[2013-Nov-02] The Springfield Telescope Makers held their annual business meeting on Saturday evening at the Fletcher House in Chester; about 45 people attended. All current officiers and directors were re-elected to a one year term (names and photos). The 2014 meeting dates were ratified (see below). A revised set of bylaws was passed, that now conforms to current Vermont law without any major changes to the intent of the bylaws, which date back to the founding of the club in 1923.
[2013-Oct-28] For the fourth year running, the Cavendish Elementary School 5th Grade Class visited Stellafane, to learn about some local history and do some scientific observation. As has been the case previously, Ken Slater hosted this visit and did a two hour classroom session the preceding week. The students learned about sundials, the Porter Turret Telescope, the clubhouse and many of the artifacts in it. They had made astrolabes before the visit, and used them on Breezy Hill to make sightings of distant objects. Teacher Ann Thompson has done a great job on the astronomy segment of the curriculum, and the students had many interesting questions and insightful answers. We hope to continue this program next year.
2013-Nov-20 After hearing a report on the class visit at our November meeting and the children's interest in the Porter Sundial, John Martin suggested we donate one of the replicas of this instrument that we make and sell at convention to the school. Ken Slater delivered the the sundial on November 20th, and spent about an hour explaining to the students how to convert from 'sundial time' to civil time. The students and teacher Ann Thompson were quite pleased to get this, and they were fascinated with the historic Dennis di Ciccio photo of the analemma that Ken showed.
[2013-Oct-26] The Bridgeport vertical milling machine is a donation from the Hall family of North Scituate, Rhode Island, made in memory of Roger Hall, Allen Hall's father. Member Francis O'Reily was instrumental in arranging for this donation, and member Ray Morits was arranged to have it moved to Stellafane by a professional rigger. It arrived late in the afternoon on Saturday. Jeff Lowe operated the Kubota tractor to get it off the truck and into the pavilion, with Ray Morits and Ken Slater assisting.
The Hall family also donated a 1960's John Deer backhoe, which arrived after convention and is currently being refurbished by site manager John Martin. It has already shown its strength and utility by removing some tree stumps.
[2013-Sep-08] The Saint-Gaudens Star Party was rained out on Saturday, September 7. By Sunday, September 8, the rain had cleared out and we set up for that evening, not knowing how good the turnout might be on a school and work night. We were thrilled at the end of the event, when Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site superintendent, event organizer and amateur astronomer Rick Kendal reported that more than 40 people were in attendance.
The evening started at 8:00 with a talk by STM member Carl Malikowski and Rick Kendall in the visitors center about the history of astronomy in this region. As dark descend, everyone adjourned to the telescopes set up on the lawn.
The night was cloudless, the seeing was good, and fall was in the air as temperatures dropped into the 40's. With 7 scopes there, we were able to show our guests a variety of objects - The Moon, Venus and Saturn early, and galaxies, star clusters, and nebula later in the evening. Overall, an excellent event.
[2013-Aug-12] The Springfield Telescope Makers are pleased to offer two free public star parties this fall:
(Rained out Saturday, September 7th)
Solar Viewing: 2:00-4:00 PM with regular site admission fee.
Star Party: 8:00 PM, free admission
There was a large turnout last year in this beautiful setting - come see the stunning night sky with us. Viewing will begin when it is dark, there will be a short presentation on the history of astronomy in the area at 8:00 PM.
This year, we will hold this event over two nights - come for one or both (no rain date, if it rains one night we will not hold viewing that night, but tours of the National Historic Observatory will still be available).
See the historic Stellafane Pink Clubhouse (1923) and the historic and unique Porter Turret Telescope (1930) on the site that was the birthplace of the Amateur Telescope Making movement in the United States. Viewing through the Porter Turret and many other telescopes after dark.
[2013-Aug-10] At the 2013 Stellafane Convention Saturday Evening Program, Astronomical League President Carroll Iorg presented Stellafane Webmaster Ken Slater with the First Place 2013 Webmaster Award. The award is given to "acknowledge the club webmaster who does an outstanding job of website design and administration."
This was kept a secret from Ken, and he was quite surprised when Carroll called him up to the stage right after Kris Larsen received her award (see below).
