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IceInSpace AstroCamp, 15th - 18th October 2009

The IceInSpace AstroCamp (IISAC) at Lostock, now in its 4th year, is back again!  

IISAC2009 is a star party organised by the IceInSpace community, and will be held over 3 nights, from the 15th to the 18th October 2009, at Lostock Scout Camp, Lostock in the beautiful Hunter Valley area of NSW. The location was chosen because of its proximity to Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle, and at under 4 hours drive from Sydney you'll be amongst clear, very dark skies in a lovely country setting. If you want to see pictures and read reports from the three previous IISAC events, check out the Previous IISAC Events page.

There is bunkbed accomodation for up to 35 people in the two onsite farmhouses, or you can camp out in the large fields which have held over 500 scouts - so space is not a problem! The farmhouses also have a BBQ, full kitchen facilities, 240v power, 10 showers and 10 toilets, fridges and freezers. For off-site accomodation, the Lostock Caravan Park is only 6 km's away on the edge of Lostock Dam.

There'll be plenty to do when it's not dark, with a swimming hole to cool off during the hot summer days, as well as organised talks and workshops to cater for both newcomers and experienced amateur astronomers alike. You can go for leisurely drives through beautiful rolling hills, or a short trip takes you to the popular Hunter Valley wineries area.

The IceInSpace AstroCamp is the no-fuss star party - come to relax, to have fun, to unwind and to meet some of the great, friendly people that make up the wider IceInSpace family. And when it's clear, observe under brilliant dark skies and take home memories you'll cherish forever.

The AstroCamp is not restricted to IceInSpace forum members, it's open to anyone from anywhere! Of course we'd love you to join the forum community and join in the discussions and the fun, and we're very welcoming to newcomers.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Sponsors

A very big thanks to our generous sponsors who have donated prizes to IceInSpace AstroCamp 2009. They are:

       

Vital Stats

 Date: 15th - 18th October 2009 (Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights)
 Location: Lostock Scout Camp, Lostock (near Dungog/Gresford. It's about 3-4 hours drive North of Sydney)
Cost: Prices
To Book: IceInSpace AstroCamp Registration Form (opens in new window)
Programme of Events: IISAC2009 Programme (50k pdf)
Forms and Policies: IISAC2009 Handout (250k pdf) - contains all forms below:
-Site and Competition Policy
-General Field Policy
-Light Use Policy
-Acknowledgement and Disclaimer form
-IISAC2009 Sky Lists  (500kb zip)
Maps: -General Location
-Aerial Map
-How to get there (Google Map Directions)
-Field Map 1, Field Map 2
Lat/Long: Long: 151° 25.476 ° E , Lat: 32° 18.875 S , Elevation: 200m
Group Photo: Saturday, 5:30pm at the Bottom House. Please make yourself available!
Forum Thread: For all discussions and questions
Anything else: Email me: (This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it)
Quick Links: -Features of the Site
-Competitions and Prizes
-What to Bring
-Things to Know
-Daytime Activities, Guest Speakers and Workshops
-What's in the Sky at Lostock?
-Food and Beverage
-IISAC2009 T-Shirts
-Prices and Booking
-Testimonials
-Rules and Conditions
-Location Photos

 

Features of the Site


  • Exclusive use!
  • Very dark skies
  • 2 farmhouses with up to 35 bunkbeds in total (bring own linen). Remember, this is a scout camp. The bunkbed accommodation is not 4-star luxury!
  • Loads of room for camping
  • Huge observing fields with good open viewing (no trees etc)
  • Camp where you observe!
  • Power available on-site for recharging batteries, astrophotography, etc.
  • Undercover area for meetings/presentations/wet weather etc
  • The houses have full kitchens (stoves, cutlery, glasses, hot water, fridges and freezers)
  • Amenities block with 5 showers and 5 toilets for both male and female  (remember, this is a scout camp!)
  • The farm houses also have additional toilets and showers
  • Swimming hole for cooling off during a hot summer day
  • Off-site caravan park at Lostock Dam, about 6km's away
  • Supplies at Gresford, 20km away.

