacant lots, shopping malls, campsites, schoolyards, parks and, of course, at Banner Creek Observatory.
The only requirement? –a reasonably clear night sky and people with an interest in astronomy.
Equipment requirements:
There are no absolute requirements.  However, due to tradition, experience and necessity, some or all of the following items are often found at star parties:
  • binoculars
  • star charts
  • telescope(s)
  • coffee
  • red flashlights
  • batteries
  • strong coffee
  • food (preferably junk)
  • lawn chairs (straight or lounge)
  • tables
  • blankets (seasonal)
  • snacks
  • more coffee
  • insect repellant (seasonal)
  • computers
  • cameras
What Happens At A Star Party?
Viewing sky objects can happen in a number of ways.  An observer may have a lst of objects to be studied, or just scan the sky and see what they find.  Objects can be located and identified with star charts, either hardcopy or computerized.  Some people take photographic images, others sketch what they see, some just look.  There's always comparing of notes, sharing of observations, explaining and demonstrating, accompanied by coffee and other caffein sources.
I've Never Been To A Star Party -- WHAT DO I DO ?
First, introduce yourself.  We'd be glad to show you lots of neat stuff!
Second, some very basic rules:
  • No light unless it's red (or green).  The Observatory and Classroom will be illuminated by red-bulb night lights throughout.
  • Even a flash of white light will wipe out your dark-adapted vision.
  • Your eyes will take 15-20 minutes to readapt after exposure to white light.
  • For best safety, let your eyes dark-adapt before walking around between the telescopes.
  • Don't use spray-on insect repellants around the telescopes --they can damage the optics.
  • Let the Observatory Director and his assistants operate the BCO telescopes for you.  They're familiar with how the scopes work, and you'll have better, faster results if they do the driving.
Many thanks to Janelle Burgardt, Education/Outreach Coordinator for NEKAAL.ORG, for the content of this page.