Texas Star Party, May 1-8Those yearning for dark skies and the camaraderie of star enthusiasts might wish to make the trek to the 27th annual Texas Star Party. The event features a week of galaxy-gazing and plenary lectures. This year’s speakers include Robert T. Mitchell, the project manager of the Cassini mission, and Stephanie McLaughlin, a project coordinator for NASA’s Deep Impact mission. The Star Party has a strict “no lights” policy from sundown to sunup. Maybe we’re weird, but we think that high desert nights with naught but the stars and several hundred tricked-out telescopes is a pretty awesome way to spend a week. Find more information at

Area 51 Birthday Bash, May 27-29Happy 50th birthday, Area 51! Long regarded as a land of covert testing and aliens, Area 51 (a.k.a. the Groom Lake Facility) was founded in May 1955, and the conspiracy theorists haven’t been quiet about it since. Although it’s a testing facility for classified, or “black,” aerospace projects–graduates include the SR-71 and the F-117 stealth fighter–most visitors these days go for the thrill of being chased by the security guards, the so-called Camo Guys. On Memorial Day weekend, Area 51 enthusiasts will gather for barbeque, camping and impromptu talks about the site and its checkered history. See