Competitions and Prizes

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Gift Voucher at Peppers Resorts and Retreats

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Celestron Skymaster 20x80 Binoculars

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Argo Navis Digital Telescope Computer

The Lucky Door Prize competition will be slightly different than previous years and other star parties. As much as people love the chance to win prizes, they also don't like all the sitting around and waiting for 10-20+ prizes to be drawn.

So this year we've decided to have just 3 prizes; 3 lucky winners - with the major prize being non-astronomical, something the lucky winner can take their partner to for a relaxing weekend away from the telescope.

The following prizes are up for grabs, thanks to our generous sponsors.

The Important Competition Rules are set out in the Rules and Conditions section below. Please make sure you read them.

What To Bring!

Following is a list of items we strongly recommend that you bring to the AstroCamp.

  • You may bring your own chair/picnic table, especially if camping. There will be plastic chairs and trestles tables under the marquee area. 
  • Insect repellant (there will be mosquitoes and flies!)
  • Toiletries (towel, soap, shampoo, toothbrush etc)
  • Linen (pillow, sheets, blankets, sleeping bags)
  • Tent, pegs, etc (if camping)
  • Drink bottles for water (it will be hot, drink plenty of water)
  • Hat and sunscreen (it will be hot!)
  • Swimming costumes, towels (there is a beautiful swimming hole)
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Dinner (dinner is an optional extra with your booking). The nearest town for supplies is Gresford, about 25-30 minutes away.
  • Batteries for powered scopes (240v power will be limited to the area around the farmhouse)
  • Cardboard box / red screen for your laptop (see Light Use Policy)
  • Torch with deep red filter (see Light Use Policy)
  • Garbage Bags. There are no facilities for litter disposal. We will all have to take our rubbish away with us.
  • Tarps for under your scope (if required)
  • Tarps/covers for over your scope (if required) 
  • Dew shields/dew heaters (it can get quite dewey)
  • Wet weather games or DVD's (hopefully they won't be needed!)
  • If bringing children, please bring enough games and toys to keep them happily busy! :)
  • Your signed Acknowledgement and Disclaimer form.

Things to Know!

Along with the What to Bring section above, here are a few important things to know if coming to the IceInSpace AstroCamp 2009 at Lostock.

  • Please come to the bottom house (HQ) when you arrive to collect your info pack, name tag and raffle ticket for the lucky door prize. We will also note down your car registration number for emergency purposes.
  • The IceInSpace AstroCamp is the no-fuss star party. Come to relax, to have fun, to unwind and to meet some of the great, friendly people that make up the wider IceInSpace family. And when it's clear, observe under brilliant dark skies and take home memories you'll cherish forever. Please don't expect 4-star accommodation or amenities.
  • The Acknowledgement and Disclaimer form must be signed and handed in when you arrive. This is to protect IceInSpace and the organisers against legal action if someone hurts themselves at the camp. All care is taken, but ultimately you are responsible. Please read the legal waiver now. And remember, it must be signed and handed in if you wish to stay at the camp.
  • There is no GSM mobile reception at Lostock, however NextG may work from the high areas. There is no landline phone in either farmhouse.
  • An "info pack" will be distributed when you arrive, containing rules, policies, the agenda, and local tourist information.
  • There are 2 farmhouses, the bottom house is the HQ and the top house (5 minutes walk) also has facilities and beds. Each farmhouse holds about 18 beds. For those that have booked bunkbed accomodation, it is first-in best dressed when choosing your bunk. If you're bringing a family and wish to all be in the one room, please request this at the time of booking and every effort will be made to accomodate this.
  • In the case of an emergency (bushfire, etc), please meet at the muster point outside the bottom house - see the field map.
  • Please be all packed up and be ready to leave the camp by 11am Sunday. We need to leave it how we found it, so please help clean up any mess you make, take your rubbish and leftover food/drinks with you. Volunteers who wish to stay behind and help clean up will be most appreciated.

Daytime Activities, Guest Speakers and Workshops

A number of activities are planned to keep us busy during the day, while still allowing plenty of time to just relax, or go on sight-seeing tours of the Hunter Valley or local surrounds.

Please see the Programme of Events for the day and time that these activities are on.

