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Bill Sadowski Park

Deering Estate

Zoo Miami


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Southern Cross Image
  • Welcome to
  • Home of the Winter Star Party
  • Astronomers of South Florida
  • Proud associates of FIU Dept of Physics


D'Auria Observatory dusk-10 p.m. 23325 SW 217 Ave. Homestead. Bring chairs, bug repellent. SCAS hi-tech equipment will be focused on deep sky objects.

STAR PARTIES- Weather Permitting--SATURDAY December 1st, 15th, 22nd and 29th, SCAS Astros will arrange hi-tech equipment 6-10 p.m. on the observation deck in MiamiDade Bill Sadowski Park & Nature Center, SW 176 St./SW 79 Ave. 1/2 mile west of Old Cutler Road. The Park classroom is open for SCAS astronomy activities. Bring chairs, binoculars, dysfunctional telescopes, bug repellent. No white lights, lasers, litter, pets or alcohol at our SCAS Star Parties.

SCAS membership information- please contact

WSP 2019 will be held Feb 4 thru 10 in the Florida Keys at Camp Wesumkee. Registration will open on October 1st 2018. Get your tickets early, it's our 35 year celebration!


It is wih great sadness that the Southern Cross Astronomical Society announces the passing of Matthew "Tippy" D'Auria, lifetime member and founder of the Winter Star Party. Tippy was a rare treasure. His love of astronomy and his passion for research, education and public outreach was a brightly shining star in our hobby........he will be greatly missed.
Tippy was either a friend, mentor or an inspiration to all who knew him or met him. Our little part of the world will just not be the same without him.
Our sympathies and our prayers are with Tippy's wife Patty and their family in this time of great sorrow.

Memorial services for Tippy will be held on Friday, August 3rd, at the Florida National Cemetory located at 6502 SW 102nd Ave. Bushnell, Florida 33513. (305)-793-7740.
Tippy's wife Patty has asked that in lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Southern Cross Asronomical Society.

Rest in peace old friend

BLOGS from the Local Group

Please take a few moments to read this wonderful article in this months Asrtonomy Magazine, on line, written by Micheal Bakich.


December 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th
Bill Sadowsky Park
17555 SW 79th Ave.
Palmetto Bay, Fl. 33157

Bring family, friends, faculty, students, future astronomers, chairs, binoculars, telescopes, bug repellent, jackets and dress appropriately. Tour the dark, winter star-studded sky in SCAS hi-tech equipment. No white lights, lasers, litter, alcohol or pets. Park in the parking lot and walk over to the observing pad. Observing at Bill Sadowski Park will be closed on new moon Saturday (December 8th) so we may use our dark sky facility in the Redlands.
Please watch our Facebook page and our website for all future events, updates and cancellations.



SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8th, come to our New Moon Star Party, dusk til 10 p.m. hosted by Southern Cross Astros. Bring family, friends, chairs, binoculars, bug repellent to the D'Auria Observatory. Hi-tech SCAS equipment will be focused on the stars and deep sky wonders that the Winter skies have to offer. The D'Auria Dark Sky Observatory is located at 23325 SW 217 Avenue, Homestead, 33031. Please remember to park outside the gate. NO public vehicle traffic is permitted on the field. NO lasers, lights, litter, alcohol or pets. Sadowski Park Star Party, Palmetto Bay will be closed. For information call 305-661-1375 or 305-439-1351. All cancellations will be posted on the SCAS Facebook page prior to the start of any star party. SADOWSKI PARK WILL BE CLOSED DURING THE NEW MOON STAR PARTY!

About Us Calendar The Winter Star Party Become A Member Today!

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Cloudy Nights


Lunar Timetable:

New Moon Image
December 7th New Moon 2:31 am
First Quarter Moon Image
December 15th First Quarter Moon 6:21 am
Full Moon Image
Decenber 22nd Full Moon 1:09 pm
Last Quarter Moon Image
December 29th Last Quarter Moon 4:48 am


Geminids & Ursids

The Geminid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 14 December 2018. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 7 December to 16 December. Annual meteor showers arise when the Earth passes through streams of debris left behind by comets and asteroids. As pebble-sized pieces of debris collide with the Earth, they burn up at an altitude of around 70 to 100 km, appearing as shooting stars.
By determining the speed and direction at which the meteors impact the Earth, it is possible to work out the path of the stream through the Solar System and identify the body responsible for creating it. The parent body responsible for creating the Geminid shower is 3200 Phaethon.
Observing prospects
The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 100 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula.
From Homestead , the radiant of the shower will appear 59° above your north-eastern horizon at midnight. This means you may be able to see around 85 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be high in the sky, maximising the chance of seeing meteors.
The radiant of the Geminid meteor shower is at around right ascension 07h20m, declination 33°N'
The Moon will be 7 days old at the time of peak activity, presenting significant interference in the early evening sky.

