Oklahoma legislators have ‘stars’ in their eyes

OK, OK, OK—we know there are many more important things for state legislators to be doing.  But they did it anyway. They passed a bill designating the Rosette Nebula as Oklahoma’s astronomical object. All it needs is the governor’s signature.

House Bill 1292 passed the Senate on a 31-12 vote. Rep. Nicole Miller, a Republican from Edmond authored the bill which names the Rosette Nebula in the Monoceros constellation as the official astronomical object of the state.

“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.”

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.”

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

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

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