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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.

Star-BQ

The first Annual South Plains Astronomy Club "Star-BQ" was held on the late afternoon of Friday June 28 through the morning hours of Saturday June 29, 2019. The Star-BQ is a Members-only event and is one of the benefits of joining the South Plains Astronomy Club.

PANORAMA
The site of the event was a ranch in King County, Texas, owned by several Club members. This county is comprised of mostly undeveloped grazing land with no large communities, so the night skies are generally very dark with little light pollution. This is the site of several observatories established by Club members.

The event kicked off with a barbecue dinner that featured brisket, sausage, roasted corn-on-the-cob, pinto beans, and salad. Chilled watermelon was dessert, and there were plenty of sodas, water, and iced tea to go around.

After dinner, everyone began setting up their telescopes (see the photo above). These included Gary Leiker's gigantic 30-inch Dobsonian. Then we patiently waited for darkness. The sky didn't disappoint, and remained moonless and perfectly clear and dark through til dawn. While it was a bit warm (mid-90's) during the afternoon, temperatures fell quickly after dark into the 70's and remained pleasantly mild.

Initially, late-spring galaxies were some of the prime targets for observation. The Whirlpool Galaxy (M 51) was a favorite, along with members of Markarian's Chain. As the Summer Milky Way rose higher, the nebulas and clusters in Scorpius and Sagittarius caught observers' attention. Of course, Jupiter blazing just off the tail of the Scorpion was a great sight, as was Saturn just east of the Teapot. The very dark skies afforded exceptional views of these targets. In addition, the assembled group saw quite a few meteors, some of which were probably part of the June Bootid shower peaking at this time.

A few individuals headed back to Lubbock after midnight, but the majority hung around observing into the wee hours of the morning before retiring to the ranch house for some well-deserved sleep. After a Saturday morning breakfast of sausage and egg tacos made by one of the Club Members (Lesley Harris), everyone packed up their stuff and took off. Those who participated had a great time, and we look forward to the next opportunity to hold this event.


Member Craig Patterson made a video of the Star-BQ. Click on the thumbnail below to view the video on YouTube. Use your browser's "Back" button to return to this page.


PHOTOS FROM THE 2019 SPAC Star-BQ

Photos by Members Steve Maas, Lesley Harris and Craig Patterson.





 

 

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