The Ursids produce a handful of meteors or shooting stars every hour, usually in the range of five to 10 per hour. This year, an outburst to double normal is due, but the meteors will pale next to the sky's full moon.
The 2018 Ursid meteor shower will peak overnight the night of Dec. 21-22.
In some past years, the meteors have been more spectacular — in 1945 and 1986, for instance, 50 per hour were observed — but experts say that such events are rare.
In 2018, although an outburst is due, the full moon will rain on the meteor parade — earning this year's display the nickname "the cursed Ursids" from NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke.
The Ursids have a sharp peak on the morning of Dec. 21, meaning that observers will see many more meteors on that day than on days before or after. Look at the sky in the morning on the 21st, sometime after midnight but as late as possible before sunrise. The meteor-shower radiant, which the meteors will appear to be flying away from, is near the bowl of the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor, near the celestial North Pole), and the radiant will climb higher in the sky in the pre-dawn hours.
The Ursids are associated with Comet 8P/Tuttle, which was discovered in 1790 and then re-discovered by Horace Tuttle in 1858. It goes around the sun every 14 years and is not a very bright comet, due to its many trips around the sun.

To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.


Comet 46P/Wirtanen will become visible mid-November. Cruising up from Fornax low in the SE, 46P will travel through Cetus, Whale, Eridanus and across Taurus. 46P may be visible in binoculars all night 7-8.5 magnitude. It's closest pass by Earth during it's opposition November 12 - early December.

Here are some tips on how to maximize your time looking for meteors and fireballs during December:
  • Get out of the city to a place where city and artificial lights do not impede your viewing
  • If you are out viewing the shower during its peak, you will not need any special equipment. You should be able to see the shower with your naked eyes.
  • Carry a blanket or a comfortable chair with you - viewing meteors, just like any other kind of star gazing is a waiting game, and you need to be comfortable. Plus, you may not want to leave until you can’t see the majestic celestial fireworks anymore.

Clear Sky Chart


4 evening planets--2 meteor showers--Comet 46pWirtanen

01- Neptune lies upper left of bright Mars 3.6 degrees apart in Aquarius in the SSW. Silver Saturn hangs 10 degrees above the SW horizon.
03- Uranus returns to Pisces from Aries.
06- Neptune & Mars now 2.3' apart in Aquarius in the SSW. Earliest sunsets at 5:29 p.m. for several days.
07- Mars now 2.2' above Neptune.
08- Saturn is 3 degrees from a young Moon low in the SW.
09- Tonight the Moon lies beside the stellar Teaspoon--upper left of the Sagittarian Teapot.
12- Saturn descends into the sunset.
13/14- Early GEMINID METEORS may be visible radiating from the NE before midnight. Moonset 11 p.m.
14- Face east to view northbound 46p COMET WIRTANEN cruising 10 degrees to the right of Aldebaran in the Hyades. At dusk the Moon passes 4 degrees below Mars.
15/16- COMET WIRTANEN, 7 magn. continues north 5 degrees left of the Pleiades closest to Earth at 7.2 million miles! Great view in binoculars and telescopes!
20- The bright Moon floats 3 degrees above Aldebaran--the red eye of Taurus the Bull.
21- Mars enters the Circlet in Pisces from Aquarius and sets before Midnight. WINTER SOLSTICE occurs 5:23 p.m. when the Sun reaches the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere. Nights are longest and daylight shortest in the Northern Hemisphere.
22- The Winter Moon is full at 1:09 p.m. The bright Moon rises in the ENE at dusk and sets in the NW at dawn.
23- URSID METEOR SHOWER may produce 10 meteors per/hr. radiating from the Little Dipper in the north. Colorful debris from Comet Tuttle, the Ursids are slow, and compete with a full Moon all night.

Vega, in Lyra the Harp, leads the vast Summer Triangle onto the NW horizon. Cygnus, Swan, becomes the Northern Cross. Overhead Aries, Ram chases Pegasus, Winged Horse, westward. Mars and Neptune change places above Fomalhaut in Aquarius in the SW. Cetus, Whale, swims across the south. Orion, Hunter awakens in the east. Procyon, Little Dog, follows Orion. Blue Sirius sparkles in Orion's Big Dog trotting across the SE. The delicate Seven Sisters (Pleiades) lead Taurus, Bull higher in the east. Ruddy Aldebaran twinkles in the Hyades cluster in Taurus. Bright Capella guides Auriga toward the north. The Gemini Twins, Castor & Pollux stand on the NE horizon. The Beehive cluster floats below the Twins. The Royal Family reigns in the north: King Cepheus, Queen Cassiopeia, daughter Andromeda holds our nearest galaxy, and Perseus, Hero.

Next free SCAS program at FIU "Winter Constellations" 8 p.m. Friday, January 18, 2019 in CP-145 lecture hall Main campus.


