5th Annual Hodges Gardens Star Party
March 13 - March 17, 2013
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With the cooperation of the Louisiana Office of State Parks and the A.J. and Nona Trigg Hodges Foundation, the Baton Rouge Astronomical Society cordially invites you to the 5th Annual Hodges Gardens Star Party. Our four night event will begin on Wednesday, March 13th, 2013. As always, this is an chance for you to share a few nights of stargazing and camaraderie with fellow amateur astronomers.
Our observing field is approximately 20 acres and is located within Hodges Gardens State Park in west central Louisiana. In addition to a wonderfully dark night sky, the park offers opportunities for fishing, canoeing, birding, hiking and nature photography. Of course, the real centerpiece of the park is the magnificent botanical gardens. Although no bathrooms or showers are located on the observing field, such facilities are within a short walking distance. Potta-potties will be positioned on the field during our event.
Hodges Gardens State Park is a great place to ride your bike. The five mile loop road through the park lets cyclists enjoy a pleasant ride with low traffic and a few hills to make things interesting. Also, every trip you make on your bike reduces the amount of cars moving on and off the observing field. We can all appreciate that. If you're up for a longer ride, the nearby Longleaf Pine Scenic Highway in the Kisatchie National Forest is another fine place for bicycles.
Public Viewing Night
Last year's public viewing night was such a success that we've decided to make it a tradition. On Saturday night, the park and the observing field will be open to the general public for a couple of hours after sunset. Last year we had over 225 people from the surrounding communities join us under magnificent skies. Based on their comments, we can expect an even greater turnout this year if the weather cooperates. This is a great opportunity to advocate for dark skies and to introduce our hobby to new faces.
See this page for MPEG videos of the site (recommended for broadband users only).
Registration and Fees
As always, we try to keep this star party as affordable as possible. The registration fee for the event itself remains at $10.00 per adult and free for children under the age of 18. All registration is done on site via a collection box and the honor system.
The normal day use fee to Hodges Gardens State Park is $5.00 per day. Along with the outstanding support the park management and staff has given us, however, a special rate of only $1.00 per person per day will be collected from star party participants as you enter the park.
Star Party Merchandise
In the past, our guests have asked about t-shirts. We have set up a "store" at Cafe Press so everyone can buy t-shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, and even beer steins with the new Hodges Gardens Star Party logo. Since we are a non-profit organization, no mark-up has been added to Cafe Press' prices. We offer these items solely as a service to you. And hey, a little advertising never hurts.
Tents and canopies may be set up on the observing field. There is no additional cost for camping. There are no hook-ups available. This is camping at its most basic, so be prepared
RV camping is not allowed on the observing field; the ground is just too soft. RV's are allowed, however, to park along the old airstrip or in one of the new Equestrian Camp Sites near the bathhouses. This area is about a ¼ mile walk from the observing field. We have found in the past that it is easy to set up a small tent or shade for your equipment on the field, then sleep and cook at your RV. Please note that in addition to the star party registration fee, RV campers will be charged $12.00 per night by the park.
Eleven cabins are located lakeside within the park. As with all state park cabins, reservations are required and weekends book quickly. Instructions for reserving a cabin are found on the Hodges Gardens State Park website.
Convenience Stores and Gas Stations
A number of convenience stores and gas stations are located in the nearby towns of Hornbeck, Anacoco, and Florien.
Hodges Gardens State Park is located on US Highway 171. If coming from the north, it is located about 14 miles south of Many, Louisiana. If coming from the south, Hodges Gardens is 18 miles north of Leesville, Louisiana. The Park's entrance is on the east side of US 171, and Emerald Hills Golf Resort is directly across on the west side of the highway.
Star Party Rules and Etiquette
Even though we're too lazy to mess with pre-registration, we would like to know in advance if you are planning to join us. This will give us and the Hodges Gardens State Park staff some idea of how many guests to expect. Also, let us know if you plan to camp on the observing site or stay in a cabin or motel.
Please contact us with your comments and questions at:
Page updated on Thursday, October 18, 2012 7:22:00 AM