The 36th Annual NOVAC Star Gaze Saturday, October 6, 2018
3PM to 11PM
C.M. Crockett Park in Fauquier County, Virginia
NOVAC invites you to the largest public star party in the Washington DC area. Learn about astronomy while enjoying the night sky with hundreds of telescopes, binoculars and homemade projects. Many experienced astronomers will be on hand to answer questions and share their knowledge.
You do not need to be a member of the club or own any astronomical equipment to attend the Star Gaze. All you need is an interest in the wonders of the cosmos. Easy access, lots of equipment and a dark sky make for a good night under the stars. Please join us!
Note that Crockett charges $7 per-vehicle entry fee for those who are not NOVAC members or Fauquier County residents. Members can view and print their Observing Pass here.
Field Schedule (link to pdf version)
|3:00 – 5:00||Sextant Demos|
|3:00 – sunset||Solar and Radio Observing|
|3:00 – sunset||Telescope Tour with Tree Greenwood|
|4:30 – 5:00||“Your Place In Space” – A Human Orrery|
|5:30 – 6:00||Astronomy Bingo with David Werth|
|8:00 – 8:30||Sky Tour with Cal Powell|
|Sunset – 11:00||Observing hosted by NOVAC|
C. M. Crockett Park, 10066 Rogues Road Midland, VA, 22728
C. M. Crockett Park is about 35 to 39 miles, depending on which route you take, from George Mason University. The trip takes around an hour depending on traffic. We suggest you check your favorite mapping web site or use your vehicle navigation system to determine the best route for you to travel based on the latest traffic conditions.
If you need directions, there are two generally used routes many take from Northern Virginia to C M Crockett park:
- Take I-66 West to Gainesville, exit onto Lee Highway (US-29, Exit 43A) which splits into US-15 at Warrenton. In about 1 mile exit south-east onto Meetze Road and drive about 7 miles to Rogues Road.
- Take I-66 West to VA-234 South (Exit 44). Travel 3 miles to VA-28 South, 13.7 miles on VA-28 through Nokesville, Catlett, and Calverton to Meetze Road (VA-643). Turn right on Meetze Road and travel about 1 mile to Rogues Road.
On Meetze Road, look for a small sign directing you to C. M. Crockett Park. On the park entrance road, go one-half mile to the park gate. After checking in at the main gate, continue past the gravel parking lot on the left to the paved guest parking lot on the right at the end of the road.
Please dim your headlights when arriving and departing, and do not drive onto the field.
Planning for Star Gaze
- Bring layers of clothing to add as the evening cools. Temperatures can be chilly and little body heat is generated while standing still to peer through a telescope eyepiece. Check the forecast for Midland, VA before you start out to get an idea of what the weather will be like.
- Bring water and other beverages to keep hydrated. No food concessions will be available at the park so you may want to bring snacks and a picnic dinner. Crockett park is truly rural. There are no restaurants nearby; the closest are in Bealton, Warrenton or Bristow, 7, 8 and 12 miles away, respectively. NOVAC will provide some finger foods and beverages plus hot water and coffee after sundown, but they may be quickly consumed if the weather is nice and the crowd is large.
- Bring a flashlight, but cover it in layers of red cellophane, the darker the better. Astronomers use red lights because of a phenomenon called dark adaptation. Our eyes slowly increase in sensitivity to light in dark environments but very quickly lose it when exposed to white light. Red lights, specifically those with a wavelength longer than 620 nanometers, dark ruby red, don’t cause this, so we use them to illuminate our path or charts.
- Children are welcome, of course, but please help us to encourage them to be careful around the astronomical equipment. Scouts are encouraged and this is a great way for Girl Scouts to work on their Space Explorer Try It or work on the Sky Search Program. Webelos can work on their Astronomy belt loop and Boy Scouts on their Astronomy Merit Badge!
- No smoking around the telescopes. Telescope mirrors (and some of the owners) are sensitive to tobacco smoke. Move far away from the telescopes if you use any kind of spray. A tiny droplet of insect repellent spray could significantly damage the coating on a telescope lens or mirror.
- Pets, except service dogs, are not permitted on the observing field.