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OzSky Testimonials from Past Attendees

 Gordon Pegue | Albuquerque, New Mexico
Email: | Tel: +1 (505) 206-7954

"This was my second OzSky & it was vastly enjoyable. In addition to the scenic beauty of the site (I'm from the desert SW) and the great selection of telescopes to use, the small group size made for a very intimate experience.

Combined with the splendor of the southern Milky Way floating high in the sky - a naked eye visual treat - along with all the delicious objects we cannot observe from here in the states, well, I'll just say that this star party is THE star party to attend!

The accomodations on-site, the friendliness of the volunteers and the fact that you simply do not have to deal with telescope logistics makes OzSky a fabulous bargain for the visual observer! I'll be back!!

Gordon." (G.P. 2019)

 Jarek Pillardy | Ithaca, New York
Email: | Tel: +1 (607) 342-8881

"5-Stars all round. Excellent value for money!.

Keep doing what you are doing. THANK YOU!

Jarek." (J.P. 2019)

 Bob Seeley | Newfield, New York
Email: | Tel: +1 (607) 564-1873

"Even better than expected. Fantastic location, variety of telescopes and friendly hosts. Great value for money, and the duration of seven nights was just right. Overall, it is "Over the Rainbow".

Astro Week of a Lifetime :-) Thanks!

Bob." (R.D.S. 2019)

 Jarek Pillardy | Benicia, California
Email: | Tel: +1 (707) 771-0251

"5-Stars all round. Loved the Eye Candy sessions and the guided Sky Tours.

Thank you Lachlan for a Great week!

Dennis & Barbara." (D/B.B. 2019)

 Vello Tabur | Waniassa, ACT (Australia)

"My recent trip to Coonabarabran to attend the 25th annual OzSky Star Safari (www.ozsky.org). It's a week-long star party held on the grounds of the Warrumbungles Mountain Motel on Timor Road, not far from the AAO. Although it's primarily intended for international visitors wishing to observe the southern skies through large telescopes, there's no reason why hard-core locals should miss out. We are, in fact, welcomed with open arms by the locals running the event.

While there are various daytime activities such as talks, walks and observatory visits, the main attractions are the very dark and steady skies. The volunteer hosts, led by Lachlan MacDonald, set up and maintain an arsenal of huge telescopes, including a 30" SDM dob, 2 x 25" Obsession Classics, 4 x 18" Obsession Classics and Ultra Compacts, a 14" SDM dob with Zambuto optics, and a Sky Rover chair fitted with a pair of 6" Fujinon binoculars! All scopes are shared and a strict limit of 36 guests ensures that everyone gets plenty of access. In practice, I found that the group thins out by midnight, with only the die-hard observers left in the wee, small hours. They average about 5 clear nights per event, so photon fatigue also takes its toll as the week rolls on.

There were so many observing highlights, I'm not sure where to begin! To name but a few:

  • my very first view was of NGC 1566 in Dorado, a face-on spiral. Through a 25" scope, at first glance, several, delicate spiral arms were immediately obvious! This was not an isolated case. Spiral arms were also observed in NGC 1365 is Fornax, NGC 2442 ("The Meathook") in Volans, M83 of course, and NGC 5248 in Bootes.
  • The sky was so dark and transparent that both the Rosette nebulosity and Dark Doodad were easily visible in my 10x50s.
  • Several galaxy clusters were observed, including the Hydra I cluster, Abell 1060, and Copeland's Septet in Leo. The latter is composed of 14th and 15th magnitude galaxies, with the brightest member being mV ~ 13.6.
  • The Spiral Planetary in Musca (NGC 5189) was outstanding in the 30" with an OIII filter, giving a 3D appearance with two S-shaped fingers of nebulosity overlaid, one brighter than the other, in an hourglass shape.
  • M17 showed knots and mottling in the main bar, and a new feature I'd never seen before - a hook-shaped appendage at the other end of the nebula opposite the swan's neck.
  • The Little Tarantula was amazing with a UHC filter, showing many nebulous patches throughout the field of a 31mm Nagler.
  • All the features of Thor's Helmet were easy, as was Thor's beard, which was a long obvious, appendage usually only seen on photographs.
  • I spent about half an hour meandering through the Virgo cluster with the 30" until I tired of "shooting fish in a barrel" and sought a new challenge.
  • The "Pencil", part of the Vela SNR, was complete with the broom-like, outer regions that resemble a witch's broom.
  • Although I did not observe the planets, other than a brief glimpse at the end of the night (to avoid ruining my dark adaption), some observers reported detail visible within Jupiter's GRS, and Mars easily showed the polar cap and dark markings despite a diameter of only 9 arcsec.
  • Of the eye-candy objects, the Homunculus was a favourite, showing dark markings on the lobes, just like the Hubble photographs, and 47 Tuc showed a beautiful golden-yellow hue.
  • The Milky Way cast obvious shadows, and one keen-eyed observer even reported seeing the Gegenschein.

