#astronomy Effectively-loved Astronomy Expo Involves an Finish

October 22, 2019 - Comment

The RTMC Astronomy Expo, a favourite yearly convo of beginner astronomers and telescope makers, is ending. The writer takes a glance again on the assembly’s glory days.  Robert Stephens / RTMC After 50 years, the Riverside Telescope Maker’s Convention (RTMC) has ended its well-known annual Astronomy Expo. Many components contributed to the board’s choice on


The RTMC Astronomy Expo, a favourite yearly convo of beginner astronomers and telescope makers, is ending. The writer takes a glance again on the assembly’s glory days. 

Startrails over RTMC

Robert Stephens / RTMC

After 50 years, the Riverside Telescope Maker’s Convention (RTMC) has ended its well-known annual Astronomy Expo.

Many components contributed to the board’s choice on October sixth to shut off what was nonetheless one of many largest star events and convocations on the West Coast. However even because it averaged 400 to 500 attendees (600 at its latest 50th anniversary), the occasion may now not compete with its status. And, like a veteran Corridor of Famer, the board known as it off earlier than it misplaced its glory.

RTMC scene

A scene of the 1978 RTMCRobert Stephens / RTMC

The glory was within the a whole lot of Advantage Awards that went to so many contributors, who labored by means of the years to supply telescope masterpieces. They’d haul their scopes to Massive Bear to indicate them off, showcasing their machine work, mirror sprucing, and carved telescope tubes.

RTMC scene

Contributors on the 1979 RTMC await the bulletins of the Advantage Awards.Robert Stephens / RTMC

The glory was additionally in tenting with once-a-year buddies, 12 months after 12 months, and in consuming within the mess corridor with folks from throughout, the place all of us questioned whether or not the wind (or snow) would come up, or simply one other fantastic evening of observing.

The glory was within the feeding frenzy on the swap meet on Saturday morning, with folks buzzing round all of the tools that was ready for its subsequent observer.

The glory was in seeing Donald Machholz’s comets — particularly the one which he found at RTMC — and in listening to astronomy celebrities Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp speak about their comet (the primary time I noticed it, I used to be with them on that telescope subject), or to Clyde Tombaugh telling about Pluto, or to Harrison Schmitt chatting in regards to the rocks he’d discovered on the Moon.

The glory was within the a whole lot of individuals caught exterior the primary assembly corridor. There have been just too many to suit, so the additional attendees would arrange their help group “Out Entrance” and demanded (loudly)  “Stir The Pot!” each time they felt that too lots of the door prize tickets had been going “Inside” or “Out again.” (If you happen to’ve ever been there, you recognize what all that silliness was about!)

Then there was ziplining over canoes within the lake, or hitting the climbing partitions, or the pool. It was a YMCA camp and there was a lot to do.

For the various volunteers who stored this system going, the glory was in doing one thing essential for the passion and their fellow astronomers.

Many astronomers on the West Coast have their very own favourite reminiscences from RTMC. For me, one was when Al Nagler seemed by means of the primary scope I made. That was thrilling sufficient, however then, as he walked away, he mentioned, “Good.” That made it superb.

RTMC scene

This scene from a more moderen RTMC exhibits the identical dedication to group and actually cool scopes.
Robert Stephens / RTMC

All of it started in 1969, when Cliff Holmes, then president of the Riverside Astronomical Society, bought collectively together with his telescope-making buddies for a convention at Riverside Neighborhood Faculty. For awhile, the occasion was known as “Riverside,” and it pulled in some 135 attendants. However inside just a few years it outgrew the faculty. The convention moved to the mountains, after which lastly to Camp Oakes in Massive Bear to accommodate the entire telescopes, folks, and observing.

Within the convention’s heyday in 1987, 2,340 folks got here to see the present. The occasion even outgrew the Riverside Membership that based it and have become its personal company within the early nineties. When Imaging, Observing, and Newbie’s Nook turned a giant a part of what it did, the board renamed the evet the RTMC Astronomy Expo.

RTMC scene

A scene from the 1997 expo.Robert Stephens / RTMC

Southern California, dwelling to many observers and imagers, was additionally dwelling to Celestron, Meade, and different forces within the passion. This cauldron of innovation stored RTMC-AE forward of different star events. It was the primary occasion to have business folks (in its second 12 months, Thomas Cave made a presentation), after which distributors (when Celestron introduced a tentful of goodies in 1979). At its peak, there have been greater than 60 vendor tents crowding out the telescopes on the sector. The primary digital setting circles made their debut at RTMC in 1978. And whereas John Dobson could have begun his sidewalk astronomy motion on the streets of San Francisco, it wasn’t till he introduced these hippie-flowered tubes to RTMC that many others jumped on board.

The true energy of the RTMC-AE was that this system that included three indoor venues with displays, workshops, and — importantly — a Newbie’s Nook. With out of doors telescope tasks unfold throughout the campground and vendor tents in a number of areas, one may get an training in regards to the newest and biggest tools simply by strolling round exterior and asking, “What’s that?”

We are able to speculate about what eroded the convention’s attendance — folks do. Regardless, as soon as it turned clear that it will not return to its glory days, the RTMC Board made the troublesome choice to retire the occasion.

Different star events will attempt to take its place: Dusk, Golden State Star Get together, Julian Star Fest, and others have sprouted by means of the years to fulfill our wants on the West Coast. However there won’t be any extra glory for RTMC.



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