FWAS maintains three separate dark-sky observing sites in Texas (aka "dark sites"). Each has its unique observing properties and characteristics. These dark sites that are manitained by volunteer club members afford members private, secure, dark locations from which to observe and explore the hobby of amateur astronomy. We encourage all members to go out and use these site as often as you like.
FWAS owns four 10-inch Dobsonians, two 12-inch Dobsonians, one 14.5-inch Dobsonian and a 19.5-inch equatorial fork newtonian, as well as eyepieces and other equipment, all of which are available for membersí use at our dark sites.
The dark site is open to all current FWAS members at all times throughout the year. On special occassions, FWAS holds large club events such as Novice Nights for members new to the hobby wanting to learn more about their equipment and observing techniques. The club also holds several club picnics at the site throughout the year, which includes good food cooked on site and socializing with all the members before sundown.
During the spring, we often hold a Messier Marathon at one of our closer dark sites. These are fun, friendly competitions between members to see who can find the most objects from the Messier list of deep sky objects.
Our closest observing site to Fort Worth is located on a privately owned, 600-acre, nature preserve approximately 70 miles north of downtown. FWAS moved to this new dark site location in 2010. We have concrete pads with electricity on site. We also have a state-of-the-art weather station at this site which gives the current weather situation and forecasts there. This information is accessible by our members online, aiding them in planning observing sessions before driving out to this remote site. Several other onsite amenities (wi-fi, bathroom, grill, covered pavillion and picnic area, etc.) also provide comfort and convience for most members' long and short term observing needs, all in a secure, scenic wilderness area away from the light-polluted city skies.
NOTE: Over night camping IS NOT allowed by the host organization of this property.
FWAS also has use of a 36 acre property about 100 miles WSW of downtown Ft. Worth, that formerly was used by the UNT astronomy department. FWAS now has free use and development of the property. Our "Ed Calvert" 19.5 inch equatorial newtonian telescope is now housed permanently at this location and will be in its own observatory building.
NOTE: Overnight camping IS ALLOWED at this site. However, there is no running water or plumbed restrooms at this site. USB, 12VDC, and 115VAC Solar Power electricity is now available, and an indoor solar powered composting toilet is coming soon.
Our other dark sky location that was donated to the club late in 2014, is a 7 acre property on top of a mesa out in far west Texas in the Davis Mountains about 6 miles SW of the McDonald Observatory. This is our most remote dark sky observing location and is one of the darkest sky location available in the entire contenental US!
NOTE: There are no structures, facilites or amenities at this location currently. This property has been put on the market to sell to allow FWAS to focus on other objectives for the club in the future. Please contact FWAS if you are interested in buying the property.
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Star Party Etiquette
All FWAS members should read and follow the star party etiquette guidelines on the provided link, before attending a star party or the club's dark site.
Star Party Etiquette is the courtesies and guidelines that all members hould follow to prevent interrupting or interferring with another member's observing or astrophotography session.
Many of our members who do astrophotography spend hours taking exposures of faint objects and a flashlight or headlights can ruin all that effort.
Also lights will wash out a person's dark adaption in their eyes requiring at least 45 minutes to reestablish full dark adaption again. So please familiarize yourself with and follow these simple common sense rules at star parties and dark sites.