All the scopes are fitted with an Argo Navis DTC, which makes finding targets exceptionally easy, and all come with 2 or 3 TeleVue eyepieces (generally Naglers). The only thing you need to bring is your enthusiasm, some observing lists, and perhaps a few filters. They certainly are not necessary, but do make certain objects 'pop', even under those dark skies.

The motel is booked out for the event, which allows the application of strict "dark" provisions after 7pm. The rooms have cooking facilities and the proprietor, Sally, provides reasonably-priced evening meals at 5 pm, for those wanting an easy option. An added convenience was the on-site accommodation, meaning that at the end of the night, one just walks a few metres to stumble into bed, only to sleep in late, and do it all again the following night!

Vello." (V.T. 2018)

 Brad Young | Tulsa, Oklahoma

"I have been to 3 classics and 1 southern spring [Alumni] version. I'm also a veteran of many other star parties, with 10 years at Okie-Tex, and I'm an AL Platinum level observer.

I'm hardcore as it gets, and Lachlan and the crew are the most professional, courteous, hands down best team you'll ever have a chance to observe with. They are a credit to their nation and a gift to amateur astronomy.

Get off yer butt and go see the Southern Sky!!!

Brad." (B.Y. 2017)

 Howard Ritter | Fuquay Varina, North Carolina

"BONZER, not always in this order:

  2. The staff, led by Lachlan MacDonald.
  3. The location, in deep and dark rural Australia.
  4. The array of telescopes and helpful volunteers/sky guides.
  5. The simple hominess of the Warrumbungles Mountain Motel and Sally, the Boss Lady.
  6. Great, well-organized talks, day trips to observatories, and other activities. (I promise my ankles will be up to doing a 5-hour hike next year!)
  8. Andrew Murrell's big voice booming across the observing field out of the dark with Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".
  9. The fellowship among the participants and the staff.
  11. I mean, it's Oz, innit, Mate!
  12. Andrew's tutorial in scatological Aussie vernacular...
  13. John Bambury's incredible regional accent (what IS it, anyway??).

Bonzer, an' at's fair dinkum!

NOT bonzer:

  1. No blackout curtains on some room windows, especially the bathroom! Have you ever had to "drop the kids at the pool" in the middle of the night and clean up after them without turning on the light???
  2. Uhh, sorry, I got nuthin' else.

Howard." (H.R. 2017)

 Mike Hotka | Broomfield, Colorado

"What an incredible adventure. Being at OzSky exceeded all my initial expectations by offering so much more than I ever expected. I was relieved to find a sharing group of people. In sharing telescope time with others, I found myself viewing more objects than were on my personal list. And I got to meet and discuss observing techniques with other observers, which was an unexpected treat and very cool.

I had to keep pinching myself all week to make sure all of this was happening, for traveling to Australia and viewing the southern sky through a telescope was a dream come true for me. My first night at OzSky, as the sky darkened and I got my first glimpse of Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the Southern Cross and the Coalsack nebula, I finally realized what an incredible venue OzSky really is. It brings people from all over the world to this particular location, provides state of the art telescopes for us to use and dedicated volunteers to ensure you get the most out of the week, whatever your preferences are. It doesn’t get any better than this.

The great volunteer staff made this event a success. They were friendly and went out of their way to make the week very enjoyable. I noticed them examining the equipment during the day to ensure it would operate properly each evening. They were knowledgeable of the southern sky and offered many tips on what to view and what specifically to see in particular objects, like the Homunculus, inside Eta Carina.

