How it all works
The Star Party
We want this to be a great weekend!
We want it to be fun for everyone, whether new or experienced, young or old, observer, imager or space tourist, seasoned star-party attendee or first-timer!
It’s the chance to:
- meet fellow enthusiasts; talk and hopefully ‘do’ astronomy;
- get to know people; have fun; learn;
- see things you can’t see from home or with your own equipment;
- experience darker skies; try different kit;
- solve problems together and hopefully take some stunning pictures!
With this in mind, here are some details about how the Star Party will run...
The Lucksall campsite is a very good site and the owners are very friendly and accommodating of our needs. There are toilets/showers close by and they work with us to remove as much extraneous light as possible. The only thing that has been a problem in the past is concern about speeding on site, and respecting of the one-way system. So please remember: There’s a 5mph speed limit on the site and the one-way system goes anticlockwise when leaving the rally field.
For those with GPS, you won't need this info but for the rest of us with GOTO here's the site's latitude and longitude: Lat 52:01:26 North, Long 02:37:50 West.
When you arrive at the campsite You MUST report to reception on arrival. The site has an automated barrier system in place and it will not let you in until you have booked in at reception:
IF you are going to arrive late - YOU MUST CONTACT THE CAMPSITE - so they can arrange for you to gain entry IF you are not going to arrive on the day you intend - YOU MUST CONTACT THE CAMPSITE - so they know and will not have people waiting around for you!
On arrival you will be issued a Welcome Pack - which will contain all the relevant information for the Star Party: Site Map, Meal Tickets, Name Badges, Tent Label, Pitch Allocation, etc.
So how will the Star Party work?
SGL has reserved the rally fields at the site and will take bookings from members on behalf of the campsite for the nights indicated above, although we expect the majority of attendees will come just for the (long) weekend. If you wish to stay outside of these dates, please get in touch with us as soon as possible so we can arrange.
How are pitches allocated?
Lucksall will be allocating the pitches based on the preferred pitch information you provide during booking but also taking into account the type of unit you have (tent, caravan or trailer tent), the number of nights you are staying and whether you have requested an electric hookup or not.
Please also be aware that the site may move you on arrival depending on grass/hard-standing availability, or for safety/maintenance reasons - these are outside of our control!
Where can I park?
Cars can be parked on your pitch (pitches are large). However, if you are arriving or leaving after dark, and it is a clear night, we would ask you to park close to the site entrance so that your headlights do not disturb the star gazing and imaging. (NB: Please read the Light Rules)
What facilities are available?
The site is level and has good facilities. There are three sets of toilets and showers. There is a small shop on the campsite and the nearby village of Fownhope has a Post Office, other shops and pubs. If you need a supermarket, there are plenty in Hereford - Morrisons, Sainsburys, Co-op, Tescos and Asda.
The Moon at Mordiford (2 mins drive, 15 minute walk) does an excellent evening meal and has a good selection of local beers as well as guest ales,
Lucksall now has an excellent cafe offering hot food throughout the day (warning: breakfast is a busy time!) and an alcohol licence. They stock an excellent range of local beers and ciders as well as a good selection of wines!
What should I bring?
Bitter experience is that it will almost certainly be colder than you imagine, so bring all the layers you think you’ll need - TWICE! The clear view from previous years is that a small 'festival' tent is just not up to the job for Autumnal camping!
A double-skinned tent will retain heat much better (and keep out any rain better too). Under your sleeping bag, you will also certainly need some form of insulation between you and your groundsheet e.g a foam roll (ideally with a metallic insulation side), and an inflatable mattress, lilo or bed. Remember you’ll probably be going to bed cold and so extra layers and a heater and/or hot water bottle will help you to thaw out!
There are several threads on the main forum regarding camping equipment - but perhaps the most important are those regarding electrical cables and heaters in the tent.
I’ve never camped before - will there be help available?
Yes. If you need help (whether it’s advice on kit preparation in advance, or with pitching your tent at the site itself), just ask! And if you’ve forgotten to bring something, ask too. Ask your neighbours, or find one of the Mod/Admin team. If you are using electricity then you’ll need a special cable to safely connect to the site outlets. If you only need electricity for charging powerpacks then someone will be happy for you to use their supply.
