South Pacific Star Party (25-28 May 2017)
Each year, since 1993, the Astronomical Society of New South Wales has hosted the now famous South Pacific Star Party (SPSP), at its 107 acre (43 hectare) country property Wiruna near Ilford, NSW, between Lithgow and Mudgee, about 3 hours north-west of Sydney.
This year was the 25th anniversary of the event and we at Sky-Watcher Australia attended as a major sponsor, taking along our princely 20″ Stargate Collapsible GOTO Dobsonian for some great star gazing activity.
Wiruna, aptly the Aboriginal word for sunset, is the ideal location to enjoy the sky once the sun has gone down. 1000 metres above sea level and far away from city lights, we enjoyed 4 days of spectacular skies with over 300 astronomical enthusiasts and experts. The moon was in its new phase so made for a perfect sky. The Star Party gives amateurs the chance to meet other amateur and professional astronomers and astrophotographers, and observe under dark skies with superb conditions, through all types and sizes of telescopes.
Activities included formal daytime workshops, as well as formal and informal lectures, while evening events included observing, socialising, and sky tours (naked eye and with telescopes) for keen new observers and those not so familiar with the stellar skyscape. Many attendees bring their own telescopes and are usually more than happy to let you look through them.
After a cloudy first night on Thursday when fog rolled in covering the entire sky we were lucky to have clear, chillingly cold nights to follow, lots of dew and wonderful night viewing in a spectacular sky. Adriano, manning our 20” Stargate Collapsible GOTO, drew a constant queue of keen observers who were rewarded with fine views of Jupiter, Saturn and Omega Centauri. Using the Meade eyepiece 100° FOV combined with the Sky-Watcher Coma Corrector they saw a spectacular view of deep sky objects such as Omega Centauri.
Overall, it was a very successful and well attended event – Sky-Watcher Australia gave away a Sky-Watcher Collapsible Dobsonian and an 82° Eyepiece kit as the Lucky Prize Draw to 2 happy winners.