Greetings. We hope you had a safe and happy holiday season.
Now that the holidays are over and winter is in full swing, it’s time to think of good times ahead. What could be more inspiring on a cold, wet winter night than to think of clear dark skies with our scopes pointed skyward surrounded by astronomy friends (old and new)?
We were all sad that OSP 2020 went the way of many things we normally cherish. It was a difficult, but necessary, decision cancel last summer’s star party, but we wanted to let you know that planning for August 3 – 8, 2021 is well underway with some changes planned for this year’s event.
The biggest challenge for OSP 2021 continues to be COVID and how we’ll be able to have a safe star party this summer. There are a lot of organizational decisions that have to be made so that we will be able to hold a safe star party this summer, and there will be personal decisions each and every attendee will have to make so everyone feels safe going to an event like a star party… any star party… this year. One thing is for sure… we’ll need to create an OSP community spirit where every person does their part– all of us working together to make it safe.
If OSP 2021 is able to happen (and we are optimistic it will) it will be the safest star party in the country. That’s a bold promise that we don’t make with some disillusioned sense that we’d able to impact science, but because we’ve made a firm commitment to our attendees that we will do what we have to do to make OSP a safe event for everyone. If we can’t make enough attendees feel safe, then we will (regrettably) cancel just as we did in 2020. As dark as it seems right now there is a light at the end of the tunnel and if that light shines bright and safe OSP will be ready.
Changes have already happened that won’t be immediately apparent to OSP attendees. Andy Phelps got a new job that will probably preclude him attending in 2021, so he stepped down as Director this summer with Bill Carberry agreeing to step in as the new Director. Andy has agreed to stay involved as an Asst Director, so we still have his background for planning 2021, and Chris George has also agreed to serve as Assistant Director. The Committee membership and roles have largely remained the same, but Bill, Andy and Chris will be joined by Duncan Kitchin and Steve Weiler to for a new leadership committee called the Director’s Team that will do the week-to-week work to plan for 2021.
The biggest change that is planned for 2021 will impact every attendee before they even get to this summer’s star party. We have put in a permit application with the US Forest Service to do road improvements to the 4.2 miles of dirt roads leading into Indian Spring Trail. We’ve proposed grading on most of those two roads with some re-gravel work where needed with the clearing of tree branches and the removal of some dead trees that are safety concerns. This work will be done in the spring when the roads are
dry enough, and the plan is to drag the roads right before the star party to smooth them out just before arrival. The permit application is still in the approval process, but the feedback from the ranger station has been positive.
We will publish this newsletter several times over the spring as plans for 2021 firm up, and we have more insight on the prospects for a safe OSP 2021.
Have a safe winter and spring.
Your OSP Director Team
Bill Carberry – Director
Andy Phelps – Asst Director
Chris George – Asst Director