The 4th Annual Star Party was by all measures a huge success. 3 years ago, the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition hired Peak Events to help them turn their 1st year Star Party into an event that thousands attended.
First year was interesting Sitting in a room full of scientists was a tad intimidating, but they all treated me as the one THEY wanted to hear from. So, I had to put on the big girl panties and started delegating duties to people who are much higher up on the IQ scale. As an example, the first meeting they kept talking about their worry over being able to obtain “red” flashlights. They kept going back and forth and how much they were and what should they do, and I finally piped up feeling very smart and said, “Guys, don’t worry, I can get us red flashlights from all sorts of vendors. Were you wanting them logoed?” As I looked around the table, I realized everyone was looking at me the way really intelligent people looking pitifully at someone who has no idea what they’re talking about. Thankfully a sweet man who I adore, smiled condescendingly, and said “In order to see the stars, the light must be red, not the actual flashlights.” And at that moment I knew my purpose.
I looked around the table at astronomers from Lowell, the Naval Observatory, NAU, and smiled. They looked at me curiously and I said “I am your audience. I am a star tard – in other words, I know NOTHING about this, as do MOST of the people who will be attending. What I need from you, is to dummy this down to MY level and we’ll have a success.
From that moment on, we were fine. Every time they would start going over my head, would sit there and say, “I’m sure it’s a great idea, but remember the star tards.” Everyone would take a step back and re-evaluate. It was cool to have all these geniuses look at me for approval – and YES, I realize it was because I was the novice and didn’t have a clue what they were talking about.
It was a match made in heaven and this year was the largest to date. Over 3,500 people came up to Buffalo Park and enjoyed viewing the stars through over 20 telescopes. So many people listened to the lectures that there was standing room only, and the night sky orientation and twilight talks were hits as well.
This event is one I’m very proud of. To take an amazing idea and help some of the smartest and most fun people I’ve been around turn it into an event that draws so many people has been an honor. So, next time you look into the sky located in the World’s first Dark Sky City, know there are a lot people working tirelessly to keep our skies dark!