For the evening meals, you had 3 or more entrees [mains] to choose from every night. Unlike other star parties I have attended, with only one menu item per meal where it is ‘you either take it or leave it?style of dining.

The opening and closing evening BBQs were fantastic. Enough food for seconds and the meat was grilled to perfection.

Lachlan, I wish to thank you for all you do to make OzSky happen. Your dedication and hard work was apparent because of how smoothly the week went. You have a great volunteer staff supporting the event, but it is your leadership that came shining through.

Thank you again for an experience I’ll never forget.

The best advertising is word of mouth from satisfied customers?I AM SATISFIED!!!

Mike" (M.H. 2016)

 Alex Langoussis | Acworth, Georgia

"We just wanted to say THANK YOU! It is obvious you've put in a lot of thought and hard work to make OzSky a premier event, and the results were superb. Given that no star party can control the weather, a few cloudy nights did not detract from what I consider to be the best star party in the world.

I will be writing an article for our Astronomy Club newsletter when I return to the U.S. that will hopefully encourage others to visit OzSky.

If you are reading this it probably means that you have a strong interest in astronomy. If that is the case, then you owe it to yourself at some point to travel south to see the best the night sky has to offer. OzSky offers you a wonderfully easy and comfortable way to do this. Put it on your bucket list, then do it. (Then put it back on your bucket list!) You will not regret it.

Again, many thanks for all your efforts; I think you still have no idea the impact you make on people's lives each year by putting together this event!

Alex & Nelda" (A.L. 2015)

 Dragan Nikin | Chicago, Illinois

"I want to reiterate what everyone else is saying. OzSky was hands down the best star party I have ever attended. Irrelevant of hemisphere.

From the center of our galaxy overhead to the selflessness of the volunteers, everything was planned and executed with the guest in mind. I couldn't have felt more welcomed.

Thank you to everyone, volunteers as well as other guests, for making this a very memorable trip. I have made new friends and reinforced old friends. I am grateful.

To sum up the experience in three words: "I'll be back!"

Dragan" (D.N. 2014)

 Dave Kriege | Johnson Creek, Wisconsin
Email: | Tel: +1 (920) 699-5571

"Kudos to Lachlan, Tony, Gary, John, Andrew, et al. OzSky is THE premo star party, second to none. It's my fav. I'll be back for my fifth visit with my mates under the southern stars very soon.

DAVE K" (D.K. 2014)

 Paul Alsing & Debbie Searle | Encinitas, California
Email: & | Tel: +1 (858) 254-0429

"Debbie & I want to chime in here and extend our congratulations and thanks to the entire volunteer staff of OzSky 2014. Because of the unselfish donation of your time and effort to this event, we were able to enjoy the fabulous southern skies with a minimum of fuss on our part. All we had to do was just show up and observe, and we want to make sure that you all understand just how much we appreciate your dedication to amateur observers from around the world to make this possible... and then do it year after year! And, on top of this, were the tours and other daytime activities provided.

We last visited in 2005, where we met many wonderful fellow-observers, and we were treated to a repeat performance in 2014, again meeting more fine fellow-observers and creating lasting memories and making new friends while renewing several old friendships. We have promised ourselves that we shall return yet again, the year, however, is TBD.

We had an uneventful flight home, but it is still strange to leave Sydney Sunday afternoon and walk through our own front door Sunday morning!

Congratulations to all of you for a job well done.

- Paul Alsing & Debbie Searle" (P.A & D.S. 2014)

 John Hoey | San Diego, California
Email: | Tel: +1 (858) 243-0362

"The only word that comes close to describing the sky and our hosts is Oz-some!

I felt privileged to be in one one of the darkest skies in the world among so many knowledgeable and friendly people and hosted by the most gracious people I have ever met.

The fact that our hosts provide such an exceptional experience as volunteers shows a level of dedication and enthusiasm for astronomy one rarely sees anywhere.

I am proud to call you my friends and look forward to seeing all of you again down under.

John" (J.H. 2014)

 Bob Rose | Savannah, Georgia
Email: | Tel: +1 (912) 925-2124

"I want to thank all those that helped with OzSky 2014.

