by Michael Wright
AAAP is holding StarQuest, our annual star party, Friday, September 26 through Sunday, September 28 at the Hope Conference and Renewal Center in the bucolic hills of Warren County. This is a great opportunity for members and their friends and families to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow astronomy enthusiasts and observe at the best dark-sky site within 90 minutes of Princeton.
Organizing is on going and we are looking for members willing to help plan and run the event. Please contact me is you are willing to volunteer.
In addition to all night observing, we would like to offer the following activities:
- Day-time solar observing with white light and H-alpha telescopes – The club’s H-alpha scope will be set up, but we invite members to set up their scopes with solar filters on the observing field during the day.
- Telescope tutorials – We are looking for experienced observers to tutor those who need help learning how to use their telescope and navigating the night sky.
- Deep sky observing contest – Bill Murray will offer a list of objects for this observing challenge. Anyone who completes the list will receive an official AAAP observing pin and admiration of their peers.
- Astronomy gear flea market –This will be an opportunity to sell or swap astronomy gear, books or other paraphernalia or pick up some new treasure. Check your gearbox and bookshelves for items that you no long use. We will setup tables to display you wares.
- “The Earth as a Peppercorn” – A crowd pleaser at other star parties! We will show how big space really is by walking off a scale model of the solar system based upon Guy Ottewell’s book The Thousand Yard Model.
- Saturday afternoon activities – If there is enough interest, we will organize a trip to a nearby roadcut to dig for fossils or visit our observatory at Jenny Jump.
If anyone has any suggestions for other activities, please forward them to me. The member who submits the best suggestion approved by the Board will receive a free registration to StarQuest 2014.
In addition, our Program Chair, Kate Otto, is looking for a speaker for an afternoon lecture. If anyone has any suggestions, please contact Kate.
Hope Conference and Renewal Center is located is just off exit 12 on I-80 and not far from Jenny Jump. It is situated on a hillside overlooking Little Silver Lake, with 125 acres of forests, wetlands, fields and lawns. Luxurious accommodations (by star party standards) include tent sites for camping and bunkhouses with semi-private baths and showers. The camp lodge has showers for campers and a large hall where meals will be served. The observing field will be set up on the lawn conveniently near the lodge and away from the bunkhouses and camp sites.
As in recent years, we will be offering brunch and dinner on Saturday for an additional fee. Free coffee, hot chocolate and snacks will be provided at night for observers.
In my opinion, it is the people who attend that make StarQuest a success. I have attended several StarQuests and have always had fun even if observing conditions are poor. Hanging out with other astronomy enthusiasts, swapping stories, sharing views through our scopes, learning new skills and enjoying the camaraderie make me look forward to StarQuest 2014. I hope you will help make this year another success by volunteering. If you cannot, come on out anyway and enjoy the event. See you there!