Rosette Nebula

Picture of the Star Cluster NGC 2244 and the surrounding Rosette Nebula

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Legislature today passed House Bill 1292, which designates the Rosette Nebula as the state astronomical object. It passed the Senate 31-12.

House Bill 1292, by Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond, names the Rosette Nebula in the Monoceros constellation as the official astronomical object of Oklahoma.

“Our state has a long connection with the space industry,” Miller said. “Every year, hundreds of people from around the country gather in Oklahoma’s panhandle to stargaze at Black Mesa State Park, and by naming a state astronomical object, we’re helping to promote tourism in our state and encourage STEM education.”

It was authored in the Senate by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman.

“We’re learning more about the universe every day,” Standridge said. “I hope this designation will inspire future Oklahoma astronomers to add to that knowledge with new discoveries.”

Rep. Kenton Patzkowsky, R-Balko, served as a coauthor of HB 1292 and represents District 61, which includes the panhandle.

“The Oklahoma Panhandle, which is home to Black Mesa State Park, is known for some of the darkest night skies in the United States, which makes for fantastic stargazing opportunities,” Patzkowsky said. “Combined with Black Mesa being the highest point in the state, we already attract one of the largest stargazing parties in the country. Having an astronomical object to call our own will increase the interest in this activity and boost tourism dollars for our area.”

Miller said one of her District 82 constituents, Bill Murrell, is involved in the Oklahoma Astronomy Club and brought the designation to her attention.

HB 1292 passed the House 88-9 in early March.

Having passed both legislative chambers, the bill is now available to be signed into law by the governor.

Caleb Slinkard was hired as the editor of the Norman Transcript in August of 2015. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University-Commerce and previously was in charge of several newspapers in northeast Texas.