Guest Speakers

The following guest speakers have agreed to share their time and expertise and give talks at IISAC2009:
  • Andrew Murrell and John Bambury: What's in the Sky at Lostock.
    Andrew and John are two of Australia's most experienced observers, and will give a run-down of some of the objects you can observe at IISAC2009 - categorised into targets for small scopes (under 12"), medium scopes (12-18") and large scopes (over 18").
  • Lesa Moore: Big Island, Big Telescope.  
    Lesa's postgraduate research project was based on a deep stack of photographic images used to uncover previously unseen low surface brightness galaxies in Virgo. To determine if the galaxies belong to the Virgo Cluster, distance measurements (spectra) are needed and because the galaxies are faint, Lesa opted for a big telescope. This talk will illustrate the outcomes of her research and show highlights of her trip to the top of Mauna Kea.
  • Greg Bradley: The Basics of Great Astrophotography.
    Greg is one of Australia's best astrophotographers. He'll teach you the basics - the fundamentals needed to get good images from your refractor or reflector scope. It will include such topics as mounts, autoguiding, balancing your scope and polar alignment (drift method).
  • Professor Geraint Lewis: A universe for me? The anthropic principle in Astronomy.
    Geraint is a professor of Astrophysics at Sydney University, and his talk will discuss the anthropic principle - looking at the successes and failures of this controversial idea, as well as looking to the future, where some think that the anthropic principle may be our only guide to one of the major outstanding questions in physics, namely how do we construct a theory of everything?

Workshops

While there are no formal workshops scheduled during IISAC2009, a whiteboard located at the bottom house HQ will be used as a "community noticeboard" to get people together. It will be used both for people that need assistance and those that have the expertise to assist.

  • For those that need help with collimation or polar alignment (for example), they might post a "wanted" notice such as "Bruce needs help collimating a 10" newt. Blue Hyundai Excel on the bottom field" or "Need help with polar alignment. Please meet here this afternoon at 4pm".
  • For those willing to assist, they can post something like "John happy to help with polar aligning or collimation. Meet here at 4pm or see me at the white toyota hilux at the east end of the field".

Please don't be afraid to ask for help! Most amateur astronomers are happy to help and share their expertise when they can - we all started out by asking heaps of questions!

Vendor Stalls and Swap Meet

A number of vendors will be offering telescope equipment for sale at IISAC2009. The vendor stalls will be open from 9:00am - 11:30am, on Friday and Saturday mornings.

Vendors currently confirmed:

What's in the Sky at Lostock?

Mid-October is a great time to be observing under a dark sky. Wind your planetarium software forward and see what great stuff is on offer! Here is a sample of objects that will be in favourable viewing positions during the IceInSpace AstroCamp 2009.

IIASC2009 Sky Lists (500kb zip, Generated using CalSky.com) - contains 3 PDF's: 

  • Binary Stars
  • Deep Sky Objects
  • General (planets, sun/moon rise/set times etc)

Night Sky Tours

Night Sky Tours will be conducted each night from 8:30pm on the lower field. Representatives from the Three Rivers Foundation (3RF) will have a number of large dobsonian telescopes (18" and above) through which you will be able to see amazing galaxies, nebulas, globular clusters and more.

Food and Beverage

The bunkhouses have fridges and freezers, as well as a full kitchen, cooking facilities and 2 BBQ's.  You are welcome to use the facilities provided and they are available for use by all paid attendees.

  • Breakfast and Lunch is not catered, and you must make your own arrangements.
  • A catered dinner will be provided by the Gresford RFB for those that request it with their booking. If you turn up without booking, you will have to arrange your own dinner.
  • Tea and Coffee will be on-tap, 24 hours a day.
  • Cans of cold soft-drink will be available for $1 each.
  • Bottled Water will be available for $x each (TBA)
  • Tube iceblocks will be available for Xc each (TBA).

The nearest shops for restocking and supplies are in Gresford, which is about a 25-30 minute drive from the camp.

IISAC2009 T-Shirts

IISAC2009 T-shirts are available for order through the online registration form as part of your camp booking. If you're not attending the camp but still wish to purchase an IISAC2009 t-shirt, please contact me.

The shirts are available in the following sizes:

  • Adult sizes: S (w:46cm/l:71cm) , M (w:51/l:73cm) , L (w:56cm/l:76cm) , XL (w:61cm/l:79cm), XXL (w:66cm/l:81cm) , XXXL (very very big shirt- w:71cm/l:86cm)
  • Kids sizes: XS (w:41cm/l:51cm)

Prices

  • $25 adult size
  • $20 child size (XS)

The shirts will be available for collection at IISAC2009.

Thanks to PD Screenprinting for the excellent printing!
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IISAC2009 t-shirt

Prices and Booking

Book early! Bunkbed accommodation is limited, so be fast to secure your spot. On the booking form, you'll choose your option of bunkbed, camping or off-site accommodation.

Click on the link below to open the registration form and book your place!

IceInSpace AstroCamp Registration Form (Opens in new window)

  • Participants who have made a booking and paid their money are eligible for the lucky door prize competition.
  • Payment methods and other registration rules are set out in the Registration Payment rules set out below.
  • Book and pay early (on or before the 22nd September 2009) to receive an early-bird discount ($10 off the total price).

REGISTRATION COSTS

Adult $45
Child (13 years and under) $25
Family (2 adults & 1 or more children) $115

ACCOMMODATION COSTS

Camping $13 per camp-site per night
Bunkbed $8 per person per night
Off-site $3 per night

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

Dinner (catered by Gresford RFB) $15 per adult per night. Child meals are free. Dinner usually consist of meat + veges/salad + bread, plus dessert.
Astronomy Calendar 2010 (info here) $15 each
IISAC2009 T-Shirts $25 adult sizes / $20 child size (XS)
Early-Bird Payment Discount $10 off the total cost (if paid on or before 22nd September 2009)

Once you have submitted your booking, you may come back to this page to make your payment via paypal.



Testimonials

Here's what a few people had to say after IISAC2008:

  • "Having attended this event on all three occasions it has been held, I heartily recommend that the amateur astronomy community get behind this event. There is wonderful sense of community, and all levels of knowledge and ability are welcome and enjoy the event. When the skies are clear, they are superb, with many objects taking on stunning detail, even in modest apertures. This is also a place that the whole family will enjoy, with a beautiful natural environment and natural swimming hole which will keep the kids entertained for hours. The organisers deserve congratulations for the care and planning that go into making this event such a success."
  • "An absolutely fantastic star party.  To Mike and the other organisers, the speakers, sponsors and the volunteers from Greford RFB my hat goes off to you for so generously giving your time, astro goodies, knowledge and help to make the event a complete success."
  • "A great place to mix with amateur astronomers of all levels in a friendly environment. Highly recommended."
  • "Well run, great people, friendly atmosphere top event."
  • "Would recommend this camp to newbies in astronomy as there are lots of talented people  happy to share their knowledge with you."
  • "Fantastic event as always, good crowd and great people. Sadly I was away for the 2008 lucky door prize & my name got called out 2nd! Defintely going back again next year."
  • "My guests loved the 2 hour 'window' where they gazed at Jupter and some of its moons for the very first time in ther lives! Also, they gazed at the milkyway and the shooting stars that could be plainly seen!"
  • "It was great to attend IISAC 2008, in spite of the clouds it was great to meet and network with the people I have come to know on the forum."
  • "The best river swim in history."  

Rules and Conditions

General

  • IceInSpace and the organisers of the AstroCamp accept no responsibility for the safety or security of your posessions while at the Astronomy Camp.
  • Please supervise all young children, as there will be expensive telescope equipment that the owners won't want knocked over.
  • No pets are permitted. I'm sorry there are no exceptions to this.
  • When driving, be aware of local wildlife and drive slowly and carefully. The last 20km's into Lostock is narrow and winding and you never know what's around the corner.
  • The road into Lostock is narrow and winding. When driving, please be careful and take your time, especially in the wet or dark.
  • It is a condition of entry that you sign and hand in the Acknowledgement and Disclaimer form when you arrive.
  • All times specified on this page are in AEDST (daylight savings time).

Swimming Hole Rules

  • The swimming hole is there for us to enjoy, however you choose to use it at your own risk. By signing the disclaimer form, you waive any right to bring action against the IISAC organisers or any volunteers for any injury sustained while using the swimming hole.
  • The swimming hole will be open from 9am-11:30am and 1:30pm-5:30pm each day. It is not to be used outside these hours.
  • Volunteer "lifeguards" will be present during open hours to ensure safe play.
  • Parents must supervise their children while using the swimming hole. If a child is seen in the swimming hole without their parent present, the child will be asked to leave the swimming area.

Registration Payment

  • Payment can be made in 1 of 3 ways, as outlined below:
    • Cheque/Money Order - made out to "IceInSpace". The address to send it to will be displayed upon completion of your registration.
    • Direct Deposit - bank/account details will be displayed upon completion of your registration.
    • Paypal - Payment via paypal can be made via the PAYPAL button above, or by using the button on the form at completion of your registration. Please be aware that payment via Paypal incurs a 3.5% surchage.
  • Please arrange payment of your registration fee as early as possible so numbers can be confirmed for catering and insurance. Payment of your fees on or before 22nd September 2009 entitles you to receive an early-bird discount ($10 off the total price).
  • Cancellation of your registration may incur cancellation fees (see below).  

Cancellation Fees

  • I understand that circumstances beyond your control may mean you can't make the camp. If you have booked and it turns out you can't make it after all, please cancel as early as possible. You will receive a 100% refund, less $15 cancellation fee.
  • If you simply don't turn up at the camp, there will be no refund given, however your payment (less $15 cancellation fee) may be used as a credit for the next IISAC event.
  • Refunds exclude any Paypal surchage.

Lucky Door Prize Rules

  • Everyone who has a fully paid-up booking (whether staying on-site or off-site) will receive a raffle ticket for the lucky door prize when they arrive. That is, each person on your booking will receive a raffle ticket.
  • If you turn up on the day without making a booking, you can still be eligible for the draw if you pay when you arrive and sign the Acknowledgement and Disclaimer form.
  • You are only eligible for the draw if you have signed and handed in the Acknowledgement and Disclaimer form.
  • The Peppers Gift Voucher prize is offered in accordance with their Terms and Conditions. Please read their FAQ for more information.
  • You (or your ticket) must be present at the draw to claim the prize. If the prize is not claimed within 2 minutes, a new ticket will be drawn.
  • Professor Geraint Lewis will be drawing the tickets out of the hat. 
  • Each ticket that is drawn (in order) will get their choice of the (remaining) prizes on offer, until all prizes are won.
  • The competition will begin at 4:30pm on Saturday the 17th October 2009.
  • The prize may not be converted to cash.

 

Location Photos

Here are some pictures of previous IISAC events, so you can get a feel for what it will be like to be there for IISAC2009!

IISAC2008 Photos

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IISAC2008 Groupshot

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IISAC in Red

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Field shot at night
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Field shot pano

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Collimation

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Mike on Halloween :)
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Imaging Hill

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Final morning

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Swimming Hole
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Lazing around

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Marquee and Talks

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Chris Omaroo
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Private Property

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Gresford RFB cooking the meal

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Scopes

IISAC2007 Photos

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Comet McNaught and IISAC Groupshot

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Some of the 3RF big dobs in the field

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The three amigoes, happy to be at IISAC
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Groupshot from IISAC2007

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Panorama from near the top of the property

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More field/camping shots
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More field/camping shots

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Lizz and Mariah enjoying the waterhole

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Transfixed on Comet McNaught!
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Panorama of the waterhole
  

IISAC2006 Photos

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Anthony Wesley's 13" scope

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Gary Kopff and Andrew Murrell with "Hector"

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Anthony Wesley giving his talk
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The bottom farmhouse

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Outside the bottom house

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Enjoying the swimming hole
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Group shot from IISAC2006

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Bottom house kitchen

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Light trails at night
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Male toilets

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Mike enjoying the rope swing

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Mike enjoying a refreshing beverage :)
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The road down to the bottom house

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Swimming hole

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