Each year since 1993, the Astronomical Society of New South Wales has hosted the now famous South Pacific Star Party (SPSP), at its 107 acre (43 hectare) country property Wiruna near Ilford, NSW, between Lithgow and Mudgee about 3 hours north-west of Sydney, through the Blue Mountains and into the NSW Central Tablelands.
The South Pacific Star Party provides amateurs with the chance to meet other amateur and professional astronomers, and observe under dark skies with superb seeing conditions, through all types and sizes of telescopes.
"Among the eucalyptus woodlands in New South Wales, Australia, there is 100 acres of land [Wiruna] designated for stargazing. Owned by a local astronomy society [the ASNSW], the land has both observation facilities and basic accommodations, though most prefer to camp. Each year, the society hosts a "South Pacific Star Party" during which 200 to 400 people convene for a weekend of star watching beneath one of the world's darkest skies." --Forbes.com, 18 June 2008.
Participants are encouraged to register in advance. Advance registration entitles you to take part in the voting for the Astroimaging Competition and to enter you name in the Lucky Prize Draw. Registrations normally open in January/February when the online registration page is ready and close about two weeks before the start of the event to allow time to get the T-shirts printed. The registration fee covers everything from one overnight stay to the full weekend. There are NO DISCOUNTS for short visits. SPSP T-shirts may be ordered in advance with registration but, if registering in the last couple of weeks before the star party, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to fill your order. If your pre-ordered T-shirt(s) cannot be supplied, you will receive a refund at the star party.
Those who choose to register on site will pay a $10 surcharge and will NOT receive tickets for the Prize Draw or voting. Members should also note that there will be NO MEMBER DISCOUNT with on-site registrations. PLEASE register early online.
Family registration: A "family" consists of up to three related adults and any number of related children. Extra adults and friends of the family should register separately.
Kids' Ages: We ask you to enter the ages of your children for two reasons - one is for the kids' workshop activity and the other is to make sure that they go into the Kids' Lucky Prize Draw. Yes, the kids have their own draw, with pretty good odds of winning (usually) a 6" Dobsonian telescope!
Confirmation of your Registration: If you pay online when your register and your payment is processed correctly, you will receive a confirmation email (receipt) from the ASNSW system as well as an email from PayPal. If you do not receive these emails, it means that you did not complete the registration process and no payment was made. See important notes about completing the process for "Family Registrations" on the Registration Page. If you choose to "Pay Later", you will receive a confirmation email from the ASNSW system - this email will provide details that you will need to make a payment.
The Star Party is the venue for the ASNSW Astroimaging Competition, which continues to make it one of the premier competitions amongst Amateur Astroimagers.
In honour of his memory of Scott Mellish, the ASNSW proudly announced the inaugural Scott Mellish Amateur Sketching or Drawing Competition in 2012. This competition was held at the South Pacific Star Party in 2012 and 2013, but was rested in 2014 and 2015. It aims to promote the art of Sketching and Drawing within the world-wide amateur astronomical community. The competition is open to any member of an amateur astronomical society throughout the world and is judged by popular vote during the star party. If you are enthusiastic to see it run in 2016, please email The Committee.
Each year, members are asked to submit designs for the year's t-shirts. The winner receives free SPSP registration. Start designing now for the next star party. Designs should be:
Send entries to The Committee before 31st March 2016.
Astronomy Innovations (for Telescope Makers and Software Developers)
Recognition for excellence and innovation is given to Telescope Makers and Software Developers in the form of merit awards. More information about these informal "competitions" will be provided in the registration kit.
Each participant who has registered in advance will receive a ticket in the Lucky Prize Draw. Tickets must be handed in upon entry to the meeting hall for the draw and winners must be present in the hall to claim their prizes.
There is a separate draw for kids (up to age 18). The major prize in the kids' draw is usually a 6" Dobsonian telescope.
Lucky Prize Draw tickets are colour-coded for adults and kids.
