This year's Stellafane convention was yet another success despite a drop of rain or two here and there. Having worked the first slot of gate duty I can attest to the fact of how busy it was. As usual it was lots of fun. The first NERAL meeting was held in some time and it looks as though the North East Region of the AL is on a comeback. The horseshoe contest was the best yet, the mirror grinding demo had rave reviews and the Friday night talks, particularly Dr. Peter Chen's from NASA-Goddard (does anyone remember hearing that much applause for a Friday night talk?) were all well presented and thought provoking. The highlight of the night, however, had to come outside the tent, where the skies opened up for a BEAUTIFUL night of observing. Schuppmann Hill was nearly elbow to elbow with scores of 'scopes set up. Many weary conventioneers crawled to bed late, but with a smile on their faces after an excellent and unexpected night of observing.
But, there was not much sleep to be had as the Swap Tables got off to their usual early beginning. The day started out very nice and conventioneers mingled about the swap tables for hours. Up on Breezy Hill near the Pink Clubhouse, about four dozen scopes dotted the fields for mechanical judging. There were beautiful scopes everywhere, but this was definitely the "year of the Split Ring". Back under the big tent, Stargazer Steve Dodson, STM President Junie Esslinger and Anna Bealo, the junior horseshoe contest winner, were assembling her 5" scope while the mirror demo continued. Many commented on the "neat" interferometer that Dave Kelly and Scott Milligan had set up. Although, I was unable to attend the technical talks, initial reports all agreed that the talks were great!
As the afternoon wore on, the sunny skies gave way to clouds. Waiting till the last minute and checking the latest weather maps via the web, the correct decision was made to hold the Saturday night talks under the big tent. After MC "Big Bob" Morse made the evenings announcements and found out who the oldest and youngest there were a few other awards and accolades were presented, including presentation of an AL award to a young conventioneer, 50th birthdays were recognized, the raffle to end all raffles was held. Maryann Arrien showed a 10 minute clip of her work in progress film "Pushing Glass" which received a big reaction from the crowd. "Big Bob" then introduced Shadowgram Speaker David Levy. As was to be expected David delivered a beautiful and warm talk followed by slides of his observatory and highlights from the work he has been doing for MDA, there was barely a dry eye in the place when he finished talking. Following David Levy was Tony Cook from the Griffith's Observatory in Los Angeles. His talk on the 200" was well received and packed with interesting information regarding Russell Porter's connection with the Palomar telescope. Several tired and wet people trudged through the rain (it never rains at Stellafane, right?) back to there tents to rest up for the drive home Sunday.
I know I enjoyed this years convention. I hope you did as well. Please send us your thoughts on the convention. We're going to need articles for the post-convebtion web pages and the Convention Newsgram.
Wayne "Waynbo" Zuhl
Secretary, Springfield Telescope Makers
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