Okie-Tex star party at Kenton attracts astronomers from across the nation

If you'd taken a stroll through Camp Billy Joe on Friday, you would have seen license plates from eastern and central Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Missouri, Minnesota, Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky, Kansas, and Indiana, the Okie-Tex Star party, hosted by the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club was in full swing.

According to Joe Gafford of Denver , the viewing was good until about two a.m. , when clouds rolled in.

Gafford's telescope specialty is chasing asteroids through the night sky and confirming their existence and positions. Gafford has to make manual changes to his telescope to keep up with the asteroids, his unit doesn't have what is called go-to software.

Gafford, a 40 year amateur star gazer, adds that it is much easier since PTSI has made DSL computer technology available at the camp, and that the Astronomy club brought their Wi-Fi (wireless) computer technology.

He became interested in astronomy at age ten, inspired by the space program.

He estimates that in the last 40 years he has invested $25 thousand in his hobby.

“It's really a cheap hobby, because we tend to keep our stuff,” he explained.

“I have a really good planetarium program on my computer and also use star catalogues,” Gafford said.

Gafford's “day job” is as an electronics test technician.

Mike Borman, Scott Conner and Tony Bryan, are from Evansville , Ind. They come to the Okie-Tex because of the clear skies free of light pollution.

“The drier air also helps the contrast,” Conner added.

Borman is an Electrical Engineer, Conner, a quality manager in a metal fabrication company, and Bryan, works for the Department of Defense.

Borman's favorite part of astronomy is astro photographs and he shows examples of stars being formed, distant galaxies, and collapsed and dying stars. he's been interested in astronomy since 1973.

It's always a thrill to be able to see something better,” Borman said. He pointed at a picture of the galaxy Andromeda, “Back home, you could see this; but with all the light pollution you couldn't see the spiral arms. It doesn't look the same.”

Conner, who has been leaning over a telescope for 24 years, likes looking for galaxies; and Bryan, who has only been looking through a telescope for ten years, said he was “...along for the ride.

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