Sky & Telescope editors reconnected with readers this previous weekend on the Northeast Astronomy Discussion board, the world’s largest astronomy and house tradeshow.
Each spring astro-enthusiasts collect on the Northeast Astronomy Discussion board (NEAF) in Suffern, New York for 2 days of astro talks, actions, and tools galore. Organized by the non-profit Rockland Astronomy Membership, NEAF hosted cubicles from 120 distributors and exhibitors this 12 months. There was additionally a full slate of specialists lecturing on latest developments in astronomy and house exploration, a solar-observing area, and a particular youngsters’s space. Many NEAF attendees additionally attended the Northeast Astro-Imaging Convention (NEAIC), a two-day assembly that includes workshops and lectures by each novice astroimagers.
Northeast Astronomy Discussion board (NEAF)
Sean Walker / S&T
As all the time, Sky & Telescope had a sales space on the principle exhibition flooring, and our editors spent an exhilarating weekend speaking to our readers. Listed below are a few of our experiences:
Editor in Chief Peter Tyson: I’ve all the time vaguely questioned what may be higher weather-wise to entice of us to attend NEAF on an April weekend: chilly, darkish, and drizzly, or vibrant, sunny, and heat. Properly, I’ve my reply. Each Saturday and Sunday at NEAF had been completely beautiful exterior, and folks got here in droves. Round 11 a.m. on Saturday, I don’t consider I’ve ever seen the present extra crowded with astro fans of all ages. With Sky & Telescope’s sales space the very first one attendees go as they enter the principle flooring, it was all we workers might do to maintain up with the questions and feedback about S&T merchandise, excursions, articles, and extra.
Sky & Telescope’s sales space at NEAF
Peter Tyson / S&T
The social climate was as invigorating because the bodily. The order of the day at NEAF is camaraderie. Everyone is right here for a similar cause: to rejoice astronomy. I even had nice chats with of us working for 2 of our chief rivals — Dave Eicher at Astronomy and Chelsea Gohd at house.com, whose sales space was proper beside ours. The unstated feeling was: We will fear about whose web site is getting extra distinctive guests later; proper now, we’re savoring a shared ardour.
NEAF is a spot to see outdated pals and make new ones. I all the time take pleasure in operating into a few of S&T’s long-time advertisers and supporters, like Al Nagler of Tele Vue, Discover Scientific’s Scott Roberts, and Perry Remaklus of Willmann-Bell, all of whom I caught up with at our sales space. It’s a spot, too, to think about new concepts for future collaborations. Over glasses of a superb rioja at a neighborhood Spanish restaurant, two S&T staffers and I mentioned the potential of co-leading dark-sky excursions with Ken Kattner and Ruskin Hartley, the president and government director of the Worldwide Darkish-Sky Affiliation.
New faces are all the time stimulating. There was the younger, bearded rabbi who raved so fervently about S&T content material that I ran out of the way to say thanks. There have been the 2 younger, neatly dressed brothers who do sidewalk astronomy at 4th and South Streets in Philadelphia. Given the heavy gentle air pollution of downtown Philly, their specialty is the Moon, they are saying — and generally they’re overwhelmed with curious passerby. And, in fact, there are all the time these wide-eyed appears of youngsters who’ve clearly caught the astronomy bug. Our interest’s future counts on that spark.
As soon as once more, a giant because of Ed Siemenn, Keith Murdock, and everybody else on the Rockland Astronomy Membership for placing collectively one other phenomenal present. Heck, they even organized for excellent climate.
Affiliate Editor S. N. Johnson-Roehr: This 12 months’s NEAF was largely about re-connecting with our readers, our distributors, and my pals (these classes aren’t mutually unique!). It’s rewarding to speak to our readers and listen to what they’ve gotten out of the journal up to now 12 months. I talked to a reader who’d taken the recommendation of Contributing Editor Jerry Oltion for collimating his Newtonian and one other who’d made his studying selections primarily based on our e-book critiques. I linked with one reader who depends on our occasion calendar and one other who shapes his observing program primarily based on Contributing Editor Matt Wedel’s Binocular Highlights column. It’s helpful to see how folks use the journal, and I’m all the time grateful for no matter suggestions novice astronomers wish to share with us.
It’s rewarding to speak to our readers and listen to what they’ve gotten out of the journal up to now 12 months.
