Wednesday, July 28 2004 @ 12:59 am EDT
Contributed by: vance_fsq106
By Vance Bagwell.
(Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas member) http://www.texasastro.org
July 22, 2004 3:32 p.m.
The Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society http://www.aoas.org
is the primary sponsor of the Arkansas Star Party, held each July at Devil's Den State Park in Northwest Arkansas. The AOAS was formed in 1985 in Ft. Smith, Arkansas and the club’s Coleman Observatory is located 8 miles NW of Van Buren, AR. Located approximately 6 hours from Dallas/Ft. Worth, Devil's Den State Park is nestled in a picturesque valley in northwest Arkansas's Ozarks Mountains. It’s very rugged and covers about 2000 acres. Jackie and I have camped at this fantastic state park twice before during Sept. and Oct. The park has 12 excellent hiking and mountain bike trails. The Devil's Den Trail, one of the most popular trails within the park, features two fracture caves: the Devil's Den and the Devil's Icebox. The park also has fully-furnished cabins. When we learned of this 2-day star party in the events section of Sky and Telescope, we scheduled our week-long camping trip to coincide.
Bob Moody is the current club president of the AOAS and was the contact for this year’s event. Prior to the star party, Bob and I had been shooting emails back and forth. I arranged to donate a Hubble Skygard shield to the park from Outdoor Associates and it arrived a couple days before we arrived. The thing I hate more than a streetlight is a streetlight in dark-sky campground! I brought the Takahashi FSQ and picked up some Kodak slide film. I was going to hopefully have four nights of observing before the star party kicked off. From this state park, there are no noticeable signs of light domes or light pollution.
Sunday, July 11th thru Thursday, July 15th – We left Cedar Hill, Texas by mid-morning. I narrowly escaped a huge speed trap on I-75 in McKinney. An officer with his radar gun on the overpass and eight of his friends in waiting below chose the pickup passing us in the lane to our left. We had a flat tire on the pop-up trailer just south of Caddo, OK. Not a good start. We made it into Arkansas safely and negotiated the mountainous switch-back road down into the Den. We were exhausted from setup and called it an early night. I took a long glance upwards before bed and saw the Milky Way through an opening in the trees with frosty Vega shining brilliantly.