Howard's Astronomical Adventures



Located by Kenton, Oklahoma the Okie-Tex Star Party is typically held in late September or October.

This area is very interesting both geographically and geologically. It is very remote. It is the darkest location I have done astrophotography at. With good weather the stars are crisp and clear to the horizon.

2005

Finally! Pretty good weather for the Okie-Tex 2005 star party. Held from October 2nd to October 10th there were several good nights for imaging. While not the best sky conditions I have seen at Okie-Tex it was vastly better than the previous two years. Okie-Tex 2005 Giveaway

The picture on the right is a composite from Saturday nights giveaway, click the image for more information. As you can see we had a little moon on the final days.

This year I abandoned film and went digital. Having recently aquired a modified Canon 350D camera I used it exclusively for deep sky photography.

Three images are online from the star party:

Eastern Veil Nebula,
Supernova Remnant in Gemini,
and M33.


In looking back over the past star parties I was clearly spoiled with the weather and sky conditions in 2001 and 2002.

 

2004

The weather for Okie-Tex 2004 was terrible; cloudy, partly cloudy, or raining throughout the week of October 9th through October 16th. What was especially frustrating were the crystal clear days that turned cloudy at night.

I did very little astrophotography. A big thanks out to Kent Kirkley for letting me borrow his spare Kendrik dew remover setup. The one good, clear night had an incredible amount of dew. Anything exposed to the night air was dripping with water.

 

2003

Okie-tex 2003 was from September 21 to September 28. Overall the weather was poor, Hurricane Marty in the Mexico Baja Peninsula spread moisture throughout the region. That coupled with some equipment issues I had and it was not a productive (astrophotography) trip. Like last year, over 300 people attended which seems near capacity for the camp. Below are a few pictures of the area taken this trip, click on an image for a larger view.

 

A view of the observing field at Camp Billy Joe, site of the Okie-Tex star party. This picture was taken facing North-West.

Visible in the distance is Black Mesa. At 4973 feet it is the highest point in Oklahoma.


Canon G3, 9/22/2003 6:57:12 PM CDT

 
 

Looking west at the tiny town of Kenton, Oklahoma (population 25?).

The road through town is Oklahoma State Highway 325. Once you cross the bridge (visible on the far side of town) you are in New Mexico (State Highway 406).

The sky and distant background are white from all the moisture in the air.

Canon G3, 9/24/2003 5:28:15 PM CDT

 
 

Mars rising above the mesa in the east at dusk. Taken Sunday evening, I was just getting all my equipment setup for the night. This may have been the clearest night all week.

I used a side by side setup this trip so I could piggyback an additional Nikon camera and 300mm f2.8 ED lens (fairly heavy). This is not my normal setup. I found this configuration difficult to balance correctly and I had some tracking issues.

Canon G3, 9/21/2003 8:32:37 PM CDT

 

2002

The Okie-Tex Star Party was held from September 29 to October 6th 2002. Overall the party was very good. Over 300 people attended, by far the largest crowd I had seen there. I meet up with some previous Okie-Tex friends from Wichita and had a good time. I am happy to say that one of them, Phil Anderson, won first prize in the astrophotography category for his stereo picture of Comet Ikeya Zhang. Good job Phil!.

The weather this year was not as cooperative as the past several years, but we had several very clear nights. In addition, the timing was not great for all night photography with the moon being at last quarter at the start of the star party. I managed to take several successful photos at Okie-Tex 2002 that are in the photo gallery.

2002 Okie-Tex Weather

Sunday NightClear but windy with strong gusts (as reported, I was not there)
Moon rise: 23:52 CDT
Monday Night Clear with light winds and an occasional strong gust.
Moon rise: 00:53 CDT Tuesday morning
Tuesday Night Storm passed by in the evening. Partly clear around midnight. Auroral activity was visible to the north.
Moon rise: 02:00 CDT Wednesday morning
Wednesday Night Strong storm blew by just to the east, southeast, in the evening. Very strong winds for a short time. Light rain all night.
Moon rise: 03:12 CDT Thursday morning
Thursday Night Very clear evening and night with little or no wind. Auroral activity.
Moon rise: 04:25 CDT Friday morning
Friday Night Clear night with no winds. Auroral activity.
Moon rise: 05:39 CDT Saturday morning
Saturday Night Partly cloudy in the evening. I left star party at sunset. From satelite images it appears to have been partly cloudy.
Moon rise: 06:53 CDT Sunday morning