Rocky Mountain Star Stare


The new site at Gardner Colorado - 180 panorama from the East edge of the main field


Colorado Springs Astronomical Society


Gardner, Colorado          37 50' 40.17" N    105 11' 27.52" W    Elevation: 7650


Thur Sun in June/July  -  Preregistration is required, limited to 300 participants


Per person - $35 for early registration, $70 for normal registration



2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011 


Through 2008 - Forest Service lands, no improvements, different location each year

Starting 2009 - CSAS has purchased land near Gardner, CO.  There will be no more arbitrary Forest Service restrictions.  Gardner is near the south end of the state, just about straight west, and a tad north,  of Walsenburg.  The site is almost pure sand/dust and high winds are also a common occurrence, so plan accordingly.  There is a main observing field of about 10 acres, the remaining 25 acres are wooded with smaller openings.  Many folks camp out in the woods and find enough sky to play with their scopes.

This is a friendly bunch to go camping with.  Most participants are members of CSAS, but they welcome anyone to the party.  Various observing challenges are presented.  There is an ATM walk-about, with prizes awarded to the best in several categories.  There is the normal large door prize drawing.  Several presentations throughout the week are given by experts and avid amateurs, covering topics from basic observing, to CCD imaging, to photometry, to....  Kids programs are also on the schedule.   Evening meals are catered, for an additional fee.  Skies are very good, with many folks staying up all night.  Things are generally quiet after sundown.

This early in the summer in Colorado you have to expect afternoon thunderstorms, and gusty winds, with clearing at sunset. 

Vendors were sometimes allowed by the Forest Service.  With the move to Gardner, I expect vendors to become a regular fixture.






Pictures & Report 


Pictures & Report 


Held at O'Brien's Gulch

No fires, no smoke. Lots of clouds. Thursday night was the fastest cycling of clouds I've ever seen. Watched Vega flash like a slow strobe. Cleared about 2 am, but I had given up by then.

Friday night was superb. Clear all night, good transparency, very little turbulence. Dad got some CCD images without much difficulty. I banged around Sagittarius and then dug out the binoculars and recliner for the remainder of the night.

Saturday night was a total loss to clouds.

No weather other than clouds and the occasional breeze.

Organization was very good - registration was quick and painless, schedule was set and printed on the back of the name tags, porta potties were pumped and cleaned daily

Skipped the catered meals

For the first time they had official vendors. (Used to be a couple that came up and traded on the sly, but now the Forest Service has relaxed the rules so it can be profitable for a vendor) AstroSystems, S & S Optika and AstroTour.Com were present and doing booming business.


Held at Tarryall Meadows

Renamed Rocky Mountain Smoke Stare - Colorado is having one of the driest years on record, quite a bit of smoke haze in the air

Single digit humidity, temperature in the mid 90s and above normal daytime winds all three days we were there

Thursday and Friday evenings were mild, no wind, and seeing was very good

Saturday afternoon (95 degrees and 25+ mph winds) some idiot, who thought the fire ban that was in effect didn't apply to them, had a campfire about 5 miles east of the star party and it got away. Saturday evening we were asked to evacuate the area, by Sunday evening over 20,000 acres were involved. Watching the slurry bombers do their thing, while we were packing and getting out, was awesome. Some folks took until after dark to leave and had some neat flame and glow views

Organization was very good - registration was quick and painless, schedule was set and printed on the back of the name tags, porta potties were pumped and cleaned daily

Skipped the catered meals


Held at O'Brien's Gulch

Excellent skies

Weather hot and dry

Organization was poor - registration was quick and painless, schedule was non-existent, porta potties were not tended to at all

Catered meals were so-so


Held at Tarryall Meadows

Excellent skies, early evening cloudiness all nights, latest cleared by 11pm

Weather warm, afternoon t-storms, no wind

Jim Burr from JMI brought out the NTT-25 telescope. 25" folded Newtonian (eyepiece is ~65" from ground), GOTO alt/az mount, field de-rotator built into focuser. Awesome machine

Organization was fairly good - registration was quick and painless, schedule was available by Friday AM, porta potties were pumped and cleaned Friday afternoon - full and messy by Saturday night

Catered meals were excellent

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