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The Webfooted Astronomer - July 2000


A Star Party That's Smaller Than Table and Closer Than OSP

WANT a week of mile-high, dark sky observing? Want a smaller, more intimate star party than Table Mountain? Do you want a Northwest star party that's closer than the Oregon Star Party?

The Mt. Kobau Star Party (MKSP), July 29–August 6, is just 275 miles from Seattle near Osoyoos, British Columbia. Osoyoos (pronounced oh-SOO-yuss) is just across the Washington/British Columbia border north of Oroville, Washington.

The summit of Mt. Kobau (KOE-boe) is 1,860 m (6,045 ft.) above sea level. Bordering the desert-like Okanagan Valley in British Columbia's southern interior, Mt. Kobau's summer days are often warm, but the coal-black nights are usually cool, sometimes very cold. The mountaintop is virtually a wilderness area, with access to the clear, steady skies. Each year, over 150 dedicated deep-sky enthusiasts trek to Mt. Kobau, dotting it with tents, trucks and telescopes.

Early arrivals at MKSP can enjoy two unique astronomical events with the stunning vista presented at the Kobau summit. A partial solar eclipse takes place on the evening of July 30, and on July 31 there is a daytime occultation of Venus low in the west at 7:30 p.m. PDT by an (invisible) one-day-old moon.


Because many star partiers can only manage a two or three night stay, all services and talks will be confined to the traditional MKSP period, Wednesday to Saturday inclusive (August 2 - 5). Some of this year's speakers include Murray Paulson, Ken Hewitt-White, Jack Newton, Gary Seronik, Tom Cameron, Dr. Lewis Knee, and Ernie Pfannenschmidt

The MKSP astrophotography contest seeks a top image in each of four categories: Prime Focus, Piggyback, Novice and Exceptional Astrophoto. For amateur telescope makers, MKSP offers competition in four areas: Mechanical Excellence, First Time Telescope, Dobsonians, and Other Astronomical Equipment. There's also a swap meet and door prizes.


The Kobau access point is about 400 km (250 miles) east of Vancouver, on Highway 3. The gate is always open and is marked by a sign labeled "Kobau Lookout Forest Road." Look for the turnoff on the north side of the highway at the crest of a hill about 35 km (22 miles) east of Keremeos, or 11 km (7 miles) west of Osoyoos, near the B.C./U.S.border at Oroville, Washington. The bumpy, dusty road to the summit is only 20 km (12 miles), and any kind of family car in reasonably good repair can make it, but you are advised to go slowly. Expect 30–45 minutes for the ascent.


Pre-registration is welcome, but not required. It is not possible to reserve space on the mountaintop. Registration rates are payable by check or money order in Canadian Funds: One Person/One Night, $15; Two or More People/One Night, $25; One Person/2 or More Nights, $30; Two or More People/2 or More Nights, $50. Mail to: MKSP Registrar, P.O. Box 20119 TCM, Kelowna, B.C., CANADA, V1Y 9H2.

For more information, see the MKSP Web site at or Jim Failes (President), Laird Bowie (Vice-President) at, Ron Scherer (Secretary) at, or Caroline Wallace (Registrar) at

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