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The Annual South Pacific Star Party

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IMPORTANT Registration Information (last updated Feb 2019).

NEW for 2020 - Accommodation, Campsite Location and Vehicle Rego Numbers.

FAQ about registration and cancellations.

POLICIES relating to Light Use, Drones and Anti-Discrimination may be reviewed here.

The 28th Annual South Pacific Star Party will be held
from 21 to 24 May, 2020.
The event proceeds regardless of cloud, rain or snow.
There are NO on-site registrations. You must register in advance.
NO REFUNDS if you change your mind because of the weather.
Registrations will open in February 2020. Check here for updates.
Overview of the SPSPSponsors History of the SPSP |
The 15th Annual South Pacific Star Party - Photo Courtesy of Mike Salway
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 (Innovations and T-shirt Design) and
Lucky Prize Draw

 Facilities

 Off-Site Accommodation

 Activities

 Regional Tourism


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 MUST Register in Advance.

  • If you take your chances and "just turn up", you will be turned away, as the event is normally over-subscribed.  
  • 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 deadline, you can apply for 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, and you should come anyway.
  • If you find out that you can't make it after registering, please contact the Treasurer to cancel so that our participant list can be updated.
  • Yes, you do need to register by the due date
  • It is easiest and preferable if you register online but, if this is not possible, you can phone the Treasurer who can handle your registration manually. Allow thirty minutes, as it takes a lot longer for the Treasurer to do this than for you to do this. Have your credit card details handy. 

Numbers Limits and Waiting Lists:

  • Participant numbers will be limited to the working capacity of the site. 
  • Roast Dinner numbers are limited to the capacity of the ovens. 
  • If you attempt to register, but see a message that the event is full, you will have missed out this year. Contact the Treasurer if you want your details to be added to the database so that you will be notified when registrations open for next year's event.  
  • If the Roast Dinners have all been sold by the time you register, note that alternative meals are available in the Pavilion from the 1st Kandos Scouts.
  • There is no waiting list. A small over-subscription in the number of registrations is allowed to compensate for the typical number of cancellations and no-shows.

Entitlements, Orders and Discounts:

  • Registration entitles you to take part in the voting for the Astroimaging Competition and to enter your name in the Lucky Prize Draw.
  • Registrations will open in February, when the online registration page is ready, and will close two weeks later in time to get the T-shirts ordered and printed.
  • SPSP T-shirts may be ordered in advance with registration. If, for any reason, your pre-ordered T-shirt(s) cannot be supplied, you will receive a refund at the star party.
  • The registration fee covers everything from one overnight stay to the full weekend. There are NO DISCOUNTS for short visits.
  • The MEMBER DISCOUNT: You do not need to be a member to attend the star party but you will pay a little more if you are not a member. 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. For member couples, it is cheaper to register as a Family ($115 less $25 discount = $90 total) than separately. 

Family registration: A "family" consists of up to three (3) related adults and any number of related children (children may be up to the age of 16).

Extra adults and friends of the family should register separately. Specifically, families with four adults should register as two separate families. This could be mum, dad and two adult children (over the age of 16) or mum, dad and an adult child with spouse. This counts as two families! The kids have grown up. Please be fair!

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!

New for 2020 - Accommodation and Campsite Location:

  • You will be offered a drop-down menu to select your accommodation, i.e., if you are going to use a tent, camping vehicle, existing permanent accommodation or staying off-site. Those nominating "camping vehicle" will be allocated a site. Sites measure approximately 6m x 9m, which is smaller than a standard site at a commercial camp ground. Please be economical with appendages to your camping vehicle and consider that there will be 300 people on site for the event. If everyone brought a porta-loo, porta-shower, awning, gazebo, solar panels and trailer for the extra car, we would have to limit registrations to 200. 
  • You will be offered another drop-down menu to select your camping location: Main camping area, Barry Gerdes Lodge, Bon Glen, Imaging Alley, existing permanent site, or off-site accommodation. 
  • It is hoped this information will help us better manage the positioning of camping vehicles in the available space.
  • You will also be asked to provide the Rego Number of your vehicle, or a hire company name if you don't know the rego number yet, or a space to say how you will be getting there. This serves two purposes. It allows us to match a vehicle to an owner if there is an issue with the vehicle during the event. It is also part of our Emergency Plan, to be able to account for all vehicles and participants in the event of (an extremely unlikely) evacuation. 

