WEB: Robbins Star Party Here to Stay
MASP is saved.
The Mid Atlantic Star Party -- an October gathering that has brought as many as 500 stargazers to view the starry Robbins sky -- will take place after all, Oct. 16 - 22.
Construction at the Occoneechee Scout Reservation forced a scheduling conflict that deprived MASP of its usual hilltop location. Moore County and the towns of Robbins and Carthage, in particular, were in danger of losing the festival to another site.
Party organizer John Dilday made a special trip Thursday night to meet with members of the NC STEP team and Robbins Mayor Mickey Brown at the Town Hall. Theron Bell introduced him to the mix of community and county people who comprise the three-year N.C. Rural Center small-town economic prosperity initiative.
Dilday congratulated Moore County on its Dark Park initiative (www.darkpark.org) to preserve the clear sky view. He talked of nights camping out at the reservation and realizing, as he looked up into the starry sky, that the varying colors of stars could be seen -- something made difficult in cities by the night glow of so many lights.
"Some were red, others blue," he said. "We are halfway between Washington and Atlanta, halfway between Stellafane (a New England star party begun in 1921) and one in the Florida keys."
He said he didn't want to move MASP but might be forced to. Dilday told the Robbins team he needed to find an available seven to 10-acre spot.
The town of Robbins has been counting on developing astronomical tourism and the chance of losing the star party would have been a setback.
Several possibilities were mentioned, calls were made.
And a promise was made: Robbins would find a place for this year and a permanent site for the future.
Dilday stayed after the meeting. Brown had a tour already mapped out. There first stop turned out to be just right, in some ways even better than the scout camp.
At a hillside owned by a local motorcycle club, Brothers of the Horizon, Brown and Dilday looked over the large meeting hall, the picnic area, the available power and the grassy hill.
"It's staying here!!!" Brown quickly e-mailed commissioners. "It's closer to Robbins, off Lakey Siding Road -- that's the back road to North Moore (school) -- tell you all the details later. We'll need to help them in some things and be present that week to show our support."
Registration is open at the MASP website (www.masp.org). Visitors and campers are welcome.
The annual star party is -- as always -- going to cover a dark hilltop between Robbins and Carthage with the tubes and mirrors and lenses that take viewers far into the universe.
It will just be a different hill this year.
See Wednesday's Pilot and ThePilot.com for the full story.
More like this story