- General Info
- First-Timer Info
- Rules & Regulations
- Site Info
- Travel Directions
- Vendors & Services
Considering your first trip to the Table Mountain Star Party?
This page is here to cover some of the basic information and questions that first-timers may have.
What is a Star Party?
Let's start with what a star party is not: it's not a wild weekend party with loud music, raucous behavior, excessive drinking or other behaviors associated with the word "party".
A star party is an event where people come together to share their interest in astronomy. It is a gathering of community. Since most large star parties happen only once a year, it is also a chance for old friends from previous events to reunite and continue their friendships. As a first-timer, you're welcome to join in: many star party friendships have started with a new neighbor in the adjacent campsite, and most regular attendees are more than willing to help the first-timer with getting oriented at the event.
Do You Need a Telescope to Attend?
Absolutely not - owning a telescope is not required to attend! If you are just getting interested in astronomy and are considering buying a telescope, a star party is an excellent chance to sample a variety of telescopes, get opinions from their owners, and be better prepared for what to expect when you do purchase one. Most people are more than willing to share views through their telescopes.
How Long Does the Star Party Last?
The Table Mountain Star Party officially runs from Tuesday through Saturday. Sunday is "pack up and go home" day. You can arrive and leave at any time during that period as your schedule requires. Your registration covers the duration of the event, regardless of how many nights you spend at the event.
We are very proud that our event is very family-friendly. Our Student Program provides activities for kids of all ages throughout the day. If you wouldn't hesitate taking your kids camping elsewhere, they'll be welcome at Table Mountain Star Party!
What Else Is There To Do at a Star Party?
The Table Mountain Star Party offers programs for both adults and Students. You can take in a presentation from one of our speakers while the kids are building stomp rockets. You can also hike, bike and take part in other activities in the area. Or do nothing at all but sit back and relax.
Being prepared to attend is probably one of the greatest unknowns about attending TMSP for the first time. And there is no simple answer, since how you plan will depend on a wide range of factors. But here are some basic guidelines that we can recommend to make it easier.
- Be prepared for any kind of weather: this is outdoor camping in the Pacific Northwest after all.
- Tents and shelters: If you're going to tent camp, make sure that your tent is capable of withstanding the assortment of weather it may face. A good tent with a well-sealed rain fly should suffice for most. If you bring some type of shelter or awning, make sure that it is sturdy and able to be supported with stakes and tie-downs. We've seen plenty of awnings and shelters break when the winds pick up because they weren't properly anchored.
- Camping spots will vary based on location. Few have any shade. Most have some degree of slope to them. If you're coming with a trailer or RV, bring plenty of blocking to level your rig.
- Amenities: We have portable toilets placed around the site for your use. There is a dumpster provided for your trash. Our food vendor can provide dinners when pre-purchased with your registration. The Food Wagon also operates throughout the day providing beverages, burgers, hot dogs and other grilled fare. Other vendors sell astronomy gear, accessories and clothing. TMSP operates our Stuff Shack for our branded merchandise. WiFi service is also available.
- Water & Cooking: There is water on-site - you will need to bring your own containers. For food, bring whatever your tastes call for, but bear in mind that it must be prepared on a propane or gas-powered stove - no open fires or charcoal grills are allowed at TMSP.