Crystal Coast Star Party 2023

Mark your calendars now – the Crystal Coast Star Party 2023 is planned for April 21 & 22, 2023!!! Starlight cruises, NASA speakers, Solar System Ambassadors and the beautiful dark skies of Cape Lookout National Seashore – a great way to celebrate International Dark Sky Week!!! 

Whether you’re an astronomer setting up a telescope or a guest simply coming to enjoy the night sky, we request that all guests please register in advance so we can have an accurate headcount.  

Schedule of Events:

Friday, April 21
4:00 Exoplanets, Acquiring Transit Light Curves

Dr. Anthony Norris, Member of the NASA /JPL Exoplanet Watch Group
7:00 Starlight Cruise to Cape Lookout Lighthouse (returns to Visitor Center by 9:45)
Island Express Ferry Service
7:30 Public Stargazing
Stargazing field behind the Cape Lookout National Seashore Visitor Center

Saturday, April 22

1:00 NC SciFest Statewide Star Party Activities for Kids — Celebrating the Night Sky
State Ranger Paul Terry & Crystal Coast Stargazers
4:00 Cosmology — The Beginning of the Universe
Dr. Dominic Benford, NASA Program Scientist for the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope
7:00 Starlight Cruise to Cape Lookout Lighthouse (returns to Visitor Center by 9:45)
Island Express Ferry Service
7:30 Public Stargazing
Stargazing field behind the Cape Lookout Visitor Center

All events are free except for the starlight cruises. Starlight cruises are by reservation only. Ferry passengers will disembark at the lighthouse for a laser pointed tour of the night sky by a NASA Solar System Ambassador. Ferry will return to the VC at 9:45 PM.
For reservations call—252-728-7433
Cruise tickets: Adults—$27.00, children (3-11) — $17.00.
Speaker/presentations will be in the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum Education Hall (museum is adjacent to the park). SciFest kid activities will be held inside and out of the Cape Lookout National Seashore Visitor Center.
Note: Ferry cruises and stargazing is weather dependent. In the event of inclement weather, there will be astronomy programs/presentations inside.


Harkers Island has a number of locally owned efficiencies and rentals some of which are waterfront. Beaufort, Morehead City and Atlantic Beach communities are just a short drive away and have numerous hotels, motels and cottage rentals. The Beaufort Hotel is one of the newest and is the closest hotel to the event.

List of accommodations:

Roses Vacation Rentals – 252-732-4208
Couple of small efficiencies and also has 2 RV/camper sites

Seaside Rentals – 252-241-9229
3 – 2-bedroom units
Minimum 2 nights

Cape Lookout Bed & Breakfast – 252-728-3662
2 rooms each with private baths

Don & Linda Haith – 919-452-3857 (L) or 919-452-3856 (D)
1– 1 room efficiency; 2 – 2-bedroom efficiencies

Harkers Island Fishing Center Motel & Marina – 252-728-3907
19 rooms – $80 per 2 people per night

Sarah Cruisie – 252-241-0663
Cottage with 1 queen bed, sofa pull-out queen size and 1 double bed

Wild Rose Cottage
House that sleeps 10 comfortably; 3 bedrooms and 2 baths

Core Sound Lodge – 252-247-7610
(Note: Handled by Spectrum Properties and they have 7 other houses on the Island)

Cape Pointe Marina and Ferry Service – 252-728-6181
1 room – 2 double beds

2440 Lennoxville Road
Beaufort, NC 28516
(252) 728-3000

Event Hosts:


Event Sponsors:



To learn more about our Sponsors be sure to visit their website.

Crystal Coast Tourism Authority

Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center

Island Express Ferry Service

Carteret County Chamber of Commerce

About the Speakers

Anthony Norris
Friday, 4:00 PM
Exoplanets, Acquiring Transit Curves

This program is an introduction to the techniques and equipment necessary to obtain photometry data from exoplanet transits using CCD/CMOS cameras and typical amateur telescopes. This program is designed for everyday amateur astronomers wishing to contribute valuable data to this exciting field. The exoplanet community is a new frontier for amateurs.

Anthony got his first telescope at the age of 10 — and was hooked. For decades he used a Meade 6 inch with setting circles and paper charts. Currently he uses a Celestron 925 Edge HD with ZWO equipment on a concrete pier.

Anthony was a hobbyist visual observer until last year when he joined the NASA/JPL Exoplanet Watch Group as a Citizen Scientist. He has reduced 30 data sets of the Center for Astrophysics Harvard/Smithsonian MicroObservatory Robotic Telescope Network and about 30 sets of his own observations. Two dozen of his observations were of sufficient
accuracy to be included in the Exoplanet Watch ephemeris for exoplanets.

Dominic Benford
Saturday, 4:00 PM
The Beginning of Our Universe

People have been gazing into the night for all of history and before. To us, the universe is mostly dark and static. Over eons, though, it has been changing in ways both large and small. Large, in that the cosmic web of galaxy clusters has been coalescing and collapsing to leave voids a hundred million light years across. Small, in that individual planets have been forming by the billions in solar systems throughout our galaxy. When I was born, we didn’t know these things. During my lifetime, I expect we will understand not just the past, but the future of our universe, and whether the conditions for life exist elsewhere out there. We have only to gaze into the night sky a little more.

Dominic joined NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland in 2001. He has been at NASA Headquarters in the Astrophysics Division since 2013, where he is the Program Scientist for the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, the top priority mission recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences in 2010. The mission will conduct major surveys in the near-infrared to answer fundamental questions on the nature of dark energy, the distribution of dark matter, the occurrence of planets around other stars, and will enable the direct imaging of exoplanetary systems.

Dominic’s astronomical research interests are in extragalactic astrophysics and cosmology, with an emphasis on the formation and evolution of galaxies and their stars. His sincere wish is that the vast wealth of data from the Roman Space Telescope will inspire astronomers everywhere, professional and amateur alike, to study the heavens in ways never before possible.