During the last week of the October in 2022, I attended the Staunton River Star Party held at Staunton River State Park in southern Virginia. This is a great star party all around, one that should not be missed. At the bottom of this post is a link to a video I made about the event.

At the star party, my observing was primarily done via EAA (electronically assisted astronomy) and include Nebula and Galaxies plus a little visual observing of the Sun, Moon and some planets.

I don’t recall the exact number of registered attendees but I recall the star party hosts saying something like 110 or so with only a very few no-shows. Below is a summary of the week:

  • Monday night, the first night, was a great night for observing, I measured a 21.35 on the Sky Quality Meter. I was starting to fall asleep at my post by 3AM so I packed up and went to bed then
  • Tuesday evening the weather shut us out by around 9:30pm so only had about 1.5 hours of observing
  • Wednesday was supposed to be washout. Early evening fog kept rolling in and out to the point you could not see the tents and vehicles across the way from you but the fog was low and we could see the stars overhead quite easily. By 10:30 the weather cleared and we were able to observe well into the early morning hours.
  • Thursday was an amazing night, super clear and somewhat steady skies. I believe I measured a 21.65 on the Sky Quality Meter
  • Friday during the day, I gave a talk entitled “Where are the Aliens?” I covered several topics in this talk such as, how can we define life, what are some really harsh locations on Earth where we still find life, provide some examples of extremophiles, NASA missions (past, present and future) searching for conditions or evidence of life, Exoplanet search results, the Drake Equation, the Fermi Paradox and what might be some solutions to the paradox and what does that mean for us humans.
  • Friday, the public night, was forecasted to be another cloudy night be we did get a small window of 30 minutes for observing early in the evening
  • Saturday had the forecasts all over the board but in the end, we hand another clear night, at least until I packed things up around 2am.

The dew was quite unforgiving several nights but thankfully my new heater rings for my SCTs did an outstanding job.

My EAA equipment includes:

  • Celestron CPC1100 telescope and mount with a Celestron HD Wedge, Celestron StarSense auto-alignment and Celestron Focus Motor
  • ZWO ASI533MC Pro astronomical camera
  • Optec MAXField focal reducer
  • Homemade power box for 110v AC and 12v DC distribution
  • MINIX NGC5 computer (Windows 10) running CPWI telescope control and SharpCap image capture software
  • Eskimo Fatfish 949 shelter to provide a blacked-out shelter for viewing EAA (so as to not to leak unwanted white light on the observing field)
  • Two 24” Dell monitors
  • Folding tables as a desk and storage

Here’s a video on my current EAA setup: https://youtu.be/PgUWBxUcaZ4

Other astronomical equipment for visual observing include:

  • Explore Scientific AR102 refractor telescope
  • Celestron C8 Schmitt Cassegrain telescope
  • Lunt LS60THa w/B1200 filter solar telescope
  • Celestron CG-5 Advance GT equatorial mount (for the above 3 scopes)
  • Set of Baader Hyperion eyepieces

I attend star parties with my A-Liner LXE camper complete with wet-bath and outdoor kitchen.

Below is the video, I hope you enjoy it.

Clear & Steady Skies!