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Explore Alliance Affiliate Organization - Winter Star Party

2024 Winter Star Party Logo


The 2024 Winter Star Party, organized by the Southern Cross Astronomical Society, is scheduled from February 5th to February 11th. The Society extends a warm welcome to returning participants and expresses excitement about hosting one of the premier star parties globally. Planning is underway, and updates will be regularly provided on the event page.

Acknowledgments are given to last year's attendees for their patience and understanding in unforeseen circumstances. The event promises an impressive lineup of speakers, including Martin Caminos, an SCAS member and commercial pilot, who will present "An Introduction to Celestial Navigation" and delve into operating a sextant for navigating the earth by the stars.

The star party will feature familiar vendors such as Explore Scientific, Celestron, and TeleVue. Both camps, Wesumkee and Sawyer, offer rustic camping, with details remaining largely unchanged. Mickie's Kitchen, a long-standing food vendor, is making a final appearance, marking the retirement of its dedicated crew after 20 years of service.

Gates will open at 10 AM on Monday, February 5th, with RVs arriving at 7 AM. New this year, the age limit for "The Yackers" is raised to 15 and under, with no ticket or camping fees for children under 16. Updates on camp conditions and arrangements, as well as COVID-related information, are provided by Winter Star Party Director Tim Khan.

Known for its "steady air" and Bortle 3 skies, the Winter Star Party offers excellent conditions for astrophotographers and observers. The event assures sunny days in the 70s and calm nights in the 60s. Detailed information about the camps, Wesumkee and Sawyer, is provided, highlighting facilities and parking arrangements.

Those who have registered will receive details about their arrival time and parking arrangements. The event's unique features, such as Glam Tents and speaker presentations, are outlined, along with guidelines for campsite departure on February 11th at 10 AM. Door prizes are promised for Friday, and participants are encouraged to stay tuned for further information.

For inquiries and registration issues, participants are invited to contact

Founder of the Southern Cross Astronomical Society - S. Lynn Rhorer

The Southern Cross Astronomical Society was founded by American amateur astronomer, S. Lynn Rhorer who's life mission was dedicated to "bringing the stars to the man in the street". Sometime in 1922-1923 he visited Miami, Florida and he decided that the tropical skies and the unusual climatic conditions made it an ideal spot for popular education. He chose the historic and luxurious Royal Palm Hotel & Park near the Miami River to establish an observatory with his 5-inch Alvin Clark refracting telescope. 

The Royal Palm Hotel, Miami Florida


Rhorer's observatory attracted amateur astronomers who offered free viewing and instruction to the public. The Director of Harvard Observatory, Dr. Harlow Shapley, visited the new observatory and marveled at the view of the constellation Crux, The Southern Cross. He suggested the name "Southern Cross Observatory" for the newly formed facility.

Miami Circle, Brickell Park

With the growing popularity of the Southern Cross Observatory, Rhorer was granted permission by the authorities to move the telescope to Brickell Park in Miami where as many as 2000 people would stand in line each night starting at 7:00 p.m. to observe through the instruments, all of which the expense was bore solely from S. Lynn Rhorer. A total of seven instruments were available for public viewing of the stars (one for each year of the program's existence). In addition, lectures by prominent astronomers were given with illustrations projected on a screen in the park viewed by spectators sitting in seats on the grass of from whatever other viewpoints were available.  

On April 21, 1929 S. Lynn Rhorer passed on in his home in Atlanta, Georgia but the members of the staff living in Miami along with visiting members kept the organization active. 

Rhorer's will directed that a nonprofit public service corporation be formed to receive all the equipment from the observatory... thus "The Southern Cross Astronomical Society Inc." was formed. The observatory was moved to Brickell Park, and its popularity grew in the 1930s as thousands more came to peer through the SCAS telescopes each week.

Today the Southern Cross Astronomical Society is recognized as one of the oldest and most prolific amateur astronomical societies in the Western Hemisphere.

Winter Star Party 

The Winter Star Party was established by a group from the Southern Cross Astronomical Society (SCAS) by Skip Jarrett, Tippy D'Auria, and Patty D'Auria in 1984, and is recognized as one of the "Top Ten" star party events in the world.

The Annual Winter Star Party is held each year during the dark of the Moon week in February on a Girl Scout Camp on West Summerland Key in Florida. Astrophotographers and amateur astronomers often bring their families from all over the world. The mild, and often warm temperatures experienced here in winter offer astronomers who live in colder climates an amazing astrovacation experience.
This special six-day-long event, usually sells out each year so be sure to book your reservation early. You'll meet some of the most friendly and interesting astronomers around. You can shop for the latest in astronomical gear, and hear lectures from nationally recognized guest speakers. And you'll get your chance to win thousands of dollars in door prizes!

The 2021 Winter Star Party Virtual Edition

"I feel like I got 37 years of Winter Star Party knowledge without leaving the house. For a newbie, the has been the best program and activity the whole pandemic." "Thank You all"

-Harold Locke