The Astronomy Connection

San Francisco Bay Area Astronomy => Calendar: Announcements by Clubs, Societies, etc. => Topic started by: sgottlieb on March 04, 2017, 11:34:29 AM

Title: OzSky Star Party -- October 2017 in Coonabarabran
Post by: sgottlieb on March 04, 2017, 11:34:29 AM
Registration is open for the 2017 OzSky "Southern Spring" star party in Coonabarabran ("astronomy capital" of Australia), which runs from October 15-22 (7 nights).  If you have any interest in observing in the southern hemisphere check out (  That's me on the ladder of a 30" in SQM 21.8-21.9 skies.

I'm planning to attend again (this is my 8th trip to Australia!), as this is a remarkable opportunity to see the Magellanic Clouds and more.  All equipment is provided (mostly 18" to 30" scopes) -- you basically just have to show up and enjoy the dark skies.  A number of bay area amateurs have participating in OzSky star parties including Bob Douglas, Peter Natscher, David Cooper, Dennis Beckley, James Webster.  If anyone has any questions or possible interest, let me know.
Title: Re: OzSky Star Party -- October 2017 in Coonabarabran
Post by: John Pierce on March 14, 2017, 11:07:21 AM
I posted this last year, I'll post it again,

stumbled onto this amusing Australian tv series, apparently it ran across Australia earlier this year.

the whole thing is on youtube,

Under the Milky Way is a 6 part (28 min each) Australian TV comedy/drama about an astronomical observatory in Coonabarabran NSW, thats being shut down because a fancy new larger observatory has opened nearby.     The whole thing was filmed on location at Siding Springs and Coonabarabran.
Title: Re: OzSky Star Party -- October 2017 in Coonabarabran
Post by: sgottlieb on March 14, 2017, 04:49:30 PM
I'll have to check it out.  I'm not sure how I got hooked on it, but I've actually watched a Australian melodrama (at least 3 seasons) that takes place in the 1950's called "A Place Called Home".  Full of stereotypes, prejudice and an over the top villain.  Nothing to do with astronomy, though.

By the way, the October event has been moved to a country sheep farm (Markdale) about 3 ½ hours west of Sydney.  Beautiful location that I observed at a year and half back.  SQM readings consistently above 21.8!  I know there's still openings if anyone has had a desire to observe in the southern hemisphere.

Title: Re: OzSky Star Party -- October 2017 in Coonabarabran
Post by: joelin02 on March 17, 2017, 12:30:22 AM
what is the weather like there in october?? Looking at the Wiki page for sydney I see 11.1 rainy days in October.

Given how this rainy season has been here in the bay area...I'd hate if most of my days there were underneath clouds
Title: Re: OzSky Star Party -- October 2017 in Coonabarabran
Post by: sgottlieb on March 17, 2017, 11:05:36 AM
Joe, my anecdotal experiences may not be the best predictor, but here's been my experiences on two trips that time of year --

In mid-October '15, I observed at the Markdale site, along with John Hoey and Kemer Thomson.  I think the forecast was looking pretty bleak the day I flew to Sydney, so I was surprised the first half of the first night was clear (perhaps 4 hours).  The next day (Sunday) it rained all night, so not a great start at this point.  But then we had 5 consecutive all-nighters with very little or cloud-free conditions.  So, I ended the week exhausted from the number of hours of observing (6 out of 7 nights).  I check my notes again and SQM readings were consistently above 21.8 with several readings between 21.9-22.0.  I believe the star party last October/November had similar luck with the weather.  Locals Dennis Beckley and Bob Douglas attended, though you probably would have to contact them directly for their experiences.

In early November 2010 I observed at Coonabarabran, which is further from Sydney (perhaps a 6 hour drive).  The weather prospects looked dismal the few weeks leading up to the star party with consistently cloudy conditions and rain throughout New South Wales.  But although there were clouds during the daytime, it cleared by sunset on the first 4 days of the star party and I got in quite a bit of observing under impressive skies (SQM readings generally 21.85-21.89).   But we had clouds/rain for the last 3 nights, so we ended up with 4 out of 7 clear nights.

So, yeah, there is a risk with clouds/rains but I've rarely (if ever) returned from a trip to Australia bummed out by the weather (say with over half the observing time missed due to weather).  Conditions are drier further in the interior or perhaps on the west coast, but then you're really on your own in terms of planning a trip, and would have to lug along your own equipment.

Also, if you haven't been to southern hemisphere before and are only planning a single trip, then I would recommend going to the March/April star party as you get the full Milky Way overhead experience with lots of great nebulae/clusters that you haven't seen before.