It had to be a Herculean effort to pull such a feat off. This was the best event/ star party I have ever been lucky enough to attend.

A real treat. Y’all gave the kind of service that a 5 star resort would envy. Scope were setup, collimated and eyepieces installed. We only had to observe. In some cases you guys even found the object and placed them in the FOV.

The southern skies have so much more eye candy than does the northern hemisphere. My retinas greatly enjoyed the sweet taste of the photons of those southern objects including the not so mainstream DSO’s.

I will definitely be making a return trip. Thanks Again, Bob Rose" (B.R. 2014)

 Paul Winalski | Merrimack, New Hampshire
Tel: +1 (603) 886-7670

"This [OzSky 2014] was my fourth OzSky event. And I have to say it was the best of the four!

This was my first OzSky since the Warrumbungles Mountain Motel changed ownership. The new owners clearly have taken pains to spruce up the motel. Sally and Dick provided us flawless and worry-free accommodations. One couldn't ask for more.

Most of all I want to thank our 3RF Australia hosts. I expected Lachlan and his team to provide us with a flawless observing experience, and I wasn't disappointed. The prospect of coordinating an event such as this, for so many observers, and observers of such a caliber, is daunting. And the prime measure of any infrastructure arrangement of this sort is that, if it's a complete success, nobody knows that it's happened.

And so it was with OzSky 2014. The logistics were flawless.

And then there's the plus factor. Our organizers weren't content with just providing us with a flawless and effortless observing opportunity. And I saw first hand during the day all their blood and sweat to make sure that the scopes were collimated and otherwise working for our observing. They also were unstinting in helping us to find and appreciate all that the Southern Sky can offer. Eye candy to faint fuzzies.

We also has exceptionally transparent and steady skies, even for Coona.

I personally had three observing experiences this time around, any one of which would have made the whole trip worthwhile:

  1. I have been trying to see Sirius B for ten years. I've had no luck in New Hampshire. I'd tried to find Sirius B in each of my past three OzSky visits, with no luck. Note to other observers: DON'T ever look at Sirius in a 30" scope for over a minute. It's worse than shining a penlight flashlight into your eyes. But this time, in a 18" Obsession, at long last I found the Pup. Verified by John Bambury and others.

  2. An exceptional view of the Homonculus Nebula surrounding Eta Carinae. I've noted in the past that this object is the only one that resembles its Hubble Telescope image. It more than resembled its Hubble view this week. It was at least as detailed, if not more, in the eyepiece of the 25" Obsession. I've seen this object on my three previous visits to OzSky, but never before like this.

  3. I saw far and away the best view of Mars that I've ever seen in my life. Never before have I seen such detail. My one regret of the trip is that I didn't also observe Saturn, which I'm told offered similarly exceptional views.

I had ranked my previous three OzSky events as the three prime events of my observing career. This one has exceeded those three.

So, again, I thank our Oz hosts for all their efforts to make this event a total success from my point of view. I will definitely be back.

Clear skies, Paul W." (P.W. 2014)

 Van Robinson | Limpia Crossing - Fort Davis, Texas
Email: | Tel: +1 (432) 426-9018

"I have been to the OzSky Star Safari four times. The splendors of the Southern skies were wonderful. All the people involved with putting on the star party were very helpful indeed, and things absolutely could not have been better.

These were the best star parties that I have ever been to. I would highly recommend them to anyone.

I would be very happy to have people contact me, and to answer their questions.

Sincerely, Van Robinson" (V.R. 2013)

 John Huntsberger | Austin, Texas
Email: | Tel: +1 (512) 656-2038

"If you are an amateur astronomer and want to observe the southern skies, you must go. It will be a lifetime combination of serious astronomy and experiencing a country unlike anything here in America including the people, scenery and food! Those who help with all the astronomy, housing, and traveling to local points of interest near the observing site are amongst the most friendly, patient, and knowledgeable persons I've ever known. The telescopes that are provided are probably larger in aperture than the one(s) you own.

My first look at the dark skies put me in awe and I just sat down on the ground observing. An Australian person came by and asked if I were O.K.? Being in awe of the bright Milky Way, the Large and Small Magellanic 'Clouds', just overwhelmed me. I couldn't move. Reading a page with 16 Font by the light of the Milky Way was more than I had ever experienced.

