OSP History, Steens 1988

---1988, it was the year before OSP became officially named and sanctioned---

and the founding place and moment of the Oregon Star Party near Fish Lake in
Harney County, OregonWhat's this? It's 1988 on Steens Mountain in far SE Oregon. It is the beginning of OSP (sound of trumpets). We are at 7,371 foot high Fish Lake.

That's Chuck Dethloff, who most regard as the event's founder, he writes, "...OSP was born one spectacular night in 88 when (as you probably remember) we had a soaking rain in the early evening followed by clearing and some of the most spectacular skies I can remember having at Steens. The summer Milky Way was incredibly detailed right down to the southern horizon."

"I had already been thinking about starting up a regional star party in the Northwest and that spark was the catalyst for action. I remember exclaiming that night, "this is the Oregon Star party". Officially the star party and committee was formed after returning to Portland and conferring with Dale Fenske and the PAS Board. The rest is history..."

1988 OSP 1988 with Chuck and Judy, Candace Pratt,
John Buting, Bruce Swayze, John Angell, Steve Nehl and family, Steve Hess and children, Craig Stott
on the far right, and space artist John Foster 1988

Craig Stott, the fellow on the far right in the blue jeans, remembers back to that historic Steens trip:

"With more hair, less gut and no glasses; yes, it's me. If I can recall that time, it was the year of the all night thunder and lightning storm. Then I remember the next night was very clear and transparent. I especially remember the view of M51 through (Steve) Swayze's 30" reflector. It looked a lot like a fully exposed photograph of the galaxy. I have not seen it as good or clear since that time. It was a great star party."

Picture notes: Steve Swayze is the fellow in the blue shirt just right of center, and his 30" hand-made jewel is seen to the left rear of the picture. A recent picture of Steve can be seen in the 2004 Group Photo, where Steve is squatting just to the left of center in the front row. He is still one of the nation's premier custom mirror makers.....

The fifteeen Participants of this very first pre-OSP trip are as follow: In the front row (crouching, left to right): Candace Pratt, Liz and Steve Nehl and their two sons Brian and Eric with their black Lab Deimos. Then John Buting, John Foster (the space artist), then Craig Stott standing on the end. Steve Swayze, standing on the other side of the Meade Schmidt Cassegrain, then a friend of Steve's named John Angell and John's wife Darcey standing in the back. .Just to the right of the big white telescope is Steven Huss, who also appears in the 1989 Group photo with two of his children...... and on the left end, of course, are Chuck and Judy Dethloff next to their 16" Meade Newtonian. Chuck writes, "John Angell, not myself, is the person responsible for leading RCA down to Steens in 1988."... Steve Swayze adds more interesting details in this comment from 2009, "...on the 1988 Steens Mt. first star party. The little girl in white, seen right in front of John and Darcey Angell, is John Buting's companion that he had along. I think her name is Lupe. She was from Peru or somewhere down there. It's pronounced Lu pay... I remember her, she was a real kick. John and Darcey hadn't had any kids yet, as of '88. Their first, Ariel was at OSP this year [2009], at the age of 17. She won the eight inch Orion dob door prize."

Note: Bruce Johnson, OSP Group Photographer for all the official years 1989-2005, did not take the 1988 picture; his first year of attendance was 1989.... Bruce thinks the group photo above was a self-timer shot taken by Candace's camera and years later given to him to use.

Remembering a Steens thunderstorm from 1988, Steve Nehl writes, "I remember I was just going to sleep under an awning off our camper,
watching the lightning in the distance, when a huge gust of wind took
the awning away and the rain and lightning hit. I jumped up and saw
someone's C-14 out in the open taking the rain, I covered it with a tarp
and gathered up various items that had blown around then took shelter in
our camper with some scared kids and my wife.... what a great couple of days we had there, great
views under black skies filled with rich fields of stars." Steve has been a staff photographer for Oregon's main newpaper The Oregonian for many years.

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last revised: 10/21/2020