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.

Mattos Elementary, Fremont

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

Feb.24 -- Mattos Elementary School      SSet 5:57, start 7:00
Friday    37944 Farwell Drive, Fremont  no  moon
          Contact: Todd Harris

Astronomers from Eastby Astronomical Society, Oakland; and
the San Jose Astronomical Association.

GPS: In Fremont, go to the intersection of Farwell Drive and
  Nordica Avenue.  Go WNW, immediately see entry into parking
  lot, on the right.  Follow below.

 From Hwy.880, take the Mowry Avenue exit. Go NE.
 NE     <0.4 mi. if coming from the north,
 NE     <0.2 mi. if coming from the south,
         come to Farwell Drive. Light.  Left.
 NW     <0.7 mi. to Nordica Ave. No signs. Continue.
 NW     ~200 feet, see entrance on right.

  Enter, follow driveway to left.  At the spot that you
would again turn left, instead turn right into a driveway
that has STAFF ONLY painted on it.

  Go through a small parking lot, bearing left to the far
corner to a gate that is to be opened for us.  This takes us
onto a play area with basketball courts. Set up toward the
north or where to get the best view of the sky.

Curb blocks no. Al foil no.
Mar. 2 -- Hacienda Environmental        SSet 6:00, start 7:00
Thursday  Science Magnet Elementary     24% moon sets 10:45 pm
          1290 Kimberly Drive, 95118
        ->but enter opposite 1284 Rodney Drive
          Contact: Audra Deckert, Science teacher

  Really BIG turnout previous years, at least 400 lookers!
We need extra telescopes.

  We should have more then one scope on the more popular
objects (Moon, Jupiter).

GPS: In San Jose, go to the intersection of Vistamont
  and Rodney Drives.  Turn east, go 190 feet to a gate on
  the left.

 From Hwy.87, exit at Capitol Expwy, go west.
 W WSW  ~1.3 mi. to Vistamont Avenue.   Left.
             Capitol changes into Hillsdale Ave.
             No sign or light at Vistamont. 2-way turn lane.

 SSE     0.4 mi. to Rodney Drive.  Turn left.

 ENE     190 feet to gate on the left. Enter.

  Drive in past the small parking lot, then turn right.
Just past the building that is now on your left, turn left
and see brightly-colored play equipment.  Set set up just left
(west) of the play equipment.

  Lights: request that outside lights are to be off for one
hour past ending time, to allow allowing some time after
official end of event at 8:30.

  Library backroom: 28
  Cafeteria outside: 8, 10
  Conference room/office: 19, 21, 23
  Hayes storage room: 10, 12

Curb blocks no. Al foil no.
Mar. 3 -- Rancho Milpitas Middle        SSet 6:04, start 7:00
Friday    1915 Yellowstone Ave, Mlpts   36% moon sets 11:55 pm
          but enter opposite 1707 Yellowstone
          Contact: Skye Dwyer, Science teacher

  Our clients are grades 7-8 and families, about 70 students.

GPS: In Milpitas, go to 1707 Yellowstone Avenue.  The entry
  is on the opposite (south) side of the street.  See below.

 From Hwy.680, exit at Landess Ave., go east.

 ENE     0.3 mi. if coming from the north,
 ENE     0.1 mi. if coming from the south,
                 come to S. Park Victoria Drive.  Light. Left.
                 (Right side is Morrill Avenue.)
 NNE     0.5 mi. Yellowstone Ave.  Light. Right.
 NE, ENE 0.3 mi, pass a tennis court on the right, continue to
                 a parking lot on the right.

  Enter the lot, go to the far right corner, come to a double
gate to be opened for us.

  Solar panels will be a problem.  We'll set up nearer the
buildings to get away from them, maybe at the north end.

Curb blocks no, Al foil maybe
Mar. 4 -- Springbridge Elementary       SSet 6:05, start 7:00 pm
Saturday  771 Waldo Rd., Campbell       36% moon sets  1:00 am
          Contact: Robert Regan PPL
                   Muditha Kanchaga, parent

  About 40 students invited, plus families.  Grades 1 & 2.

GPS: In Campbell, go to Waldo Road and Marilyn Drive.
  See a long parking lot on the north side of Waldo.
  Go west about 150 feet, enter the lot. Continue below.

From Hwy.17, exit at Camden Ave. 

If coming from north: Bear right on the off-ramp Light. Right. 

If coming from south, turn left at the foot of the ramp,
   then left again, come to Camden. Light. Left.


  Camden quickly becomes San Tomas Expressway, and quickly gets
confusing, as there are three options to turn right, and they
are very close together.

NW      ~0.4 mi. to Winchester Road.  Be careful not to go
   north onto Winchester!  From underneath 17, take the third
   opportunity to turn right.  There is a green "Winchester
   Blvd SOUTH" sign, with a brown one underneath that says
   "Los Gatos Creek Park". The first two do not have a brown

  Once on South-bound Winchester:

 SW     >0.1 mi. to Sunnyoaks Ave.  Light. Right. 
 W      ~150 ft. to Old Orchard Road. No stop sign. Right.
 NNW    ~0.3 mi. Road bends left. Continue another ...
 W      <0.4 mi, see a long parking lot on the right.

  At the end of the parking lot, turn in, continue into a
smaller lot, then through a double gate to be opened for us.
If the gate is closed but not locked, drive in and close it.

  Continue across the basketball courts, pass two buildings.
Turn right, go through a second gate, again pass two buildings,
then through a third gate.  Whew!  Set up a bit north of the
(third) gate.

Mar. 6 -- Lakewood Elementary School    SSet 6:07, start 7:00
Monday    750 Lakechime Dr, Sunnyvale   70% moon sets  3:00 am
          but enter from Meadowlake Drive
          Contact: Allyson Guida, 3rd gr

GPS: In Sunnyvale, go to the intersection of Lakehaven and
  Meadowlake Drives, then north ~200 feet.  Gate on the right.

 From Hwy.280, exit at Lawrence Expressway.  North.
 N      ~4.9 mi. Cross Bayshore Freeway (Hwy 101). Continue.
 N      >0.3 mi. to Lakehaven Drive. Light. Left.
 W      >0.4 mi. to Meadowlake Drive.  Ssign, Right.
 N, NNW ~200 ft. See gate on right.

  Set up on the play area just south of the school building.

Curb blocks no. Al foil, possibly.

Assigned dates. Grouped by week. See the next section for available dates.
 Feb. 24, Fri -- Mattos Elementary, Fremont                 

 Mar.  2, Thur - Hacienda Environmental Science Magnet Elementary School 
 Mar.  3, Fri -- Rancho Milpitas Middle, Milpitas           
 Mar.  4, Sat -- Springbridge Elementary, Campbell          

 Mar.  6, MON -- Lakewood Elementary, Sunnyvale             

 Mar. 16, Thur - Ida Jew Intermediate (moved from 17th)     
 Mar. 17, Fri  - Holding, Campbell 

 Mar. 24, Fri -- Holding, San Jose        

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

 Apr  28, Fri -- Holding, San Jose

 May  26, 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, very desirable for a star party. Such dates are:

March      5                      7:00  PST

April      1 -  4                 8:30  PDT will start 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:

February  25 - 28                 7:00  PST

March     15,  18, 23, 25         8:15  PDT will start March 12, 2017
March     27                      8:30  PDT

April     14,  17 - 24            8:45  PDT
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.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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Latest updates:

  170218 - Correct day of week for March 6: a Monday, Lakewood Elementary