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[2003-Sep-30] Work has begun on the new facility to be constructed at Stellafane East, which should greatly improve the environment under which talks are given during the Stellafane convention. This endeavor is currently referred to as the "pole barn project". Please see the article below for details. The primary obstacle to the construction of the facility, at this point, is funding. To that end, the Springfield Telescope Makers are currently accepting donations to be devoted exclusively to the "pole barn" project. All donations will be gratefully accepted. No donation is too small. Please note that the Springfield Telescope Makers are qualified as tax exempt under section 501(c)3 of Internal Revenue Service regulations. Therefore, your gift is fully tax deductible. Please make checks payable to:
Springfield Telescope Makers
Stellafane Pole Barn Fund
PO Box 601
Springfield, VT 05156
The Springfield Telescope Makers would like to offer great thanks to those who have already donated to this project. It is hoped that this new facility will improve the ability of the Stellafane convention participants to teach each other about telescope making and mirror grinding and thus continue the vision of Russell Porter far into the future. If you have questions about this project please ask. Thanks!
The Springfield Telescope Makers.
[2003-Sep-30] Hi all. This past Thursday (September 25, 2003) representatives of the state of Vermont, the town of Springfield, the IDA and several members of the Springfield Telescope Makers, were given a preview of what the lights from the new prison will look like. Well, it turns out that all that noise many of us made a few years back has paid off greatly. In fact, you can drive right past the prison at night and not see any light from it. You'd actually have to go up the driveway, to the top of the hill to see any lights from the prison.
At Stellafane East, where the observations were made, its been reported that once the lights went on, you really had to search for any glow created by them. So much so, that the impact of the prison is practically nil. Nancy Clanton, from Clanton Associates and the IDA, along with Bob Gent (IDA and President of the Astronomical League) were thrilled at what they saw, both from Stellafane and at the prison site itself.
The battle to not have the prison there at all, then, once it was inevitable, to light it in a way so it would have little impact on the skies at Stellafane, were hard fought. Many people, locals and others from different locations in the country, spent many, many hours working to limit the impact of the prison. Efforts were made to educate and inform, meet with politicians and planners, write letters and articles, answer multitudes of questions and phone calls. Some members and advocates traveled great distances at their own expense to help with the cause.
Finally, after several years of effort, we are now reaping the rewards of all that hard work. The lights went on and you could barely tell. This prison will likely be a role model for future prisons built throughout the country. We can only hope.
The many people who contributed are too numerous to name, but a few stand out. Current STM President Junie Esslinger, VP Brad Vietje and Site Manager John Martin, who all attended meetings and spent many cold nights photographing the sky for comparisons. Their efforts are greatly appreciated and proved very valuable. Of course, Bob Gent and Nancy Clanton of the IDA, as well as many other IDA members who offered their support. Not to mention the thousands of amateur astronomers and TM's who signed petitions to then Gov. Howard Dean, imploring him not to pursue a prison so close to an astronomical treasure and those who donated money for Stellafane's legal defense are appreciated for what they have done.
But one person put more time and effort into this cause, much of it taking time away from her main source of income. Past STM President, Maryann Arrien fought tooth and nail to bring this issue to the forefront. In fact it was covered nationwide. More than likely without Maryann's efforts we wouldn't have the almost not noticeable prison that sits there now. Thank you Maryann and everyone else who helped in this noble cause. May others experience the same rewards that we have in the fight against light pollution.
Wayne "Waynbo" Zuhl
Secretary, Springfield Telescope Makers
[2003-Sep-18] After many months of permit application work and preliminary design reviews, Stellafane has officially received the permits to begin construction of a "pole barn" and another observatory on the convention site. The "pole barn" will be located in the lower field to the South-East of the Bunkhouse and will replace the big tent. The observatory will be located somewhere in the observing field to the South of the McGregor observatory. The primary purpose of the "pole barn" will be to greatly improve the conditions under which the convention talks are held. At the moment, it is hoped that the "pole barn" will be completed for the 2005 or 2006 Stellafane convention. If you have any questions on the "pole barn" project please ask.
The membership of the Springfield Telescope Makers would like to offer many thanks to our president, Junie Esslinger, and our vice-president, Brad Vietje, for climbing the mountains of paperwork, over the past couple of years, to acquire the permit so work on these projects could begin. More detailed information will be posted in the weeks to come. Clear skies!
[2003-Sep-4] The Springfield Telescope Makers will host an all night star party at Stellafane on Friday, October 3rd. The rain/cloud date will be October 4th. Bring your telescopes and enjoy the crisp Fall skies. Both the Porter Turret and Schupmann telescopes will be available for viewing.
