EVAC Home Page

EVAC Member Star Parties

Star partyFor many amateur astronomers, participating in club star parties is the best part of belonging to a club. These friendly nocturnal gatherings give observers a chance to talk about all things astronomical, look through many types of scopes and show off a few of their favorite sights. EVAC offers at least two star parties each month (weather permitting, of course).

Never been to a star party? Please check out our Star Party Guidelines to help make your first star party a safe and enjoyable one. Both the Local and Deep Sky Star Parties are now hosted at the Picket Post Trailhead near Superior, AZ. Attendance at the Local Star Party, Deep Sky Star Party, or the Messier Marathon is predicated on your acknowledgement and acceptance of the liability disclaimer detailed at the bottom of this page.

Check out our Events Calendar for a complete listing of star party dates and other EVAC events.

To discuss observing with other Arizona astronomers please join the Arizona Observing mail list by clicking the link below.  Enter your full email address in the box titled User Options and press OK.  You will receive a confirmation email.  You must reply to the confirmation email you will receive to actually join the list. This is not an EVAC moderated list.

To subscribe to the AZ Observing mail group click:


To unsubscribe use the same link, enter your email address and select Unsubscribe from the "Choose An Action" list.

Local Star Party

The "local" star party is held on the Saturday closest to 3rd quarter moon at Picket Post Trailhead, near Superior. The site offers reasonably dark skies within an hour of most east Valley locations. A hill blocks a good bit of the Phoenix sky glow to the west, and Superior's minor glow is visible in the northeast. The star party is usually well-attended and is especially suited to those just getting started. If you are in the market for a scope, this is the place to see a variety of scopes and talk to their owners or simply get advice on getting started.

2017 Local Star Party Schedule (Picket Post)

January 21st

February 18th

March 18th

April 22nd

May 20th

June 17th

July 15th

August 12th

September 16th

October 14th

November 11th

December 16th

Deep Sky Star Party

The "deep sky" star party is held on the Saturday closest to new moon and is also hosted at the Picket Post Trailhead location (near Superior, AZ). The All Arizona Star Party is held on the weekend closest to the New Moon in October at the Hovatter Airfield site (see information below):

2017 Deep Sky Star Party Schedule

January 28th

February 25th

March 25th

April 29th

May 27th

June 24th

July 22nd

August 19th

September 23rd

October 21st

November 18th

December 16th


How To Get There

To get to the Picketpost Mountain Trailhead site, take US 60 east past Florence Junction. As you come down from Gonzales Pass, watch out for the green Mile Marker 221 sign. Just past that you will see a yellow 'Truck Crossing' sign... and just past the sign is FR 231. The road is now easier to spot than in the past, as there is now a familiar brown sign indicating the trailhead. You'll know it's the right road because there is a small windmill visible just after you make the right turn. Follow the well-graded road about half a mile to where it dead-ends into another road. Another brown sign indicates that you should make a left turn (staying on FR 231) to get to the trailhead. This section of the road is asphalt. Follow the narrow road about a half mile until it ends at the trailhead. This site is easily accessed by any vehicle. When you reach the trailhead, bear to the right and circle around until you see the larger, flat area. Refer to the map below, ignoring the fact that it disregards the standard convention of showing north at the top.

Site coordinates:  33º 16' 21" N        111º 10' 35" W     Elevation 2375'

Getting to Picketpost Mountain Trailhead

Map to the Picket Post Trailhead site - Click on image for Google Map directions from your location.

Bortle class 4 site

Light Pollution Map for the Picketpost Mountain Trailhead site

This map is a small excerpt (195 miles wide x 230 miles high) from the The World Atlas of the Artificial Night Sky Brightness. The cross marks the location of the EVAC Local Star Party site (Boyce Thompson Arboretum). This site is classified as '4' on the Bortle scale. Fairly obvious light-pollution domes are apparent over population centers in several directions. The zodiacal light is clearly evident but doesn't even extend halfway to the zenith at the beginning or end of twilight. The Milky Way well above the horizon is still impressive but lacks all but the most obvious structure. M33 is a difficult averted-vision object and is detectable only when at an altitude higher than 50 degrees. Clouds in the direction of light-pollution sources are illuminated but only slightly so, and are still dark overhead. You can make out your telescope rather clearly at a distance. The maximum naked-eye limiting magnitude is 6.1 to 6.5, and a 32-cm reflector used with moderate magnification will reveal stars of magnitude 15.5. Modest to serious impact to deep sky observing and imaging.

All Arizona Star Party & Messier Marathon

The All Arizona Star Party and Messier Marathon are held on the weekend closest to the New Moon in October/March at the at the Hovatter Airstrip (Salome Emergency Airstrip) in La Paz County, AZ. The Salome Airfield is located two miles south of Interstate 10, and about ten miles west of Centennial, AZ and the site's coordinates are: N 33 deg 34 min 50 sec, W 113 deg 35 min 53 sec, and an elevation of 1378 ft (420m).

How To Get There

From Phoenix, go West on I-10 to Hovatter Rd at exit 53 (about 40 miles west of Palo Verde Nuclear Power Generating Station). Once off I-10 and onto the Hovatter Road overpass, turn left and proceed over the freeway and over the canal. When you cross the canal, turn hard left onto the AT&T Frontage road. Go 1.1 miles to a bend in the road. As the road veers to the SE, look for a road running due south at the same point - Tomson St. and head South for 1.8 miles. You will come to a small left-right zig-zag, then see a chain link fence enclosing an area about 20 ft by 20 ft off to the East of the road - this is the abandoned airfield's entrance.

Getting to Hovatter Airstrip site

Map to the Hovatter Airstrip (Salome Emergency Airstrip) site
- Click on image for Google Map directions from your location.

Star Party Liability Disclaimer

The East Valley Astronomy Club (EVAC) is not responsible for the property or liability of any star party participant, nor will the club be held liable for their actions or possessions. EVAC is not responsible for any vehicular damage, theft, or mechanical difficulties that may occur while attending a star party. EVAC strongly recommends adherence to the doctrine of 'safety in numbers' when it comes to remote observing sites. In the interest of safety it is recommended that you don't go to remote sites alone and that someone knows where you have gone each time you go out observing.