There is space available for camping and caravans. Barbecues and firewood are provided on site. Hot showers and flush toilets are available in the Ladies and Gents amenities blocks. Great hot food (breakfast, burgers, coffee, etc.) is available for purchase at the SPSP from the 1st Kandos Scouts who set up in the Pavilion. The prices are reasonable and this is a very convenient way to enjoy the SPSP. Other general supplies are available from Kandos, Rylstone, Lithgow and Mudgee. The Meeting Hall is used for talks and the Lucky Prize Draw, as well as for the Saturday night roast dinner and the vendor stalls. The bush kitchen, where you can use the gas stoves, barbecue and pizza oven for food preparation, was doubled in size in 2015. A covered recharging station was also set up in 2015, adjacent to the Meeting Hall.
The limited on-site accommodation in the "Bunkhouse" is reserved for guest speakers and their families. Overall participant numbers are generally limited so that participants do not have face excessive queues for showers and toilets, do not run out of water and are able to participate in all activities in comfort.
For those looking at a more civilized style of accomodation, the nearest Motel is at Kandos, about 25km from the site, or cabins at Cherry Tree Hill about 10 minutes drive away, or at Wattle Flat about 20 minutes drive towards Bathurst via Sofala. A list of off-site accommodation options is also available.
The Star Party typically includes formal daytime workshops, as well as formal and informal lectures, while evening events include observing, socialising, and sky tours for those of you who are not so familiar with the stellar skyscape, or if you just want to find some of the more obscure objects in the sky.
Due to the exceptionally dark skies at Wiruna, a Light Use Policy has been put in place when observing on the Main Observing Field at Wiruna to preserve the night-vision or dark-adaption of other observers.
Wiruna is also a Bird-Watcher's and Nature-Lover's Paradise, with an abundance of colourful Native Australian birds, Brush and Ring-Tail Possums, Wombats, and our own resident family of rather shy Kangaroos, which can usually be seen around dawn or dusk, around the Eastern Field. There is about 60 acres of bush on the property for those who like bushwalking.
The Anglo-Australian Observatory at Siding Spring is 3 hours drive north of Ilford for those who wish to make a day trip.
Each month, over the weekend nearest new moon, the ASNSW holds an Astrocamp (mini star party), which usually attracts between 20 - 40 members, and several non-members, and locals. Prospective visitors who are unable to attend the South Pacific Star Party are welcome to join us on any of these weekends. If you would like to join us one weekend, feel free to Email us to make arrangements.
While Wiruna gives you some of the best, easily accessible night skies in the southern hemisphere, it is also the perfect base for a little regional tourism during daylight hours.
We would like to thank our generous sponsors who have donated door prizes in recent years:
|SPSP1||May 21 - 24, 1993||SPSP14||March 31 - April 2, 2006|
|SPSP2||May 6 - 9, 1994||SPSP15||April 13 - 15, 2007|
|SPSP3||May 26 - 29, 1995||SPSP16||April 4 - 6, 2008|
|SPSP4||May 17 - 20, 1996||SPSP17||May 22 - 24, 2009|
|SPSP5||May 9 - 12, 1997||SPSP18||May 14 - 16, 2010|
|SPSP6||March 27 - 30, 1998||SPSP19||April 1 - 3, 2011|
|SPSP7||March 19 - 22, 1999||SPSP20||April 19 - 22, 2012 (attendance 206)|
|SPSP8||March 30 - April 2, 2000||SPSP21||May 9 - 12, 2013 (attendance 215)|
|SPSP9||March 23 - 26, 2001||SPSP22||May 22 - 25, 2014 (attendance 262)|
|SPSP10||March 15 - 17, 2002||SPSP23||May 14 - 17, 2015 (attendance 310)|
|SPSP11||March 28 - 30, 2003||SPSP24||May 5 - 8, 2016 (attendance 321)|
|SPSP12||March 19 - 21, 2004||SPSP ...|
|SPSP13||March 11 - 13, 2005|