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The Nebraska Star Party

Living not far from the Great Plains for many years, I've been an on-and-off visitor to this major star party. It's been one of my favorites, and even though I've been away for a few years, I intend to come back to visit more regularly in the future.

The Nebraska Star Party is a relative newcomer to the star party scene; the first NSP was held in 1994. Even so, it's grown impressively -- the second NSP, held from July 24 to July 30, 1995, had nearly 200 attendees. Conceived by the Prairie Astronomy Club (PAC) in Lincoln, Nebraska while considering dark-sky sites relatively close to home, the NSP is an unabashed dark sky party in the tradition of parties like the Texas Star Party.

The NSP is held at the Merritt Reservoir State Recreational Area in Cherry County in north-central Nebraska (shown shaded in the Nebraska map above). As the nearest town, Valentine, has only 2800 people and is nearly thirty miles away, interference from urban lights is virtually nonexistent. The nearest large town -- population over 50,000 -- isn't even in the same state; it's Rapid City, South Dakota, a mere 120 miles from the NSP observing site.

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