Indiana’s Largest Star Party Open To Public This Friday And Saturday Night At Camp Cullom

Come with us and celebrate the sky at the Sixteenth Annual Indiana Family Star Party!

See the rings of Saturn, the moons and bands of Jupiter, a ball of 500,000 stars, distant galaxy, and a sky full of sparkling stars at the Midwest’s premier star party for families! Once again the IFSP will be a part of the Astronomical League’s (AL’s) Great Lakes Region Conference (GREATCon).

New this year: Sky Trek Adult Beginning Astronomy Program! An extension of our popular “Sky Trekker” program for kids, Sky Trek Adult will allow adults to learn some constellations, view objects through telescopes, and become eligible to win prizes for two nights, just like the kids! Now the entire family will be able to learn about the sky together! In addition, we will present our new dome, home of the 7” Meade ED APO refracting telescope!

We will also offer our other favorite annual activities, including speakers, door prizes, the ice cream social, the prairie grass walk, an astro-quiz, and geocaching, Pokémon Go, and a silent auction. Every year this regional party attracts curious starry-sky lovers, nature lovers, and actual and aspiring amateur astronomers. Join us and explore the skies!

The IFSP is hosted by three regional astronomy clubs: The Wabash Valley Astronomical Society (Lafayette), the Indiana Astronomical Society (Indianapolis), and the Muncie Astronomy Club. The event will open to the public on July 13-14 at 4:00 p.m. at beautiful Camp Cullom, home of the Prairie Grass Observatory, near Frankfort. The observatory has four large telescopes in operation, each housed in its own building. The 28” Starmaster Dobsonian, 16″ Meade Starfinder Equatorial Newtonian, 16″ Meade LX200R Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, and the above-mentioned 7” Meade ED APO refractor are located in a large viewing field along with a pair of giant 25/40 X 100 mm binoculars also mounted at the site. Amateur astronomers from across the Midwest will also have their own telescopes set up on a large observing field, many of which will also be available for public viewing—with permission from their owners of course.

Picture of Saturn taken by John Mahony at Prairie Grass Observatory

Camp Cullom is known for its dark, star-studded rural sky, affording excellent views of many celestial objects. This summer is the year for planets with Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter all visible at nightfall, and Mars rising later. Summer is also the season of star clusters: tight groupings of stars that allow you to see over 100,000 stars at once through the glass of a single telescopic eyepiece! In addition to star clusters, many nebulae—ghostly clouds of dust in space—will be visible, as will several fun asterisms, and many other favorites!

Fri.: 4:00 pm, gates open. 12:00 midnight, gates close.
Sat.: 4:00 pm, gates open. 12:00 midnight, gates close.
Note: During these times, the registration booth at the single day parking lot will be open. After arrival, visitors may stay at the star party as late as they choose. Camping for the full event is also available; campers may arrive at 10:00 a.m. See details below: Registration and Camping.

Friday Only:
6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.: Evening Swap Meet at the Picnic Shelter.
7:00 p.m.: Ice Cream Social at the Nature Center, followed by “Mars Next: Beyond the Telescope”, a presentation by Brian Tanner, President/Chairman of Spaceport Indiana, in the Nature Center.
Saturday Only:
10:30 a.m.: The AL Astro Quiz will be given at the Nature Center.
12:00 Noon: Items not sold at the swap meets have the option of entering the silent auction at the Nature Center.
1:00 p.m.: Astronomy presentations begin at the Nature Center.
6:00 p.m.: Quiz awards and door prizes will be distributed in the Nature Center.
10:00 p.m: Movies will begin in the Nature Center.

