2024 Winter Star Party: February 5th - February 11th.
Here at Southern Cross, we are very excited to welcome you back to one of the premiere star parties on the planet.
With our 1st live star party since the pandemic under our belts, it feels good to be back in the swing of things. Planning is underway and we will update this page regularly.
Again, Kudos to all who attended last year that showed patience and understanding. The situation was beyond our control but this year, FDOT is not invited to the star party......... :-)
As usual, we will have an excellent lineup of speakers and a few activities for you to participate in and enjoy. Along with the Beachwalk and Laser Tour, we will
have SCAS member and commercial pilot, Martin Caminos returning to present his evening talk: An Introduction to Celestial Navigation.
This year he will be adding 1 or 2 more sessions to take a deep dive into demonstrating how to operate a sextant and its use in navigating the earth by the stars.
We will have our normal lineup of vendors including Explore Scientific, Celestron, and TeleVue to name a few.
Everything has remained essentially the same at both camps. Rustic camping with no facilities or power at Wesumkee.
The Boys Scouts did erect a new bunk house for staff but it has no impact on the star party. All facilities remain on Camp Sawyer.
More details are below.
The information that follws is essentialy the same as last year but we leave it as such for our new guests who have never been to the star party.
This Page will be updated continually.
MICKIE'S KITCHEN IS BACK!
G.C. and the gang from Mickie's Kitchen will be returning to the star party this year for what looks to be their "Swan Song". It's retirement time for our the brave crew who has gone where no one has gone before for us for 20 years. Southern Cross and Winter Star Party thank G.C. and Michelle for their many years of service and wish them a peaceful, star-studded retirement. So if you want to be there for the last appearance of Michelle's "world famous" WSP Brownies mark your calendar for October 1st for registration. I know I'll be there!!
We will open the gates at 10 AM on Monday February 5th, as we did last year. We think that it's works out well for everyone with an extra 2 hours on the field to get set up. The RV's will be given an arrival time beginning at 8 AM, please don't block the entrance gate. There will be staff members there to help make this orderly. Your cooperation is appreciated. Stay tuned for any further announcements.
Post Ian Update:
The Girl Scouts have reported that the camp suffered only minor damage. Several tons of sand was washed ashore by the storm. It will be removed and or redistributed by the time we are ready to occupy the property. We will do a visual inspection of the property prior to confirm. We also spoke We did speak to the Boy Scouts about Camp Sawyer. They experienced some minor flooding and minor wind damage to some of the Glam Tents but the property overall was not damaged. The Glam Tents were repaired the same weekend.
Post Star Party, Ian Update:
If you attended last year's star party, you know the condition that the camp was handed to us in. We do not anticipate that there will be any more clean up down by the Girl Scouts. They told us last year that they were satisfied with the work that was done. However, we have always been involed with the upgrade and upkeep of the camp as contributors in the past. We will be seeking to keep that arrangment and perhaps be able to clear more debris away from the berm. So Stay tuned................
Dear WSP Attendee,
Some of you may be concerned about COVID and whether we will enforce masks and ask for proof of vaccination. We are not in the position to enforce either masks or vaccinations. We ask that you observe all state and federal protocols with regard to Covid-19 and its variants. We do expect our attendees to be mindful of each other and respect their decision about whether they are vaccinated and/or decide on wearing a mask. We are here to enjoy looking at our favorite southern celestial objects like we have been doing for the past 39 years!
Stay Safe and Be Well,
Winter Star Party Director
The Winter Star Party is famous for the "steady air" over that portion of the keys.
Borrtle 3 skies with an average SQM of 21.76 are a treat for astro photographers and observers alike. Bortle Dark-Sky Scale
Click anywhere in the map to see the sky conditions. Light Pollution Map
Sunny days in the 70s and cool, calm nights in the 60s makes for a wonderful experience under the stars.
Take a look at the local weather on Big Pine Key
You will receive the details of your arrival time along with your tickets. We have reached out to the church in Big Pine to see if you can use their parking lot for your RVs on Sunday night.
Your parking arrangement will be with the church staff. When we have confirmed, we will post the contact information.
Now for a little about the 2 camps.........
Since 2017, when Hurricane Irma struck and destroyed Camp Wesumkee, the Girl Scouts have made no attempts at restoring the facility.
It is rustic camping, with only Port-o-Lets. There is no power on the girl scout camp except for the vendor area and only for the vendors and Mickie's Kitchen.
We have changed our procedures to now allow small, quiet (below65 decibels) generators to run 24 hrs. a day for electricity.
Parking is the same as always, you may park in proximity to your campsite as long as you are not setting your equipment up on the berm. For all you first-timers, the "berm" is an area adjacent to the shoreline where we only allow telescopes to be set up so everyone behind the berm can enjoy the southeastern horizon. There is no vehicle traffic allowed after 7 pm and all vehicles parked near the berm must be removed by the same time.
Our Vendor area will be here as well, straight across from Mickie's Kitchen as always. We are expecting reps from Celestron, TeleVue, Disc Mounts, and Starlight Instruments, just to name a few.
Mickie's Kitchen is our food vendor. No trip to the Winter Star Party can be complete without a 3 am brownie and hot chocolate from Mickie's kitchen............... I can taste it already!
AS WITH LAST YEAR, THE BOYS SCOUTS WILL BE ALLOWING YOU TO DRIVE OUT TO WHERE YOU WILL BE CAMPING ON CAMP SAWYER.
HOWEVER, YOU MUST UNLOAD YOUR GEAR AND MOVE YOUR VEHICLE TO THE PARKING LOT BEFORE SETTING UP YOUR CAMP.
NO MORE WHEELBARROWS!
Camp Sawyer belongs to the Boy Scouts. All bathroom and shower facilities are on Sawyer. 10 private showers and 10 private stalls.
Access from one camp to the other is thru a pass on the west end of Wesumkee. There is no vehicle traffic permitted on the pass or on Camp Sawyer, so you must walk to the showers.
During the day you may also drive to Sawyer on the highway but please remember that if you go late afternoon, to give yourself enough time to get back to park on Wesumkee before 7 pm
otherwise you will have to leave your car on the road.
As advertised, the Glam Tents are on Sawyer. Tent camping available on Camp Sawyer is in limited numbers and we only have enough parking spaces to accommodate 75 cars, Glamping or tenting. Once that number is reached Camp Sawyer will be turned off from the registration system and we will accept no more requests there. To accommodate that many cars, no trailers or RVs are allowed on Sawyer. Sawyer will also have electricity throughout the camp thru extension cords and plug stations. Be aware that you should have a 100-foot extension cord with you to be sure you are within reach of a plug.
We will be using the same configuration of the Glam Tents as last year. Some will have 3 sets of metal bunk beds in the main room and 2 sets
in the smaller side room and some will have 2 larger beds in the main room with the 2 sets of bunk beds in the small room.
Each person will occupy one set of bunk beds. You will sleep in the lower bunk and stow your gear in the upper bunk.
The Speaker presentations will be on Sawyer in an open-air venue. We are planning to have between 6 & 9 speakers this year. The finalized list will be available soon.
As always, we will have some fantastic door prizes to give away on Friday.
Have a look at our last star party here.....................
2023 Winter Star Party Recap
Stay tuned for further information.
If there is anything you need to discuss with us or issues with your registration please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you again for your patronage and please stay safe and healthy.
Tim Khan, Director
Winter Star Party
Russ Brick, President
Southern Cross Astronomical Society