Here we are again - my third trip to the Texas Star Party. This year instead of driving out from Sac. in three days I decided to take it a bit easier on my body and drive our in four days. WAY easier on my back. Turned out to be a good choice. Here Jeff and I on the first day (Sun.) getting registered in the auditorium.
We got our name tags and checked out the entries for the astro photography contest. There were some absolutely awesome images entered.
After Registration we sat down for a break (and to get out of the heat) and for a short orientation talk.
There's Jeff trying to stay awake during the orientaion :)
Fred and Annie waiting for the chow hall to open. We will usually get in line 30 min. prior to the doors opening. That way we get to all visit for a while, stay out of the sun and relax a bit before lunch and dinner.
Our Sunday evening dinner together - Jeff, Fred, Annie and Al.
Another view - Annie, Al, Jeff and Ron.
Late Sunday. Folks aer still arriving. My rig is set up on the left side of the left row of trees, just beyond the small scope with the red cover.
This picture was taken one row to the left facing West. The big tent in the middle was a really cool idea. It is a small tent inside a larger shade tent. The two guys sharing this rig stayed nice and cool, even on the really hot days.
Here is the main building. The office and dining room to the left side and the auditorium on the right end. I took this picture as I was heading back to my scope to take down the electronics that were exposed. We could feel rain in the air, and sure enough, we got about an hour's worth of rain with sprinkles that lasted another hour. Not long after the rain stopped all the water had soaked in and there was no evidence that there had ever been any water there at all.
Another view of the rain-threatening clouds coming from the north.
Looking to the south as it gets cloudier. We lost three of our nights due to clouds, but the other nights were beyond spectacular! The Sprinter belongs to Al and camping to the left of him is a group Aussies that were invited as kind of an astronomer exchange program. Very fun and nice guys who really know their astronomy and imaging.
Jeff was set up right next to me. After dinner when th Sun was going down and it got cooler, Fred would come by and visit with us as we got ready for the night's observing.
Here's me (Ron) with Fred. Once the Sun gets low on the horizon the temps drop and it's actually very comfortable for a while.
Jeff thinking about taking his scope cover off.
I have to say that the sunsets out here in west Texas are great!
It just wouldn't be the same without a picture of Fred's Sprinter and trailer. :)
Jeff and Fred chatting with an old friend (Alex, in the middle). Alex is a regular at the Nightfall Star Party in Borrego Springs - just south of Palm Springs held every Fall.
This is Molly, an Air Force 1LT (getting ready to pin on Captain's bass the following week). Molly works at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio and was here with a dozen or so of her fellow astronomy club members. Molly got her Masters in Astrophysics and is currently finishing up her P.H.D. in Nuclear Somethingorother. Very smart young lady. She's only been doing astro photography for about a year and is already producing amazing images. Her young 18 yr old friend, Mickela also was producing awesome images with her DSLR camera. Alex was interviewing her for his Astronomy Channel. He videos folks with interesting stories or astro rigs.
Al, Jeff anf Fred enjoying the cool early evening.
Looks like Jeff is getting ready to go under the hood to develope some prints. Really, he's just trying to get the cover off his scope. Once the Sun goes below the horizon everyone comes out to uncover their telescopes. We do this to let the air temperature inside the scope equalize with the air temp outside to minimize turbulent air inside the telescope. Better viewing or imaging.
Fred, Jeff and Al waiting first in line for the dining room to open. We'd get there early but it was noice to have rails to sit on.
A picture of the Nurse's shack. With around 500 folks running around there is always bound to be some injuries of some sort. In fact, Fred's neighbor was working with his RV's sun shade when a gust of wind came up and caught his arm in the metal mechanism. Folks heard him screaming for help all over the ranch. Moral of the story - at our age - always get help for stuff like that! :)
The indoor pool. It looks a bit green, but that's because of the green fiberglass roof. The pool is always a bit on the cold side, but good for cooling off your core temp for a while. This year though, it felt like glacier runoff. Jeff and I jumped in and once my heart started beating and I could breathe again I tried to do a few laps. It was so cold that I could only get about 3/4 of one lap done be calling "Uncle." So Jeff and I just stood in the 5' section until our toes and feet went numb.
This is Kimberly. She would check us in for every meal. What an incredible memory - she remembered me by name after two years. She could do that with everyone there. She also worked other odd jobs around the ranch, too.
The Saturday before we left TSP we all decided that we needed a real breakfast so we drove into Ft. Davis to Lupita's and had a great breakfast. Pancakes, bacon, omelettes, hashbrowns and lots of orange juice. Yum!!!!
Four satisfied boys!
The weather forecast for the last Friday and Saturday was for clouds, so folks started packing up and heading home early. Things started thinning out a bit.
Here is my spot. My immediate neighbors packing it in. Jeff's telescope in the center behind them.
Here's where Fred holds up during the day when he isn't up in the Radio Shack. The radio guys do Ham Radio and are responsible for the Wi-Fi on the grounds as well providing the power grid out on all three fields. They're an essential part of making TSP happen.
Here we are on the last night. There is usually a good speaker to wrap up the week as well as on the last two nights there are drawings for some incredible door prizes. Must be present to win :)
The front of this building is where the snack bar is. They would stay open until about three or four in the morning for coffee or hot chocolate. You could even get a hot dog or burger if you got a bit peckish in the middle of the night. This building also has the lower field restrooms and showers as well as the indoor pool.
A group picture with mostly the folks that have been coming to TSP for years and years.
Here are few links to some cool TSP videos. Enjoy!