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.
==================================================== 2017 Oct.31 -- Halloween! SSet 6:10, start 6:30 Tuesday Location: your house 88% moon rose 4:29 pm Set up your scope at home, give the little goblins some eye candy! Venus and Saturn low to southwest. Albireo shows colors in twilight. Start with brighter targets: Moon 18 degrees up at 6:00 Uranus 25 degrees up to SW at 7:00. Ring Nebula after 7:10 Pleiades after 7:30 if horizon is low to ENE, 10 degrees up at 7:50 pm. Also: M31, Coathanger cluster, etc. Curb blocks no. House lights to be turned off. ====================================================
Assigned dates.   See the following section for available dates.
 Sep. 25  Mon -- Saratoga High, in Saratoga          8:00 start

 Oct. 20, Fri -- Faria Elementary, Cupertino         7:15 start
 Oct. 23, Mon -- Zanker Elementary, Milpitas         7:15 start
 Oct. 25, Wed  - Peterson Middle School, Sunnyvale   7:15 start
 Oct. 26, Thu -- Rancho Milpitas Middle, Milpitas    7:15 start
 Oct. 27, Fri -- Discovery Charter II,               7:15 start
 Oct. 28, Sat -- Forest Hill Elementary              7:15 start
 Oct. 31, Tue -- Your house, Halloween!
                   Big moon ESE, 16 deg. up.         6:00 start

 Nov.  6, Mon -- Holding, Sunnyvale                  6:00 start
 Nov.  7, Tue -- Christa McAuliffe Elementary        6:00 start
 Nov.  8, Wed -- West Valley Elementary, Sunnyvale   6:00 start
 Nov.  9, Thur - Rachel Carson Elementary, SJ 95136  6:00 start

 Nov. 15, Wed -- Holding, San Jose                   6:00 start
 Nov. 16, Thur - Holding, Sunnyvale                  6:00 start
 Nov. 17, Fri  - Fairwood Elementary, Sunnyvale      6:00 start

 Dec.  7, Thur - ACE Esperanza Middle                6:00 start
 Dec.  8, Fri -- Holding, Gilroy 

 Jan. 12, Fri -- Katharine Hughs Elementary          time not set

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

 Mar.  8, Thur - Loma Prieta Elementary Los Gatos    7:00 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:

2017:                     Start Time 

Nov       24,  26 - 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 - 13                 8:15  PDT  High Schools
Sep       18 - 24                 8:00  PDT  High & Middle
Oct       12 - 19, 21             7:30  PDT  All grades
Nov       10 - 14, 18 - 21        6:00  PST  All grades
Dec        9 - 21                 6:00  PST  All grades

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
late  August    8:45  **  high school only
early September 8:30  *   high and middle
 late September 8:00      all grades
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      all grades
 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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Latest updates:

Adjustments to start-time table