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.

Walters Junior High School

Watch this line for final status on event day

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

Mar.29 -- Walters Jr. High School       SSet 7:28, start 8:30
Wednesday 39600 Logan Drive              6% moon sets  9:34 pm
          Fremont, Calif., 94538
          Contact: Todd Harris, EAS
          Contact: Raymond Howard, EAS

  Grades run 1 - 12.  There are about 85 students. All grades

GPS: In Fremont, go to Sloan Street and Logan Drive.  Go NW
for 70 feet, then turn right into the school parking area.

  From Highway 880, exit at Stevenson Blvd.

If coming from south on 880:

  From the bottom of the ramp, turn right, go NE 0.4 mile to Sundale
Drive.  See traffic light. Left.

If coming from north on 880:

  From the bottom of the ramp, turn left, go NE < 0.6 mile to Sundale
Drive.  See traffic light. Left.

In either direction from 880:

  Turn left onto Sundale Drive.

  NW < 0.2 mi., come to Boone Drive. Stop Sign. Turn Right.

  NE, N, NW ~0.5 mi; Boone curves, becomes Logan Drive.  Come to
Sloan St.  No stop sign.  See school on the right.

  NW another 80 feet, turn right into parking area.

  Go through the lot, turn half-right behind the school.  Continue
to the basketball courts.

Click here for a map of the grounds.

Yes, we'll park on the grass, but set up on the pavement.

Mar.30 -- Loma Prieta Elementary        SSet 7:29, start 8:30 pm
Thursday  27845 Summit Road, L.G.       13% moon sets 10:43 pm
          Contact: Kate Drozen, 3rd grade teacher

JVN: copy Jeff Gose on this school's traffic.

  The address is Los Gatos, but it's far from the city, atop
a mountain ridge. The sky is much darker than at city schools.

  About 60 students invited, plus families.

GPS: In Los Gatos, go to the intersection of Morrill and Summit
  Roads.  Continue east, pick up below with "After
  about 2.5 miles".  Read the warning about the exit from
  Hwy. 17 onto Summit Road!

 From Hwy.17, exit at Summit Road, about 9 miles south of
Lark Avenue.  The intersection has off-ramps typical of
freeway interchanges.

  The Summit Road off-ramp makes a sudden right, and a VERY
sharp uphill, coming to a tee.  Bring your speed wayy down,
so that you can shift into your lowest gear before the turn.

  Turn right again and cross the bridge. On the other side
of the bridge. turn left at the stop sign.

  Watch your speed on Summit Road!  Drivers have been cited
for just a few miles over the posted limit.  There are a lot
of blind turns and lots of speeders.

  After about 2.5 miles, watch for painted words on the road
SLOW SCHOOL XING, and a yellow 5-sided sign.  The driveway
is *immediately* past that, on the right.

  You will see the school's events sign atop a small hill, on
the other side of the driveway, but turn before that.

  If you go under a rusty overpass, you have gone too far.

  Follow the driveway up the hill to the parking lot. You will
see a school with dark roofs. Pass them; our school is the
second set of buildings, with green roofs.

  When you reach the top, drive straight ahead, sloow for the
speed bumps, to Loma Prieta School.  You'll see a fenced area in
front of you and to the right.

  The gate will be open.  Pass right of the basketball courts,
follow the playground blacktop as it curves around the
right along the school building.

  Set up between the basketball courts and past the building.

Curb blocks no  Al foil, yes.
Mar.31 -- Lowell Elementary School      Sset 7:30, start 8:30 pm
Friday    625 S. 7th St., San Jose      22% moon rises 11:51 on
          Contact: Michelle Heap, teacher

GPS: In San Jose, go to intersection of Margaret St. & 6th St.
     From that intersection, go north 100 feet. Turn
     into the parking lot, then turn left.

IF COMING FROM THE EAST - From highway 280, exit at 7th Street.

  There are two lanes of off-ramp. At the light, continue.
The road becomes Margaret St., there is an overhead sign.

 W       370 feet, come to 6th Street.  Right
 NW      100 feet, see driveway on the right.

 IF COMING FROM THE WEST - From highway 280, exit at 7th Street.
  The freeway sign says 7 St / Virginia St,
  On the ramp, bear left, come to Virginia St. No light. Left.

 ENE    ~340 ft., come to 7th St.  Light.  Left.
 NNW     0.1 mi., come to Margaret St.  Light.  Left.
 W       370 ft., come to S. 6th St.    Right.
 NW     ~100 feet, see driveway on the right.


  Enter, turn left, go about 200 feet to a gate on the right.

Assigned dates, grouped by week. See the next section for available dates.

 Mar. 29, Wed -- Walters Jr. High, Fremont (1st time)             
 Mar. 30, Thur - Loma Prieta Elementary, Los Gatos                
 Mar. 31, Fri -- Lowell Elementary, San Jose                      

 Apr.  4, Tue -- Russell Middle School, Milpitas                  

 Apr. 13, Thur - Nordstrom Elementary, Morgan Hill                

 Apr. 21, Fri -- Forest Hill Elementary, Los Gatos                

 Apr. 28, Fri -- Holding, San Jose

 May  26, Fri -- McAulffe Elementary, Saratoga                    

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:

2017:                     Start Time 

April      2 -  3                 8:30  PDT -- began March 12, 2017
          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:

2017:                     Start Time 

April     14,  17 - 20, 22 - 24   8:45  PDT -- began March 12, 2017
April     25 - 27                 9:00  PDT

May       14 - 22                 9:15  PDT
May       23 - 25,  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.5, 2016
  mid November  6:00
  all December  6:00
early January   6:00  Start 2017
  mid January   6:15
early February  6:30
  mid February  6:45
early March     7:00
  mid March     7:15
  mid March     8:15  After DST started on March 4, 2017
 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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Latest updates:

   March 25 -- enter directions for three schools.