Robert Ferguson Observatory (RFO) Summer Star Parties begin at 8:00 PM with tours and presentations until it’s dark enough for observing. Apparently their support circle of amateur astronomers start showing up about 6:30 PM to begin setting up their personal telescopes (utilizing the early evening daylight) in the area immediately adjacent to the RFO. At 8:00 PM, there is an astronomy talk given by the RFO docents which basically ends when there is sufficient nightfall to view the sky with telescopes.The fee for the Star Party attendance is $5.00, and there is a separate $8.00 fee for parking.
On May 4 sunset occurs at 8:06 PM. The observatory telescopes and the telescopes of their support circle of amateurs are open to the public for viewing. In fact, I will be setting up my new telescope, never been used, that evening. Also the RFO recommendation is to dress warmly (layers), since night time temperatures become very cool. More info concerning the Star Party event can be found at the following link. http://www.rfo.org/star-parties.html
The RFO said we can setup in the same general area as the amateur telescopes or we can utilize an area in the rear of the facility (I assume on the rear side of their picnic tables) if we want to get away from the general public area traffic. My recommendation is to arrive at least 45 minutes ahead of 8:00 PM to setup & get a feel for the area. Trisha & I will be there at 6:30 PM to setup early & coordinate with RFO. No white lights, or utilization of flash on our cameras, should be used after dark; the observatory is a red-light-only area to protect everyone’s night vision. RFO recommends one bring a SMALL flashlight. RFO will supply red cellophane to cover flashlights. Note, large camp lanterns, light sticks, etc., cannot be adequately covered by red cellophane. Red flashlights are available for $5 at the RFO.
Directions; from Highway 12 east of Santa Rosa, turn on Adobe Canyon Road toward Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Follow the road up the canyon. From the Park’s entrance kiosk, proceed straight up the road, following the signs to the observatory. More info on directions can be found here: