The Stars Are Out Tonight
Story: Erik Anderson
77th Annual Shingletown Star Party
In the heart of the vacationers’ paradise of Northern California, the charming community of Shingletown enjoys an unrivaled proximity to the heavens. Even its street signs betray hints of celestial intimacy, with avenues such as Starlight Pines Road, Constellation Drive and Meteorite Way. And once every summer, an abandoned airstrip at a 4,000-foot elevation is transformed into Astronomy Street, USA – the address of destination for hundreds of amateur astronomers who converge here each year to participate in the Shingletown Star Party.
This week-long annual festival from June 30-July 7 draws stargazers far and wide to the spectacular night skies that this unique locale affords. Last year’s Star Party drew registrations from as far north as Canada, as far south as Los Angeles and as far east as Kentucky.
July 5 is “public night,” when anyone can join the party for free, beginning at 4 p.m. The Shingletown Activities Council, with the help of local volunteers, will serve a barbecue dinner, raffle prizes and feature guest speakers.
The main public attractions, of course, are the hundreds of telescopes of every size and description set up on both sides of the runway and operated by amateur astronomers. Visitors can tour the universe, gleaning views of planets, nebulae and galaxies at every step. Astronomers are enthusiastic tour guides, eager to share their knowledge about cosmic scenes and ready to answer questions.
If you own a telescope, this is the ultimate environment to enjoy using it. Participants have opportunities to meet people with similar interests, win prizes and even shop for astronomical equipment from participating vendors. A wide range of accommodations are available to satisfy anyone’s standard of comfort. Camp onsite in a tent or RV, rent a house in the vicinity, or book a cabin or campsite at the amenity-rich KOA campground, located less than a mile away. The observing site is kept secure at all hours, so you can feel free to leave your equipment set up while you enjoy the many daytime activities available in Shingletown and nearby Lassen Park. The Hat Creek Radio Observatory is also less than an hour’s drive away – a popular destination for tour groups of Star Party participants.