header graphic

Deep South Regional Star Gaze

Deep South Regional Star Gaze logo

Location - 11 miles east of Norwood, Louisiana
Time - October / November
Length - Five days (Wednesday through Sunday)
Size - 100 to 160, typically
Website - www.stargazing.net/dsrsg
My DSRSG images

Nice weather, good skies, old friends and five days without work... What more can you ask for? Well, how about door prizes, observing programs, guest lectures and presentations, midnight snacks and more?

Overseen by Barry Simon (from the Ponchartrain Astronomy Society, I consider the DSRSG to be my "home" star party, partly because I'm also a PAS member (from a long distance), but also because it's the first star party I attended after getting interested in amateur astronomy in the late 1980s. For me, it's a pleasant 3 hour drive - Just far enough to be "away from home", yet not a taxing journey.

For most of its 25 year history, the DSRSG was held at Percy Quin State Park about six miles southwest of McComb, Mississippi. While PQSP is a beautiful park and in general was very friendly to the event, the slow but inevitable growth of McComb finally necessitated a move to a darker location. Prompted in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, it was moved to Camp Ruth Lee, about 11 miles east of Norwood, Louisiana. This is a pleasant, green and slightly rolling terrain.

CRL's facilities at present are a little less developed than PQSP, but that's not always a bad thing. After all, what generally makes for a good observing site is precisely a lack of development! For example, while the cabins are presently not heated, they're also much closer to the observing field. The dining hall is conveniently located adjacent to the observing field, and you can get a midnight hamburger or bowl of chili if a cravin' gets flung on ya (as Jerry C. used to say).

To me, the "feel" of the DSRSG is that of old friends gathered together for a long weekend of good company and good observing. Speaking of observing, the move to Camp Ruth Lee has made a definite improvement on the observing conditions, given McComb's expansion over the years. The observing field is roughly square, with excellent access for vehicles and equipment on all sides. There is a partially covered pavilion adjacent to the southwest corner of the field, making an excellent spot for vendors to setup. Horizons are very reasonable, grass coverage good and there's a nice little lake within a short walk of the field.

Attendees at the DSRSG tend to concentrate primiarly from the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama area. While the star party is not officially sponsored by any one astronomical club or society, several organizations within the area help in various ways. Over the years, there have been various well-known speakers at the DSRSG, including David Levy, Dave Eicher and Phil Harrington. However, a recent trend (based on attendee input) has leaned toward simply using the resources that would have been applied to a guest speaker instead toward additional prizes, etc. and simply going with a less structured approach. Whether or not this is a long term approach remains to be seen.