South Pacific Star Party
From 1993, the Astronomical Society of NSW has hosted its annual South Pacific Star Party (SPSP) at its 43-hectare country property, Wiruna. This wonderful dark-sky location is near Ilford, NSW (between Lithgow and Mudgee), about three hours' drive north-west of Sydney.
The SPSP 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.
Happily, after a 3-year COVID hiatus, the event returns in 2023!
The dates for the next SPSP are Thursday 2 - Sunday 5 May 2024.
The SPSP typically includes daytime talks and workshops, 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. Other participants are usually more than happy to let you look through their telescopes as well. You do not need to bring a telescope.
Wiruna is also a bird-watcher's and nature-lover's paradise, with an abundance of colourful native Australian birds (Wiruna Bird List) and occasional possums, wombats and kangaroos. There are about 60 acres of bush on the property for those who like bushwalking.
For those who seek off-site daytime activities, take the link to regional tourist attractions including Wollemi National Park.
Please read the information below in the flip-down boxes (click to expand). Anyone registering must agree to abide by our Policies, in particular the Wiruna Light Use Policy, and also agree to the Terms and Conditions for SPSP Registration. Thank you for reading through these documents. You may wish to review our SPSP FAQ page as well. If paying by credit card (preferred), note that the ASNSW uses the Member Jungle Payment Gateway, so you'll also need to accept their Ts and Cs.
- Participants MUST register AND PAY in advance by the due date.
- Numbers are limited, so register early.
- The event typically sells out in two weeks.
- There are no waiting lists.
- There is a Member discount for ASNSW Members. Single $85 | Member Single $68 | Family $120 | Member Family $96
- 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).
- You will need to supply your car rego number or other transport details for safety reasons.
- You will have to confirm that you have read and agree to abide by all ASNSW Policies that apply at the SPSP and that you will ensure that all participants on your registration will abide by the Wiruna Light Use Policy.
Please refer to the ASNSW Policies page for details of policies that apply at the SPSP.
There are several Location/Accommodation combinations to choose from:
- Barry Gerdes Lodge - Limited shared accommodation in the actual Lodge (book by email to the Treasurer before you register), but plenty of room for camping vehicles and tents.
- Camping Vehicle on Lower Camp Ground - You will be allocated a numbered site, approximately 6 metres by 7 metres, for your camper van, camper trailer, caravan, motor home or other camping vehicle. All ancillary equipment, including your car (if towing), gazebo, solar panels, popup amenities, etc., must remain within your allocated site. The number of sites available is limited, to allow for vehicle sites and tent sites to be well separated.
- Permanent Tent or Caravan - ASNSW Members who already have their own facility should select this option.
- Staying Off Site - This is for anyone planning to use alternative accommodation and just drive in daily and leave each evening. Cars should be parked near the main gate.
- Tent in Bon Glen - Bring a rake to clear a patch between the trees to set up. Not suitable for camping vehicles.
- Tent in Imaging Alley - Space available for individual and group tents (where several individual members from a visiting Society all attend and want to get together). First in best dressed, but please be considerate to leave as much room as possible for other participants. The number of tent sites will be limited, to allow sites to be well separated.
- Tent on Lower Camp Ground - Open space or wooded edge-locations with vehicular access and mown grass. Please be considerate to leave as much room as possible for other participants.
The Entry Form, Conditions of Entry and Template Descriptive Card may be found here: https://www.asnsw.com/aicomp
Astronomy Innovations Showcase (for Telescope Makers and Software Developers)
Advance submission of innovations will be greatly appreciated. Email a brief description and photo(s) to committee(at)asnsw.com. Innovations will be inspected on the observing field on Saturday morning, where SPSP officials and other participants may take part in open-air gatherings to see what you have come up with. 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. Each innovator will receive a certificate, and we do hope you'll share your wisdom and experience with other participants.
T-shirt Design Competition
Send your design for 2024 to the committee anytime before 31 January 2024. Please follow these design guidelines:
- The design should be ONE COLOUR on a plain background (e.g. black on white or white on black)
- Size: A4
- Format: JPG or PDF
- Lines: minimum 3pt in width
- Dots: at least 0.13 cm in diameter
- Font suggestion: Calibri 60pt or equivalent
- 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.
Send your design by email to committee(at)asnsw.com. Note that minor changes to the design may be requested to enable effective screen-printing.
To give you an idea of the kind of design that works, you may look at images of past winning entries by navigating from the main menu to: Resources > Photos > Star Party>SPSP T-shirts > SELECT
Each registered participant, aged eight-years-old or more, will receive a ticket in the Lucky Prize Draw. Tickets must be put in the correct bucket upon entry to the Meeting Hall before commencement of the Lucky Prize Draw, and winners MUST be present near the Meeting Hall to claim their prizes.
Adults whose tickets are drawn are able to choose from the selection of prizes. In 2022, due to limited stock availability, some prizes may be in the form of gift vouchers.
There is a separate draw for kids (ages 8 to 16).
Lucky Prize Draw tickets are colour-coded for adults and kids.
The ASNSW is grateful to our fabulous sponsors whose outstanding generosity contributes to the popularity of this event.
There are areas allocated 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. The Scouts operate from midday Friday to midday Sunday. Outside of those times, you will need to be fully self-catered. General supplies are available from Kandos, Rylstone, Lithgow and Mudgee. In 2022, both the Pavilion and the Meeting Hall will be set up with tables and chairs to allow diners to be well separated and sit comfortably. You can use the gas stoves, barbecue and pizza oven in the Bush Kitchen for food preparation. Please avoid crowding in this area.
There is a covered Recharging Station adjacent to the Meeting Hall.
Registered participants will receive, by email, a detailed "SPSP Info" PDF booklet with additional details. This will be sent out about a month before the event.
The limited on-site accommodation in the "Bunkhouse", normally reserved for guest speakers and their families, will be reserved for emergencies. 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.
Some history of the SPSP is documented here: History of the SPSP.
|SPSP1||May 21 - 24, 1993
|SPSP14||March 31 - April 2, 2006||SPSP27||May 2 - 5, 2019
|SPSP2||May 6 - 9, 1994
|SPSP15||April 13 - 15, 2007||SPSP28||May 21 - 24, 2020
(cancelled due to pandemic)
|SPSP3||May 26 - 29, 1995
|SPSP16||April 4 - 6, 2008||SPSP ...||May 18 - 21, 2023
|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
|SPSP8||March 30 - April 2, 2000
|SPSP21||May 9 - 12, 2013
|SPSP9||March 23 - 26, 2001
|SPSP22||May 22 - 25, 2014
|SPSP10||March 15 - 17, 2002
|SPSP23||May 14 - 17, 2015
|SPSP11||March 28 - 30, 2003
|SPSP24||May 5 - 8, 2016
|SPSP12||March 19 - 21, 2004
|SPSP25|| May 25 - 28, 2017
|SPSP13||March 11 - 13, 2005
|SPSP26|| May 10 - 13, 2018
* Refer history link above for write-up of extreme weather conditions in 2018.
For those looking at a more comfortable style of accomodation, there are other options instead of camping at Wiruna.
- The nearest Motel is at Kandos, about 25 km from Wiruna.
- There are 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 will be reviewed post-pandemic and further details will be made available in the SPSP Info booklet.
If staying off-site, you will be required to park in the car park near the main gate so that your car headlights do not interfere with observing when you leave at night.
Every year, the ASNSW and all participants are grateful to a band of more than forty volunteers who help with the preparations and safe running of the South Pacific Star Party (SPSP). All the procedures are documented online so, if you think you might be interested in helping out, check the web pages here: Volunteering at the SPSP. If you haven't volunteered in the past, but think you would like to, please get in touch with treasurer(at)asnsw.com.