Is catering available?
On the Friday, we are planning a Curry & Quiz night at the cafe - see the Itinerary , and Saturday will see the return of the popular Hog Roast (Vegetarian / Children options available).
SGL will be providing a Tea Tent, which will include FREE tea and coffee making facilities - and there will probably be a supply of homemade cakes available too (please bring some to share if you can). This will give a communal focus, and allows a warm in the middle of the night! You’ll need to bring your own mugs!
All we ask is that you do your bit to keep the communal areas clean and tidy - use the bins provided, dispose of rubbish, don't leave lids off things.... etc.
There will also be a couple of large event shelters that we'll be using for various activities, and these can also be used as gathering areas. If using late at night, please can you also be considerate about noise levels.
Where can I set up my scope?
Usually scopes are set up on individual pitches by the owner’s tent (although sometimes a group will set up together). You should ensure that there is enough room around your scope for you to operate, and potentially for others to come and see what you’re doing/have a look through your scope (if you’re comfortable allowing that).
If you’re an imager you should also consider where to place your IT to ensure you don’t disturb any close by visual observers with your screen (which should be shielded/red screened). You should take care over any trailing cables - the darkness, trailing cables, and fragile equipment can be a potentially dangerous and costly combination!
Scopes etc. are the responsibility of owners and you should ensure that you have a level of insurance cover that you are happy with. SGL is not responsible for any damage however caused. Owners leave scopes unattended at their own risk, although the vast majority of people tend to set up at the start of a star party and pack up at the end, leaving their kit assembled throughout (and covered in case of rain etc when not in use).
There are generally other stargazers around on our part of the site the whole time, and so security concerns are reduced. It's part of the fun of a star party to wander around during the day admiring (drooling over!) other people’s kit and asking questions. You just need to take appropriate care as you will be responsible for any damage you may cause. And if you bring children and/or pets please can you make sure they too are properly controlled to ensure no damage or ill-feeling.
Do I have to bring a scope?
Certainly not - you can stargaze any way you like!
The great thing about communal events like this is the opportunity for sharing! You’ll find many people will be more than happy to let you have a look through their scope. It’s a great way to find out what you might like, both in terms of scopes and eyepieces (warning: this can prove expensive in the long run!!). It’s also a great way to learn.
Just one word of caution: don’t simply assume it’s OK to have a look or touch any equipment - please do ask the owner first. Avoid leaving fingerprints on any optics, and do remember to say 'thank you'!
What about noise, music etc?
This is always a tricky one. Tents lack soundproofing! And so please be considerate particularly after 11pm and before 11am. If it’s cloudy, people might retire early - and if it’s clear many people will be sleeping in after a very late night! You might find ear plugs useful (there were a few cases of severe snoring at previous star parties!).
And on music, one person’s music is another one’s irritating noise, so please keep it down. We would also like to minimise the disturbance for the few houses which are close - we’re asking them to be considerate about their use of light during the weekend and so we think it's only fair that we reciprocate by keeping noise levels reasonable too.
Also, the 'family-friendly' ethos of SGL extends to Star Parties, so can we please ask everyone to watch their language - especially at night.
Is alcohol allowed?
Yes. We just ask that you be considerate of others.
Is there anything else we should know?
This is an official SGL event and so we have to take account of insurance and Health and Safety issues. SGL and the campsite will have appropriate insurance but you will be responsible for your own equipment - such as loss and / or damage but also including injury to other members in the event of an accident.
Although all of this may sounds a bit draconian, these guidelines can be pared down to ‘please be considerate, careful and apply common sense’! The moderator team will keep an eye on things and should they see a risk may ask you to modify your actions. And we'd ask that if you see a problem, please report it to one of the Moderation team so we can deal with it as soon as possible!
Please take this in the spirit it is intended - which is simply to ensure a safe, fun experience for everyone!
We looking forward to meeting everyone!!