Dates and times

Status and schedule of school star parties

List of assigned dates   List of available dates

For SJAA club events, see the SJAA calendar page.

Watch this line for final status on event day.

Parents: please see some tips for enjoying the night sky.

Jan.19 -- Blackford Elementary School   SSet 5:19, start 6:15
Thursday  1970 Willow St, SJ 95125      47% moon rise 12:55 am
          But enter south of school     Gates close at 9:00
            via Blackford Lane

          Contact: Amanda Miller, PTA

  All grades invited. About 50 previously, but we'd like
to have more.

GPS directions: in San Jose, go to the intersection of
  Blackford Lane and Norman Avenue.  Then go west ~200 feet.

 From Hwy.17, exit onto Hamilton Ave. Go East.
 E      >0.4 mi. if coming from the north;
 E      ~0.2 mi. if coming from the south.
                Come to Bascom.  Slow light. CONTINUE.
 E      ~0.5 mi, to Leigh Avenue. Light. CONTINUE.
 E       0.1 mi, to Norman Ave, very next street.  No light,
                 no stop sign, left-turn lane.  Turn left.
 N      <0.3 mi, to Blackford Lane.  Tee, stop sign. Left.
 W      ~200 ft, bear right at the loop, enter a green gate.

   After going through the first gate, make a hard right (or a
270-degree left turn) through a gate leading to the inner play

  Set up just north (or perhaps west) of the grass area.

  There are two lights on the building north of the setup area.
Also about 3 more on the building to the northeast.  All are
within reach of a short stepladder.

Curb blocks needed.  Al foil too.
Jan.20 -- Simonds Elementary            SSet 5:20, start 6:15 pm
Friday    6515 Grapevine Way, SJ        28% moon rise 12:55 am
          but enter on Pajaro Way
          Contact: Eric Rise, 5th gr

GPS: In San Jose, go to the intersection of Pajaro Way and
  Grapevine Way.  Then go west 340 feet, past the buildings,
  to a double gate on the right.

 From Hwy.85, exit at Almaden Expressway. Go south.
 S SE   ~2.5 mi. to Camden Avenue.     Light.  Right.
 SSW W  <0.3 mi. to Bose Lane.  No stop sign. Turn left.
 S     280 feet, to Parma Drive.  Stop sign.  Right.
 WNW   250 feet, to Grapevine Way.  No sign, no light, Left.
                 First intersection.  See school on
                 far side of Grapevine.
 SSW   440 feet, to Pajaro Way.  First Stop sign. Right.
                 You'll be passing the school.
 WNW   340 feet, see gate in fence on right, at bend in road.

  Enter the basketball courts, go to far end to set up.

  Good horizons, four small local lights that need to be covered
or turned off, two more big bright ones.

Curb blocks No.  Al foil, Yes.
Jan.24 -- Alta Vista Elementary         SSet 5:24, start 6:30
Tuesday   200 Blossom Valley DrLG 95032  7% moon set   2:50 pm
          Contact: Liz Werner, 3rd grade teacher

  South of most of the cities, sky is a bit darker than at
the east-side usual schools.  550 students, K - 5.  Officially
our clients are 96 3rd-graders, but there will be more.

GPS: Use school address, above.

  Click for a map showing the route from 85 to the setup area.

 From 85, exit onto Union Avenue going south.
 S.      0.5 mi to Los Gatos-Almaden Rd.      (Light) Right
 W.      0.3 mi to Taft Avenue            (1st light) Left
 S.      0.3 mi to Blossom Valley Drive.  (Stop sign) Right.
 W, NW   0.3 mi. Road bends, then a stop sign, see school
                 suddenly on left.

  Enter first driveway; immediately on left you'll see some
tallish pipes, spaced widely enough to drive between.  Behind
them is a double gate, to be opened for us.  Drive in and set
up among the tetherball poles and away from the street.

Curb blocks no. Al foil no
Jan.26 -- Barrett Elementary            SSet 5:26, start 6:30
Thursday  895 Barrett Avenue, Morg.Hill  1% moon sets   4:33 pm
          Contact: Kristin Goularte, 1st grade

GPS: In Morgan Hill, go to the intersection of Barrett Ave
  and Juan Hernandez Drive. Go NNW another 0.1 mile. See
  gate on the right.