2 morning planets

01- Venus, Morning Star, is brightest and rises in the SE by 4 a.m.
03- The waning Moon hangs 5 degrees above Venus. A celestial triangle is formed with Spica in Virgo. Mercury appears on the ESE horizon. Uranus drifts from Aries to Pisces.
05- By 6 a.m. the waning crescent Moon leads Mercury above the SE horizon.
07- New Moon occurs at 2:31 a.m. Before sunrise look for Jupiter on the ESE horizon.
12- GEMINID METEOR SHOWER is most intense in the predawn of 13th & 14th. After Moonset, 50+ GEMINIDS may be visible in a clear dark sky. The Geminids are a product of a deteriorating asteroid Phaeton. At dawn, Mercury lies 10 degrees above Jupiter.
13- Venus drifts from Virgo into Libra.
15- First Quarter Moon occurs at 6:21 a.m. Mercury reaches its highest altitude.
17- Mercury descends to about 4 degrees above rising Jupiter in the SE.
21- At dawn Mercury and Jupiter are closest 0.9 degrees apart. They dance on the Scorpion's back low in the SE.
23- URSID METEOR SHOWER produces about 10 meteors per/hr. The slow Ursids radiate from the Little Dipper all night.
25-At dawn look for the Beehive cluster 2 degrees from the bright Moon.
28- Huge Scorpius climbs over the SE horizon. Bright Jupiter floats 6 degrees above ruddy Antares, the red heart in Scorpius. Mercury slides down to the SE horizon.
29- Last Quarter Moon occurs at 4:48 a.m

The Gemini Twins stand on the western horizon. Procyon, Orion's Little Dog, lingers low in the west. The Beehive cluster shimmers directly above Procyon. Bright Capella guides Auriga, Charioteer, onto the NW horizon. Overhead Leo, Lion crawls westward. The Big Dipper hangs in the north. Aim binoculars to the colorful double star in the curve of the Dipper's handle. In the south, Corvus, Crow flies ahead of Spica in Virgo. Don't miss Omega Centauri, a compact star cluster of a million stars glows near the southern horizon in Centaurus! The stars in Libra twinkle low in the SE. Huge Scorpius climbs above the SE horizon. Hercules leads bright Vega, in Lyra the Harp, and the Summer Triangle above the NE horizon.

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Welcome to
Home of the Winter Star Party
We Are Astronomers of South Florida
We Are Passionate about Astronomy
We are proud to be associated with the FIU Dept of Physics

"The Mission Statement of the Southern Cross Astronmical Society, Inc., is to bring astronomy to the public through education, research and enjoyable free public events, free telescope observing, improve the status, understanding and enjoyment of amateur astronomy. We are edicated, by our legacy, to provide free lectures and presentations. We encourage research and pursue a respectful attitude to discourage light pollution. We believe a beautiful starlit sky belongs to everyone. “

Duke N.Dayton, Former SCAS President

Winter Star Party Logo

Winter Star Party

Winter Skies Tropical Setting

The Winter Star Party "WSP" is a serious event designed for amateur astronomers. WSP is held annually, usually during the new moon in February. The event is unique in that it occurs mid-winter during the height of the Florida Keys tourist season. The warm weather, coupled with dark skies, and possibly the steadies skies in North America attracts attendees from all over the frozen United States, Canada, and Europe giving the event an international flavor. The amateur astronomical "get-to-together"allows participants to meet and share observing ideas, astro-imaging techniques, as well as find out what's new in the hobby. WSP offers a stellar daily line-up of speakers who are experts in their particular field. WSP is held under the auspices of the Southern Cross Astronomical Society of Miami. This not -for-profit organization funnels proceeds from this event toward public education projects, scholarship programs, humanitarian needs and Girl Scout Camp improvements.


Established in 1984, the Annual WINTER STAR PARTY is held in the Florida Keys, and hosted by the Southern Cross Astronomical Society (SCAS), Inc., of Miami, Florida.

During a new moon week each February, approximately 650 amateur astronomers from around the world travel to the warm subtropics of the Florida Keys to enjoy nightly observing in 360º of clear steady night skies, exchange information and advice on the hobby, meet SCAS members and distinguished guest speakers, shop for astronomical equipment from the finest vendors in the country, participate in photo contests & workshops, go sightseeing in the "Conch Republic", and record the awesome beauty sparkling in the southern night skies.

Traveling To
The Star Party

Getting to the WSP is easy.

From the Miami International Airport, it's 45 minutes on the Florida Turnpike south, followed by two hours on scenic Highway US-1 down the Florida Keys. Connecting flights to Key West are also available, reducing driving time to under an hour. Marathon Airport offers scheduled airline service to and from Fort Myers, Fl on Continental Airlines (in partnership with Cape Air). Marathon Airport started this new service in 2008. We advise you NOT to make non-refundable travel plans until you have received confirmation of your registration.

to Stay

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The Girl Scout Campground has plenty of room for tent camping and a limited amount of room for RVs (see registration form for prices). Bunks are also available. Each Tent sleeps six. The campground has showers and clean bathrooms, but this is not a resort and facilities are rustic. If you prefer to stay off-site, there are several hotels on neighboring Keys (look for accommodations in Big Pine or Marathon). Remember, the WSP is held during the peak of tourist season in the Keys, so reserve as soon as possible after you receive confirmation (AKA WSP Ticket) of your attendance. For information on area accommodations and recreational activities, call 1-800-FLA-KEYS or see The Official Florida Keys web site.

Star Party

Register Early to Ensure Your Spot

Please contact the Winter Star Party Registrars at or call 386-362-5995 if you have any questions about registration. The 2018 WSP Registration Notification Postcards will be sent out in early September 2016.