Aaron and I made it down to Okie-Tex Star Party on Friday evening. It is in the panhandle of Oklahoma near Kenton Oklahoma (not sure how it ever got a name as it it basically a bar and a church). After a two year hiatus while we built out the farm the trailer made it with no issues and the astronomy gear has been “stellar”! Saturday morning we arrived at the entrance at 7 am to stake out our territory. The guys I am with have done this numerous times and knew just where to set up. As we speak, the field is filling with all of the usual astro gear and gizmos. Some is very simple and basic, others intensely hi-tech. One thing for sure, we are not surrounded by the uneducated sort. This is geek central. Just my crew consists of me (a financial advisor), two attorneys, two software engineers and a physician.
The skies are incredibly dark. We were able to see the milky way from horizon to horizon. This is getting harder and harder to find due to the light domes emitted from our apparent fear of the dark.
The first night of observing usually involves the pleasure cruise of hunting the more prominent eye candy. Local folks know the event is happening and are eager to have us help them tour the galaxy. The Swan, Lagoon, Trifid, and Eagle nebula near Sagittarius are big hits. Andromeda, our nearest galaxy, is an eye opener as well as the big globular clusters of M13 and 92 in Hercules and M22 in the southern sky. They wow big time as they look like giant galactic diamond rings made up of millions of old stars.
Going forward, most of the astronomers will go deep. They will break out the observing lists and settle in to a week of hunting down faint fuzzies that will include galaxies hundreds of millions of light years away. Many will be imaging, using their high tech polished glass, CCD cameras and computers to capture and create images of amazing clarity.
This is a badly needed break. It has been over two years since our last star party and hanging with friends and especially my son for a week is a rare treat. Much thanks to my wife for kicking me out the door. She says the dog keeps looking out the window wondering where we are. I miss them a bunch, but wasn’t about to turn this down. Now that we are here…. it looks like it needs to be an annual event.
The Boys with their toys (mine is the closest and Aaron’s is the one next to it.
My scope on the right and some of the other astronomers getting their gear assembled.
Our arrival and just getting the gear out onto the ground. It is a long and heavy ordeal to get everything situated. One doesn’t go to these for just a day or two. It takes to long to set up and take down.