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Deborah Byrd to speak at Texas Star Party

Deborah Byrd: A girl in a puffy jacket and sock hat, standing next to the base of a large telescope.
Star struck: Deborah Byrd in 1978. In the background is the 82-inch telescope at McDonald Observatory in West Texas. Photo by Marsha Canright.

EarthSky’s own Deborah Byrd will speak at the 2022 Texas Star Party, which runs from April 24 to May 1. Deborah’s speech will be livestreamed on the Texas Star Party’s Facebook page (accessible only to members) and after the event on YouTube. Her speech will be on Thursday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m. CDT. The title of the speech is “The Heritage of the Texas Star Party.”

Deborah Byrd and the Texas Star Party

Deborah was one of the original organizers of the Texas Star Party. In the late 1970s, Byrd was fortunate to make many visits to McDonald Observatory in West Texas. While there, she would spend the nights visiting the various telescope domes on Mount Locke, talking with astronomers about their research.

Inspired by these experiences, and by the clear dark skies of the Davis Mountains of West Texas, she decided to ask the Observatory for some nighttime viewing hours at the 30-inch telescope. She wanted groups of amateur astronomers to be able to visit the mountain at night.

Spearheaded by Byrd, the Texas Star Party was born in 1979. It became an event where amateur astronomers brought their own telescopes to the nearby Davis Mountains State Park and spent their nights under West Texas skies, gazing at the heavens. In 1982, the Texas Star Party moved to the Prude Guest Ranch near Fort Davis, Texas. It’s still held annually in late April or in May near the time of new moon, attracting hundreds of attendees each year from North America and the world.

StarDate and EarthSky

In 1978, Deborah created the radio program StarDate. She produced the radio show with McDonald Observatory until 1991, when she left to create the radio program Earth & Sky, which aired from 1991 to 2013. The Earth & Sky radio program evolved into the website you see now, EarthSky.org.

Bottom line: Deborah Byrd, the founder of EarthSky.org, will be giving a talk at the Texas Star Party on Wednesday, April 28, 2022. It will be livestreamed on Facebook and available later on YouTube.

Read more: Astronomers award 2020 Education Prize to Deborah Byrd

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