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What is a Star Party?

Did you know the Space Station orbits the Earth every 90 minutes?

Star Parties have been an important part of the amateur astronomy scene for some time. These events attract hundreds, even thousands of enthusiasts, offering the chance to see planets, seasonal constellations, deep sky objects and the moon. They usually cater to the entire family and often feature activities for the kids. Many events are held every year all across the nation. Initially, astronomy clubs intended to have their own local or regional stargazing sessions, but now some of these have reached such popularity that they attract crowds from across the country and abroad.

You don't have to wait for a major Star Party in your area to view the wonders of the night sky. Why not throw your own Star Party? And why not plan it on a night that the International Space Station is passing over your city? To look for upcoming sightings over your area, go to spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/ and use the SkyWatch applet or choose your country from the dropdown list on the left and navigate to your city's page.

The Space Station can be seen with the unaided eye or through binoculars, if the weather conditions are right. It will appear as a steady white pinpoint of light moving across the sky. You will need only telescopes at your party to view other celestial objects in the sky.

NASA SkyWatch shows first-time users when and where to look to see the Space Station. For help with sightings opportunities go to the Quick Start Guide.

Imagine the excitement of your party-goers when they look to the sky and point out the Space Station flying overhead!


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Curator: Kim Dismukes
Responsible NASA Official: Amiko Kauderer

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Updated: 05/18/2010