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The Annual South Pacific Star Party

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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.

Registration Information

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 Prize Draw. Registrations normally open in January when the online registration page is ready. 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.

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.

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Astroimaging Competition

The Star Party is the venue for the ASNSW Astroimaging Competition, which continues to make it one of the premier competitions amongst Amateur Astroimagers.

Sketching Competition

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 is being rested in 2014. 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 2015, please email The Committee.

T-shirt Design Competition

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 22nd South Pacific Star Party, 22nd - 25th May 2014. Send entries to The Committee.

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.

The Prize Draw

Each participants who has registered in advance will receive a ticket in the 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.

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Facilities

Facilities are available for camping and there is plenty of space for parking caravans. Barbecues and firewood are provided on site. Hot showers and flush toilets are also available. Great Hot Food (breakfast, burgers, coffee etc) is available for purchase at SPSP from the Kandos Scouts loacted in the Main Tent. 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.

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Off-Site Accomodation

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.

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Activities

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.

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Regional Tourism

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.

  • The Wollemi National Park - Covering an expanse of around 500,000 hectares, Wollemi National Park is the perfect destination for visitors to Wiruna to make a day trip to. 200,000 hectares of this park is declared Wilderness Area, and is the largest remaining wilderness area in New South Wales. Access is limited, but there are a number of lookouts and attractions, including Dunn's Swamp, Ferntree Gully and the Glow Worm Tunnel.
  • Sofala and Hill End - Former gold mining towns, Sofala and Hill End are well worth a visit to see the history of Australian gold mining days.
  • Wine-growing Regions - Ilford has its own winery, the Mountilford Winery, only 15km from Wiruna, but the whole region out to Mudgee and beyond is scattered with a number of fine wineries. The South Pacific Star Port comes from the Mountilford Winery, where you can make a trip to taste a number of fine wines or buy directly from the manufacturer.

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Sponsors

We would like to thank our generous sponsors who have donated door prizes in recent years:

The Astronomical Society of New South Wales Incorporated       SPSP Sponsor: FLI

  SPSP Sponsor Celestron   SPSP Sponsor: Tele Vue Optics

   SPSP Sponsor: Tasco    SPSP Sponsor: BinTel    SPSP Sponsor: JMI Telescopes

   SPSP Sponsor: Australian Sky & Telescope Magazine   SPSP Sponsor: York Optical   SPSP Sponsor: Quasar Publishing   

SPSP Sponsor: Wildcard Innovations (Argo Navis)    SPSP Sponsor: Roger's Optics and Restoration   SPSP Sponsor: Three Rivers Foundation    SPSP Sponsor: Orion Telescopes   

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History of the South Pacific Star Party

SPSP1 May 21 - 24, 1993 SPSP12 March 19 - 21, 2004
SPSP2 May 6 - 9, 1994 SPSP13 March 11 - 13, 2005
SPSP3 May 26 - 29, 1995 SPSP14 March 31 - April 2, 2006
SPSP4 May 17 - 20, 1996 SPSP15 April 13 - 15, 2007
SPSP5 May 9 - 12, 1997 SPSP16 April 4 - 6, 2008
SPSP6 March 27 - 30, 1998 SPSP17 May 22 - 24, 2009
SPSP7 March 19 - 22, 1999 SPSP18 May 14 - 16, 2010
SPSP8 March 30 - April 2, 2000 SPSP19 April 1 - 3, 2011
SPSP9 March 23 - 26, 2001 SPSP20 April 19 - 22, 2012
SPSP10 March 15 - 17, 2002 SPSP21 May 9 - 12, 2013
 SPSP11 March 28 - 30, 2003 SPSP22 May 22 - 25, 2014

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