Peter Tyson / S&T
Equally rewarding was speaking to varied membership representatives about their observing and outreach applications. Whereas golf equipment have lengthy been involved with attracting youthful members to the interest, I used to be heartened by the various conversations I had with folks decided to diversify their membership’s membership rosters. How can we appeal to extra ladies? A number of golf equipment, together with Skyscrapers, Inc., the Astronomical Society of Rhode Island, and the Connecticut River Valley Astronomers Conjunction, have made elevating ladies’s voices a precedence. How can we herald indigenous voices? Okie-Tex and Desk Mountain Star Get together had been each talked about as success tales on this space. Lowell Observatory (not a membership, however an establishment with a significant outreach program) is doing work on this space as nicely, and it was implausible to listen to about Native American Astronomy Outreach Program, to not point out their soon-to-be-open Giovale Open Deck Observatory.
The present flooring was full (so many astrographs!) and, similar to each different 12 months, I spent loads of time debating photo voltaic scope set ups. I had an extended chat with Tom Peters of DiscMounts, Inc., attempting to determine a transportable but sturdy mount for my as-yet-to-be-purchased photo voltaic improve. I dropped some cash at Infini-tees, as standard. And I lastly picked up that Celestron NexYZ smartphone adapter that I discussed in final 12 months’s NEAF write up (shout out to Woodland Hills Digicam & Telescopes for the good value).
Two issues actually stood out for me this 12 months. One, it was past phrases implausible to satisfy up with the buddies I made throughout the S&T Nice Observatories of the American Southwest tour. They had been best touring companions and I’m glad that I get to satisfy up with them at reveals like NEAF. Two, the NEAF organizers hit a bases-loaded, grand-slam dwelling run after they invited seamstress Jean Wright to talk on Saturday. With 17 different ladies, Wright actually blanketed the Area Shuttles, stitching (by hand and with a slew of superior machines) the thermal safety for the spacecraft. Her discuss was informative, fascinating, and provoking, and I think few within the viewers remained dry-eyed throughout her passionate dialogue of the function performed by the humanities in growing inventive pondering. An off-the-cuff ballot (made by me on the present flooring) advised that everybody within the viewers was blown away by her discuss. Now retired (however nonetheless serving as a docent at Kennedy Area Middle), Wright runs Sew Sister Area Creations, the place she designs and makes clothes that features flown Payload Bay liner cloth from three completely different Area Shuttles.
Observing Editor Diana Hannikainen: I’m undecided “discussion board,” the “F” in NEAF, fairly conveys the environment at this occasion. To me, the riot of telescopes and eyepieces and devices and cubicles and folks and red-and-white Sky & Telescope luggage and domes is best described by “pageant” or “fête.” NEAF seems like a celebration of all the things astronomical.
The fervour on the ground is palpable. Mingling amongst tools distributors, astronomy golf equipment, chart-makers, and house photographers provides one an intimate sense of how deep that zeal flows. It’s powerful to stroll the ground of the good exhibition corridor and never really feel the joy effervescent as one overhears folks considering their subsequent telescope, coming upon an eyepiece they’ve coveted for some time, or perking up on the announcement of the following discuss. Youngsters’s pleasure on the realization that that bubble there within the again is definitely a planetarium they will sit inside and take a look at stars and planets is especially endearing.
Staffing the Sky & Telescope sales space was, for me at my second NEAF, once more very rewarding. I like seeing the keen faces of individuals as they traipse down the steps and file previous our sales space. Many cease by to ask us a wide range of questions or to share their experiences with us — it’s fascinating to witness the breadth of pursuits that individuals have in astronomy and observing. We talked about latest observing experiences, and what tools made them significantly satisfying. We mentioned charts, globes, and jigsaw puzzles (they’re enjoyable!), in addition to S&T excursions. Pleasure is constructing for the upcoming photo voltaic eclipses (July this 12 months, December 2020, and the following “American” one in 2024). It’s really such a pleasure to work together with our readers: My favourite moments should be after they — some shyly, some much less so — inform us how lengthy they’ve been subscribers. I really feel honored to be in a capability the place I can proceed this service for them. So for those who come to NEAF subsequent 12 months, please cease by our sales space and inform us about your self, and share your ardour with us.
Senior Editor J. Kelly Beatty: Strolling round the principle flooring at NEAF provides me, in a single setting, a “state-of-the-art” snapshot of novice astronomy. I’m a awful astrophotographer (and actually have little hope of mustering the passion to get higher), however even I can admire the explosive progress and variety of cameras, equipment, software program, and different aids to take terrific photographs of the evening sky.
