TSP May 17-24, 2020- near Fort Davis, TX

The TSP schedule is arranged with the astronomer in mind, with nothing scheduled in the mornings. But there are lots of unscheduled activities as well, including items of interest for your spouse and children!

Here’s an activities list to tell you more:


We have programs in the Meeting Hall with amateur paper-sessions on many afternoons and special guest speakers in the evenings. A great opportunity to make new friends and share with folks you already know.

Here is a tentative schedule and list of our Evening Guest Speakers.

Help us by volunteering to present a talk at one of our afternoon paper sessions. ( Call For Papers)

Great Texas Giveaway I and II

The Great Texas Giveaway is held in two parts. On Friday night after the lecture, some door prizes will be given, including one or more of the Grand Prizes. On Saturday night, the remaining prizes and Grand Prizes will be given away. The winners of regular door prizes on either night will be eligible also for Grand Prizes. Non-winners on Friday night will be eligible for prizes on Saturday night. You must be present to win.

Check out our
list of Vendors that donate Doorprizes.

Show  your  Stuff!

Amateur Telescope-Making

Amateur telescope and accessory makers (ATMs) from all over the world will have all week to evaluate and show their work and share ideas.
Find out all about it on our ATM page!

Astrophoto Contest

Like ATMs, astrophotographers will appreciate this opportunity to show off their creations. Bring your favorite photographs for critique by some qualified “shutter-bugs”. Awards will be given to the outstanding astrophotos on display in the following categories:

  • Solar System: the moon, sun, planets, comets, etc.
  • Deep Sky: galaxies, nebulae, star clusters, etc.
  • Wide Field: covering several degrees of sky or more, the main subject being a constellation or other group of stars, a section of the Milky Way, or other widely-spaced objects.
  • Peoples Choice Award: determined by popular vote of your fellow TSP attendees!

Turn in your astrophoto entries at the Registration table (and fill-in entry-form) EARLY in the week.

Astronomy Art Competition

Bring your best sketches, drawings, paintings, or mixed media to be judged by your TSP peers. Turn in your entries at the Registration table (and fill-in entry-form) EARLY in the week. Awards will be given to the most outstanding artwork on Saturday night.

 Swap Meet

Amateurs who want to join in some good old-fashioned horse-trading will want to take part in the Swap Meet on Friday morning. It will be located in front of the Vendor’s Display Building. Bring your own card table, blanket, or tailgate!

Commercial Displays

The Vendor Pavilion provides product exhibits by manufacturers and vendors and is located next to the Central Observing field and bathhouse.  The vendors will be open from 10:00-12 Noon and 1:30 to 5 PM starting Monday and through Saturday.

As a courtesy to observers and astrophotographers, there is absolutely no commercial selling/display of wares on observing fields without approval of TSP staff. Interested in being a TSP vendor or showing your wares? Read our Vendor Information page

Many vendors can be seen on our list of Vendors that donate Doorprizes.

Bus Tours to McDonald Observatory

The W.J. McDonald Observatory, owned and operated by The University of Texas, is on the summit of 6,800 foot Mt. Locke in the heart of the Davis Mountains. The Observatory has telescopes for optical, infrared, and radio wavelengths. The telescopes include 368, 107, 82, 36, and 30 inch instruments.

Bus tours to the Observatory will be held at various times during the week. Sign up on one of the Sign-up sheets on the wall outside behind the Ranch Office (the outdoor line for Dining Hall). Then purchase your ticket(s) at the Ranch Office. Tentative cost for the bus is $9/person plus a $7/person special tour fee; total of $16/person.

Keeping an Eye on the Weather

We will obtain weather satellite pictures/loops of cloud movements for the area as well as the latest forecasts. Weather information is obtained at the TSP Radio Building (look for antenna tower).

Launch the —> TSP Weather Center Display

Pictures are available during daytime hours on the weather display adjacent to the Ranch Office. A white kiosk with weather pictures will be located near the Lodge building located just north of the Upper observing field.

Check out the TSP Weather Center for other weather links

Authorizing School-aged Children

The Texas Education Agency no longer provides a list of sanctioned Extracurricular Activities, since the Texas Legislature has seen fit to place this area directly with the local school districts. Therefore, if you would like to attend TSP with your child and have an excused-absence, then you will need to persuade your local school officials to obtain their permission.

TSP was on the TEA list for many years, until the list was discontinued. TSP is a non-profit event, operated as an education activity for astronomy. We have scheduled daily paper-sessions and evening talks presented by amateur and professional astronomers. There is much practice and learning of astronomy and related subjects in the observing fields each night. TSP provides a unique opportunity to observe the nighttime skies without local lights diminishing dark-adaptation, and in dark skies away from city light-pollution.

View some helpful letters and endorsements, to assist your school district officials for evaluation of this extracurricular activity.