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.

NOTICE: The long-time co-ordinator for the school star party
progam has resigned, due to health considerations. Until a new
co-ordinator takes over, no more school events will be scheduled.

The remaider, (Thomas Russell) will be held as weather permits.

The October and November dates remain on the list, but no work is being done on them.

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

Watch this space for coming events.

Hope for a nice clear sky!

Apr.24 -- Thomas Russell Middle         SSet 7:51, start 8:45
Tuesday   1500 Escuela Prkwy, 95035     65% moon sets  4:09 am.
          Contact: Jonathan Mulcock, teacher

GPS: In Milpitas, go to intersection of Roger Street and
     Washington Drive. Enter parking lot to southeast.

 From Hwy.680, exit at Jacklin. Go west.
 W      ~0.5 mi. to Escuela Parkway. Light. Right.
 N NNW   0.6 mi. to Washington Drive, school on east corner.

  Turn right on Washington, then right into the parking lot
via the first driveway. Go straight back through a gate, to
be opened for us. Bear right, along edge of lot, then go
down a broad sidewalk to the lower basketball courts. Set
up along the north fence.

  Good horizons, but nearby buildings' lights are interfering.

Curb blocks no, Al foil no.
Assigned dates. See the later section for assigned dates.
 Apr. 24, Tue -- Thomas Russell Middle School, Milpitas   8:45 start

Fall semester

 Oct. 18, Thur - Curtner Elementary, Milpitas             6:00 start
 Nov. 14, Wed  - Holding, Montclaire Elementary
 Nov. 15, Thur - Murdock Portal elementary, San Jose      6:00 start
 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
April      20 - 23                          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

April       3 - 17, 19                      8:30  DST
May         2 - 14, 16 - 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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Latest updates:

Remove J.F.Smith Elementary