The Almost Heaven Star Party organizing team is pleased to announce that early registration for the 2012 event is now open to NOVAC members. General registration will open on May 1.

AHSP 2012 begins on Friday, August 17 and ends the morning of Tuesday, August 21. The timing of this year’s event allows participants to enjoy four observing nights.

Registration fees remain unchanged from last year. Registration costs $80 for the first participant (this will rise to $100 on July 1). Additional adults sharing the same campsite are $40. Registration for children under 12 is free. NOVAC members receive a $10 discount for the first registrant when using the code or link supplied below.

The Mountain Institute’s tasty and creative hot meals will once again be available as an option for those who would like them. Rising labor and supply costs have forced us to raise pricing a bit to $35/day (adults) and $25/day (children). Neither we nor The Mountain Institute wanted to do this, but we still think meals are a very good value.

Assignments to an observing field are on a first-come, first-served basis, though–so register early to ensure that your location of choice is available!

We will once again offer the opportunity to take a tour on the Cass Mountain Scenic Railroad, a historic steam-powered rail line that offers a 4.5-hour scenic tour high in the West Virginia Mountains. The tour will be offered on Saturday, August 18.

The popular NRAO (National Radio Astronomy Observatory) tour will once again be available on Sunday, August 19. The tour will offer behind-the-scenes access (including a tour of the control room) not available on the public tour. In addition, a small group will be able to do hands-on radiotelescope observing in the evening, using a 40-foot dish under the tutelage of NRAO staff.

A caving tour will be offered this year on Monday, August 20. We haven’t been able to offer this for the last several years, and are very pleased to be able to offer it once again.

We once again expect to have a terrific program of speakers and hands-on instruction; we’ll post this information on the AHSP website just as soon as details are finalized.

AHSP is run by a dedicated cadre of volunteers. As always, there are an enormous number of tasks to be completed in order to make an event of this size happen. If you’re interested in helping out this year, please let me know by reply email. We’ll be having our next organizing meeting on Wednesday, May 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Fairfax, VA; send email to “info@ahsp.org” if you’re interested in participating.

To sign up for AHSP as a NOVAC member, follow the link available on the members-only section of the NOVAC website; this will automatically enter the special code that you need for registration. NOTE TO VOLUNTEERS: you should be using a different registration code, emailed earlier. Contact me if you need it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: as early registrants, you’ll be helping us test the AHSP website. Our registration system has been pretty reliable over the years, so I don’t expect problems. But if something goes wrong during your registration process, just send us an email at “info@ahsp.org” and we’ll take care of it.

Clear skies, and we look forward to seeing many NOVAC members at AHSP 2012!