Amarillo Astronomy Club

2014 Star Party Dates at the 3 Rivers Foundation


Last Updated on Saturday, 08 February 2014 15:10 Written by Rich Merten Saturday, 08 February 2014 15:07

Here is list of Star Party Dates for 2014 at the 3 Rivers Foundation near Crowell Texas. This is a PDF of the handout that Art passed around at the February meeting.

Click Here


DIY Red Marker Lamps


Written by Rich Merten

Here is a little DIY project you might be interested in making

I liked the red marker lights that Art Schneider made up for Okie-Tex a couple months ago.  So I went over to Walmart and picked up some for myself.



Alibates Star Party 10/26/13


Tuesday, 29 October 2013 07:20

By Rich Merten

Last Saturday's public viewing night had been on the AAC schedule for a few months.  But the uncertainty of the government shutdown had left doubt as to whether or not it would go on as scheduled.  As it turns out, the folks at Alibates wanted it more than ever.  They advertised it to just about every news organization in Fritch, Borger and even Amarillo.

Jan and I decided to do the star party and tie in some camping out at Lake Meridith for a night or two. Looking around at Lake Meridith, there are hundreds and hundreds of camping and boat launch parking spaces around where the lake used to be.  Searching those large, dry deserted areas made me feel like we were the last people on earth. In the whole area we found just two other campers.

Saturday during the day was very, very windy, gusts and straight winds had to be over 30 mph.  With no one in sight anywhere, we wondered if anyone at all would show up for the evening viewing.  Boy were we wrong!

We set up about 6:30 and a few people started arriving just before 7.  Art did a great presentation in the AV center for about 30 min. He detailed what people should expect and what things we would be looking at. During the lecture more and more cars drove in.  The AV center filled to overflowing and in the parking lot there were cars behind cars in almost every parking space.  The head count for the night was over 80 people!

Many adults brought their kids or grandkids and all had questions and observations.  The lines behind both scopes were long and everyone took their time to really take in what they were seeing.  

The wind stopped right on schedule, skies were clear, no moon, and the parking lot had just the minimum amount of light so people were not stumbling over themselves.

We observed most of the usual star party objects, plus Uranus, Neptune and pointed out a few larger objects and asterisms for those who brought binoculars.  

I tried out some new bluetooth software for my handheld tablet that can show the sky, move the scope, and make information instantly available when people ask questions like: how far, how big, how bright.  All while moving freely about.  It worked great, highly recommended

The gathering lasted about 3 hours from start to finish.  Everyone was happy, especially the rangers and organizers.


Observing Report Roadside Park 10/26/13


Written by Jim Fitch

Observing Report 10-26-13

by Jim Fitch   

Third quarter Moon this time of year rises late. If fact it rose 6 ½ hours after sundown on this Saturday night. Plenty of time to observe. The problem was all the wind, clouds and rain showers on Saturday. Three of us took the chance that the forecast would be at least partly accurate and drove to the roadside park south of Claude.

When I arrived the cloud bank to the southeast was moving southeast, but the wind was at 25 mph and gusty out of the north. I decided to set up anyway and maybe limit my observing to southern flat galaxies. Alan showed up next and decided not to set up due to the winds. Gene arrived later and found a good place out of the wind behind his truck to use binoculars and watch for meteors.

Then it happened. The wind just stopped. We had very clear, extremely steady skies for the next 4 ½ hours. Alan pulled his scope out and looked for any remaining Herschel objects not logged. He has only the spring and a few summer objects remaining to complete the list of 400 at this point.

The rest of the time we all spent looking at some pretty faint flat galaxies in the southern constellations. It was quite interesting to see the different methods each of us use to match the atlas’ star field with the eyepiece star field.

This was the first observing session with the 30” since getting a few extras from Gary Meyers of StellarCat. Everything worked as expected. Thanks, Gary!

Alan left sometime between midnight and moonrise. Gene and I stayed and watched the Moon rise over the canyon in “shark fin” style. It was a great night. Maybe next weekend will be a repeat.

Oh yeah, that cloud bank continued to move southeast and was out of sight over the horizon, but we continued to see lightning flashes from over the horizon all night long.




Last Updated on Thursday, 24 October 2013 09:47 Written by Administrator Monday, 07 October 2013 04:28

Okie-Tex 2013

It was another banner year for the dark skies near Kenton Oklahoma.  Of the 352 officially registered attendees, 16 were from our Amarillo club.  Over half of our membership was there.

The camp filled up very early, I understand that there were campers lined up out to and down the highway when the gates first opened Saturday morning.  We arrived around 4pm and were lucky to find a good spot saved close to road and most of the club folk.  

Jan came along this year for the first time and she really enjoyed the experience.  Not so much for the galaxies and clusters but for the camping and social life with the other ladies.  As the accommodations continue to improve with larger trailers, tents and RV’s, more women are making the trip.  At least in my case, it caused a great improvement in the dinner menu.

We were there for four nights, Saturday thru Tuesday.  Observing wise, I would classify those nights to be very good to near excellent with only a waning interference from the moon after about 1:30 in the morning.  With temps maxing out in the 90’s daytime to a low of 35 measured at 6am on Sunday morning, finding shade, shorts and long underwear was a constant pastime.

This years astronomical highlight of course was comet C/(2012) S1 ISON as it whizzed past Mars.  On the nights we were there, the moon was too close for my small scope to pick it out but others reported finding it Tuesday night with about 20” of mirror.  However, I did see it in near real-time, time-lapse motion from the screen of a nearby observer shooting 1 min. exposures with his piggybacked Canon EOS 60dA.

Like smoke from a campfire, the beautiful fisheye lensed Milky Way picture below is from Pearre Chase’s brother Jim, taken on his first night there.  Jim also has a great time lapse video at:

I encourage others to send in their comments and pictures to be posted here and in our picture gallery.



Fisheye Milky Way


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