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DANGER: Under construction and under review for 2018
(i.e. don't believe everything you read on the Internet, especially on this page)


How do I register and pay to attend?
All registration is handled through the Registration page. Generally there is a "5 Night Full Registration" and a "2 Night Astronomy Camp". You can pay online by PayPal OR credit card. Checks and cash will need to be mailed and received by October 12th. See the link above for details.

What if I only want to attend on Saturday?
There is NO online pre-registration for Saturday. CASH only payment of about $15/adult will be collected at the gate which is only open from 1700-1900. You may camp overnight as well for the price of admission.

Where do the events take place?
The dark sky observing site, called "Star Village", is about 10-15 minute drive NW Magdalena, NM in the Cibola National Forest. GPS coordinates are N34.124224, W107.315520. It is recommended that you print out a map and driving directions before arriving since cell service is limited to Verizon, and can be spotty. Maps can be found HERE.

Can you tell me more about the observatory tours?
Please refer to the schedule HERE for the timeline of the tours. Generally, there will be an MRO and a VLA tour on Tuesday, and then again on Wednesday weather permitting.

The Magdalena Ridge Observatory tour is about an hour and a half caravan drive from Star Village leaving in the early afternoon. The tour ends up atop a 10,600' mountain by way of a narrow winding dirt road. From dark until about 2230 you may setup your telescopes and observe, or just sit in a chair and watch the Milky Way. At about 2230 the caravan will start back down the mountain, arriving back at Star Village around midnight. You may choose to stay and observe and camp all night at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer. You may set up a sleeping bag indoors on a carpeted floor, camp outside, or in your vehicle. There are cooking and bathroom facilities at the observatory. Be prepared for cold weather and bring your dinner and snacks even if you are not staying the night. If the weather does not look good then all staying overnight will be cancelled.

The Very Large Array tour is a half hour caravan from Star Village leaving in the early afternoon. After the guided part of the tour you will be free to wander around on the self-guided tour. Starting back for Star Village is usually around 1630.

How do I sign up for the tours?
If you have paid for the FULL registration you are elegible to attend one or both tours. Space is limited on the tours to the first 30 people for each day for each tour. To sign up you must do so by email to Cathie Havens: cathie@sandsoptika.com. First come first served.

Where do I stay?
Click HERE for suggested accommodations in Magdalena. For those who want to RV or camp, dry camping at Star Village is another option.

Is transportation to ESSP events provided?
No. ESSP events take place in and around Socorro County from 10,000ft on top of Mt. Baldy, to the Stallion Gate at White Sands Missile Range, to the VLA on the Plains of San Augustine. All ESSP participants must be prepared to drive their own vehicle. Car pooling for the tours is sometimes informally organized before leaving Star Village.

Is Power Available?
Power is not available.

Is Potable Water Available?
Potable water is not available at Star Village. Please bring your own!

Is food Available?
There will be a food truck at Star Village offering breakfast and/or lunch and/or dinner depending on the day. See the main schedule for each day HERE.

What do I wear?
Layers, layers, layers, hats and gloves. The elevation at Star Village in Magdalena is near 7,000 feet above sea level. The average temperatures will be about a HIGH of 60° Fahrenheit (15 Celsius) and LOW of 30° Farenheit (0 Celsius) -- normally. Be aware that The Magdalena Ridge Observatory is at 10,600 feet and will probably be well below freezing at night at this time of year if you go on that tour! Come prepared!

Do I need 4WD to get up the mountain or to any of the observing sites?
No. Although the last bit of road to the Etscorn campus observatory and the road from Water Canyon up to the ridge of South Baldy are both unpaved, they are well maintained and standard passenger cars have made the trip without problems in the past. The road up to South Baldy is steep and winding. Please remember mountain driving etiquette. Click HERE for mountain driving tips.

May I leave my equipment set up at my campsite and will it be safe?
You are responsible for your equipment. However, there will be hosts at Star Village at all times.

What about restrooms?
Porta Potties will be available at Star Village.

Are showers available?
ESSP has arranged a room at the Magdalena Hall Hotel where ALL 4 DAY registrants can shower. Specific information will be given upon check-in at the Welcome Tent.

Are there any camera restrictions?
None, except no flashes after dark.

What else should I know before coming?
Bring a printed or electronic copy of your registration receipt for admittance. We may not be able to pull up the paperwork at Star Village, because there is generally no Internet access.

Please read the rules HERE.

For other things to do in the area see the attractions page HERE.

What if I still have questions?
Just email us if it is not urgent, call if it is, and we will respond as fast as we can. Be aware that once the party starts we will not have Internet access. See the contacts page HERE.

Why does your website not display correctly?
Our webmaster is a lazy slug? That notwithstanding, effort has been made to keep the code for this website (new in 2018) as simple as possible to prevent needing a lot of specialized code for each brand and version of browser. The site has been tested on recent versions of Firefox, Opera, Safari and Internet Explorer. It should work back to IE11, but it will look a little funny on IE8. IE8 is just missing too much. It should also look decent on phones and tablets. Please make sure your browser is up to date. Let us know if something is really wrong.