Star Party 2014 Schedule of Events will be Posted Soon!

Pre Registration for Astroblast 2014 - Register by Monday, September 8 and SAVE 33%

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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.
  • 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 what happened at Astroblast 2013!

    Door Prizes

    - Explore Scientific donated an Explore Scientific EP10020-00 eyepiece ($799 Value)

    Astrozap - donated four $50 Gift Certificates

    BigBang - donated a 3'W x 6'H high resolution wall mural of the Orion Nebula ($135 value)

    TelescopeS.NET - donated three $25 and one $50 Gift Certificate

    Lumicon - donated four $25 Gift Certificates

    - Celestron donated Cometron FirstScope ($60 Value)

    JMI Telescopes - donated one $25 and one $50 Gift Certificate

    Kendrick Astro Instruments - donated a $75 Gift Certificate

    ProtoStar Telescope Making and Upgrading - donated a roll of FlockBoard ($60 Value)

    Oceanside Photo and Telescope (OPT) - donated an OPT 20 mm SuperView Eyepiece ($50 Value)

    Sky & Telescope - donated a Pocket Sky Atlas and a Binocular Highlights guide ($45 Value)

    Astroblast 2013 will be held August 6 - 11

    Features for Astroblast 2013!!

    **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

    **Saturday Morning Nature Hike.

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

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

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



    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, August 6

    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.)

    Wednesday, August 7

    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.)

    Thursday, August 8

    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, August 9

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

    5:00 PM - 8:00 PM - Food Tent Open - A Variety of Home-cooked Foods

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

    6:30 PM - 7:10 PM - Stargazing, Myths, and Ancient Folklore (Mr. Larry McHenry - Amateur Astronomer with the Kiski Astronomers ) - Larry will kick off the talks at ASTROBLAST 2013 with an introduction to the constellations, and night sky mythology around the world.

    7:20 PM - 8:00 PM - Birthing Black Holes: PROMPT and the Skynet Robotic Telescope Network (Dr. Dan Reichart - Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of North Carolina) - Funded primarily by the National Science Foundation and now by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Skynet is a growing collection of fully automated, or robotic, professional-quality telescopes under the control of software developed by the University of North Carolina. Spanning three, and soon four, continents, Skynet is an easy-to-use, web-based, shared resource between participating colleges, universities, and private individuals. 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.

    8:10 PM - 8:50 PM - Observing the minor moons of the Solar System (Dr. Terry Trees - Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh) - The scopes and techniques you use to observe minor moons of the solar system can make a big difference. These moons do not show disks, they appear as pinpoints of lights, resembling asteroids or distant stars. My latest "capture" was Jupiter moon VI, Himalia. To date, I've seen 22 moons.

    8:00 PM **Messier Marathon 1** Pick up your form at the Registration Table

    9:15 PM - ??? - Dark Sky Observing

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

    Saturday, August 10

    9:00 AM - 8:00 PM - Food Tent Open - Food Tent Open - A Variety of Home-cooked Foods

    9:00 AM - 10:00 PM - Astroblast On-Site Registration

    9:30 AM - 10:30 AM - Nature Walk & Talk (Dr. Bruce Smith, Clarion University of PA)

    10:30 AM - 1:00 PM - Astronomy Yard Sale - Bring all that extra stuff that's been collecting dust and make a few bucks!!

    11:00 AM - 11:45 PM - Science from the Coldest Place on the Planet - Antarctica (Mr. Tim Spuck - ORAS Member ) - Antarctica is a place like no other. A landmass as big as the US and Mexico combined, yet just 4000 people visit the continent each year. Other than than near the coast temperatures rarely get above 0 in the summer, and can dip below -100 at South Pole in the winter. The unique environment lends itself to the study of cosmos, space weather, penguins and more. Presenter Tim Spuck spent 5 weeks on the Ice spending time at South Pole, in the field on the East Antarctic Plateau and in a penguin colony on Cape Royds. The presentation will focus on the important science being done in Antarctica, and will provide a tour of one of the most unique places on planet Earth.

    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 - 12:40 PM - The Supernovae Cosmology Project, Nobel Prize in Physics, and Global HOU - Connecting the Dots (Dr. Carl Pennypacker - Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Astrophysicist ) - The Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011 was awarded for the work of the Supernova Cosmology Projects (presented to Saul Perlmutter). The road to the prize was not particularly steady, nor predictable, and the work of teachers and students in our joint project with "Hands-On Universe" models the type of behaviors we find in both Nobel Laureates and our successful students. The presentation will focus on the history, the hardware, the software, and the future of these types of enterprises!

