Okie-Tex Star Party 2008

As I write a beautiful three day old moon hangs low in the sky. I’m back early from the annual Okie-Tex Star Party (OTSP). This year it was held from September 27th through October 4th. I traveled down to Kenton, OK on Saturday the 27th and it appeared like everyone showed up on that day. There must have been two hundred people already there when I arrived that evening! Here is the week in review:

Saturday Night

Its always a difficult first night after driving for nearly eight hours. Spent much time polar aligning as the sky was not that great at first. Night turned out to be pretty good.

Sunday Night

Very good night with intermittent clouds that rolled through in the morning. During the day I setup my hillside camera mount and equipment. Before sunset I ran a series of auto-exposures and then switched memory cards and ran continuous 30 second exposures starting at 21:00. This went through morning until it filled the memory card around 9:00. My main telescope target was the cocoon nebula.

Monday Night

Outstanding night! The hillside camera was setup again and this time I started continuous 30 second exposures at 20:00 and never touched the camera until the next day. At about 2:24 in the morning a fantastic meteor lite up the entire area, it was incredible. The question was did I catch it? I imaged the Iris nebula in my main telescope.

Around 1:00 on Tuesday afternoon I retrieved the hillside camera and found I had indeed captured the meteor. Sweet!

Tuesday Night

Outstanding night again! No hillside camera, just my main scope. With excellent transparency I decided to image LBN 534. This is a fainter nebula I had never heard of until the November issue of Sky and Telescope. Kinda screwed up because I decided to reframe the object, after I had already taken two hours of exposure. Jeez.

Wednesday Night

Outstanding night surprisingly. The Clear Sky Chart forecast had predicted clouds before morning but that was not the case. I spent all night collecting images of the Pacman nebula, staying up past the official end of darkness. Around 6:00am the Zodiacal light was a fantastic cone of brightness in the east. In retrospect I wish I had taken a few images of it, what the heck was I thinking? Oh well, it was a visual treat.

The End

Through out the week we had very good weather until Thursday. Then a strong storm just missed us in the evening and the night was clouded over. Thats OK as we needed an excuse to drink the beer we all brought, party time. With a poor forecast for Friday night I left around noon. While I hated to leave it was obvious a front would move over the area and reek havoc with any photography.

One surprising thing all week was the wind. Until Thursday night we had virtually no wind which is unusual. I collected the weeks temperature data on my 4000NV. Click here for the graph. Ignore the daytime high points but the nighttime data was logged in the same location six feet off the ground. Apparently I am a nerd.

This was the 25th anniversary of the star party and the tenth anniversary at this location by Kenton. I saw many a familiar face this year as I’ve gone nine out of the ten years at Camp Billy Joe. Congratulations to the Oklahoma Astronomy Club for putting on a great star party.