1997 Texas Star Party is a (for the most part) hit !
Roger Herzler w/assistance
May 10, 1997
Reports are in from astronomers
that attended the 1997 Texas Star Party, which was held the week
of May 3-10, and it appears that it was at the very least a partial
success. The TSP was moved to a new site this year due to a dispute
between operators of the former site, Prude Ranch, and the organizers
of the TSP. The new location is not far from the small town of Leakey,
Texas. Unfortunately, the only suitable nights for observing were
reportedly Sunday, Monday and toward the end of the week, between
which clouds moved in and remained there. The clouds finally provided
a break on Friday and Saturday.
According to astronomer
Bill Nunnelee, the locale was superb. He describes beautiful, scenic
surroundings (almost as good as the Davis Mountains, which are near
the old site), and a local populace that went out of their way to
make the stargazers feel welcome. Even the city of Uvalde, Texas,
which was 40 miles away from site, got into the act and provided
tours, gifts and entertainment. He estimated that 650 were in attendance
for viewing on the two huge fields set up for observing and event
organizers put the final count at 677 in attendance, which is more
people than they had last year.. He says that the overall accommodations,
including bunkhouses and camping facilities were "superior" to that
of Prude Ranch, as well as a larger vendor area. He also added that
the food was "excellent".
As far as the real
observing goes, he said that it was a good site (although he admits
that he had limited time to view due to the weather and he had left
a little early). However, the skies might not have been as clear
as they were at Prude and a light dome was visible from the city
of San Antonio. The small city of Leakey (approximate population
300) did not have any real impact on the sky conditions despite
being only 1.2 miles away.
All in all, it sounds
like a good site, despite weather conditions, and I would imagine
they will be returning there for 1998. At this point though, organizers
do not know where TSP '98 will be held and promise to search all
over the state of Texas for the best site. I hope that I get to
make the trek.
Many thanks to Bill and
the TSP's website for providing this review. If you attended and
have anything to add to this, please email me at and I'll be sure
to post your comments.