Annual gathering on a national scale of amateur astronomers keen on sky watching
English Abstract for english readers about the RAP
RAP ! Did you say RAP ?

A twenty years old history.

Our association “Les Rencontres Astronomiques du Printemps”, “Astronomy Spring Meeting”, was founded on June 8th 1998 with the only aim to organize an annual meeting of astronomer amateurs. Meetings of this kind, quite popular in the United States at the time, remained rather seldom in Europe, sky watching being a mostly individual pastime, despite a large number of astronomical societies or clubs. Our contacts with astronomer amateurs throughout our country shew clearly they wished to meet occasionally in order to better share their experience about equipment design and improvement, imaging devices or mere visual observation.

Time has passed since our first meeting in spring 1999. This year, we shall celebrate our twentieth meeting, from Thursday May 09th 2024, Ascension day, to Sunday May 12th.

It will occur as usual in Craponne sur Arzon, Haute-Loire, 70 km south-west of St-Etienne and 30 km north of Le Puy-en-Velay.

As well as during our past meetings, you will have great opportunities to fruitfully exchange with the other participants on topics such as observation, telescope design and construction, to compare and test different kinds of them, to put an eye through giant telescopes like 32" or 36” ones, solar telescopes, or oddities like old telescopes or 14” Dobson binoculars.

In fact, RAP are what you want them to be, through what you personally bring to them. You may offer lectures and exhibitions on any topics : astronomy calculations or phenomena, peculiar equipment designs and testings, imaging techniques, drawings, workshops, etc., we shall consider each of them with great attention.

Location and facilities.

The meeting takes place on a large ground which offers both a large skyview and camping facilities : toilets, hot showers. The way to the ground when arriving in Craponne/Arzon is clearly marked so that you get to it without any difficulty.

On the ground itself, you will see four big tents ; each of them is dedicated respectively to the bar and meals, lectures, exhibitions and internet connection.

If you prefer not to cook by yourself, hot four courses meals are provided at noon and evening via prebooking (see booking order on our website).

From eight to ten in the morning, you can also have your breakfast : hot coffee, tea or chocolate, bread, croissants, butter and jam (3 € per breakfast).

Onsite camping or not.

The ground is vast, and any member is provided a place large enough (5m x 10 m) to settle a car, caravan or motorhome, a tent and the telescope. If you don’t like camping, you can book in a hotel or guest house the number of nights you want. A list of them is given on the website and in the documents mailed to you right after your registration.
Leaving the ground at night is only possible at specified hours (see booklet) so that you don’t disturb those watching or taking photos. Otherwise, a good idea is to park outside the ground, in the streets nearby.

We do our best so that everyone may observe in the best conditions and enjoy its stay. 

The member’s booklets.

A first dossier will be mailed to all astronomer amateurs who have joined us. Inside you’ll find :

  • A map to get to the site,
  • A map and leaflets of the area,
  • A list of accommodations in the vicinity,
  • The basic rules to get on with the other participants and the locals.

On your arrival you will be provided a booklet with the following documents :

  • A map of the ground with its different marquees,
  • The number and location of your own place on the ground,
  • A participant badge,
  • Some practical informations about your stay : who does what, schedule of conferences, workshops, list of participants, list of instruments, how to behave at night, how and when you may leave at night.

More informations on shopping in Craponne and the places of interest in the area will be given to you at the reception desk.

How to become a member.

Your registration payment includes membership to the association which gives permanent access to the ground and its facilities, without any extracharge. It also insures you as a participant. 

Remember that membership is required to have an access to the ground at any time. Guests are not allowed to enter.