 From Hwy.101, exit at Tennant Avenue. Go West.
 WSW     0.1 mi. if coming from north;
 WSW     0.4 mi. if coming from south.
                 See Juan Hernandez Drive. Light. Right.
 NW,N NW 0.3 mile to Barrett Ave. Stop Sign. Continue.
 NNW     0.1 mi., see gate at right.

 LIGHTS: to be off or covered.

Curb blocks no. Al foil no

Assigned dates. Grouped by week. See the next section for available dates.
 Jan. 19, Thur - Blackford Elementary, San Jose             
 Jan. 20, Fri -- Simonds Elementary, SE San Jose            

 Jan. 24, Thur - Alta Vista Elementary, Los Gatos           

 Jan. 26, Thur - Barrett Elementary, Morgan Hill            

 Jan. 31, Tue -- Dartmouth Middle School, San Jose          
 Feb.  1, Wed -- Ocala Middle School, San Jose              
 Feb.  2, Thur - Holding, Sunnyvale    
 Feb.  3, Fri -- Holding,, San Jose   

 Feb. 24, Fri -- Holding, Fremont

 Mar.  1, Wed -- Holding, Sunnyvale
 Mar.  2, Thur - Hacienda Environmental Science
                 Magnet Elementary School                   
 Mar.  3, Fri -- Holding, Milpitas 

 Mar. 17, Fri -- Holding, San Jose

 Mar. 29, Wed -- Holding, Fremont
 Mar. 30, Thur - Loma Prieta Elementary, Los Gatos          
 Mar. 31, Fri -- Holding, San Jose

Available dates.   See the previous section for assigned dates.

Desirability is determined by the phase of the Moon. The moon is spectacular and well-liked, very desirable for a star party. Such dates are:

February   3 -  5                 6:30  PST

March      5 -  6                 7:00  PST will start March 12, 2017

April      1 -  4                 8:30  PDT
          29 - 30                 9:00  PDT

May        1 -  3                 9:00  PDT
May       28 - 31                 9:30  PDT

Dates with no moon in the evening sky are more plentiful. There are many star clusters, colorful double stars, etc., so the sky is very rewarding. Consider:

January   21 - 22                 6:15  PST
January   23,  25                 6:30  PST

February  13,  15 - 22            6:45  PST
February  25 - 27                 7:00  PST

March     15 - 16, 18 - 25        8:15  PDT will start March 12, 2017
March     27                      8:30  PDT

April     14,  17 - 24            8:45  PDT
April     25 - 28                 9:00  PDT

May       14 - 22                 9:15  PDT
May       23 - 27                 9:30  PDT

Too much moon (over 75% illuminated) makes it difficult to show anything but a few bright objects, so we try to stay away from the nearly-full moon. It's a poor show, and not fair to the students (nor to the astronomers).

Approximate start times by grade, through the school year

early August    9:15  **  high school only
  mid August    9:00  **  "
early September 8:45  *   high and middle
  mid September 8:15      all grades
early October   7:45
  mid October   7:30
early November  6:15  After DST ended on Nov.6, 2016
  mid November  6:00
  all December  6:00
early January   6:00  Start 2016
  mid January   6:15
early February  6:30
  mid February  6:45
early March     7:00
  mid March     7:15  DST begins on March 12, 2017
  mid March     8:15  After DST starts
 late March     8:30
early April     8:30  *   high and middle
  mid April     8:45  *   "
early May       9:00  **  high only
  mid May       9:15  **  "
 late May       9:30  **  "  
 *   Not recommended for elementary schools.
**  Not recommended for elementary nor for middle schools.

Running times; setup and takedown allowances:

   Ideally, a star party should run two hours, allowing time for everyone to look through each telescope, then move some of the scopes to additional targets. But ninety minutes is a practical minimum.

   In addition, allow 90 minutes before the start time for the astronomers to set up, and 30 minutes afterward to pack the telescopes.

Optional details about start times:
  • Start times are approximately one hour after sunset. More specifically, they are at "Nautical Twilight": the time when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon. It is rounded to the nearest 15-minute interval.
  • The time from sunset to nautical twilight varies from about 58 to 70 minutes; it is minimum about November 20 and January 20, and maximum about June 21, varying slightly by year. They depend on the site's latitude, 37.3 degrees north.
  • The start times depend on both latitude and longitude; the latter is 121.9 degrees west.
These details are not important when scheduling a star party in the greater San Jose area.

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Mail  to Jim Van Nuland.

Latest updates:

  Hold Feb.3 for San Jose school