I have been there four years and am planning on returning in 2014." (J.H. 2013)

 Lee Goggin | Tucson, Arizona
Email: | Tel: +1 (520) 742-3287 | Cell: +1 (520) 300-0044

"If you have ever dreamed about seeing the southern skies (and what right-thinking amateur astronomer has not), then I certainly recommend this star party to you.

For me, the major problem with going to the southern hemisphere to observe has been the difficulties involved in taking a scope along. This star party provides great equipment - several 18" scopes as well as a 30" plus a fantastic binoviewer, I believe all having Argo Navis and ServoCat, all well maintained and collimated.

It also provides a nice place to observe, a motel being adjacent to the viewing site so that you can step out the back door and be in the observing area. There are really capable volunteers from 3RF Australia to show you eye-candy if you wish, or you can use your own observing lists.

I actually have gone twice to Australia for the OzSky Star Safari, and I couldn't have been more pleased with the whole experience. The skies are wonderful at Coonabarabran; there is a fortunate mix of dry clear skies with both good transparency and good seeing.

Activity is provided in the daytime for a non-astronomer spouse, including birding, tours, and hikes - if you really want to be sleep-deprived you can join in.

Strongly recommended! Lee Goggin" (L.G. 2013)

 Mark Lyon | Austin, Texas
Email: |

"The remarkable southern skies are seen clearly in Coonabarabran, New South Wales - through telescopes that do the skies justice (see the list, you won't be disappointed).

The OzSky Star Safari offers the interested amateur astronomer a fantastic opportunity to see wonders of the sky Down Under, with friendly Aussie hosts and congenial fellow travelers.

Besides, Sydney has much to offer tourists - all in all, a great trip. I have read the testimonials of the others on this page - and they are telling the truth.

Not to be missed!" (M.L. 2013)

 David Hofland | Centre, Alabama
Email: |

"For those contemplating making the trip for the first time, I too will add my testimony that the southern sky is magnificent and Warrumbungles is a terrific venue to enjoy it.

The 3RF staff are true professionals, the hotel is comfortable and peaceful, the food is great, the telescopes, eyepieces, equipment are top notch. I'm looking forward to returning in 2015." (D.H. 2013)

 Paul Winalski | Merrimack, New Hampshire
Tel: +1 (603) 886-7670

"I'm ETERNALLY, ETERNALLY in your debt for allowing me the privilege of seeing the wonders of the Southern Sky!!! My employer gives me a 8-week sabbatical leave every seven years, and I was eligible to take that time in February 2009. I'd been planning for years to include a week's solid observing of southern skies in Australia. The fly in the ointment was the logistics. Where should I go, to insure clear, dark skies? And more importantly, how do I insure access to a telescope at least as good as what I have at home--a 14" truss-tube Dob? Access to a good telescope was the real rub.

I'd decided long ago that shipping my own scope to Oz was just not feasible, from both a cost and time perspective. I'd resigned myself to buying a 14" telescope in Australia, then selling it afterwards on E-Bay or elsewhere. And going to Alice Springs for observing. Then I discovered the existence of the DSTSS ["Deepest South Texas Star Safari", now known as "The OzSky Star Safari"]

*** WHAT A GODSEND!!! *** This was exactly, EXACTLY, what I was looking for!! You provide the venue and scopes (and far better ones than I could EVER have hoped for, if I did this on my own!).

I was worried, as I know you are, that the event would be a complete wash-out, given the drizzly weather we had the first two days.

But then the skies cleared and we had six absolutely glorious nights of observing. I would have considered it well worth the journey just for the first night's observing. In fact, I'd say the sightseeing in Sydney made the trip worthwhile. The rest was all gravy.

I'm going to be back next year, if I possibly can!!" (P.W. 2009)

Register Now to secure your place at one of these unique OzSky Star Safaris.

OzSky "Alumni" Star Safari (read more...)

Can't make it to the "Classic" OzSky Star Safari in March/April? - Or have you already been to several "Classic" OzSky Star Safaris and you're now looking for a different time of year to explore the other half of the Southern night skies?

Why not consider an OzSky "Alumni" Star Safari for your next observing trip!

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