Requesting a Private Star Party Workshop

A star party workshop, far away from city lights

The Black Hills Astronomical Society has, as one of its missions, the dissemination of scientific knowledge concerning astronomy. To further this mission, BHAS offers “star party workshops” (observing sessions) at our Hidden Valley Observatory on selected Friday nights in the summer to which the public is invited, and also covers special astronomical events. A private workshop for a group may be possible at our observatory or at other locations if the following considerations are kept in mind.

Locations away from the observatory:  The viewing area should not be exposed to nearby lighting unless the lights can be, and will be, turned off. This also means that a location swept by the headlights of passing vehicles is not acceptable. The selected location must have a clear view of the sky, and an adequate area of flat ground to accommodate the participants and the required telescopes. Liability for any injuries or property damage at a location not under the control of the Society cannot be assumed by the Society. And if the participants are young children you must provide a sufficient number of adults for their supervision and to ensure their safety.

Beginning a night of observing in the Badlands.

The proposed date(s) and time of the workshop should be selected with the reality of astronomical observations in mind. Nights when the Moon is full, or near full, are to be avoided as its light washes out a majority of the deep sky objects of interest. Outdoor activities are always subject to the possibility of adverse weather. Having an alternative date or program is a good idea as a successful workshop requires that weather conditions be mostly clear.

It’s important to note Star Party Workshops rely not only on BHAS members donating their time, expertise, and the use of their expensive equipment, but also includes equipment belonging to the Society as well as Hidden Valley Observatory, itself. To help offset observatory maintenance and equipment costs, the Society charges a modest support fee for private workshops. Any additional donation to the Society is gratefully accepted, as is any form of public acknowledgement of our efforts.

Minimum Support Fees 
If at a location other than HVO, add $25.00
One to six people$35.00
Seven to 14 people$50.00
15 to 25 people$75.00
26 to 50 people$100.00
51+ peoplePlease contact us

Payment and cancellation: Support fees are receivable at the start of the workshop. However, if the requesting party cancels the workshop with less than 24 hours notice the fee is still payable. When you receive your private workshop confirmation e-mail, a $5.00 non refundable reservation fee is required to secure the date requested. (A payment link is provided below.) In the event the workshop is canceled due to weather, rescheduling may or may not be possible.

Scopes setup at HVO for a night of public viewing.

To request a private star party workshop: Please submit this form. All scheduling is done by the Observatory Director and requests are considered on a first come first served basis. Response is usually within one to three days. The Black Hills Astronomical Society is a non profit, all volunteer organization, none of whom receive payment for their time or use of their equipment. As such, we are limited in the number of events that can be accommodated per season.

Request Form

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