Last updated: 30 April 2001

Over the past few years there has been some occasional discussion of the possibility of holding a star party for ETX users, where many of us could get together to share experiences, learn new things, and to meet other ETX users in person. And now with DS users joining in the community on this web site, they would be included. At this time I'd like to see just what level of interest in such an event would be and to determine some other aspects of holding it. So, right now we are just in the extremely preliminary discussion stage. I'll post more info as we proceed (or not) towards making this event a reality.

Possible venue (3/18/01)

Call for Interest (2/18/01)

Call for Interest

Some obvious questions that need to be answered:

  Would you attend such an event?

  Would you pay to attend such an event (to offset any costs)?

  Would you be willing to give a talk on some aspect of the ETX, DS, Autostar, astronomy, astrophotography?

  Would you bring your telescope(s)?

  What about housing/camping/transportation/meal costs and availability?

Here are some of my thoughts on holding such an event as this.

I envision a one day and night event. During the day, starting around noon, we would have welcomes, talks, and sun observing. Then a dinner. Then shortly after sunset we would start our night time observing through all the scopes present. Equipment demonstrations would be conducted at the appropriate times day or night. We would continue through the night as weather permitted and people were still around.

It is possible that a representative from Meade and/or dealers would attend to answer questions. Dealers would be welcome to sell products.

With the above as a concept, two specifics that need resolving are:

  When would it be held?

  Where would it be held?

Some thoughts come to mind on the "when". It might be possible to hold our Star Party in conjunction with another event, such as the Riverside Telescope Makers Conference at the end of May 2001. I am reluctant to do that for various reasons. But then, should a date be picked that is close or far away from any competing event? (By the way, to accomplish all the necessary logistics to conduct this event I suspect that May is the earliest it could be held, and more likely June or July.)

As to "where", holding it at the same time and location as another event would dictate the "where" but if held separately then we have to make our own arrangements for the location. And that opens up the question of the location.

Some possibilities on a location: A state or national park that allows visitors to stay past Midnight and has good dark and open skies. It should also have facilities for the presentations and eating. A farm or house/yard that also meets the same requirements could also work. Electrical power would be nice for those who want to use AC for their telescopes/computers. Ideally there would be no cost for the location but it is possible that there would be a fee or other costs associated with the location.

Which brings us back to the questions mentioned at the beginning: would you come and would you pay? In order for this event to be worthwhile we would need more than just a few people to attend. That would mean that some attendees would likely have to travel some distance to wherever the Star Party is held. Since I'm the one trying to make this happen, I'm leaning towards holding it someplace in Southern California. Meade is here and there are dealers I can contact for participation. But I would welcome help on just about anything to pull this off.

So, let me know if you are interested in this idea. If so, let me know your thoughts on the above concepts and questions. Feel free to throw more ideas at me. If you think you would attend, let me know where you live so that I can get an idea of travel distances. If you have or know of facilities that could be used, pass that along. If you would like to help, PLEASE tell me! If you think this is a really dumb idea, well, tell me that too.

I'll post responses on updates to this page. Please email inputs to me at this special email address: etx@me.com. Please do not use this special address for normal general user inquiries/responses and please do not combine messages meant as a response to this Call for Interest with email sent for other purposes. Thanks.

Possible Venue

With all the various responses that I have received regarding a possible ETX Star Party it has become apparent that there is no single event that will work for everyone. So in order to get the first one under our belt I have one possibility to propose. There are still many details to work out but I wanted to get some feedback on this venue before proceeding.

As several respondents have pointed out, piggybacking on an existing star party might be a good way to get things started. On Friday and Saturday, 14-15 September 2001, "Nightfall" will be held at the Palm Canyon Resort in Borrego Springs, California. The Moon phase will be 3 days short of New and so reasonably dark skies should prevail. I received the following email from the Nightfall coordinator which supports our attendance. See the Nightfall web page and let me know what you think.

Subject:	RE: Nightfall 2001
Sent:	Saturday, March 17, 2001 13:36:39
From:	Nightfall coordinator
Interesting concept.

If ETX users wanted to come to Nightfall, and have their own ETX Corner,
that is perfectly fine.  The hotel even has some meeting rooms, although
they might want a small charge for the use.

Nightfall is presently set up as a Star Party with evening lecture.  It
is very laid back during the day, with most people relaxing around the
pools. We don't have vendors set up.  It is not to say that they can't,
however, there is no central location for them to do so.  Also, it can
be hot during the day, if they are out in the sun.  However, they could
set up around the meeting room, if one did that.

The hotel for Nightfall always sells out.  They have 65 rooms. We end up
with people at nearby hotels.  However, we usually only use a fraction
of the 135 RV sites.

I hope this is of use to you.


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Copyright ©2001 Michael L. Weasner / etx@me.com
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