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The Table Mountain Star Party
Located on Table Mountain (Elevation 6357' or 1,937.6m) about 20 miles (32 km) Northwest of Ellensburg, Washington, which is at exit 106 on I-90 near the center of the state of Washington, USA
Latitude 47 - 15' 06"
Longitude 120 - 34' 39"
For those looking for more specific reading to enter into their GPS telescope you are advised to check some of the mapping websites on the internet.
Users of GoogleEarth can download and open this file to point GoogleEarth to the Table Mountain location.
As for accuracy of coordinates, the following conditions apply:
Stuff Shack is located at 47 - 15' 10" N by 120 - 34' 38" W
Latitude changes ~17" between Stuff Shack and the permanent outhouse on road to Lion Rock.
- Longitude changes ~8" between Stuff Shack and the Astro Photographers area at South end of telescope field.
Clear Sky Chart for Table Mountain Star Party Site
Sky conditions at Table Mountain are usually very good. The site allows for good air drainage and the 6300' altitude takes you above the denser boundary air found in the valley. There are light domes from Wenatchee to the NNE and Ellensburg / Yakima to the south, with the rest of the horizon clear from light intrusion.
TMSPA operates under permit from the US Forest Service. Terms of that permit restict us to using only certain areas of the site and maintaining a maximum attendence of 700 persons. Impact of the event on the site is of primary concern to the Forest Service and TMSPA must abide by the terms issued by the Forest Service as to which areas can be opened for particular usage. These terms are subject to change on a year-by-year basis in order to mitigate any undue impact on the site.
The image below gives an approximate overview of areas of the site that TMSPA is allowed to use and their planned usage. Click on the image to open it in a new browser window.
Table Mountain Star Party is held on US Forest Service land in the Cascade Mountains of central Washington. The site sits on a plateau at an elevation of 6357 feet, approximately 4 miles east of Liberty and 20 miles north-northwest of Ellensburg. Situated in a sub-alpine zone, there are stands of fir, pine and spruce surrounding the site. Field grasses, indiginous flowering Agoseris, and sagebrush can be found in the meadows.
Weather conditions at this altitude can vary wildly, even during the summer months. A general rule of thumb is that Table Mountain will usually be between 10 and 20 degrees cooler than it is in Ellensburg. Scorching heat in the valley means comfortable temperatures on the mountain; in cold spells, temperatures on the mountain can drop below freezing easily. Plan for all weather conditions when packing your gear! There is an old adage for packing for Table Mountain: "Pack until you feel stupid. Then pack some more!"
High altitude also means increased solar exposure, so it's always wise to carry sunscreen and lip balm as sunburns happen rather quickly even during cool, clear conditions.
It is also wise to also have a supply of bug repellant in your camping kit. In the wetter years, bugs can be a problem in scattered locations across the site.
Our site is on public land administered by the US Forest Service. Everyone attending Table Mountain Star Party should make every effort to minimize their impact on the site. Picking up trash, leaving the area as undisturbed and pristine as possible should be our goal. We encourage everyone to be respectful of the land - it belongs to all of us.
One of the main concerns of the USFS relayed to TMSPA has been minimizing the amount of soil erosion, particularly in the area around the main telescope field. The sage plants in that area are the primary concern, as the sage will root into eroded areas and mitigate further erosion. As such, the USFS looks to all of us to protect the sage plants by not parking, walking on or otherwise impacting the health of the sage plants. Please respect the sage plants!