    12:50 PM - 1:30 PM - Cosmic Castaways (Dr. John Feldmeier - Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Youngstown State University) - There are places where the night sky has no constellations. No Orion, no Big Dipper, nothing but a few lonely, far away stars and a few faint, ghostly patches of light. Most stars lie within the crowded boundaries of galaxies, traveling with their brothers and sisters in a vast galactic family. But some find themselves on their own, deep within voids between the galaxies. These are the cosmic castaways.

    1:40 PM - 2:20 PM - Planetary Nebulae and the Galactic Merry-Go-Round (Dr. Robin Ciardullo - Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics at Penn State University) - Planetary nebulae have nothing to do with planets. They are the stellar equivalent of a heart attack, an event that occurs when a star like the Sun dies. They are also the prettiest objects in the universe, and a Swiss Army Knife for a host of problems in extragalactic astronomy, ranging from the measuring of the cosmic distance scale to the detection of the mysterious dark matter component of the universe. I'll describe how planetary nebulae are created, what makes them shine the way they do, and how they can be used to "weigh" galaxies and trace a galaxy's dark matter.

    2:30 PM - 3:35 PM - The Venus Transit: A Historical Retrospective (Mr. Larry McHenry - Amateur Astronomer with the Kiski Astronomers ) - Larry will present a review of past historical Venus Transits up through the present, and why they are so important. Larry successfully observed both the 2004 & 2012 Venus Transits and will share his personal experience along with what he's learned about the previous 5 transits observed before the modern era, and how the challenge from Edmund Halley launched a world-wide quest for the answer to the most important scientific question of the last 350 years - the value of the AU and the scale of the solar system!

    3:45 PM - 4:25 PM - Triumphs and Mysteries in Recent Microwave Background Measurements (Dr. Arthur Kosowsky - Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh ) - Measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation over the past 20 years, culminating with data from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, the South Pole Telescope,and the Planck Satellite, have played the largest role in establishing our standard model of the universe. The Hot Big Bang model with structures forming via gravitational collapse has no serious competitors, given how precisely the model matches the detailed features of the microwave background and other measurements. I will explain how we come to that conclusion, give an overview of the measurements as of 2013, and highlight a few aspects of current observations which we do not understand.

    4:35 PM - 5:15 PM - CANCELLED - Variable Stars: Make a Contribution! (Mr. John A. Blackwell - Director of the Phillips Exeter Academy Observatory - New Hampshire ) - The field of variable star studies has been one in which amateurs and professionals alike have made marvelous contributions to astrophysics. This talk will introduce the audience to the wide and wonderful collection of variable star types and detail just how easy it can be to make valuable contributions to the field. Topics will include: Variable Types, an introduction to the AAVSO, Visual and CCD Photometry.

    5:25 PM - 6:15 PM - The Astronomer's Bucket List (Mr. Eric Fischer - Officer - Amateur Astronomer's Association of Pittsburgh ) - "The Astronomer's Bucket List" presents examples of many different celestial observations that an amateur astronomer can aspire to throughout his or her observing career. For example, the presentation asks "Have you seen a Total Solar Eclipse?", "Have you seen the Zodiacal Light?" and "Have you seen a naked-eye nova?" Audience members are given a paper checklist of 85 such observations to see what untried observations await them. "The Astronomer's Bucket List" is not intended as a competition, but rather a means of achieving as many different lifetime observations when rare opportunities arise for each (for example, the 2017 Solar Eclipse).

    6:30 PM - 7:45 PM - ** Open-Flame Grilled Chicken Dinner ($8 Adults $5 Kids) and Door Prize Drawing **

    8:00 PM - 9:00 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. Check out the details of the telescope you will be building at (Ms. Miranda Heller and Mr. Tim Spuck, Center for Authentic Science Education)

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

    9:15 PM - ??? - Dark Sky Observing

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

    Sunday, August 11

    9:00 AM - 11:00 AM - Food Tent Open - A Variety of Breakfast Items

    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.

    12:00 PM - Astroblast 2013 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 camp (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, 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