Texas Star Party 2006 Guest Journal



© 2006  Ted Saker, Jr.  All rights reserved.
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Age 13, Columbus, OH May 2, 2006

        My dad has always loved Astronomy for as long as I can remember. I thought astronomy was interesting but I never really got into it until a few days before TSP 2006 when my dad asked me if I would like to join him in going to the Texas Star Party. I agreed because I wanted to see why he loved going there so much that he wouldn’t miss it for the world. The night before we left for TSP, my dad took me outside and showed me what the night sky looked like in Columbus, OH. Then he told me that when I see the night sky in Fort Davis, Texas, that I would not be able to find any of the stars that I saw because there would be so many more. We drove 25 hours to get to Fort Davis, Texas, arriving at the gates of the Prude Ranch at 12:00 Sunday morning, We were first in line to enter the star party.

        After Sunday night (the first night of TSP), I began to learn more and more about astronomy, including all the different sorts of objects, constellations, and where to find them in the sky. I then learned that a man named John Wagonner had put together many different lists of objects that you can observe at the Texas Star Party. Observing the objects on the list earns the observer a pin showing that they completed that certain list. The whole 10 days that I stayed at the Prude Ranch I completed 4 lists and earned 4 pins.

        I loved the Texas Star Party for many reasons. First, the clear skies were absolutely unbelievable along with all of the very polite and kind staff that they had at TSP. There were also many and many educated speakers who delivered interesting presentations at TSP informing and educating all of the attendees. I was also amazed at how kindly people treated each other there, with not only help but also trust of one another.

        While I was there, my father and I signed up for a tour of the famous McDonald Observatory. The observatory was located high in the Davis Mountains and I thought the scenery was amazing. Our tour guide took our group to 3 different gigantic telescopes. The first telescope that we all saw was the 107” scope that was built in the 1960’s. The second telescope was an 82”, which looked very familiar because there is an observatory close to home, Perkins Observatory, which has the same appearance, and was built by the same company that built the 69” Perkins telescope. Anyways, that scope was built in the 1930’s and was on the list of the top 10 biggest scopes at the time when it was built. The third and the greatest of all the scopes that we all saw and learned about at McDonald Observatory was the Hobby-Eberly Scope.  It has a 300” segmented mirror and was built in the late 1990’s. At present, it is the 3rd largest telescope in the world. I enjoyed that tour because I learned A LOT about the McDonald Observatory’s history and telescopes.

        I saw a huge difference between the night sky at Columbus, OH and the night sky at the Texas Star Party, and I truly learned why my dad would not and could not miss the Texas Star Party. This was the 6th time in a row he attended it. I learned more than I could have imagined about astronomy and why my dad has loved it as long as he has. The Texas Star Party 2006 was a trip that I can never forget because it made me take a passion to astronomy and the beautiful night sky. I am going to attend TSP for as long as I can because it is an event you cannot miss. I recommend TSP for all true amateur and professional astronomers of all ages, who are looking for great night skies that are perfect for both imaging and observing. Also people who just want to take a week off for nothing but pure astronomy and science will enjoy TSP as much as I did.


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