Star Party 2014 Schedule of Events

Click on the REGISTER NOW link to see prices, register online, or for printable register form


ASTROBLAST 2014 will take place September 23 - 28


ASTROBLAST is an annual event, first held in June 1994, by the Oil Region Astronomical Society. Our organization is blessed with a remote "dark sky" site located far from the light pollution of large urban areas. The event is held in a large field surrounding our observatory known as Lockwood Group Campground at Venango County's Two Mile Run Park, near Franklin, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the new Observatory site will not yet be ready to host Astroblast 2014, however this will be the last year Astroblast will be held at the current site. So, don't miss the Grand Finale at our current site! Tours to the new site will be offered throughout the event.

Astroblast is a regional gathering of amateur astronomers and those interested from the general public. Lectures, information and educational sessions, and dark-sky observing are all a part of our annual Star Party. The event is open to registered participants only. On-site registration will be available during the event. Newcomers are welcome to attend.

Observatory Grounds

Participants are invited to bring their own telescopes or binoculars. Everyone attending is expected to abide by the following general rules:

  • If you need a flashlight, please use a red lens or lamp, or tape several layers of red cellophane over the lens.
  • Participant parking for anyone leaving during dark hours will be located adjacent to the main entrance gate. Please park with headlights facing away from the observatory.
  • There will be no vehicle entry or exit allowed from the camping area after dark.
  • Park rules prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages on site.
  • Dogs and cats are permitted at ASTROBLAST. Dogs must remain on a leash, and dogs and cats are the sole responsibility of they owner. Other animals are not permitted on site for ASTROBLAST.
  • Please be courteous to other participants and don't touch anyone else's equipment without their permission.

  • ASTROBLAST 2014 will be held September 23 - 28!

    Check out below the ASTROBLAST 2014 schedule!

    ASTROBLAST 2014 Door Prizes - $1100 and growing! - Additional Door Prizes will be listed soon!

    Orion Telescopes & Binoculars - donated a Binocular Stargazing Kit, 10x25 E-series monocular, StarShoot Solar System IV color imager, 6-piece optics cleaning kit, AstroGoggles, Orion Star Target Planisphere, 2 MoonMap 260's, and 2 Solar System, Moon and Meteor Kits ($350.00 value)

    Astrozap - donated four $50 Gift Certificates

    OPT Telescopes - donated a TPO 50 mm SuperView Eyepiece ($90.00 value)

    Sky & Telescope - donated a Pocket Sky Atlas and a printed copy of Binocular Highlights ($89.00 value)

    Woodland Hills Telescopes - donated four $25 Gift Certificates

    Sky Scientific - donated a 15mm Plossl eyepiece, and a GSO 6mm Plossl 6mm eyepiece ($75.00 value)

    Celestron - donated a Cosmos FirstScope ($70.00 value)

    ProtoStar Telescope Making & Upgrading - donated a FlockBoard Light Trap Sheet ($40.00 value)

    Astronomical Society of the Pacific - donated the Cosmic Decoders card game and Tours of the Night Sky Package including CDs and cassettes ($35.00 value)

    Bob's Knobs - donated a set of Collimation Thumbscrews ($30.00 value)

    ORAS Inc. - donated a Galileo Telescope Kits ($40.00 value)

    ASTROBLAST 2014 will be held September 23 - 28

    Features for ASTROBLAST 2014!!

    **Galileoscope Workshop - construct a telescope similar to what Galileo used to observe the moons of Jupiter! Check out the details of the telescope you will be building at

    **Astronomy Yard Sale - Bring all those items you don't use any more and take a few extra bucks home with you!

    **Learn to access Skynet; a global network of robotic telescopes for amateurs, educators, and students!

    **Astronomy Kids Camp - A special series of astronomy and space related activities for kids will be provided Saturday!

    **Astrophotography Competition - Bring you best astrophotos and enter them in the competition. Limit of 3 photos per person. All photos must be the sole work of the person entering the photograph. Film or digital images are acceptable. All entires must be smaller than 600 square inches, and labeled with date of observation(s), equipment used (e.g. telescope, lens, camera, etc.), and object name. DO NOT include your name on the photo label.

    **High Speed Wireless Internet Access is available at the Observatory site!!



    CAMPING and SHOWERS - Individuals who choose to camp may set up tents or campers in designated locations in the field surrounding the Observatory. Showers are available in the main Park Campground and may be used by those registered for Astroblast at no charge. The showers are within 5 minutes of the Observatory site. Limited electricity, water, drinks, snacks, and soups will be available throughout the night.

