Magdalena Astronomical Society

MAS is a group of astronomers and friends in the Magdalena, New Mexico area.

Enchanted Skies Star Party

This year, 2023, the MAS is hosting the ESSP in Pie Town, New Mexico.

The star party runs the week of October 15th through 20th.

Registration costs $50 per person payable by check or PayPal.

If paying by check, make check payable to MAS and mail to the address below. Include name, address, phone number and email address of each registrant.

If paying by PayPal, please pay separately for each individual.

Registration is limited to 100 people.

Registration for the ESSP is closed for 2023

Welcome, registrants, to Magdalena/Pie Town. MAS is looking forward to a great party.

A Message from the ESSP Chair

Dear ESSP Registrants:

Thank you very much for your registration and your coming participation at the 2023 Enchanted Skies Star Party! We are looking forward to an unusually special ESSP this year. Thanks to your participation, this will be our largest event yet at the "Top of the World" site in Pie Town, New Mexico. The location is in the heart of what we call the "Highway 60 Dark Sky Corredor," at an elevation of 7,500 feet = 2,286 meters, just west of the U.S. Continental Divide. The geographic coordinates, by the way, are very close to 108° 11' 02" W, 34° 19' 04" N. Our significant altitude contributes greatly to the sky quality.

The ESSP event began in 1994 hosted by the New Mexico Tech Astronomy Club in close collaboration with educators associated with National Radio Astronomy Observatory. It has run every year since in various locations near Socorro, but starting with the pandemic, when it could operate only involving local members of the Magdalena Astronomical Society, it moved west to Pie Town, New Mexico. In 2023, the event began its recovery running as a simple long-weekend campout and drew participants mainly by word-of-mouth. We were wonderfully lucky last year with unusually clear weather, and some visitors described the event as the "best star party of their lives!"

This year we have secured access to the nearby Pie Town Community Center at 6 Beanery Row, Pie Town, New Mexico, as a venue for afternoon presentations. The program will begin at 1:00 PM Monday, October 16, with Dr. Robert Q. Fugate, retired as director of the U.S. Air Force Starfire Optical Range, speaking on *Best Practices for Spectacular Deep Sky Astrophotography. *Bob has supplied the following abstract:

This talk summarizes those aspects most important to achieving your astrophotography goals. I’ll show how I optimize subframe exposure time vs number of exposures given target spectrum and brightness, sky brightness, and telescope and camera features. I’ll also briefly outline my processing methods. Example images will be presented. Attendees will gain access to a spreadsheet imaging assistant model to optimize exposures for your specific target, sky, and equipment.

After Bob, the program will feature Mr. Yann Lehmans of Switzerland, a third-time returnee to ESSP, speaking on La Nuit est Belle (The Night is Beautiful), an event that takes place in Switzerland and France. Yann provides the following description:

During one night, all cities and villages in the region of Geneva (Switzerland) and Lyon (France) switch off their public lights to enjoy the beauty of the sky and save energy. My dream is to turn this Swiss and French event into an international one, with the participation of other cities from around the world. This year, it will take place before the ESSP, on September 22, but it would be very interesting if in the future villages in New Mexico agreed to do the same (or why not, Flagstaff?). This would be symbolic, indicating that the event has an international dimension and would be beneficial for all, particularly in terms of media coverage. The goal is also to raise awareness among the population about light pollution, and it has been noticed that several communities that participated in the event have permanently reduced their public lighting. The event was initiated five years ago by two Swiss scientists and also focuses on issues related to wildlife and flora, which resonate more strongly with the public than astronomy, as animals are something visible and tangible, whereas stars and celestial bodies may appear more abstract.

Monday afternoon will continue with time for additional presentations. If you would like to offer one, please contact me and we'll add you to the ESSP program. We will not schedule lectures on Tuesday afternoon because of a potential tour at Very Large Array radio telescope and a late-afternoon open house at the Dark Sky Land exhibit of art, astrophotography, and historic astronomical artifacts at Warehouse 1-10 on North Main Street in Magdalena, New Mexico. See:

Lectures will resume at the Pie Town Community Center at 1:00 PM Wednesday with nationally recognized expert imager Dan Llwellyn of the Deerlick Astronomy Village in Georgia, whose spectacular image of Saturn appears in the November, 2023, issue of Sky & Telescope magazine. His title will be, Beginning Planetary Imaging. His abstract reads:

Astronomical imaging is all the rage, but how does one get started without breaking the bank? Also, how can one image around city lights, or with a limited amount of time due to job or family? Hello planetary imaging! You can image the planets virtually anywhere, as long as you can see them in the sky from your location. Dan will take you through everything it takes to be a proficient and successful planetary imager. This talk will be focused on the beginner, but will contain a complete walk-through from start to finish including cameras, scopes, software, and best practices. It will also be informative and interesting for non-imaging astro enthusiasts.
After Dan, Eric Toops of Magdalena Astronomical Society will speak on How the Eagle Telescope Arose like a Phoenix. Eric's achievement discovering a gigantic 24-inch Newtonian missile-tracking telescope and massive altazimuth mounting disassembled roughly in a New Mexico junk yard, and his subsequent refurbishment, reassembly, and reactivation of the instrument – such that it now has an advanced pointing model and the ability to track satellites in low-Earth orbit – is one of the great recent achievements in the instrumentation of amateur astronomy. Opportunities for additional presentations – including informal and fun ones – will continue through ESSP's afternoons. Please consider sharing any of your favorite astronomy topics or projects, including reporting on work-in-progress. I'll probably present Too Easily Forgotten: The Celebrated Photographic Plate Collection of Lewis Morris **Rutherfurd and its Current Inventory** My abstract goes in part,
Lewis Morris Rutherfurd (1816-1892) was an early American pioneer of celestial photography, astrometry, and spectroscopy, and for a time he produced the best diffraction gratings in the world. His collection of glass photographic plates was long remembered and revered among scholars of astronomy, and his photographs of the Sun and Moon were considered second-to-none in the 1870s. I never dreamed that they would eventually fall into my stewardship, after I tracked them down, entirely forgotten, in a college walk-in closet with many lying on the floor beside an empty aluminum beer keg.
A more detailed schedule and illustrated program will be distributed before we gather, along with additional news and instructions. Please contact me with any questions, and don't be shy sharing presentations!


--John W. Briggs, for the ESSP Organizing Committee, Magdalena Astronomical Society, Inc. Cell and texts: 970-343-0618

Contact ESSP:

by e-mail
by US Postal
Magdalena Astronomical Society
PO Box 125
Magdalena, NM 87825

Communicating with Magdalena Astro Society:

E-mail group
Enchanted Skies Star Party