October 15 – 18
Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort
221 Palm Canyon Dr.
Borrego Springs, CA 92004
It’s difficult to say with any certainty what will happen by October and what it will mean for Nightfall. We hope things are back to normal enough such that we can continue with and enjoy our beloved annual star party. For now, we are moving forward and planning as though the 2020 Nightfall will happen and will be similar to Nightfalls of years past. The organizers will evaluate the situation in early August and, if necessary, will take appropriate actions to ensure the safety of all staff and attendees. Should guidance from health authorities limit our proposed activities, we will change plans to comply. This means we may need to cancel certain activities or even the entire event. Once the August decisions are made, and assuming Nightfall goes on, we will be compliant with the latest guidance from health officials. But, between now and then, you may make your hotel/RV reservations and register for the imaging workshop.
Since there is no registration for the Nightfall star party activities (other than the imaging workshop), we have no way to contact you to advise you of changes. Any such changes will be posted on this site. We recommend you check back here occasionally for updates. The hosting facility, the Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort, may reach out to those with hotel or RV reservations if decisions from health officials impact those reservations.
If Nightfall does continue as planned, DO NOT attend if you have any flu-like symptoms, have tested positive for COVID-19, or have any other reason to suspect that you may be ill with coronavirus or any other potentially serious illness, especially if it is contagious. In any event, be considerate of others by always covering coughs and sneezes, keeping a reasonable distance from others, and washing your hands with soap and water regularly. It doesn’t hurt to keep a face mask and hand sanitizer within reach… and stop touching your face so much! 🙂
Now, on to the regular stuff…!
Nightfall is a different kind of star party. There is no separate admission fee. To attend, simply contact the Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort (contact info is above), tell them you want to attend the Nightfall Star Party, and complete your reservation with them. We add a nominal charge for each night of your stay, which helps us offset our expenses. Other than that, there is no separate fee to attend the star party. Once the hotel confirms your reservation, you are confirmed to attend Nightfall (assuming your hotel reservation dates coincide with the Nightfall dates, of course).
If you want to attend just for the day to look around, no problem—show up and do just that! Stay into the night* to get spectacular views of the planets, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies—all for free! Please keep in mind that this is a hotel and RV resort. You are not permitted to stay over night unless you have made a reservation with the hotel and paid for a room or RV space.
The only fees associated with Nightfall are for lodging (hotel room or RV space) and the premium workshops.
Call the Palm Canyon Resort directly (at the number shown above) and let them know you’re reserving a room and/or RV spot for the Nightfall Star Party. Be sure to mention Nightfall to avoid being told everything is already reserved. Hotel rooms for Nightfall go quickly. We highly recommend that you reserve your accommodations prior to June or July, if not sooner.
Lodging options include: staying in a hotel room, RV camping in a space you reserved, tent camping in an RV space you reserved, staying at a nearby hotel or RV park, or attending just for the day. All lodging and/or RV camping fees are the responsibility of the attendee and are paid directly to the resort. If you decide to attend Nightfall but wish to lodge elsewhere, you may still setup your equipment at Nightfall. Its security is your responsibility as the RAS and the Palm Canyon Hotel take no responsibility for any damage or theft to your unattended equipment.
You may attend Nightfall for just 1 night* or up to 5 nights*. Or, as mentioned above, you can just stop by for the day and into the night for no fee.* Many people make Nightfall an annual vacation and stay from Wednesday through Sunday or even until Monday. Nightfall typically offers sunny autumn days with mild temperatures—great for exploring the surrounding Anza-Borrego Desert State Park or just hanging out at the hotel’s pools and hot tubs.
Since your room or RV space reservation is your Nightfall “registration,” the Riverside Astronomical Society will not send you any emails, snail mail, or any other communications regarding your reservation at the Resort. Again, please call the Resort directly to make your reservation, and be sure your reserved dates coincide with the dates of the Nightfall Star Party.
This website will be updated with information regarding workshops and presentations as it becomes available, so be sure to check the Workshops page often, especially as the Star Party dates get closer.
Tent camping is permitted in the RV spaces. You must reserve an RV space to setup a tent. The RV spaces are level, hard-packed dirt/sand. As with RV camping, a power outlet and water spigot are available to you. Be sure to bring an outlet adapter if you plan to use electricity at your campsite. It’s also a good idea to bring an outdoor extension cord and a surge-protected power strip. Do not use stakes to secure your tent as the septic tanks are only a few inches below ground level!
If you can’t or don’t want to book a room or RV space at the Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort, you are still welcome to stop in for the day to attend some of the free talks and to stick around into the night to look through some telescopes. We simply ask that you:
One thing the Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort does not lack is space! There is plenty of room for you to set up your telescope equipment in your RV space (if you reserved one) or in one of the common areas. Once set up, please be diligent about securing your equipment from weather and theft. Although we’ve never had a problem with theft at Nightfall, a small, easily-swiped piece of equipment left in plain view may be tempting to an unsavory passerby. It’s best to cover your scope during the day and to move smaller items into your tent, RV, car or hotel room when they’re not in use. Get to know your neighbors and ask if they’re willing to keep on eye on your things when you have to step away. Securing or stowing your equipment and a good “neighborhood watch” policy are the best defenses against theft.
Do not set up telescope equipment in the parking areas that are not specifically designated for telescopes. They should only be set up in the observing area (south of the main hotel building), the imaging zone (on the east end of the property), or in your reserved RV space.
The Palm Canyon Hotel has a restaurant and bar on-site! Other dining arrangements include bringing your own food and/or visiting one of the many Borrego Springs dining establishments.
Nightfall is held in autumn each year on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, typically around late October or early November. Thursday is usually arrival day for those who want an early start. On Friday there are more arrivals and we have a welcome gathering on the porch of the main building in the early evening. By Saturday, most people have arrived or are arriving. We host a beginner’s sky tour that evening along with some other presentations and announcements at the outdoor amphitheater. Other activities include a potluck BBQ dinner on Saturday evening, astronomy-related presentations throughout Friday and Saturday, and we might even have an ice cream social Saturday night.
The Riverside Astronomical Society hosts a premium workshop on astro-imaging during the day on Saturday. There are also several free workshops and presentations throughout Friday and Saturday. Check the workshops page frequently for updated information on presenters and topics.
Other than that, feel free to relax at the pools, hike a trail in the state park, drive around to see Ricardo Breceda’s amazing metal sculptures, or just sleep in after a long night of imaging or observing.
On Saturday morning, from 8-10AM, there may be a swap meet where you can sell your used astronomy gear and make a couple bucks! Maybe it’s time to sell that eyepiece you never use, those books and charts you swore you were going to get around to some day, and that red flashlight that was number 36 in your collection. The Swap Meet is held in the picnic/BBQ area on the west end of the property. The swap meet may be cancelled due to weather and/or interest. Please check the program schedule when checking in.
In this day and age, we still can’t predict the weather with much accuracy for more than a few days at a time! Generally speaking, the weather at Nightfall is quite favorable with daytime highs in the 80s-90s and clear skies. Wind does occasionally kick up but usually only during the day. The weather does vary from year to year though, of course. We like to think that Nightfall is a great opportunity to have fun with family, friends, and fellow astronomers regardless of the weather. And if the weather turns out to be good, even better!