Oregon Star Party History Main Page by Bruce Johnson, Group Photographer

OSP BEGINNINGS: The Oregon Star Parties in 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1991 were all held high on Steens Mountain in extreme Southeastern Oregon, This is one of the most remote and darkest sky locations in the entire United States! "Visibility" at Steens ranks among the highest still left in the United States (see page bottom for facts)!..... Steens Mountain rises in Harney County, near the Nevada border... The original Star Party Stalwarts at the dry lake site near Fish Lake, 7,400 ft high on Steens Mountain, Harney County
they are left to right Russ Johnson Robert Downs Bruce Johnson Candace Pratt John Buting Steve Huss and 
two daughters John Angell Judy and Chuck Dethloff Candace's son Garett was nearby riding his bicycleFrom 1992 to the present (2014), we have held OSP in the Ochoco Mountains near Prineville, Oregon, not nearly so high and remote, but still very dark skies.
To the left is the first official OSP Group Photo. It is from the 1989 event. We were tiny and intimate back then.....Our 1989 Group Photo shows 11 Stalwart Astro parents and kids relaxing at our observing site, a 7,400 ft high dry lake bed near Fish Lake on the west slopes of Steens Mountain.......... OSP Director Chuck and his wife Judy are on the far right. Author's Son Russ is on the far left. The OSP Committee members at that time were only four: myself, Chuck, Judy, and Candace. Find pictures of OSP 88 on the next page....For a complete story on "Big Red," the classy Coulter 10-inch Dob seen on the picture's left side,click here. Click here to see some classic OSP labels on Big Red!

OSP 1988- Steens

 OSP 1989- Steens-- the famous hubcap fisheye lens Group Photo!

 Maps of Oregon to Orient You

OSP 2009 Sunset

OSP 1991- Steens

 Steens Mountain tour

Gary and Carolyn Find OSP Ochocos site. Sorry, as of 2018-defunct

 Links, eg. Oregon Astronomy, Artists and Galleries, Save the Gribble Barn, and GoSaab

Meet Your Photographer

 OSP, Indian Trail Spring, Ochoco Mtns '92-'98. Includes 1994, and 1995 with John Dobson and Richard Berry

 OSP's new totem tree, the Lightning Tree (1995), plus section on the danger of Fire Closing down the OSP

 2003 Group Photo, OSP Ochocos... (tour the waters of Indian Trail Springs)

2002 Group Photo

2001 Group Photo and link to page about OSP tickets and raffles!

 2000 OSP images and

2000 Group Photo

 1999 Group Photo and my favorite OSP T-shirt design!

 See 1999 OSP 360 degree site panorama (a 2009 update one will be added soon)

 Robinson Jeffers, Wilderness Poet

1992 Group Photo (large size) and fairly large 1993 Group Photo

Typical OSP late afternoon temperature and humidity are ideal! Your optics stay dry at our 5,000 ft. site in the Ochoco Mountains of Central Oregon! Sunburn Risk at OSP is high even though we typically hold our event a full two months after Summer Solistice.
OSP UVB levels and Sunburn dangers at OSP--- Beware! UV intensity at OSP is usually much higher than you are accustomed to! In 2011, OSP was held more than two months after the Summer Solistice; nevertheless, I recorded a very high 374 on September 2nd; but back at my home in Olympia, Washington two days later I could only coax a reading of 272 out of my meter, and two days after that, on an apparently clear days, I could only get 238! At OSP 2011, even late morning UVB levels were over 300; eg. a strong 317 at 11:20am (Daylight time) on Saturday!. .... And back at OSP 2008, even higher readings were obtained, a blistering 390, despite the date of August 30th! This 390 reading is 140 points higher than I could coax out of my meter during the next few days after OSP at my home in Olympia, Washington (a result which I replicated in 2009)! For a full discussion of UVB levels and research in Oregon, click here. In relation to the high elevation of OSP, pay special attention to the section detailing late-season UVB readings at the comparable elevation of Timberline Lodge.
Click this link to Order "The Oregon Weather Book" by George Taylor. Also consider the companion volume which you will see listed called "The Climate of Oregon," also by George Taylor, Oregon State Climatologist...... this photographer's images appear on the front covers of both books. Both books are available from the OSU Press.

Back to OSP Main Page

Visit my Steens Mountain/Alvord Desert pages

Visit the Official OSP site's History Pages

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Page last revised 10/27/2023


Lovers of the out-of-doors delight in distant panoramas, but many have noticed with disappointment that days with crisp, clean air and fine distant panoramas are rarer and rarer all across the U.S...... historical accounts of early Oregon often mention the pleasing views of very distant mountain peaks available even from within the lowlands of the Willamette Valley, while early mountaineer's accounts mention feats of distant vision that astound the climbers of today, and which may never be rivalled again...... A good example are reports from such high points in Central Oregon as Paulina Peak that the major peaks from Oregon, California and Washington were all visible at one time, the minimum distance involved being 180 miles from 8,000 ft. Paulina Peak to 14,000 ft. Mt. Shasta in California, and 160 miles to 12,000 ft. Mt. Adams in Washington. (see below)

"Typical visual range in the eastern U.S. is 15 to 30 miles, or about one-third of what it would be without human caused air pollution. In the West, the typical visual range is 60 to 90 miles, or about one-half of the visual range under optimal natural conditions. Haze diminishes the natural visual range.

Haze is caused by fine particles that scatter and absorb light before it reaches the observer. As the number of fine particles increases, more light is absorbed and scattered, resulting in less clarity, color, and visual range." Source: Official Dept. of Agriculture Site: http://www.fsvisimages.com/viscause.html

"Dark Skies vs. Light Pollution"

Recently I came upon a really evocative article about the light pollution problem facing our World as a whole. The writer, Verlyn Klinkenborg, in this November 2008 National Geographic article, wrote:

"In most cities the sky looks as though it has been emptied of stars, leaving behind a vacant haze that mirrors our fear of dark and resembles the urban glow of dystopian science fiction. We've grown so used to this pervavsive orange haze that the original glory of an unlit night - dark enough for the planet Venus to throw shadows on Earth - is wholly beyond our experience, beyond memory almost. And yet above the city's pale ceiling, utterly undiminished by the light we waste - a bright shoal of stars and planets and galaxies, shining in seemingly infinite darkness."