Virtual Star Party

This is where you will find information and updates for all MAS Star Parties and Events open to the public.

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Posts: 587
Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:52 pm
Real Name: Mark Job

Virtual Star Party

Post by markjob »

I am just curious if anyone out there is interested in doing a virtual star party. I know there are people who are members of the MAS who do not get out on a regular basis especially during the quarantine. I have equipment and the infrastructure to share. Even if it is just a look at the Moon. I can provide live viewing of deep sky objects too. If you are interested send me a PM or an email at mark.job at I will be willing to try it with a small group.

Even tonight looks good for a couple hours.

Clear skies,

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Ron Schmit
Posts: 1239
Joined: Thu Jun 10, 2004 12:41 pm

Re: Virtual Star Party

Post by Ron Schmit »

Mr. Job, good sir! Hope all is well at the Southern Annex!

I've been doing virtual star parties on Zoom. I have some coming up this weekend, for Astronomy Day, two next week, and two the week after. I'm giving people a tour using Stellarium. It's the same basic program that we have at Jackson: directions, Moon, planets, constellations, clusters and stuff. The kind of stuff you can see from a suburban backyard, just without a telescope.

I HAD considered hanging a camera on the telescope, and showing things that way, but I've tuned into some other virtual star parties that have tried that, and - as they say - your results may vary.

Fraser Cain, of Universe Today, has done a few. They've been OK. He connected with OPT, and Dustin set him up with a sweet astro photography rig (like yours). The parties are OK, except when he's trying to stack images and talk at the same time. Doesn't work too well. Kind of like watching a guy surf the internet. Using dial-up. It gets a little slow. Dustin from OPT does some live on Instagram, and he's got some AMAZING pictures, but those were composed prior to the show.

I tuned into the Nationwide Livestream Star Party from the Whipple Observatory,and it was terrible. FIrst, they started late. Sitting on their site with no information... Finally, they opened their YouTube stream about 10 after. They spent the first 40 mins talking. People in the chat started asking, "are we going to see any stars?" So, they go to a guy with a camera on his scope. His scope is currently imaging (nothing to see yet) but he shows us a picture he took 20 mins ago. It's M51, black and white and not very bright. He talks about astro photography for 15 mins. Then they go to another guy with a scope. He has clouds and can't see anything. He talks about astro photography for 20 mins. Then they go to another guy with a scope. He lost the connection with his scope, but here's a picture he took last night. More astrophoto talk.

This thing was supposed to run from 9:00 - 10:15. We're already at 10:30, and we haven't seen one live shot.

Finally, we go to a guy in California, where it's still bright out. He talks about astro photography for 40 mins. The whole thing: darks, flats, stacking, histograms, narrow band filters... I kept watching, wondering if anything was going to redeem this. Nope! The whole show, not one live shot of anything in the sky. They should have called it the Nationwide Astro Photography On-line chat. It's a topic worthy of discussion, sure, but you don't spend two hours in the Hot Spot during an ELO star party, presenting to the general public on Astro Photography, when there's observing to do right outside. Know your audience!

I'm sure their intentions were good, but it's clear they didn't practice beforehand and they didn't account for how long it takes to provide some decent content. Something to keep in mind.
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