Frequently Asked Questions

Star Cruise Radio - FM 91.1 MHz

What is a Star Party?

A star party is a gathering of amateur and/or professional astronomers generally held at fairly remote locations so there is limited city light interference with the night sky. Weather permitting, observations of planets, star clusters, nebulae and distant galaxies are conducted under excellent dark-sky conditions.  Visitors are welcome to view through the telescopes of most other attendees or they can bring their own equipment.  Assistance with equipment is often provided to help those new to the hobby get started on the right foot.  Star parties may be a one-night or multi-night event.  Some include only the observations, others, like Star Cruise, include a variety of other events.  

How was this site chosen?

The Pinehill Campground was selected by a process of trial and error.  Members of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh conducted several "observational tests" to examine its suitability.  It is one of the darker sites we've seen this side of the Mississippi River.   It shows little effects of "light pollution".  Photos showing the "dark quality" of the sky can be found by following the "Site/Sky - Photos" link to the left.

What is Light Pollution?

Light Pollution is light from exterior light sources that is being wastefully directed up and into the air by unshielded fixtures.  It is also light from extremely bright exterior light sources that is reflected off the ground and up into the air.  It ruins the darkness of the sky, much like reducing the setting of your "Picture" or "Contrast" knob on your TV washes out its image.

Who should come to the Laurel Highlands Star Cruise?

Anyone and everyone should come.  Obviously the LHSC is set-up to emphasize astronomy.  But there is fun for the whole family, even non-astronomers.  Check the "Regional Activities" and "Site Facilities" links to the left.

Do you have room for my large RV?

Definitely, check out the photos of the large field on the Site Photos page.  However, campers who are not availing themselves of the campground cabins and camping instead in tents or trailers will be without electricity.

What should I bring?

Bring all the supplies you would bring on a typical camping trip.  If you're staying in a cabin, be sure to bring bed clothing as described elsewhere.  Plus, be sure to bring plenty of cold weather clothing.  Bring coffee/tea/hot chocolate as you prefer to help you through the late hours.  Of course, bring binoculars, telescopes, star charts, etc., if you have them.  

What's the difference between astrology and astronomy?

Even though many astronomers might not want to admit it, astrology can be seen as the father of astronomy.

Astrology is the study of the objects of the sky as seen by the naked eye for the purpose of predicting the future. The Kings of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt wanted accurate predictions.  Astrologers who failed to be accurate usually didn't live long.  More accurate observations were thought to be needed to increase the accuracy of the predictions.  The science of astronomy was born.  

Astronomy is the science that includes the study of everything outside the Earth's atmosphere.  A person's participation in astronomy might be truly scientific or it might be just viewing for personal pleasure.

Most astronomers consider astrology to be of little scientific import.