2024 Winter Star Party: February 5th - February 11th.
REGISTRATION IS OPEN!
Here at Southern Cross, we are very excited to welcome you back to one of the premiere star parties on the planet.
Planning is underway and we will update this page regularly.
Again, Kudos to all who attended last year and 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
once again 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 follows is essentially 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 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!!
Don't forget pre-orders for mickies kitchen:
We will open the gates at 10 AM on Monday, February 5th, as we did last year. We think that it 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 7 AM, please don't block the entrance gate at Wesumkee. If you are camping on Sawyer, you will be able to line up at 7 am as well. We will bring as many cars as possible into the driveway to get you off the road. There will be staff members there to help make this orderly. Your cooperation is appreciated. Stay tuned for any further announcements.
New this year!
We have been missing something, here at the Winter Star Party over the last couple of years.
So, in an effort to bring "the Yackers" back, we are raising the age limit to 15 and under.
No ticket or camping fees for your children under 16.
Post Idalia Update:
The Girl Scouts have reported no damage.
The Boy Scouts experienced some minor flooding but Camp Sawyer is in excellent shape.
Post Star Party Update:
If you attended last year's star party, you know the condition that the camp was handed to us in.
We just had our visual inspection and the property is in good shape. There was an event after the star party and as a bonus from their visit, the berm has been cleaned up! The property is overgrown but we did not find any of the debris that was there last year. Once we get the grass and brush cut down, we will have a much better idea about how much of the berm will be available. 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 astrophotographers 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 will again reach 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 (below 65 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!
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, give yourself enough time to get back to the 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 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!
The Speaker presentations will be on Sawyer in an open-air venue. We are planning to have 9 speakers this year. See the speaker list below.
This year we will have a special guest. Long time SCAS member and WSP volunteer, Joe Haldeman, will be signing autographs and fielding questions at the registration table on opening day.
Our speaker schedule starts Tuesday and will feature presentations from the following:
Dr. Mario Motta Objects in the Southern Sky / Building a 32" Dobsonian Telescope
Martin Caminos An Introduction to Celestial Navigation
Richard Wright Get Lucky, Lucky Imaging
Randy Shivak Improving Your Solar Images
Charlie Warren ASIAIR Beginners Guiode / Zen and the Art of Astronomical Pursuit
Mike Lockwood Thermal Effect on Mirrors
Jon Talbot Setting the Right Exposure Times and Adventures in Imaging the Unknown
Peggy Walker Astronomical League Observing Programs
Scott Roberts TBA
We have the following confirmed vendors:
Benro Polaris Astro
As always, we will have some fantastic door prizes to give away on Friday.
Please be reminded that on Sunday Feb. 11th, all camp sites and vehicles must be off of both camps by 10 AM.
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