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Annual Picnic and Member Observing Night

  • Jul 13, 2013 · 4:00 PM
  • Stargate Observatory @ Camp Rotary in Wolcott Mill Metropark

We're having our fifth annual inter-club picnic and observing night. Members of all Michigan astronomy clubs are invited. The event is on a third-quarter-moon Saturday at Stargate. It will start no earlier than 4 PM and will run on until the last astronomer leaves.

This event is for current dues-paying members of astronomical societies and clubs only (get information about joining the W.A.S. here). Members are welcome to bring their families and friends, however.

The picnic is a bring-your-own-basket affair, though we will provide drinks, hot dogs, and snacks. We have two grills available. PLEASE BRING YOUR OWN CHAIRS, TABLES, AND BLANKETS, and feel free to bring food to share. Wolcott Mill rules allow no alcohol on the premises.

We are authorized to camp on the premises, so if you would like to bring a tent or a popup camping trailer, you are welcome to. We have a lot of space, but large RVs are too big and heavy to accommodate, and we don't have connections for them.

We can provide electricity for telescopes as well.



Bring your tent or your pop-up trailer and spend a night under the stars!


It's a new-moon weekend, so bring your biggest scope and test the limits of our skies.

To volunteer to assist with tent setup, games, cooking, or anything else, message us through Meetup or contact us through the website.

The usual observing night rules apply:

We usually stay as long as the skies are clear and there are interested observers - usually around midnight, but on nice nights even later. You don't have to stay the whole time - though we ask that you aim your headlights away from the observing field in case you have to leave early. Feel free to email us if you have any questions.

We only require a few things for your safety and enjoyment:

  • Astronomical night will begin around 11 PM, so please plan to be at the observatory earlier. Be careful with headlights on your way in, especially after sundown. Make sure to turn the dome lights off if possible, and park your car facing away from the observing field if you have running lights.
  • Please don't use white light flashlights when others are observing. Others will have flashlights, but if you'd like to bring your own, you can easily make a red-light flashlight that will help you get around in the dark and is safe for night vision. I make reasonably decent ones with a red marker and an index card, but you can read other ideas here.
  • No alcoholic beverages are permitted.

Other advice to help you make the most of your evening:

  • Weather, especially in Michigan, is unpredictable. We are always (some might say irrationally) hopeful, but if there's a solid chance of an extended downpour we are not likely to do any observing! If you're not sure about the weather, call Bob Berta, Marty Kunz, or Riyad Matti to check if the open house has been canceled.
  • Observing is an outside activity, so dress accordingly - a little warmer than the temperature would indicate. Even in the summer, it can get surprisingly chilly at night. Like any other activity, the key to lasting is layers, layers, layers! In the wintertime and early spring, plan to wear at least two layers of every garment: socks, pants, and a shirt. Core temperature is important too, so pay extra attention to keeping your torso warm - an insulated vest can work wonders.
  • Importantly, the Camp Rotary grounds have full-service public restrooms, with warm running water and other modern conveniences.

Join or login to comment.

  • Bob T.

    A friend of my daughter brought 2 Chinese foreign exchange students to the observing session - there were several "Oh WOW!" moments :)

    I got to see 4 moons of Saturn, and could clearly make out the Cassini Division. I also saw several objects I'd not seen before.

    Love it!

    July 15, 2013

  • james n.

    nice picnic, also it was a mellow,clear night it was great! i enjoyed the people and looking through different size telescopes

    July 15, 2013

  • Doug B.

    It was fun, however, in the future, maybe start the picnic a bit later, since it doesn't get dark until 10+ this time of the year

    July 14, 2013

  • Michael B.

    I'm new to astronomy and not a member — yet, I was told I'm welcome to come to the star observing. Yeah, I need some pointers.

    1 · July 13, 2013

    • Jon B.

      Michael, you are welcome to come to observing. Most months we have one observing night, but this month we have two: tonight July 13, and then July 27.

      1 · July 13, 2013

    • Michael B.

      I look forward to it.

      July 13, 2013

  • Jonathan K.

    Big family event tomorrow that is taking all our time today. Sorry to miss you, but we'll see you soon.

    July 13, 2013

  • Shelley L.

    Will not be able to this time!

    July 12, 2013

  • Doug B.

    Most likely

    July 12, 2013

  • Bob T.

    Will be there, but may be a bit late; I have a graduation party early in the afternoon.

    July 8, 2013

  • Kino A.

    Hoping for clear skies.

    July 7, 2013

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