    Tuesday, September 23

    7:00 PM Register at Observatory

    9:00 PM - ??? Dark Sky Observing

    11:00 PM Gate closes (Anyone not staying overnight must leave or move their vehicle outside the gate.)

    Wednesday, September 24

    7:00 PM Register at Observatory

    9:00 PM - ??? Dark Sky Observing

    11:00 PM Gate closes (Anyone not staying overnight must leave or move their vehicle outside the gate.)

    Thursday, September 25

    7:30 PM Register at Observatory

    9:15 PM - ??? Dark Sky Observing

    11:00 PM Gate closes (Anyone not staying overnight must leave or move their vehicle outside the gate.)

    Friday, September 26

    3:00 PM - 11:00 PM - Astroblast On-Site Registration

    4:00 PM - 6:00 PM - Tour of the New Observatory Site - Caravan out to new site.

    5:00 PM - 8:00 PM - Food Tent Open

    6:00 PM - 6:15 PM - Welcome to Astroblast and Event Logistics

    6:30 PM - 7:15 PM - Accessing Skynet: Global Network of Telescopes for Amateurs, Educators, and Students (Ms. Miranda Heller - Oil Region Astronomical Society ) - Originally conceived to observe cosmic explosions called gamma-ray bursts, which are the deaths of massive stars and the births of black holes, Skynet has now taken nearly six million images for hundreds of professional astronomers, for thousands of college and university students, for thousands of high school students, and for tens of thousands of middle and elementary school students, amateur astronomers, and members of the general public.

    7:30 PM - 8:15 PM - The NEW Astronomical League-NRAO Radio Astronomy Observing Program (Mr. Tim Spuck - AUI-NRAO STEM Education Development Officer ) - Have you ever thought about doing something a little different, like exploring the invisible universe? Here's your chance. Through a new Astronomical League pin program, you can use various "radio telescopes" to observe meteor showers, solar storms, Jupiter, hydrogen gas in the Milky Way Galaxy, and much more. Come learn to explore this exciting branch of amateur astronomy.

    8:15 PM **Messier Marathon 1** Pick up your form at the Registration Table

    9:00 PM - ??? - Dark Sky Observing

    11:00 PM Gate closes (Anyone not staying overnight must leave or move their vehicle outside the gate.)

    Saturday, September 27

    9:00 AM - 8:00 PM - Food Tent Open - Food Tent Open

    9:00 AM - 9:00 PM - Astroblast On-Site Registration

    10:00 AM - 12:00 PM - Tour of the New Observatory Site - Caravan out to new site.

    12:00 PM - 2:00 PM - Astronomy Yard Sale - Bring all that extra stuff that's been collecting dust and make a few bucks!! Limited table space available, so please bring your own table if possible.

    12:00 PM - 2:30 PM - Astronomy Camp for Kids (Ms. Miranda Heller, Oil Region Astronomical Society) - The Kids Camp will target children K through Grade 6, and will be available for a small fee to cover materials ($5 for one child, $9 for two, $12 for three, $15 for four, and $18 for five).

    12:00 PM - 6:00 PM - ASTROBLAST Astrophotography Contest - Photo's on display in Observatory for review and voting.

    12:30 PM - 1:15 PM - Urban Astronomy Basics: Observing from the North Hill in New Castle PA (Dr. Phil Tramdak - Oil Region Astronomical Society ) - This presentation focuses on sustaining an urban astronomy observing program. Topics to be covered range from site selection, building a light shelter, limiting magnitude, objects well suited for urban observing, what telescope is best, and what charts and accessories are helpful for finding your way around the light-polluted night sky.

    1:45 PM - 2:45 PM - The Herschel's and their Catalog: A review of William and Caroline Herschel's life, and their survey of deep-sky objects. (Mr. Larry McHenry - Amateur Astronomer with the Kiski Astronomers ) - Larry has successfully observed the Herschel-400, along with several hundred additional Herschel objects. He will share what he has learned regarding the Herschel's, their accomplishments, and their classification system, along with Larry's personal observations of selected objects from all eight Herschel classes.

