TEXAS STAR PARTY 2008!!!
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(Page Created: 20 June 2008. Last update: 04 June 2009)
There's a reason why you won't find a page for TSP 2007. The initials that year stand for “Texas Slumber Party.” Apart from Sunday night and half of Friday night, clouds socked in the Prude Ranch for the entire week. I never before saw the cloud bottoms cover the tops of the surrounding peaks. I was unable to take any images. None. Nada. Neechevo. Sifir. The less written, the better.
Even though the dismal 2005 and 2007 conditions lurked in the recesses of my memory, I looked forward to the 2008 edition of the Texas Star Party. The organizers decided to schedule this year's event a month later than the normal rotation, on June 1 through 8. I think the residents of the Davis Mountains chuckled a bit because they advised me that late spring generally has worse weather conditions. Looking back at 2005 (early May) and 2007 (mid May), I had to wonder just how much worse conditions could be. Also, with the summer solstice only three weeks away, we could count on only six hours of complete darkness each night. Accompanied by my daughter and younger son, I arrived at the gate only to find that Craig Colbert had once again beaten me to the head of the line.
Not to worry. Craig had a coffee pot, I had coffee and water, and soon we were all enjoying caffeine-fueled bonhomie. This was a very auspicious start to a most memorable TSP. Six straight nights of clear skies—more than 2005 and 2007 combined and multiplied—erased the frustration of TSP photon deprivation. This extraordinary run of good conditions came with a price, however. The region suffered from the tenth hottest spell on record with daytime temperatures well into the triple digits. This meant that one could sleep through the heat and spend the entire evening observing and imaging in shorts and a t-shirt. Another hazard of the heat was a wildfire sparked by a welder's torch that threatened to force us to evacuate the ranch on one evening. Fortunately, the flames died down with the winds, and the danger passed.
In a rare daytime excursion, we visited the city of Marfa, Texas, located about 50 miles southwest of Ft. Davis. Several films have been shot in the area around Marfa, including “Giant”, “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country For Old Men.” Marfa is the home of two art galleries owned and operated by the Chinati Foundation of Marfa and some other town known as New York. I thought that my daughter, the art student, might have some interest in the exhibits. We signed on for the afternoon tour that included works by Dan Flavin, whose study in colored flourescent lights seems to transport the visitor to places never before imagined. It was a fitting complement to our enjoyment of heavenly lights. Marfa is also famous for the “Marfa Lights”, believed to be evidence of ET and friends periodically dropping by for a cold one. We did not stick around for that since we needed to get back to the ranch before dark-out. I definitely want to see Chinati's morning tour someday, if I ever can haul myself down to Marfa early enough.
For more on Flavin's works and other exhibits, click on this link to the Chinati Foundation.
2008 Texas Star Party Images
M101 Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major. 6x10 minute integrations, June 5, 2008.
Posted 20 June 2008
M20 Emission Nebula “The Trifid” in Sagittarius. 2x10 minute integrations in H-alpha, June 4, 2008.
Posted 21 June 2008
M16 Emission Nebula “The Eagle” in Serpens Cauda. June 6 & 7, 2008. 6 x 10 min. L, 6 x 10 min. R, 5 x 7 min. G, 5 x 6 min. B
Posted 28 June 2008
Scenes from around TSP 2008
Monument of the Last Horse sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen on display at the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas
One of Dan Flavin's works in colored florescent light on display at the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas
One of Donald Judd's works in milled aluminum at the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas
Clear, Dark & Steady Skies!
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