[2003-Aug-4] The 2003 Stellafane convention is history! Click here to go to the 2003 post-convention pages.
[2003-Jun-9] The free mirror making class at Stellafane that is scheduled to take place during the fall and winter of 2003/04 has already checked in full! We are sorry that we can not accommodate additional participants but our working space is limited, especially in the inclement months during the winter. Please check back during the early months of 2004 to see about signing up for the 2004/05 class. Thanks!
Amateur Involvement With Development of the National Virtual Observatory
By Aaron Price
[2003-May-27] The National Virtual Observatory is a project to take all the public astronomical databases and consolidate them into one location for easy access. One of the goals of the NVO is to make this data accessible to amateurs and the general public. The AAVSO is conducting a needs analysis survey of the amateur astronomy community to determine what needs they have which NVO can fill. The first phase of the project was to interview 10 subjects. We have reduced those interviews to a list of 20-30 needs and will pass out a survey to amateurs to rank those needs in order of importance in addition to discussing the NVO in general.
[2003-May-23] The Springfield Telescope Makers put on a mirror grinding demonstration at the 2003 North East Astronomy Forum. We thank our friends at the Rockland Astronomy Club for the opportunity to spread the art of telescope making!
[2003-May-15] The first public star party scheduled this year at Stellafane has been scheduled for June 7th. Bring your telescopes and enjoy the summer skies from Breezy Hill. The Porter Turret and Schupmann telescopes will also be available.
[2003-May-11] This past season's mirror making class at Stellafane has been completed. Work is now shifting to preparations for this summer's convention. If you would like to sign up for the 2003/04 mirror making class please click here. The class is expected to begin in October. Note that all previous classes have been filled to capacity so sign up early!
[2003-Apr-3] Help spread knowledge of the beauty of the night sky and dim any non-essential lights from April 1st to April 8th. Read some related articles:
[2003-Mar-28] Scheduled for 1pm and 5pm the Friday of the convention in the McGregor Observatory.
Exploring Cold and Icy Pluto by Ted Nichols II
Pluto, the tiny icy planet on the fringes of our solar system, is one of the solar systems great mysteries. Pluto, which is part of the vast Kuiper Belt, has intrigued scientists ever since its discovery. Several missions have been planned and canned, but finally we are going to launch a spacecraft to finish what the pioneering spacecraft Voyager started. The history of Pluto will be covered, as well as what we know about the Icy Planet and the Kuiper Belt. The talk will also cover NASA's plans to explore this distant world.
Ted Nichols II is pursuing a degree in Planetary Geology. He has worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena on the now defunct Europa Orbiter Project. He is also part of the New Horizons Teams which is undertaking NASA's Mission to Pluto. He works on the mission throughout the year and this past summer worked on the mission at Southwest Research Institute's Department of Space Studies in Boulder, CO. Mr. Nichols also serves as President of the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg.
[2003-Mar-18] Images of Russell Porter and his telescope makers:
Eighty years ago this month (March, 1923), Russell Porter, founding father of the amateur telescope making movement, was heavily involved in teaching a group of a dozen or so people how to make their own telescopes. Working very closely with James Hartness, Russell Porter gathered this group of local Springfield, VT people and inspired them to use their various skills to each design and build their own unique telescope. Initially working in a borrowed workshop in a local machine tool company, these people took to telescope making with such enthusiasm that they officially formed the Springfield Telescope Makers in December of that year. They soon constructed a clubhouse, the now famous Stellafane Pink Clubhouse, so that they could have a permanent meeting place to gather, discuss their work and observe the night sky with their creations. From this initial small group, the art of mirror grinding and telescope making quickly began to spread. To enable amateur telescope makers from the north east, and eventually across the county, to gather, show off their creations and teach each other mirror grinding and telescope making techniques the annual convention of amateur telescope makers at Stellafane was started in July of 1926. That convention has since grown from the two dozen enthusiasts who attended that first meeting to the more than two thousand that have attended in recent years. In addition to maintaining the tradition of the Stellafane convention, the Springfield Telescope Makers continue to hold classes to teach interested individuals, of all ages, the art of telescope making. We hope that all those who are able to attend this year's convention will continue in the tradition started by Russell Porter and his telescope makers all those years ago by educating each other in the art of telescope making and continue to spread this knowledge to younger generations so this art will continue to survive far into the future.
Read Russell Porter's article on the Telescope Makers of Springfield, VT
Images from the 2002-2003 mirror making class at Stellafane:
[2003-Feb-25] Many people had their photos taken w/ Caroline Shoemaker, David Levy and John Dobson in front of the Pink Clubhouse during the 2002 convention. If you had your photo taken but have not received it as of yet please contact us. Thanks!