[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!
[2012-Nov-15] For the fourth year in a row, member Ken Slater has visited the Cavendish, VT fifth grade classroom (November 8) and hosted a visited to Stellafane by the class (Novemeber 15th). During the classroom visit, Ken talks about what amatuer astronomer do, a brief history of Stellafane, types of astronomical instruments (Binoculars, Telescopes, Astrolabes, Spectroscopes), how we locate objects in the sky (Azimuth and Elevation). The vist also includes a hands on segment with the students gong outdoors to practice sighting distant trees in Hawks Mountain from the school yard with school telescopes.
This year Stellafane was pleased to donate an 80mm refractor to the school, passed along from a donation by the Charles Thornhill estate. We had hoped to view the cresent moon, but a high overcast made that impossible, and the distant trees were the best targets available.
The visit to Breezy Hill includes a tour of the Porter Turret Telescope and the Clubhouse. By the time of their visit, the students had each constructed an astrolabe. Teacher Ann Thompson had her students use their astrolabs and compasses to take sightings on objects visible from Breey Hill and reord their azimuth and elevation. In the clubhouse, Ken talked about many of the artifacts and photographs in the meeting room, and answered quite a few interesting and insightful questions the students had. The photo shows everyone gathered around the sundial, and we talk about how it works and how to tell time with it.
[2012-Nov-10] At thier annual business meeting, the Springfield Telescope Makers elected the following full members as club officers or directors:
The club also approved the 2013 Calendar of meeting and work days which is available at the bottom of this page.
[2012-Sep-23] STM member John Briggs from HUT Observatory is smiling with solar astronomer Dr. Jack Harvey of the National Solar Observatory, because they have just de-installed the antique 13-inch f/13.9 Rutherfurd telescope from inside the huge McMath-Pierce solar facility, safely after an observing run September 17-21. Their goal was to reenact Lewis M. Rutherfurd's 1871 photographic observation of solar granulation. The run was successful in that granulation was obvious with Dr. Harvey's CCD imaging equipment on mornings of good seeing. Experiments with high-contrast 8×10 sheet film were compromised because of bad luck with clouds and poor seeing toward the end of the run. A Lumenera SKYnyx2 camera from HUT Observatory recorded sunspots, pores, granulation, and faculae, as well as night targets including the Moon and double stars. Briggs and Harvey will be writing-up the project, which was supported both by HUT Observatory and National Optical Astronomy Observatory Education and Public Outreach. Dr. Harvey is himself an ATM, having ground and polished a 6-inch Newtonian early in his career specifically to see a total solar eclipse.
[2012-Aug-21 updated 2012-Aug-30] These September star parties are free and put on by the Springfield Telescope Makers in our local area.
Saturday, September 8 at Stellafane in Springfield, VT
Each year, the Springfield Telescope Makers set aside time to invite the public to enjoy the night sky from atop Breezy Hill in Springfield, Vermont. This year's Stellafane Open House, also known as the "Up All Night" Star Party, will take place on Saturday, September 8th, 2012. This year's event will be the 20th Open House at Stellafane, the birthplace of Amateur Telescope Making in the United States. There will be signs posted, directing visitors up Breezy Hill Road, to Jordan Road, and on to the Stellafane site. The public is welcome to join us, beginning at 6pm, until "whenever".
STM Club members will be your hosts, and will be available to provide information including: the history of the Springfield Telescope Makers, the grounds, and some of the historic instruments in use there, including the world famous Porter Turret Telescope. Enjoy the views through one of the telescopes we will have in use, or feel free to bring your own binoculars or telescope. Club members are always willing to answer questions about telescope making and astronomy in general, or offer advice on getting the most out of your own equipment.
A spaghetti dinner is planned, and other light refreshments will be available. Please keep in mind that there are no bathroom facilities available on site. For more information, please call 603-865-5476. This number can also be used for a "go/no go" announcement (based on weather) on the day of the event.
2012-Sep-09 We had a Vermont state-wide tornado warning this day, and needless to say the raindrops and clouds were out, not the stars. But the event, as promised, was held rain-or-shine, and about 20 people, including 5 or 6 guests were in the clubhouse enjoying a spaghetti dinner and each other's company or touring the Porter Turret Telescope the evening of the event.