Webmaster Ken thanks the club and President Dave Tabor for nominating him, and also for giving him the opportunity to work with such a rich set of material about the history, conventions, activities and telescope making that the club has. Much of the material on the very large site (currently 922 pages and still growing) has been contributed by others, and he just "makes it look good and makes it accessible". He is most proud of the mirror making and telescope making sections he has authored, which makes this information available for free throughout the world. We have received photographs of completed projects from all over the globe, and Ken feels fortunate to be able to continue to advance the mission of the Springfield Telescope Makers, which is to preserve the history and advance the art of Amateur Telescope Making on the relatively new medium of the web.
Ken is a retired electrical and software engineer and engineering manager who lives nearby in Chester, Vermont. At Stellafane, he is also currently the VP, Mirror Class Instructor and Chief Electrician. He does long distance hiking in the warm months, and makes telescopes and adds to the web site in the cold months of the year.
See the award presentation by Astronomical League President Carroll Iorg on YouTube here.
[2013-Jul-19] Dr. Kris Larsen is maybe best known to most Stellafaners as the person who teaches the Youth Astronomy Program at the McGregor Observatory during the Stellafane Conventions. I remember back in 1994 when Dr. Larsen first started these Astronomy Activities for Kids on Saturday afternoon with innovative crafts to teach children the constellations. Over the years she has expanded the program and this year at Stellafane on Friday and Saturday she will be teaching four different one hour classes to children ages 5-12 at the McGregor Observatory on the Solar System, Starhopping, Phases of the Moon, How Telescopes Work and "Phun with Photons" illustrating diffraction and lighting effects. It is very significant to me that her vision back in 1994 was to bring more children into astronomy - and now already almost 20 years have passed for some of her young students!
Dr. Larsen is also a highly prized Astronomy Professor at Central Connecticut State University, where she teaches Cosmology, Planetary & Stellar Astronomy, Earth Science and Astrophysics and a course on Contributions by Women to Stellar and Galactic Astronomy. In addition she runs observational programs including her "Night Sky" workshops, Planetarium events, and a "Partners in Science" series for middle school students. She is particularly known for her very creative methods of incorporating movies, science fiction & fantasy, rock music and popular culture into her educational efforts. Her books and scholarly writings also strive to bring science into the mainstream to inspire more girls and boys to be scientists in the future. Already she is creating a new history. Her many writing credits include the books Cosmology 101 and Stephen Hawking: A Biography.
She has also been very active in the AAVSO for many years as a council member, curriculum adviser, solar observer and frequent contributor of articles that are viewable on the AAVSO website. She recently joined the team as an Assistant Editor for the Astronomical League's 'Reflector' magazine.
See the award presentation by NERAL Chairperson Maryann Arien at Stellafane here.
Congratulations to Kris from the Springfield Telescope Makers, we are proud to have her as a member.
[2013-Apr-21] Once again, Stellafane had a booth at North East Astronomy Forum and we had a great time! This video gives you some idea about the energy and activities at our booth.
Video by Wayne Zuhl
We gave away a 6-inch mirror kit each day to a young person who did some grinding in our booth: The winners were Zach Berger and Julia Russell.
2013-Mar-29 One of the owners of the Hartness House sent us this report and photo: "Senator Leahy and his wife stayed at the Hartness House last night and we gave them a museum tour. They loved the Stellafane museum and we took some pictures there." Leahy is a United States Senator for Vermont, ranks first in seniority in the Senate and is the President Pro Tempore. He also chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. We are honored to have him visit our amateur telescope making museum.
[2012-Nov-16] The Springfield Telescope Makers are pleased to announce the mortgage taken out to finance the construction of the Flanders Pavilion in 2005 has been fully paid off. We could not have done it without our many generous donors over the past seven years and the club is extremely thankful for your support. We believe the pavilion has markedly improved the quality of the convention - the pavilion can be darkened for daytime presentations and yet allow adequate air circulation. And no one has ever gotten wet feet in the pavilion, unlike the situation we had to deal for many years in the tent!
We had said every donation, no mater how big or how small, would help - and it did. As we near the U.S. Thanksgiving Holiday, please know that Stellafane is thankful for your long and generous support. Come celebrate our achievement at the 2013 Convention!
The 2014 calendar will be voted upon by the club on November 2, and the results will be added here shortly thereafter.