We attended the December 30 STAR PARTY by purchasing tickets on-line about two weeks prior. It was phenomenal with perfect conditions - clear sky and no moon! Neither hubby or I are into astronomy or telescopes but just enjoy the creation of the night sky so this was perfect. The briefer was very good, not too geeky-technical and threw in some humor throughout his presentation. There were numerous telescopes along with technicians to assist and answer questions and even ladders for those of us height-challenged.
The briefer talked for about 45 minutes in the amphitheater, even though he encouraged attendees to visit the telescopes (situated around the amphitheater) at any time (this helped with line control).
I would strongly recommend:
1. We dressed warmly with heavy winter coats, hats, gloves and scarfs for the cold December temps at 6,000 ft, but hand/feet warmers would of been a really, really good idea. Telescope technicians told us even Summer Star Parties are chilly with lots of mosquitos.
2. Take a stadium cushion or blanket for the cold stone seating in the amphitheater area. We were sitting there for nearly an hour and it was uncomfortable on the bum.
3. Don't bring cell phones/IPADS. First of all, service is very spotty and secondly, the light-emitting screens mess with your fully dark-adapted eyes, ruining your views (and those around you) of the sky with the naked eye and through the telescopes.
4. Eat prior to arriving and bring a thermos with hot beverage. The STARDATE CAFE is extremely small (8 tables), with very limited menu items (sandwiches/salads) and even some of those items where not available, long lines and slow service.
5. Tackle the "starry sky"/ "night scenery" camera settings prior to arriving. There are NO lights in the amphitheater to aid in achieving the correct camera settings.
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