Saturday, September 15 at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, NH
Presentation about astronomy at 8:00pm, Viewing through Telescopes at approximately 8:45pm after the presentation is over and it gets dark. This is our third annual event at Saint Gaudens and we have had a good time and good turnout at this event in past years. Details from the NPS Saint-Gaudens (PDF) and Poster.
139 Saint Gaudens Road, Cornish, New Hampshire 03745, NPS Directions, 9 miles from I-91 exit 8.
2012-Sep-16 With over 100 people attending and 20 telescopes on the field, this was a great event! The early clouds at dusk broke up and vanished as darkness fell, and we had good viewing from the lawn by the house.
Thanks to Rick Kendall and the National Park Service for continuing to host this event at their beautiful site.
Photo at right: Telescope being set up on the lawn before dark.
[2012-Aug-16] It is my great pleasure to announce that, by unanimous vote of the NERAL Executive Committee, the Special Service Award of the North East Region of the Astronomical League (NERAL) is being awarded to Bob Carruthers of Bethany, Connecticut at this year's Stellafane Convention in Springfield, Vermont on Saturday evening, August 18, 2012.
Bob Carruthers is maybe best known to Stellafaners for his use of recycled materials in his Amateur Telescope Making. He has used bowling balls, iron frying pans, rubber bladders, stainless steel mixing bowls, joint compound cans and a host of other materials in his innovative telescope designs. The Mixing Bowl telescope was particularly useful for handicapped observers, in that the telescope could be rotated down to accommodate wheelchair height, as well as for children too young to climb ladders. Some of Bob's designs, such as the bowling ball / fry pan mount and diving board focuser (a.k.a. the 'long arm focuser') were highlighted in Sky and Telescope Magazine's 10 best ideas in telescope making.
What many do not know about Bob is the many free telescope making courses that he has taught all over Connecticut, where he has passed on his zeal for ATM and Sidewalk Astronomy. Bob is a past Vice President and the current Secretary of the Astronomical Society of New Haven, a long time member of the Astronomical League.
We are very pleased to give this award to this Astronomy Educator & Grassroots ATM Innovator who is selfless in the sharing of his knowledge.
Chair: NERAL - The North East Region of the Astronomical League
NERAL Regional Representative: Sue Rose
NERAL Secretary: Alan Rifkin
NERAL Treasurer: Richard Roberts
[2012-Jun-05] On a very iffy day weather-wise, members and several guests gathered on Breezy Hill hoping the clouds would part in time to see the transit of Venus. Many of us ate a quick dinner in light rain showers at picnic tables in front of the clubhouse. We could see holes in the clouds, but at first and second contact we could not see the sun.
Fortunately, the situation improved rapidly, and a bit before 6:30 PM we got our first views of Venus in front of the solar disk. We had very good viewing until about 8:00 PM, with only an occasional cloud getting in the way for a brief time.
Members and their family present were Dave, Julie & Samantha Tabor, Dave McGaw, Jeff Lowe, George Scotten, Norm Frederick, Carl, Olga & Tatiana Malikowski, Rick & Julie Hunter, Michael Patterson and his son, Jay Drew & Ken Slater. We used the Porter Turret Telescope for solar projection. Members brought a variety of telescopes, the ones I recall were 10" Meade (Norm), A Tele Vue 101 and PST (Jay), a Lunt Etalon (Carl), and a Sunspotter folded refractor (Ken). There were several smaller aperature scopes and solar-filter equiped cameras, too. Eclipse glass were also very much in style at this event (see photos).
[2012-May-19] As has become tradition in the last few years, a spring meeting of the club has been designated a Memorial Meeting, and the Wilders and the Breunings organized a special dinner to remember those STMers and families and friends who have departed this Earth. This takes a lot of planning and work, and the club is greateful to Cherie, Ray, Carl and Cheryl for making this happen. Special thanks to the Tabors who also worked hard to make this happen, and to all the members that pitched in to help.