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. Please ensure that your payment is received at least two weeks before the commencement of the Star Party. 

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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. Please check the web page here for all the details. 

Astronomy Innovations Showcase (for Telescope Makers and Software Developers)

If you wish to display your innovation to other participants, you may do so informally on the observing field on Saturday morning. However, in 2019, there will be no formal presentation and no certificates issued for innovations. If you wish to show a software innovation to other participants in a convenient environment, the Image Processing Pit (backing onto the Check-In Tent) will have tables, seats, mains power and recharging facilities available for participant use. 

T-shirt Design Competition

Help us with a design for the T-shirt for the 28th Annual South Pacific Star Party (21 - 24 May 2020). The competition winner gets their SPSP registration fee refunded. The design should be ONE COLOUR on a plain background (e.g. black on white or white on black) and should be A4 in size. The colours of the T-shirt and print are chosen by the ASNSW committee. However, you may recommend a colour combination to suit your design. Your image may be submitted as a JPG or PDF file. Send your design to committee@asnsw.com before 31 January 2020. Note that minor changes to the design may be requested to enable effective printing.

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  2017  2018  2019

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, aged eight-years-old or more, who is registered will receive a ticket in the Lucky Prize Draw. Tickets must be put in the correct bucket 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 16). The major prize in the kids' draw is usually a 6" Dobsonian telescope.

Lucky Prize Draw tickets are colour-coded for adults and kids. A Junior's draw for 5 to 7 year olds may also be offered, depending on suitable offers from sponsors. 

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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. You can use the gas stoves, barbecue and pizza oven for food preparation in the Bush Kitchen. There is a covered Recharging Station 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 Australian Astronomical 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 Lucky Prize Draw prizes in past 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 (attendance 200+) SPSP14 March 31 - April 2, 2006 SPSP27 May 2 - 5, 2019 (attendance 293)
SPSP2 May 6 - 9, 1994 (attendance 170+) SPSP15 April 13 - 15, 2007 SPSP28 May 21 - 24, 2020 
SPSP3 May 26 - 29, 1995 (attendance 200+) SPSP16 April 4 - 6, 2008  SPSP ...  
SPSP4 May 17 - 20, 1996 (attendance 180+) SPSP17 May 22 - 24, 2009    
SPSP5 May 9 - 12, 1997 (attendance 265+) SPSP18 May 14 - 16, 2010    
SPSP6 March 27 - 30, 1998 (attendance 280+) SPSP19 April 1 - 3, 2011    
SPSP7 March 19 - 22, 1999 (attendance 300+) SPSP20 April 19 - 22, 2012 (attendance 206)    
SPSP8 March 30 - April 2, 2000 (attendance 400+) SPSP21 May 9 - 12, 2013 (attendance 215)    
SPSP9 March 23 - 26, 2001 (attendance 380+) SPSP22 May 22 - 25, 2014 (attendance 262)    
SPSP10 March 15 - 17, 2002 (attendance 400+) SPSP23 May 14 - 17, 2015 (attendance 310)    
SPSP11 March 28 - 30, 2003 (attendance 400+) SPSP24 May 5 - 8, 2016 (attendance 321)    
SPSP12 March 19 - 21, 2004 (attendance 305) SPSP25  May 25 - 28, 2017 (attendance 301)    
SPSP13 March 11 - 13, 2005 (attendance 317) SPSP26  May 10 - 13, 2018 (334 registered, 255 attended due to extreme weather)    

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