July 27th 2019 at Dexter State Recreation Site
Every year we host a dark sky star party at Dexter State Park. Fifteen miles from Eugene, this site is far enough from the city sky glow to allow us to see many of the galaxies, nebulae, and other deep-sky objects that are obscured by light pollution when viewed from town. If you haven't seen a truly dark sky through a telescope before, you're in for a treat. For that matter, even if you have before, you're still in for a treat!
This star party attracts dozens of astronomers with telescopes, some as large as 20 inches in aperture. The view of Saturn, Jupiter, star clusters, nebulae, and distant galaxies is simply stunning. This is a don't-miss opportunity, and it's absolutely free. Just show up at dusk (about 9:00) and join us for a view of some of the universe's greatest hits.
We have an ongoing tradition of giving away telescopes at this star party. This year, we're giving away two telescopes: a 4.5" Orion Starblast and a 6" Orion Skyquest Dobsonian. Both are brand new telescopes with extra eyepieces to make complete observing packages. And bonus: we'll provide free instruction to the lucky winners.
To be eligible for the telescope giveaway, entrants must be between the ages of 8 and 18, inclusive, and they must be present to win.
Please take note!
Dark adaptation is very important at star parties, and white light or bright light of any color destroys night vision. We ask that you don't use white-light flashlights or cell phones or cameras with flash during the star party. If you need a flashlight, we will provide a red-filtered one for you, or we can cover your white light with red filter material. Stop at our information table on your way in for that service. But once you allow your eyes to adapt to the low light level, we think you'll be surprised at how well you can see to get around just by the light of the stars.
Star parties are very informal events. Just wander around the site and inquire what each telescope is looking at. If it's pointed at something you haven't seen yet, get in line and have a look.
If the star party is clouded out, check our website for a rescheduled event.
Star Party Dos and Don'ts
Dress warmly. Nights can get chilly even in summer.
Preserve your night vision and everyone else's. It takes up to 20 minutes for eyes to adapt to the dark. A single burst of bright light can ruin that for everyone. If you carry a flashlight, use the dimmest light you can, and cover the lens with red filter film. (Red light isn't quite as damaging to night vision as white light.) Automotive brake-light repair tape works well. You might need several layers. Remember that once your eyes adapt to the dark, it doesn't take much light to see your way around--or to ruin your night vision.
Cell phone screens are way too bright to use at star parties. Please go a long ways from the group before using your cell phone.
Don't be shy; come on up and say "Hi" and have a look. Star parties tend to be informal, with several telescopes set up more or less at random and people milling around between them to look at different objects through different scopes. If there's a line behind a telescope, it's okay to ask the person operating it what that scope is pointed at before you get in line.
Ask questions! Amateur astronomers love to share what we've learned about the night sky.
Children are welcome, but small ones tend to grab for the eyepiece, often with sticky fingers. Fingerprints can ruin an eyepiece, and eyepieces can be very expensive. Before you allow your child to look through a telescope, explain to them how to clasp their hands behind their backs and simply look into the eyepiece, not touching any part of the telescope. Practice this at home with a pair of binoculars or a toilet-paper tube. If they cannot follow this procedure, please do not bring them to a star party.
Please leave your dogs at home. In the dark, they could cause accidents if they get underfoot.
Star parties are always "weather permitting." Check the sky and our weather pagebefore you set out to spare yourself a trip if the sky is cloudy.