[2012-May-02] It was another active weekend in the Stellafane booth at the North East Astronomy Forum this year (April 28-29). We had a large number of attendees spending time on the bench learning the art of mirror making and the basics of telescope making. Many also asked questions and discussed how excited they were about the upcoming Stellafane convention. A significant number of attendees also stopped by with stories of making their own mirrors, and the joy of that ‘first light’ they had with it.
On the first day, one particular grinder caught the contagious telescope making ‘bug’, and 12 year old Abigail Gibbons spent nearly 6 hours on Saturday making the grit sing, and almost single-handedly brought the 6” mirror to f/8 by 4:30 pm. She has already mastered the 1/3 center over center stroke, sagitta testing and the sharpie test. The STM’s in attendance made a quick and easy decision to give the 6” mirror kit to Abigail, which drew a proud smile from Abigail that could be seen easily from across the convention hall. Her father has agreed to help her visit their local ATM group so she can finish the optic and get it into a scope. She has her heart set on going a bit further, and making it an f/6.
On the second day, it was a steady flow of interested attendees, with many good questions, trying their hand on a second mirror kit, but not quite achieving the same depth by the end of the day.
We estimated that approximately 1,000-1,200 attendees visited the Stellafane booth through the weekend, based on the flyers that were dispensed. Along with them, we had a few past and present Stellafane mirror class attendees and several STM members, who all stopped by to say hello, too.
Many thanks go out to Carl Malikowski, Ray Morits, Julie Tabor, Rick Hunter, Al Monkowski, Wayne Zuhl and Dave Tabor for the hours they spent spreading the telescope making spirit in our booth this year.
[2012-Feb-03, updated on 2012-Feb-24] Yes, we really do read and study the surveys we periodically pass out at convention (Thanks, Kris Larsen!). Your webmaster has been studying the sections related to the web, and I have made a few changes based on the feedback, with more to come.
One request was to have a street address for Stellafane that could be input to a GPS or Google Maps. That is now on our Directions page and Maps. Another request was to make hyperlinks more obvious to those that are color blind, and we have just changed our link style to include non-color artifacts to identify them.
Several respondents indicated there was too much clutter on the home page, and navigation was difficult. We have redesigned the home page to be less cluttered, and key items like convention will get more space and direct links to convention information as they are published. Our new menu bar allows us to put more direct links on the home page without taking up more space, and a search box in every page's footer allows you to search for the information you are looking for more easily.
Currently, selected pages also have a translate page feature in their footer powered by Google, as we have quite a few international visitors. We will be rolling this out to every page on the site over the next year (unfortunately, technical issues require us make a manual edit to every page on the site to make this work, unlike the search feature, which could be added to a single file and appear on every page - bad planning on our part, not to be able to do this automatically, but we will be able to do this in the future after our page edits).
There were a lot of convection specific requests, which will be addressed when we create the 2012 convention pages in a few months. I was glad to see the positive feedback on the new Stellafane East map (Thanks, Mike Patterson). I'm working on figuring out how to send out registration confirmations, which was a popular request (I guess folks are nervous, but I'm not aware we have ever lost a registration, and I do follow up with all problems encountered, which are not many).
Of course, its a bit hard to reconcile or act on "Awesome Website" followed by "Confusing. Too many convention pages". I know it is far from perfect, but I do appreciate the comment "Get's Better Every Year" - that is what I try to do.
I remind everyone we write the web site to current web standards, and do not put a lot of effort into testing compatibility with old browsers (although we do nothing to try to break them, either). If you are using current versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari, you should have a good experience here. Internet Explorer continues to lag in implementing many current standards and the web site looks the worst on it, although it is still fully functional. And if you are still on XP, you have an old version of IE that is really not so good. Consider using one of the other browsers that keep up with evolving technology better. I do look at the web site on my Android tablet, and other members check on iOS mobile devices - overall our site is surprisingly useable on these small screen devices, even though we don't specifically optimize for this screen size.
Thanks for the feedback, it is appreciated, and we do try to use it to make this site better. I hope you find the recent changes and improvement..Webmaster Ken