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Star Watching Parties - How to Host Under the Stars

Gathering outside with your loved ones and gazing at the stars makes for an unforgettable evening. If you're looking for a unique way to entertain this summer, consider throwing a star watching party. Here's what you need to know to make your evening special.

Pick a Spot: Do you live in a secluded area without much light pollution? Perfect. You already have the location you need to host your party. If you don't have a dark backyard, though, you'll have to find another spot. Brainstorm public areas in your vicinity where you'll have a good chance of seeing the stars. Consider parks that are open after nightfall, or beaches that are far away from the boardwalk. If all else fails, research observatories in your area. They'll be situated far away from lights, and they may have staff on hand to tell you more about the night sky.

Pick a Date: What you'll see in the night sky depends largely on what date you decide to stargaze. While a sky full of stars is always beautiful, your guests will be even more impressed if they gather on the night of a meteor shower. The Perseids are a particularly dazzling event. This meteor shower occurs every year and peaks in the second week of August. It's also worthwhile to find out if a lunar eclipse is coming up. Seeing the moon turn blood red is a gorgeous centerpiece to any star party.

Get Comfortable: Picture it: a warm, balmy night with low humidity and no bugs. Sounds nice, doesn't it? Unfortunately, that's probably not what you'll get the night of your star watching party. Be proactive by solving your guest's problems before they arise. Set up camping chairs or blankets so guests won't have to sit on the ground. Have extra hats, scarves, and sweaters on hand in case it's a cold night. And above all else, make sure you have plenty of bug spray. 

Choose Your Tools: A telescope can turn an ordinary night in the back yard into an extraordinary exploration of deep space. Reach out to nearby observatories and planetariums to find out if there are any small telescopes you can rent or borrow. Of course, special tools aren't strictly necessary to enjoy the night sky. If all else fails, you and your guests can simply sit back and use your eyes to take it all in.

Drink (and Eat) Up: What's a party without provisions? Make sure your guests are satisfied by offering food and drinks. Finger foods that are easy to eat in the dark work best for star parties. Try cookies, simple sandwiches, or fruit. Serve cold drinks in unbreakable cups in case someone has a mishap in the dark. If it's a chilly night, break out the thermos full of coffee or hot chocolate. 

When the planning is done, make sure to leave some time to sit back and enjoy the night sky yourself. It's an experience you won't forget!

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