FAQ

Even More Frequently Asked Questions If you’ve never attended as star party before, or if you’ve never been to NSP before, check out this page. We’ve tried to include answers to questions most people ask.
Question: I’m new to astronomy, and don’t have a telescope. What activities or opportunities are available for me at NSP?

Answer:  A Beginner’s Field School is available to help you find your way around the sky.  Over three days, these two hour classes will focus on a new skill each day, then each evening the students will be prepared to practice and fine tune those new skills.  You’ll find that many attendees with widely differing equipment will be happy to show you their scopes and talk with you about astronomy.  This is a great way to learn what kind of equipment you favor when you eventually do invest in a scope.  If you don’t have a telescope, you might want to bring a pair of binoculars, which are common and quite affordable.  We recommend binoculars labeled 7×50 as a good starting point, though if you already own a different pair, don’t let that keep you from enjoying the night sky!

Question: Where can I stay if I’m not interested in camping?

Answer: There are a number of motels, Bed & Breakfast inns, and RV spaces available in the area, most of which are in the county seat of Valentine, 27 miles north of Merritt Reservoir.  There are a limited number of trailer spaces with hook-ups available at Merritt Resort as well as in Cedar Bay Campground north of the observing field.  See our lodging page for more info.

Question: Where can I buy food and supplies?

Answer: The Merritt Trading Post at Merritt Resort is located on Highway 97 adjacent to the dam at the north end of the reservoir.  It is impossible to miss as it is the only developed area near the lake.   It has a convience store with a number of common food items, fishing tackle, bait, state licenses, gas, etc.  It is the only source of these items at the reservoir.  Valentine (27 miles to the north) is the nearest town to offer several major grocery stores and stores for other necessities.

Question: What kind of restroom facilities are at the campground?

Answer: Snake Campground and the Observing Field offer only vault toilets (modern outhouses, though without running water).  Shower facilities are available at Cedar Bay Campground (between Merritt Resort and the Observing Field) as well as at Merritt Resort.   These are coin-operated facilities that take quarters.

Question: Is electricity available at the observing site?

Answer: No electricity is available at the observing site.  Most people bring car or marine deep cycle batteries to power their equipment.

Question: What’s the best way to get to NSP?

Answer: See our driving directions on the site info page.

Question: I’ll be arriving late… will I be able to find a place to camp and set up my scope?

Answer: The observing field covers about 20 acres.  You will have no problem finding a place to set up no matter when you arrive.  But be sure to observe lighting restrictions if arriving after dark, parking in the “Early Bird” Parking area with lights aimed away from the observation fields.  See the arial view of the site below.

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