2003 CalStar - A Stellar Group

by Jane E. Smith

2003 Cal Star… good friends, good skies, good grub and good times… what more can a body ask?

I always look forward to Cal Star. It may not be the biggest or the most prestigious of star parties, but you couldn't ask for a greater group of people. And for me, it's the people who count, special friends with whom to share the night skies and the treasures we find there. My list of treasures was long from this year, but this OR is about people so I'll save my astro-report for a later post.

As a relative newbie to TAC, I still have lots of names which lack faces, but this year I was able to whittle on the list a bit. I stumbled onto Jim Blanchard quite by accident. Spying his 14.5" Starmaster, I wandered over to take a look. And there he sat, million-dollar smile in tact and friendly as could be. Of course, I recognized the name immediately. And it was a great pleasure to finally meet Nilesh and Minal, sterling individuals of whom I've heard so many glowing reports. I also checked off Phil Chambers as he was setup near by, and neighbors always meet neighbors. And Debbie from the southern parts of California, thanks for coming over to introduce yourself. It's such a pleasure to meet another female astronomer in the midst of this male-dominated hobby. However, I think the female contingent is on the rise…Michelle, Mars, Stacy, Arkanna, JHJ, Debbie, and so many others whom I've yet to meet… our numbers are growing!

I also had the pleasure of matching a voice to a name and face I already knew. It was Saturday night late, the Dude and I had wandered down to pay a social call on DDK and the BP. While we sat around, I listened to the most interesting voice relate a story of a globular cluster discovery. It was very dark and this man's hat was pulled low, obscuring his face. I'd never heard the voice. Finally my curiosity got the best of me and I leaned over to ask Jamie who it was. Turns out it was Jim Everitt… a face and name I know well from SSP.

Of course, it's always a pleasure to have a chance to kibbutz with old friends. Mark Wagner…couldn't help but notice the svelte new body he's sportin' these days! Keep eating those "pig chips", Mark. And Evan Garber, fellow Bailey's fan, always great fun. My shower buddy, Stacy. "Madame Plettstone", the extraordinary Michelle Stone. Bob Jardine… thanks for the calendar delivery! Steve Sargeant, the most beautiful hair on TAC. And Turley, glad to finally be able to thank you in person for the beautiful job you did on my astro print of Andromeda. Good to see fellow SSP Committee members Jim B and Richard O. And Navarette… what a lovely man! Fellow TAC-SACos Bill, Alvin, and Marc. The crazy-zaney, always entertaining Bill Dean. Great also to hook up with Ed Smith who crossed our path at OSP and found his way to CalStar. And Jamie Dillon, whose capacity for warmth, wealth of information, and fabulous hugs always keep me coming back for more.

Brian Zehring was there, sparkling and shiny as always. He made big points with the local raccoons... cuisine ala Brian! Poor guy, he was suffering bigtime after the critters ate all his Doritos... major carbo withdrawal. I'd sure like to know how he stays so skinny and pretty eating all those chips. Brian, please share your secret!

Rashad, another favorite TACo and major star party personality. His laugh is absolutely intoxicating. Gary and I spent a fair amount of time admiring his beautiful new 16" scope, a Night Sky, very classy.

Finally, the special, one-of-a-kind Gary "the Dude" Manning. And dear and absent friends, ZZ, Mars, Ster, and Czerwinski, you were sorely missed.

What a way to end the year! It was a great star party… from towing the trailer, to my trips to the toilet… 2003 CalStar was a winner. My special thanks to Mike, Mark, and the many others who worked so hard to make it happen.