What is a star party?
Star parties are a great way to become acquainted with the real night sky. At least once a month, astronomy enthusiasts from across Middle Tennessee gather under a clear night sky to set up their telescopes and share the astronomical sights above. It doesn’t matter whether you have a degree in astrophysics or don’t know which end of a telescope to look in, everyone is welcome. Even if you’re just a beginner, a star party can be a great introduction to the night sky.
To minimize the effects of light pollution, star parties are usually held at local parks away from downtown. Sometimes, though, local astronomy enthusiasts set up their telescopes right in front of Adventure Science Center for a look at brighter objects such as the Moon and planets.
The Nashville astronomy group is the Barnard-Seyfert Astronomical Society (BSAS), but there are also seasonal star parties at Middle Tennessee State University and Vanderbilt’s Dyer Observatory. Gallatin is home to the Cumberland Astronomical Society. If you’re interested in attending a star party, keep this page bookmarked. We’ll always have a list of the next few observing sessions scheduled for the Nashville area.
Be sure to check this website or call Astroline at (615) 401-5092 before travelling in case of a cancellation due to poor weather circumstances.
- If the skies are cloudy or worse, the star party will be cancelled. If the skies are iffy, call Sudekum Planetarium’s Astroline at (615) 401-5092 to confirm whether the star party will be held or not. Announcements will also be made on the Sudekum Planetarium home page and the BSAS home page at www.bsasnashville.com. For other star parties, see their web pages for cancellation information.
- Want to familiarize yourself with the current night sky before attending the star party? Check out Sudekum Planetarium’s program “Skies Over Nashville,” a live tour of the night sky. This is a perfect chance to ask questions about stars, constellations, planets, or any other topic about space or astronomy. See our show schedule for program times.
- Download and print out a copy of Sudekum Planetarium’s monthly star chart to bring with you. Copies are also available at the Planetarium.
- Make or buy a red flashlight so you can see your star chart without ruining your night vision. To make one, just find some red cellophane or red cloth to cover the light – so that only red light comes from the flashlight. Red light is much easier on the eyes than the white light that comes from a regular, unfiltered flashlight. You’ll be doing yourself (and everyone else at the star party) a big favor!
- For the same reason, please be sure that when you arrive at the star party location, you turn off your car headlights as soon as is safely possible.
- Be sure to dress very warmly in winter! Though it can be a lot of fun, stargazing isn’t a very physical activity – you won’t be moving around much, and you may get cold sooner than you think!
- If you need to use bug spray or insect repellant, please step away from the telescopes before applying it. The chemicals can damage telescope optics on contact.
- If you’re interested in buying a telescope, but don’t know what to look for, star parties are the perfect place to try out many different kinds of telescopes, and ask questions to the people who own them.