Star Parties

If you would like to be on my Star Party e-mail list, send me a note saying so. Just put Star Party in the subject line. I tend to not plan star parties more than a few days in advance.

Star Party: Tuesday, June 19, 9:00 - 11:00 pm, Wilson High School Grounds, Front Patio or Field to the West, off Vermont Street

UPDATE: 8:00 pm, it looks good. The Star Party is a GO!

A 12.5 inch homemade Dobsonian telescope was recently donated. It is stored in my classroom at Wilson High School and is too big to move easily. So, I am going to try something different.

I am going to have a Star Party on the grounds of Wilson High School, 9:00 - 11:00 pm or so on Tuesday, June 19.

The Big Dob is on wheels. I will wheel it to the paved patio just outside the main entrance of WHS off Vermont Street. We will pay in by ear from there. We may carry it out to the field just west of the patio.

The weather has been iffy in the evenings, so check back here to confirm that the event is on after 8 pm on Tuesday.

The Moon is nearly first quarter so there will be lunar viewing opportunities, but that means it will not be very dark. And the school grounds are highly polluted with light.

Venus and Jupiter will be up and easy to see. Those will be our main targets while we test out the new donation.

Mercury sets at 10:14 pm. If we are exceedingly lucky, we may get a glimpse. Saturn rises at 9:25 pm, if we stay out late enough, we may get to see it. But, visibility to the east is poor from the school grounds.

So, lots of ifs and maybes with this Star Party. But at least you can admire the new donation. What I would really like it to find someone/someplace that can store it and use it, and would allow occasional public star parties at their site. Think about it! Let me know!

Upcoming Star Parties

Wallowology Star Party, Wallowa Lake State Park, Friday, July 13, 7:00 pm. This is six-housr away in one of the most beautiful locations ever! Contact me for more information.

Wallowa Dark Sky Party, Saturday, July 14. Contact me for more information. This is at a super dark sky location in Wallowa County. You will need a special map.

Past Star Party Notes

Sunday, March 11, 8:00 - 9:00 pm.

Basketball court in NE corner of Gabriel Park. We may need to walk up the hill to the east. Our goals: Mercury and Venus. Check back here after 7 pm for the final GO/NO GO decision.

UPDATE: 7:05 pm. There are presently lots of clouds in the west. This makes seeing Venus difficult and Mercury very difficult to impossible. But, I am in a feisty mood, so I am heading out to Gabriel Park anyway. With luck, the clouds will clear as the Sun sets. Come an join me if you are interested. It is a wonderful night to be outside at any rate!

Wow! What a super star party. I do not believe I have ever seen Mercury so clearly in the city.

Monday, March 12, 6:15 am. Downtown Multnomah Village.

I will be wandering about trying to get the best view to the south where the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are our goals. I will be wandering between 35th & 36th and Troy & Capitol Highway. This will be a naked-eye and binocular star party. I will not be bringing a telescope. Check back here after 5:45 am for the final GO/NO GO decision.

UPDATE: 5:55 am. It is a beautiful morning! I am heading to Multnomah Village!

UPDATE: 6:15 am. Great view of the Moon, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter from the corner of Troy & 36th. I’m haning our here for a bit until Fat City opens at 6:30 am.

Wow! A glorious morning. The Moon, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter were all brilliant. Aiden brought his homemade finder scope. We were able to see three moons of Jupiter with binoculars! Antares, Spica, and Arcturus also were prominent!

Is it Clear Enough for a Star Party?

Here is the Clear Sky Chart for Portland. The clear sky chart is an astronomer’s weather forecast. The chart forecasts the quality of night sky observing for the next 48 hours.

If you are planning a trip, go to the Clear Sky Chart Home Page to get a forecast for wherever you are going.

General Information About Star Parties


  1. Star parties are primarliy for students in the Wilson High School Earth and Space Science classes.
  2. But they are also for other Wilson High School students.


  1. Star parties are for Lewis and Clark graduate students in education.
  2. Star parties are for friends and neighbors of mine.
  3. Star parties are for you, if you are interested, but understand that they are primarily for my students.
  4. Feel free to bring along family and friends. But we want this to be a quiet, thoughtful study of the night sky. Don't bring children who are too young to understand this. Don't bring rowdy people. Don’t bring dogs!


  1. Usually Gabriel Park. We will meet on the basketball court in the northeast corner of Gabriel Park or the outfield of the nearby baseball field. I tend to use the basketball court in the rainy season and the baseball field in the dry season.
  2. From Vermont Street, turn south on SW 37th Avenue. Go down the hill to about SW Texas Street. Park along the road. Walk west onto the basketball court or baseball field.


  1. Enter Gabriel Park from the SW 42nd Street entrance off Vermont Street. Park in the lot near the park shop, basketball court, bathroom, playground, etc. Walk east past the bathroom and to the basketball court or up the hill to the baseball field.
  2. Here is a link to a Google Map.


  1. I do not plan Star Parties much in advance due to weather concerns, the Moon, and my schedule.
  2. E-mail messages will be sent out when the star parties are planned. If you would like to be on my Star Party e-mail list, send me a note saying so. Current students are automatically on the list.

What to Bring:

  1. Dress appropriately. Wear good shoes. You may wish to bring a blanket or pad to lay on.
  2. Red flashlight. No white lights please!
  3. Planisphere (star wheel) if you have one.
  4. Binoculars or telescope. Check in with me ahead of time if you plan to bring a telescope.

Rules, Safety, etc:

  1. Star parties are hosted by me, Joe Minato, private citizen and Friend of the Universe. They are not hosted or endorsed by either of my employers (Portland Public Schools, Lewis and Clark College), nor are they a project of the City of Portland. They are just something I like to do. And you are invited. 
  2. I strongly recommend coming with another person. You will be in a park in the darkness. Use good judgment regarding safety.
  3. Absolutely no alcohol, drugs, tobacco etc. Treat it like a school or family event.
  4. Drive safely!

© Joseph Minato 2017