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The South Plains Astronomy Club is a small group of active astronomers who enjoy observing under the beautifully dark West Texas skies while being serenaded by coyotes and night birds. We’re a friendly bunch who enjoy showing newcomers the night skies and discussing the latest in telescopes, astro-imaging, astronomical discoveries and space exploration.

CLUB EVENTS CALENDAR

PUBLIC STAR PARTY

The South Plains Astronomy Club hosts a Public Star Party each month on the Friday closest to the date of the First Quarter Moon, weather permitting. The event is held at Tech Terrace Park in Lubbock, which is just south of the Texas Tech University campus (see the map below). If you're driving there, it's a bit tricky because of the way the streets are laid out around the park. The best way is to take 25th Street from Indiana Avenue to the park. We will be setting up our telescopes along the south edge of the park. We usually start setting up around sundown or shortly thereafter, and we'll be there several hours. This event depends upon the weather - the sky has to be clear or mostly clear - you can't see the moon or stars if it's cloudy! If there's any doubt, see the Message Board at the bottom of the SPAC Main Page a few hours before the event to see if it's been cancelled. If it's clear, we'll be observing the moon, planets, and stars through a variety of telescopes. If you've got a telescope, bring it out! Everyone is welcome!

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SPAC MONTHLY MEETING

The Monthly Meeting of the South Plains Astronomy Club is held every third Thursday of the month at St. John's United Methodist Church, located across from the Texas Tech University campus at 1501 University Avenue in Lubbock, Texas (see the map below). The meeting is held in the fellowship hall next to the chapel - usually one or more of the doors facing the parking lot will be unlocked. The meeting starts at 7:00 PM and usually lasts about 2 hours. We start with a short business meeting, which is followed by a program containing a talk, presentation, or film on a subject related to astronomy. There is also plenty of time for discussions. Refreshments are provided. The public is welcome at our monthly meetings.

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OTHER OBSERVING SITES

The South Plains Astronomy Club occasionally holds observing events at other sites around Lubbock. These are primarily for club members and guests. Since the targets we will be observing are primarily deep-sky objects (galaxies, nebulas and star clusters), these events are usually scheduled for nights when the moon will not be up. Some of the sites are listed below.

Gott Observatory at Skyview

This is the Texas Tech University Observatory located a convenient distance northwest of Lubbock. Unfortunately, Lubbock’s light pollution makes observing southern objects difficult from this site. We work around the Texas Tech astronomy program’s schedule, but this typically is our go-to local site.

Old Emma Cemetery

The town of Emma was the county seat of Crosby county back before the railroad came through what is now Crosbyton. Once a prosperous town, Emma soon became a ghost town as the people and businesses moved to Crosbyton. Today, the only thing left of the town is the abandoned cemetery, now sitting in the middle of cotton fields (see the map below). Skies are typically quite dark there and the parking area makes for a nice site for us to observe southern objects without a long drive. To get to the Emma site, go east from Lubbock on FM 40 until you get to FM 207. Go north on FM 207 a short distance til you reach FM 188. Go west on FM 188 til you see the unmarked dirt road that leads north to the cemetery. Or, you can go east from Lubbock on Highway 62 until you get to Ralls, and then take FM 207 south to FM 188.

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Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge

The wildlife refuge is a site northwest of Lubbock near the Texas-New Mexico border. It is blessed with dark skies and often is the place you can find club members on a New Moon weekend. We set up at the Paul’s Lake Observation Platform and must be conscious of the wildlife, especially during the sandhill crane migration that stretches roughly from November to March. We must also call ahead to let the manager know we’ll be out there and he requests that we also sign the guest book when we visit. It’s about 70 miles from Lubbock, but worth the drive. During the warm months, be prepared for mosquitos!

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Members Scott Harris and Gary Leiker setting up Gary's custom-built 30" Dobsonian at Muleshoe.





 

 

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Questions or comments? Email SPAC@cat-star.org