...Mel Bartels

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    Oct 6 found me headed to the extreme western panhandle of Oklahoma, where I was to be  a guest speaker at the 1999 Okie-Tex Star Party.  After winging my way to Amarillo Texas, I drove north for a couple of hours through sparsely populated oil and cattle country.  Turningly populated oil and cattle country.  Turning west at Boise City, OK, I drove for another half hour through gradually ascending terrain, spying the black mesa near the conclusion.

    I stayed at the Black Mesa Bread and Breakfast.  The B&B is attentively run by Vickie, and incredibly quiet.  Here's a view out the back towards the Cimarron River.

  Dinosaur prints can be found through the area and towards the west to Clinton and Folsom New Mexico.  Here is one in a series of Iguanadon footprints.

The Black Mesa is a 40 mile long formation.  Here's a view from the top and a shot of the monument denoting the highest point (5000 feet) in Oklahoma that takes 1.5 hrs to reach on the trail.

    Close to 300 people attended the star party, held for the first time at the beautiful Camp Billy Joe.  Cooled moist air flowing down the mesa surrounding the site on three se mesa surrounding the site on three sides caused poor seeing and noticeably cooler temps.  Perhaps next year the organizers can add a telescope field just outside the Camp for better seeing conditions.  The transparency was superb, with the Gegenschein obvious at a glance.

Tom Krajci's ultralight 16 inch with spring counterweighting, and 6" solar scope on equatorial table.

Ron Muir's motorized dob

Rusty Fletcher's motorized dob with driver board placed inside the computer.

Two beautifully thought out and executed scopes: a wooden truss scope and a English yoke telescope

A 25 inch outfitted with a commercial drive system

    I gave two presentations: one on large thin mirror grinding and the other on computerizing telescopes.  Both seemed to go well.  Three computerized motorized scopes this year - perhaps there will be more next year!

    I recommend the star party as an unique experience and recommend the area in general as a place to explore.