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.

Next school to be scheduled

Watch this line for final status on event day

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

==================================================== Watch this space for details of coming events ====================================================

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

 Sep. 29, Fri -- Wilcox Middle School  7:45 start                 
 Oct. 27, Fri -- Discovery Charter II, 7:15 start                 
 Oct. 31, Tue -- Halloween at your house, with big moon           

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 

Sep       24 - 28                 8:00  PDT  High Schools
Oct       23 - 26                 7:15  PDT  All grades
Oct       28                      7:15  PDT  All grades
Nov       25 - 27                 6:00  PST  All grades
Dec       22 - 23, 27-29          6:00  PST  All grades

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 

Sep       11 - 14                 8:15  PDT  High Schools
Sep       18 - 23                 8:00  PDT  High & Middle
Oct       11 - 22                 7:30  PDT  High & Middle
Nov        6 - 21                 6:00  PST  All grades
Dec        7 - 21                 6:00  PST  All grades

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.

Back to top of this page.   Back to School home page.  
Mail  to Jim Van Nuland.

Latest updates:

Remove July 19 event at Stanford U.