    3:00 PM - 3:45 PM - If I Could Only have One Premium Deep-sky Eyepiece (Mr. John O'Hara - Oil Region Astronomical Society ) - Come explore the evolution of the eyepiece since the 60s and 70s, and to today’s premium wide-field eyepieces. We will also discuss eyepieces that match best with various telescope specifications. Come learn which is the best match for your telescope.

    4:15 PM - 5:00 PM - BICEP2: Cosmic Inflation or just Dust in Space? (Dr. Arthur Kosowsky - Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh ) - The exponential expansion of space just after the Big Bang is called "cosmic inflation". This period lasted for just a tiny fraction of a second. Recently scientists from the BICEP2 collaboration announced they had discovered the first direct evidence of this cosmic inflation and captured first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. Shortly after their announcement, their claim came into question when others in the scientific community concluded the team may have been observing dust in space rather than the results of cosmic inflation. The recently launched Planck satellite should help answer the question. Dr. Kosowsky will provide an update on this potentially historic discovery.

    5:15 PM - 6:00 PM - Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program ACEAP (Mr. George Guzik and Ms. Becky Valentine - AAAP, and Mr. Tim Spuck - AUI-NRAO STEM Education Development Officer ) - This new program provides an opportunity for amateur astronomers, K-16 astronomy educators, and planetarium specialists to travel to the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), Gemini South Observatory, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile. Participants will receive training in science communication, and will engage in intensive behind the scenes tours and access at each of the three facilities in Chile. Upon their return home, participants will become part of the ACEAP Ambassadors Corp here in the U.S., and engage in various public outreach activities. Come hear from team members on the initial pilot expedition, and how you can apply to be an ACEAP Ambassador.

    6:15 PM - 7:30 PM - ** Pizza Party Dinner ($7 Adults $4 Kids) and Door Prize Drawing and Astrophotography Winner **

    7:45 PM - 8:45 PM - Galileoscope Workshop. Construct and take home a telescope similar to what Galileo used to first observe the moons of Jupiter. The cost of the workshop is $25 per person and includes the telescope kit. Bring your own sturdy camera tripod. Check out the details of the telescope you will be building at (Ms. Miranda Heller)

    8:00 PM **Messier Marathon 2** Pick up your form at the Registration Table

    9:00 PM - ??? - Dark Sky Observing

    11:00 PM Gate closes (Anyone not staying overnight must leave or move their vehicle outside the gate.)

    Sunday, September 28

    9:00 AM - 11:00 AM - Food Tent Open

    10:00 AM - Messier Marathon Winners Announced

    PLEASE NOTE: There is much to do throughout the region during the daytime hours. Hiking, fishing, bike riding, boating, bird watching, and much more are located within minutes of the Observatory. Please see the links below for Two Mile Run County Park, Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Oil Region Alliance.

    11:30 AM - Astroblast 2014 Officially Ends

    Places to stay and things to do in the area . . .

    OPTION #1: Those attending Astroblast have a number of overnight options. First you can camp out overnight at the Observatory site. The Observatory site (where Astroblast takes place) has a large 15 acre field where most Astroblast participants set up (either tent or trailer) and their telescopes. Water for cleaning purposes only is available. There is no electricity, unless you tap into the Observatory itself (limited), but showers are available within a 5 minute drive at the main Park Campgrounds.

    OPTION #2: Those attending Astroblast who want more modern accommodations may want to stay in the campgrounds or in one of the cottages/houses available within Two Mile Run County Park. You can check out the availability of accommodations at or call them at 814-676-6116.

    Check out the following websites for more information on places to stay and things to do . . .

    **Visit the Franklin Chamber of Commerce at **

    **Visit the Oil Region Alliance at **

    How to find us...

    The Oil Region Astronomical Observatory is located in Venango County's picturesque Two Mile Run County Park. The observatory is located in the Lockwood area of the park and is only a short drive from Oil City, Franklin or Titusville in the heart of Pennsylvania's Oil Country.

    View Larger Map

    From Franklin: Take PA Route 417 north approximately 3 miles to the Y - intersection with Cherrytree Road. Veer right onto Cherrytree Road and drive approximately 3.5 miles. Lockwood and the observatory entrance are on your right.

    From Oil City: Take PA Route 428 North 5.6 miles to Cherrytree Road. Take a left onto Cherrytree and proceed west through the park. The entrance to Lockwood and observatory will be on your left, approximately two miles past the park office.

    Click on the REGISTER NOW link to see prices, register online, or for printable register form