Have you ever seen the rings of Saturn with your own two eyes? What about a gas nebula? An iridium flare from a passing satellite? Witnessing these spectacles (and more) are all possible should you attend the Astronomical Society of Victoria's (ASV) Star Party which is taking place on Saturday 15 December 2012.
The event is open to members of the general public in exchange for a $10 entry fee per car. It is held out in the ASV's Leon Mow Dark Sky Site at Heathcote, where the veil of light pollution cast by Melbourne is lifted. There you can see the heavens in all their splendour. If you have never experienced stargazing beyond the city lights, just witnessing the galaxies of twinkling stars alone is worth venturing out to Heathcote for. However you will not be restricted to viewing the night sky with your naked eyes.
Visitors are encouraged to interact with ASV members who have a plethora of binoculars and telescopes set up for viewing various stars and constellations. In fact, the largest telescope there requires a step-ladder to access the eye-piece. The friendly ASV members are also more than happy to share their knowledge of the night sky, viewing techniques and constellations. Using these high-powered telescopes, you can see objects that are not visible to the naked eye, including galaxies and constellations that you have previously been restricted to wowing over in textbooks. My particular favourite is a constellation of multi-coloured stars aptly called the 'Jewel Box'.
If you arrive during the day you can expect afternoon astronomical talks, tours of the site, wine tasting, trivia, great prizes and food provided by the Lions Club. There are also camping sites available on site if you feel like camping out under a blanket of stars and watching the Milky Way twirl across the sky.