#astronomy Welcome Again, Stellafane – Sky & Telescope

August 30, 2021 - Comment

This vibrant pink banner welcomed attendees to the 2021 Stellafane Conference. Sabrina Garvin Final 12 months was the primary time in 66 years that the Springfield Telescope Makers didn’t maintain their annual Stellafane Conference. Stellafane is certainly one of my favourite weekends of the 12 months, so you possibly can think about my disappointment when


This vibrant pink banner welcomed attendees to the 2021 Stellafane Conference.

Sabrina Garvin

Final 12 months was the primary time in 66 years that the Springfield Telescope Makers didn’t maintain their annual Stellafane Conference. Stellafane is certainly one of my favourite weekends of the 12 months, so you possibly can think about my disappointment when the 2020 conference canceled, even when, at that time, all of us anticipated it. And I’m positive a lot of you felt the identical means. By the point I arrived on the high of Breezy Hill, I used to be determined for that crisp Vermont mountain air.

Since its founding, Stellafane has change into one of many longest-running and grandest star events in North America and has earned a particular place within the hearts of its attendees and the beginner astronomy neighborhood. The Springfield Telescope Makers started when 15 males and one lady signed up for a category about mirror grinding with Russel W. Porter. The primary official Stellafane Conference was held on July three and Four, 1926, and could be held yearly till the beginning of World Conflict II, when the folks of Springfield needed to dedicate all of their time to working within the city’s factories to assist within the conflict effort. The conference was reinitiated on August three, 1946, however a second lapse occurred after the dying of Russell W. Porter in 1949, and it lasted till 1953. Fortunately, this most up-to-date lapse didn’t final almost so long as the primary two.

The Pink Clubhouse and Porter Turret Telescope on Breezy HillThe Pink Clubhouse and the Porter Turret Telescope await the arrival of the entrees to this 12 months’s telescope-making competitors.

Sabrina Garvin

Many repeat attendees who arrived across the similar time I did Thursday night voiced their pleasure about being again at Stellafane. The pandemic nonetheless had some noticeable results: Many Stellafane regulars and potential newcomers stayed at dwelling, and indicators held on the buildings and observatories requiring attendees to put on masks whereas inside. Not one of the lectures had been held within the smaller buildings, and the actions for kids and youngsters had been each held exterior.

Friday morning, I headed out to observe the Springfield Telescope Makers mirror-grinding workshops and some of the lectures in Flanders Pavilion. With the Solar bearing down, I ventured to the highest of the hill for the Photo voltaic Observing Hour. Each the Cook dinner Spectrohelioscope and the Porter Turret Telescope displayed sensible views of the Solar. Though there weren’t any sunspots, we did see a vibrant photo voltaic prominence by way of the Spectrohelioscope.

Each Friday and Thursday nights had been spectacularly clear. Observers referred to as out the designations and places of the objects on the Observing Olympics checklist and oohed at passing Perseid meteors. The sounds echoed by way of the evening as I chased down globular clusters in Sagittarius.

The Milky Means glides over Breezy Hill.
Sean Walker

Saturday morning was cool, however by noon it was even hotter than the day earlier than. I slogged my means up the still-muddy roads to the Swap Tables, which had been as regular stuffed with books, telescopes, and equipment. I grabbed a guide and a brand new eyepiece whereas I used to be there.

Then, it was off to the annual telescope-making competitors. The occasion attracted 31 entries this 12 months, together with 4 first-time telescope makers. First-timer Gavin Buckowski tied for first place within the small Newtonian optical competitors together with his 6-inch f/Eight Dobsonian, and Steven Bodine took dwelling the gold for craftsmanship together with his first scope, an Eight-inch f/5.Four Dobsonian. Different noteworthy entries had been Keith Warner’s 3D-printed eyepiece turret and filter wheel and Alan Sliski’s restoration of a Four-inch f/15 refractor from the 1930s. The Grasp Class additionally had a number of spectacular entrees.

Stefania Schuler sits beside her first home made telescope, a 6-inch f/5 Newtonian.
Sabrina Garvin

Sadly, fog and clouds set in simply because the night talks started and blocked all however the brightest stars that evening. Through the night talks, Kris Larsen offered the annual Shadowgram discuss on the consequences that the pandemic had on beginner astronomy. She took a have a look at all of the methods astronomy golf equipment and organizations rose to the event and continued their outreach efforts whereas members had been caught at dwelling. She additionally talked in regards to the wave of latest amateurs which have joined golf equipment over the previous 12 months. Most significantly, she described a number of methods golf equipment can proceed encouraging these new members.

Larsen’s recommendations included using social media and apps, updating previous newsletters and web sites, altering the format of conferences to make them extra entertaining, and directing instruction in direction of folks thinking about smaller, extra trendy scopes.

Stella Kafka, director and CEO of the American Affiliation of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), gave the keynote presentation on the AAVSO and the dimming of Betelgeuse on the finish of 2019 (see “The Nice Dimming of Betelgeuse” by Tom Calderwood within the March 2021 situation). She used pictures from the Hubble House Telescope and light-weight curves created with information from 115 AAVSO members to elucidate that though we all know what prompted this occasion, we nonetheless don’t know if it’s a prelude to the star going supernova.

A whole bunch of observers arrange their telescopes on the sector beneath McGregor Observatory every year.
Sabrina Garvin

Yearly, I discover myself wishing Stellafane might final just a bit bit longer. However with one other weekend on Breezy Hill come and gone too rapidly, I, together with many different starry-eyed attendees, reluctantly packed up and headed dwelling. I can’t wait to see everybody there once more subsequent 12 months, and if you happen to occur to identify me or some other S&T editors roaming the grounds, be at liberty to say hello. 



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