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Minutes of July Meeting and Dedication of Cheddar Ranch Observatory

          Oklahoma Space Alliance met at the Koszoru house on July 26 at 2:30 p.m. Attending were Tom and Heidi Koszoru, Claire McMurray, John Northcutt and Syd Henderson. This was an abbreviated meeting since we had an activity later in the day.
          Syd was informed that John Northcutt is still appearing as the VP in Outreach, and this needs to be corrected [and has been].
          The Discovery Channel is doing a history of the Apollo Program called "When We Left Earth."
          July 20, 2009 is the 40th anniversary of the first manned landing on the Moon. Should we do a mall display. Claire wants to do a display that looks forward.
          Tom is going to check with the 99ers in Oklahoma City about Yuri's Night 2009.

          Tom and Heidi Koszoru, Claire and Clifford McMurray and Syd Henderson went to the dedication of the Cheddar Ranch Observatory on July 26. This Observatory is owned by the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club. Oklahoma Space Alliance brought crackers and M&Ms for the dedication and materials to promote Oklahoma Space Alliance. However, since the occasion was primarily to promote the Astronomy Club, our food got a lot more attention than our printed materials. There was also a considerable amount of outreach from the Astronomy Club to the local communities, including students from the Watonga schools.
           Note, though, that "local" here is relative. The Observatory is about ninety minutes drive from Norman and maybe fifty from El Reno, and not close to any towns. Watonga and Greenfield are the nearest town, and both are ten miles away on country roads. In other words, the sky was plenty dark for stargazing, and I saw many constellations and more of the Milky Way than I had seen before. The Moon was in its last quarter, hence was not in the sky in the evening, which is why this was a Dark Sky Night Observing Party. The next weekend was the new moon, and there was another Dark Star Party that I didn't make it to.
          There was a reception and tour, followed by a video on how to observe the stars, then we went out to look at the stars through binoculars and telescope. The Cheddar Ranch Observatory has a 12-inch telescope that used to belong to the University of Oklahoma Observatory; they are seeking to purchase a 32-inch telescope, which would be enormous for an amateur astronomy club.
          The Club was friendly and glad to have people to share their obsession. Jupiter was the only one of the visible planets that was high in the sky. The 12-inch telescope was powerful enough to show the cloud bands on the planet. Up to three of the moons were visible at one time, and I suspect we saw all four before we left. A couple of the members had laser pointers which they used to point out constellations and notable objects. I can now locate Hercules, Corona Boreales and Libra. Lyra and Scorpius were particularly bright.
          In case you missed this dedication, the Astronomy Club will have a Dark Sky Party on September 6, also at the Cheddar Ranch. However, their big event of the fall is the 25 Annual Okie-Tex Star Party at Black Mesa from September 27 - October 5, advertised as having some of the darkest skies in the South West. For more information, visit their website, www.okcastroclub.com.

--Submitted by OSA Secretary Syd Henderson

To contact Oklahoma Space Alliance, e-mail Syd Henderson.
PO Box 1003
Norman, OK 73070
Copyright 2008 Oklahoma Space Alliance.