Dates and times

Current Events and Available Dates

Status and schedule of school star parties

List of assigned dates   List of available dates

For SJAA club events, see the SJAA calendar page.

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

Watch this space for coming events

==================================================== 2018 Jan.19 -- Bracher Elementary School SSet 5:56, start 6:45 Friday 2700 Chromite Dr, S. Clara No moon tonight Contact: Cecilia Altanirano, PTA GPS: In Santa Clara, to the intersection of Chromite Drive and Bowers Ave. Go east ~225 ft. Turn right into parking lot. There is no freeway that is anywhere near the school. Turn-by-turn: Study your map to find San Tomas Expressway. It runs mostly north/south across the county, passing near the school. At the south end, it begins as an extension of Camden Avnue. Then take the expressway into Santa Clara. Come to Monroe Street. Light. Left. W 0.5 mi. to Bowers Avenue. Light. Right. N <0.3 mi. to Chromite Drive. Light. Right. E ~225 feet, enter parking lot on the right. Turn in, pass the buildings on the right, see gates to be open. Enter onto play area. Set up in as far south as the first free-throw line. Curb blocks no. Al foil, probably. ==================================================== 2018 Jan.23 -- J.F. Smith Elementary School SSet 5:22, start 6:15 Tuesday 2220 Woodbury Lane, SJ 95138 33% moon sets 11:51 pm Contact: Sterling Larnerd GPS: In San Jose, go to the intersection of Yerba Buena Road and Chisen Street. Turn left onto Chisen, bear right, go 0.4 mile to a gate on the left. Enter. From Hwy 101, go northeast on Yerba Buena Road. NW SE 1.1 mi. to Chisen St. Left. N, SE <0.4 mi. to a gate on the left. Enter. Set up on the basketball courts. ==================================================== 2018 Jan.24 -- Pomeroy Elementary School SSet 5:23, start 6:30 Wednesday 1505 Escuela Prkwy, Milpitas 43% moon sets 1:23 am Contact: Pomeroy PTA Malia Martin From Hwy.680, exit at Jacklin Road. Go west. W 0.5 mi. to Escuela Parkway. Light. Right. NNW 0.6 mi. to Washington Drive. Stop sign. Left. WSW 0.1 mi, see double gates on the left. Enter. Drive into the grounds, come to the basketball courts on the left. Set up east/west along the free-throw lines. Another way: after left turn onto Washington Drive, see parking lot on the left. Enter, turn right. Go through a two-pipe gate; at least one of the pipes must be removed. Continue West-south-west onto baskbetball courts. There may be unwanted lights that flood the basketball courts. Curb blocks: no. Lights: probably. ==================================================== 2017 Jan.25 -- Murdock Portal Elementary SSet 5:24, start 6:30 Thursday 1188 Wunderlich Dr, SJ 95129 54% moon sets 2:07 am Contact: Ipseeta, PSCO vice-president GPS: In San Jose, go to Ora St. and Wunderlich Dr., then South ~175 feet. See parking lot on left. Enter 2nd gate. The driving directions start from Highway 85, but it may seem seems that they ought to start from 280. The trouble is that the westbound off-ramp at Lawrence Expressway does not have a direct way to get onto southbound Lawrence. From Hwy.85, exit at Saratoga Avenue. North. NE 1.1 mi. to Lawrence Expwy. Light. Left. NW, N 1.6 mi. Bollinger Road. Light. Left. W 0.1 mi. to Wunderlich Drive. Left turn lane, but no Stop sign. Left. S >0.3 mi, to Ora Street. Continue. S ~240 ft, see parking lot on left. Enter 2nd gate. Eastbound traffic on Bollinger Road can be very heavy and slowww. Consider continuing another 200 feet to the next street on the left, White Oak Drive. S 0.1 mi, to Greenoak Drive. Tee. Left E <0.1 mi, to Wunderlich Drive. Tee. Right. S >0.2 mi. to Ora Street. Right. S ~240 ft, see parking lot on left. Enter 2nd gate. NOW THAT WE'RE ALL IN THE LOT -- Go to back of lot, then turn left. See a three-pole gate. The middle pole will be opened or unlocked for us. Go past just one small building, about 50 feet, then turn right. Continue between main building and smaller classrooms, to a big open area. Set up about 50 feet into the open area, in line with the first ball wall on the left. Curb blocks no. Lights to be turned off. ==================================================== 2018 Jan.26 -- Noble Elementary SSet 5:25, start 6:30 Friday 3466 Grossmont Dr., San Jose 65% moon sets 3:14 am Contact: Jessica Wong, teacher. GPS: Go to intersection of Grossmont Drive and Terra Noble Way. Drive North about 80 feet, turn left into basketball courts. From Hwy.680, exit at Berryessa Rd. Run east. ENE ~1.3 mi. to Piedmont. Right. SSE 0.3 mi. to Noble. Left. ENE 0.3 mi. to Grossmont. Left. NNE ~0.14 mi., see gate on the left. You are circling the school, on your left. Pass the 1st parking lot, pass main entrance, then at far (north) edge of the school is a gate which will be open for astronomers only. Go straight in, curve to the left somewhat, to the first open setup area. Lights will be covered or switched off. We'll have the Moon, the Pleiades, Orion Nebula (M42), the Great Square, more as conditions permit. Curb blocks no. Lights: to be turned off. ====================================================
Assigned dates.   See the following section for available dates.
 Jan. 19, Fri -- Bracher Elementary, Santa Clara          6:15 start 

