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The Annual South Pacific Star Party

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Overview of the SPSP

Registration Information (new details for 2017 - please read) and

FAQ about registration and cancellations (separate page opens in new window)

The 26th Annual South Pacific Star Party will be held
from 10 to 13 May, 2018.
The event proceeds regardless of cloud, rain or snow.
Advance registrations will be required. There are NO on-site registrations.
Registrations normally open in February.
The 15th Annual South Pacific Star Party - Photo Courtesy of Mike Salway
Please remember to book early.
In 2017, you MUST register in advance.
There will be no on-site registrations this year!
Registration numbers will be limited for several reasons -
comfort and enjoyment of participants,
access to facilities on site
(water, showers, toilets, roadways, campsites and activity venues)
as well as administrative considerations.

Competitions (Astroimaging, Kids' Creativity, Innovations and T-shirt Design) and
Lucky Prize Draw

 Facilities

 Off-Site Accommodation

 Activities and
 Wiruna Light Use Policy

 Regional Tourism

 Sponsors

 History of the SPSP

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

In 2017, a major change to the organisation of the Star Party is that participants MUST register in advance. If you are not sure if you may have to work, please register anyway. If you are not sure if the weather is going to be good, please register anyway. If it turns out that you have to work, and you cancel before the registration cut-off date, you can get a full refund by contacting the Treasurer. If you are fussy about the weather, no refunds, as the event offers fantastic value no matter what the weather conditions are like.

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 February, when the online registration page is ready, and close a few 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 few 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.

Yes, you need to register by the due date. It is easiest to register online but, if this is not possible, you can phone or email the Treasurer who can handle your registration manually. 

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!

Member Discount: You do not need to be a member to attend the star party but you will pay a little more. A discount of $25 applies for a member registration. If you are a member and you are logged in when you register, the $25 discount will apply to your individual or family registration. Your family members do not need to be ASNSW members.

Confirmation of your Registration: If you pay online when you 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 within a few minutes of registering, 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 emailed invoice from the ASNSW system - this email will provide details that you will need to make a payment.

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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.

Astronomy Innovations Showcase (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 this showcase will be provided in the registration kit.

SPSP 2017 and Gondwana Telescopes Kids' Creativity Competition

This competition is new in 2017. The theme is "What does Astronomy Mean to You?" Open to kids up to age 17, the entry can be a written work (up to one A4 page), painting, drawing or related medium (up to A3 size), or sculpture (up to 10kg weight). The entrant must attend the star party but entries may be prepared beforehand. The prize is a meteorite donated by Gondwana Telescopes!! A flier can be downloaded HERE.

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 next star party. Designs should:

  • be easy to read,
  • be A4 in size - to fit onto S to XXXL shirts above the waistline (for people who tuck),
  • use only black and white or greyscale (so they can be printed with just one colour ink) displayed as black ink on a white background and
  • may be submitted in JPG or PDF format.

Send entries to The Committee before 31st March.

Here are some examples from previous years:

2001 Tshirt  2004 Tshirt  2008 Tshirt  2010 Tshirt  2011 Tshirt  2012 Tshirt  2013 Tshirt  2014 Tshirt  2015 Tshirt  2016 Tshirt

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 hasn't run since. It aimed to promote the art of Sketching and Drawing within the world-wide amateur astronomical community. If you are enthusiastic to see it run this year, please email The Committee.

The Lucky Prize Draw

Each participant, over the age of seven, who has registered in advance will receive a ticket in the Lucky Prize Draw. Remember, there will be no on-site registrations, so that means everyone will get a ticket. 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 (ages 8 to 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.

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Facilities

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 to face excessive queues for showers and toilets, do not run out of water and are able to participate in all activities in comfort.

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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 (naked eye and with telescopes) 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. Other attendees are usually more than happy to let you look through their telescopes as well. You do not need to bring a telescope.

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 and occasional possums, wombats and kangaroos. There are about 60 acres of bush on the property for those who like bushwalking.

The Anglo-Australian Observatory at Siding Spring is three 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: Australian Sky & Telescope Magazine     SPSP Sponsor Celestron  SPSP Sponsor: BinTel      SPSP Sponsor: Tasco     SPSP Sponsor: Quasar Publishing  Astro Devices             SPSP Sponsor: Orion Telescopes     SPSP Sponsor: Wildcard Innovations (Argo Navis)   SPSP Sponsor: Three Rivers Foundation

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History of the South Pacific Star Party

SPSP1 May 21 - 24, 1993 SPSP14 March 31 - April 2, 2006 SPSP ... tba
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 SPSP25  May 25 - 28, 2017 (attendance 301)    
SPSP13 March 11 - 13, 2005 SPSP26  May 10 - 13, 2018    

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