Kelly Beatty at Sky & Telescope’s sales space.
Peter Tyson / S&T
It’s a lot the identical with telescopes and mounts. I’m amazed by what number of optical variations — and the vary of their apertures — are actually accessible. (I’ll confess that I did succumb and bought a spiffy little equatorial mount that’s extremely transportable but can simply carry a small refractor I’ve sitting at dwelling.)
However I’m largely a dabbler in the case of observing. I’ll purchase a small “this” one 12 months and a pleasant “that” the following. And for this-and-that purchases like eyepieces, filters, and so forth, I’m grateful that NEAF continues to draw among the “basic retailer” distributors that present this stuff.
It requires great effort and expense to lug all these a whole lot of particular person objects to NEAF annually, then arrange them up for show, and to have sufficient workers readily available to reply questions and ring up gross sales. It’s considerably simpler for Excessive Level Scientific and Digicam Ideas & Telescope Options, each of that are comparatively close by. But it surely’s a higher problem for Astronomy To Go, primarily based in Philadelphia, and Woodland Hills Telescopes, which brings all the things from Southern California.
There’s not loads of revenue in promoting astro goodies today, and most distributors provide modest reductions for individuals who purchase at NEAF. So these firms aren’t making tons of cash after they present up. However what’s extra essential, they inform me, is cultivating relationships with their new and long-time prospects.
I’m grateful to all of the distributors who make the trek annually, however this dabbler owes particular because of Bob Dugan Jr. (Excessive Level Scientific), Jeff Norwood and Margarete Becker (CCTS), Bob and Lisa Summerfield (Astronomy To Go), and Farah Payan (Woodland Hills) for all the time seeming to have precisely what I’m in search of.
Affiliate Editor Sean Walker: The showroom flooring featured many newcomers this 12 months. The large producers, together with Celestron, Discover Scientific, Meade, and Sky-Watcher, had spectacular shows with giant scopes, however usually the smaller merchandise had been what caught my eye. There’s all the time a lot to see at NEAF it is laborious to listing all of it, however listed below are some issues I noticed whereas strolling the ground.
Celestron drew crowds at NEAF.
Sean Walker / S&T
Tele Vue made a giant splash with the announcement of its Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Eyepiece (11mm with an 85° obvious area of view). The sales space additionally featured the return of its in style “blemished eyepiece” sale. In the meantime, over at Celestron’s sales space, a brand new 7-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain was on show, but it surely was Celestron’s free CPWI Astronomy Suite that must be of most curiosity to present and future prospects: This program permits customers to manage any Celestron Go To telescope and digicam mixture, both on the telescope or remotely via a LAN or WiFi connection.
The CEM sequence of center-balanced mounts from iOptron had been a giant draw to the corporate’s sales space. The corporate lately built-in its iPolar digital polar alignment machine to the CEM mounts, in addition to its in style Sky Guider Professional.
Discover Scientific’s transportable and intensely inexpensive IEOS-100 PMC-Eight equatorial mount appears excellent for small-scope customers.
Oberwerk’s BT-70XL-ED binoculars journey atop the corporate’s new PM1 Parallelogram Mount.
Sean Walker / S&T
Nearer to Sky & Telescope’s sales space, ExploraDome had a number of domes that embody its new chain drive shutter system, and Out of doors Sport Optics drew a number of curiosity with its 6-inch APO binoculars that function interchangeable eyepieces. Talking of binoculars, Oberwerk’s BT-70XL-ED binoculars driving atop the corporate’s new PM1 Parallelogram Mount with sliding counterweights appears like a successful mixture, significantly with the addition of their interchangeable 22-mm eyepieces costing simply $250 a pair.
Astro-Physics launched the Mach2GTO mount with everlasting encoders, and Meade confirmed off its new Coronado SolarMax III hydrogen-alpha telescopes.
Lunt Photo voltaic Techniques drew a number of curiosity with the biggest commercially produced photo voltaic telescope seen at NEAF up to now: a huge 300-mm photo voltaic hydrogen-alpha telescope that makes use of an open truss tube design and several other energy-rejection filters in line.
After all, cameras had been discovered just about in every single place at NEAF this 12 months. Atik, Diffraction Restricted (SBIG), and Finger Lakes Instrumentation confirmed off their newest wares, in addition to ZW Optical and QHY CCD, the latter displaying the primary medium-format CMOS cameras for astronomy.