 Jan. 23, Tue -- J.F. Smith Elementary                    6:15 start
 Jan. 24, Wed -- Pomeroy Elementary, Santa Clara          6:30 start
 Jan. 25, Thur - Murdock Portal Elementary                6:30 start
 Jan. 26, Fri -- Noble Elementary, San Jose               6:30 start

 Feb. 13, Tue -- Lakewood Elementary                      6:45 start

 Mar.  7, Wed -- Holding, Santa Clara 
 Mar.  8, Thur - Loma Prieta Elementary Los Gatos         7:00 start
 Mar.  9, Fri -- Hacienda Environmental Science Magnet
                   School, San Jose                       7:00 start
Fall semester
 Nov. 16, Fri -- Pearl Zanker Elementary, Milpitas        6:00 start
Available dates.   See the previous section for assigned dates.

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

2018                                      Approx. Start Time
January    22 - 25                          6:30  PST
February   18 - 21, 23-25                   7:00  PST
March      21 - 26                          8:15  DST
April      20 - 24                          8:30  DST
May        18 - 24                          9:00  High Schools

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:

2018                                      Approx. Start Time
January    14 - 18, 20-21                   6:30  PST
February    4 - 12, 14, 16-17               6:45  PST
March       4 -  7, 10                      7:00  PST
March      11 - 13, 15, 17 - 20             8:00  DST
April       3 - 17, 19                      8:30  DST
May         2 - 17                          9:00  High Schools

Too much moon (over 70% 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

Too late start (after 9:00) will run too far into the evening. Students (and even astronomers) need their rest.

early August    9:15  *** Too-late start
                9:00  **  High school only
late  August    8:45  *   high and middle
early September 8:30  *   elementary
      September 8:15
 late September 8:00
early October   7:30
 late October   7:15
early November  6:30  befor DST ends on Nov.5, 2017
early November  6:00  after DST ends; earliest start time
 late November  6:00
  all December  6:00
early January   6:00  Start 2018
 late January   6:15
early February  6:30
 late February  6:45
early March     7:00  befor DST
early March     8:00  after DST starts on March 4, 2018,
 late March     8:15
early April     8:30  *   elementary
 late April     8:45  *   high and middle
early May       9:00  **  high only
 late May       9:15  *** Too-late start
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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