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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.

DATES OF THE MONTHLY PUBLIC STAR PARTIES ARE CHANGING!
Starting in January 2020, the dates of the two monthly Public Star Parties will be:
Star Party at Tech Terrace Park, Lubbock .......... FIRST SATURDAY in the Month
Star Party in Ransom Canyon, Texas .......... THIRD SATURDAY in the Month

CLUB EVENTS CALENDAR

PUBLIC STAR PARTIES

The South Plains Astronomy Club hosts two Public Star Parties each month. We'll be observing the moon, planets and other celestial objects through a variety of telescopes. If you've got a telescope, bring it out! Everyone is welcome!

These events depend on 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 on the SPAC Main Page a few hours before the event to see if it's been cancelled due to weather.

Star Party #1: This event is held on the second Saturday of the month (see the calendar above) 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. For this event, the moon will generally be between First Quarter and Full, so this will be primarily a "Moon Observing Party", although we'll also look at planets, double stars, and other brighter celestial objects.


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Star Party #2: This event is held on the fourth Saturday of the month (see the calendar above) at the grassy area known as "The Meadow" in the community of Ransom Canyon just east of Lubbock (see the map below). If you're driving there from Lubbock, take East 50th Street (FM 3523) to the main entrance to Ransom Canyon (Ransom Road). Follow Ransom Road down the hill to the lake, where you'll turn right onto W Lakeshore Drive— this street will take you to The Meadow. We usually start setting up our telescopes around sundown or shortly thereafter, and we'll be there several hours. For this event, the moon will usually be down, so this will be primarily a "Dark-Sky Observing Party" where we'll look at galaxies, nebulas, star clusters and other dimmer objects that normally would be obscurred by moonlight. But we'll also look at planets, double stars, and other brighter celestial objects.


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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 (see the photo to the right) located a convenient distance northwest of Lubbock. Unfortunately, Lubbock’s light pollution makes observing southern objects difficult from this site. However, on clear nights the view of much of the sky is acceptable. We work around the Texas Tech astronomy program’s schedule, but this typically is our go-to local site. We actually don't use the Texas Tech telescopes at this site, but rather set up our own scopes near the observatory building. There is a concrete pad just to the south of the building that is ideal for this. There is no available A/C power.


Old Emma Cemetery

The town of Emma was once the county seat of Crosby county. Today, the only thing left of the town is the abandoned cemetery (see the photo to the right), now sitting in the middle of cotton fields. Skies are typically quite dark there and the parking area makes for a nice site for us to observe southern objects. To get to the Emma site (see the map below), 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. There is no available A/C power.


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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! There is no available A/C power at this site.

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





 

 

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