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Lake Whitney
Summer Star Party

August 26-27, 2000

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More than 150 excited amateur astronomers and members of the general public attended the first Lake Whitney Summer Star Party, held at the Recreation Center in the Lake Whitney State Park near Hillsboro, TX. Event organizer Thomas Williamson graciously designated the Central Texas Astronomical Society in Waco, TX, and the American Association of Amateur Astronomers as event sponsors. 

Members of the CTAS provided a pot luck hamburger picnic for attendees and helped with the organization and general administration of event details. AAAA provided help with the presentations and programs, and provided hand-on telescope observing for attendees after the evening presentations were finished. 

Several members of the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas were also on hand to help out on the observing field, including TAS member Ron Zimmerman, whose goal is to have 2000 people look through his Meade LX-200 8-inch telescope during the Year 2000. With over 150 clicks on his counter during the LWSP, Ron is now only 50 people short of his goal, with four months left in the year!

The day's activities started out with event organizer Thomas Williamson grinding an 8-inch mirror for a telescope that will be donated to the State Park. Grinding started at noon on Saturday,  August 26. On Sunday, August 27, the work on the mirror was to be completed and mirror null testing performed. Work was done on the scope mount throughout the weekend whenever possible.

At 7:00 PM, the first guest speaker was Dr. Paul Derrick, who writes the "Stargazer" column for the Waco paper. Dr Derrick has often provided slide shows at previous star parties at Lake Whitney and other places in Central Texas. Paul also has been presenting his programs to hundreds of area school students and at several public events for more than 20 years. Dr. Derrick really does a great job, especially with the younger kids. At Lake Whitney, Paul presented his show, "A Trip Through the Universe", in which he describes a trip from Ground Earth to the Edge of the Universe in approximately 40 min. 

At 8:00 PM, Ed  Flaspoehler, Vice President of the American Association of Amateur Astronomers, give his slide show on observing the night sky for the beginning amateur astronomers. Entitled Introduction to Late Summer Deep-Sky Objects, Ed's talk covered five of the most prominent Messier objects up during the summer months, representing each of the five major categories of deep sky objects observable by amateur astronomers: globular clusters, planetary nebulae, open clusters, emission nebulae, and galaxies. This talk includes slides from Ed's personal collection, illustrating the various objects, as well as finder charts and star maps to help the viewer to go find each object on their own. Ed also distributed finder charts and observing logs for people to use later that night on the telescope field. Ed's program is based on  the popular Constellation of the Month programs presented during the monthly meetings of the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas. Ed will also be presenting this program at the general meeting of the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club on September 8, and at the Great Plains Star Party on September 30.

The Stars at Night 
Are Big and Bright
Deep in the Heart of Texas!

After dusk, there was telescope viewing under clear Texas skies, and the activity was intense. Even though Texas weather has been very hot and dry this year, evening breezes off Lake Whitney helped keep observers comfortable as attendees and general public were treated to viewing through more than 20 amateur telescopes. The whole thing seemed very organized as each telescope on the field managed to choose a different deep sky object to focus on, so people saw a variety of objects as they moved from scope to scope. Popular targets during the evening were the objects discussed during the earlier presentations. After most of the general public departed, telescope viewing continued on the field until well after 4:00 AM.

The Lake Whitney Star Party was free and open to the public except for park fees of $2.00 per person. The Central Texas Astronomical Society from Waco, Texas, held their August meeting at the star party and helped with door prizes after the slide shows.

The organized presentations and speaker lectures were held at the Recreation Hall in the State Park. The Recreation Hall has recently been air conditioned. 

T-Shirts for the Lake Whitney Star Party were available. The shirts are black with a single face-on galaxy in silver printed with the slogan, " I Explored The Universe, Lake Whitney Summer Star Party." At the lower corner of the galaxy in small letters will be the phrase, "All men find that for which they seek- Arab proverb." 

Lake Whitney is a Texas State Park located near Hillsboro, TX, on State Highway 22, west of I-35.

Contact event organizer Thomas Williamson at 817-656-0901, or via e-mail at distglow@hotmail.com

Contact Lake Whitney State Park at lwsp@digitex.net

The park information web site is http://www.digitex.net/lakewhitneystatepark

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