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The 1997 Texas Star Party is a (for the most part) hit !

by 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.


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