Friday and Saturday:
All day: Daytime solar observing at the observatory buildings.
11:30 a.m. – 12:00 Noon: Swap meet at the Picnic Shelter.
4:00 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.: Sky Trekker (kids’ program) sign-up at the Information Room in the Nature Center. Sign-up is computerized, so you will need to contact the Sky Trekker coordinator, Lisa Wieland, or one of her assistants to sign up early.
7:45 p.m.: Sky Trekker/Sky Trek Adult sign-up closes.
8:00 p.m.: Sky Trekker/Sky Trek Adult Launch meeting in the Nature Center. Planispheres will be handed out at this meeting.
8:30 p.m.: Beginning Astronomy Workshop
9:00 p.m.: Constellation Talk in the Nature Center
10:00 p.m.: Sky Trekker/Sky Trek Adult field training and examinations begin at the Galileo Gallery. Movies will begin at the Nature Center.

Speakers at the 2018 IFSP include: Brian Tanner of Spaceport Indiana as noted above, Professor Rafael Lang who will present on Dark Matter, B.J. Austin, President of IN Space aerospace propulsion and development, who will talk about “Where We Have Been, Where We Are Going, and How We Are Going to Get There (Maybe), and Ron Whitehead, Chairman of the Astronomical League’s Great Lakes Region, who will explain “Things You Didn’t Know About Astronomy”. The speakers are not recorded, presentations must be enjoyed “live.” See the IFSP website for more details: .

Admission is $5.00 per person or $15.00 for three or more people for a single day and night. See Registration & Camping“ below for Admission fees for campers.

Parking, for those not purchasing a full event pass (see below), will be on a separate field a few hundred yards from the observing field. During evening hours, the camp’s ranger will be driving a hay wagon back and forth to provide transportation between the parking area and observing field, but only until midnight. This arrangement minimizes car headlight interference on the observing field.

Camping on the grounds and a 3-day extension of the star party are available for those who are interested. This package includes a 3-day extension of the star party (Jul. 10-15), plus parking/camping on the observing field or one of the camp’s other campsites. Camping fees are $20.00/individual or $30.00/family. Fees At-Gate and for Registration forms received after June 25 are $45.00/individual or $55.00/family. To park and/or camp on the observing field, you must purchase the full event pass.
If you want to bring in a telescope for a single day, you can either bring it on the hay wagon or, if you arrive during daylight hours, you can drive it to the observing field, and then return your car to the “single day” parking lot before dark. But then you’ll have to carry your telescope back to the parking lot when you leave (with the hay wagon available until midnight).
Note that if you plan to stay multiple days, but want to stay at a hotel at night, you will have to move your car to the parking lot before dark since driving is not permitted on the observing field after dark. If you plan to leave equipment set up on the observing field overnight, you must purchase the full event pass, even if you park in the single-day parking lot at night.
For more information, go to , or, if you do not have internet access, contact George Wyncott, P.O. Box 2020, West Lafayette, IN 47996-2020 or (765) 427-9064. Registration forms must be postmarked no later than June 25 to avoid the higher late registration fees.

Prepared food will be available for purchase at mealtimes starting on Friday afternoon, however, those wishing to bring their own food may do so. Please note that no campfires will be allowed near the observing field, but camp stoves are acceptable before sunset. There are charcoal grills available in most of the non-observing-field campsites.
The camp has restroom facilities with running water and showers. The shower schedule is posted in the event program.
The Nature Center, where many activities and gatherings will take place, is air-conditioned, and close to both the observing field and observatory buildings.
Movies will be shown Friday and Saturday nights in the Nature Center with free popcorn available.

ABSOLUTELY NO alcoholic beverages are allowed on the grounds at any time.
Camp Sites: Campers may only reserve ONE camp site next to them for a friend; blocks of camp sites may not be reserved.
Walkie Talkies: Channel 11 is to be reserved for star party communications only. Attendees may use another channel for non-star-party related communications.
Generators must be located on the north side of the road to the Lodge and can only be on from noon to 8:00 p.m. At all other times they must be off.

All net proceeds from the admission fee are applied toward maintaining Camp Cullom and the Prairie Grass Observatory, a non-profit United Way Agency in Clinton County. All net proceeds from the admission fee are applied toward maintaining the Prairie Grass Observatory and Camp Cullom (Clinton County Foundation for Youth), a non-profit United Way Agency.

Here is the complete program for the Indiana Family Star Party:



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