[2014-Dec-20] Stellafane is saddened by the loss of Harry Vandermeer, a life long optical professional. Several club members worked with or for Harry during his long career in the optical industry.
In 1990, he arranged for the donation of high quality optical glass to the Springfield Telescope Makers for the making of the largest Schupmann Telescope in the Western Hemisphere. It's unique optical properties allow very high contrast images of the Moon, stars, and planets. Members also use the telescope to do research on the orbits of double stars. Several of his employees have been members of the Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston, which meets at Harvard Observatory.
He worked at Diffraction Limited, Inc managing optical programs related to Aerial Reconnaissance. He helped develop Hycon lenses for the SR-71 Blackbird and Laser Altimeters that were flown on Apollo 15, 16, and 17 lunar missions.
Harry worked as an optical physicist for most of his career and formed Optical Systems & Technology, Inc.,at Bedford, MA in 1972. His company specialized in the design and fabrication of large precision telescope systems for NASA and several other government agencies, including the US Navy for submarine optics. Many systems have been flown aboard the Space Shuttle and an ultraviolet spectrometer is approaching the minor planet, Pluto, aboard the New Horizons spacecraft. Arrival is expected in the summer of 2015.
[2014-Nov-15] The Springfield telescope Makers held their annual business meeting this evening. A few bylaw changes were voted on and the officers and board were all reelected to one year terms. The current officers and board members are listed here.
[2014-Oct-09] The Cavendish Elementary School fifth grade class made a visit to Stellafane. VP Ken Slater, who hosted the visit, was in the classroom on Monday October 6 to present a short history of Stellafane, lead some solar observing, and talk about constellations which the students are currently studying. Then on Thursday the students came to visit Stellafane. They spent time examining the Porter Sundial on the back of the clubhouse, as they are learning about the movements and lengths of shadows this year. They also got a tour of the Porter Turret Telescope, and they spent time in the clubhouse learning about some of the many artifacts inside - particularly interesting to the students was the Stellafane meteorite. This is the fifth year the Cavendish fifth grade has visited Stellafane.
[2014-Sep-13] The internet connections to Stellafane have been upgraded to fiber optic cable by our Internet and Telephone Service Provider, VermonTel. We have three connections: at the Clubhouse, the McGregor Observatory, and the Bunkhouse (a power line Ethernet connection from the Bunkhouse feeds the Pavilion). Measured speeds for both uploads and downloads have increased from 0.3 and 1 megabytes/second to ~85-100 megabytes/second for both. Wi-Fi users at convention should see much better service next summer.
[2014-Aug-08] Stellafane will be offering two free public star parties this fall - come join us for one or both!
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site September 13 8:00 PM
Route 12A, Cornish, NH
In partnership with the National Park Service, the Springfield Telescope Makers will hold the fifth annual Star Party at Saint-Gaudens national Historic Site. From the expansive lawn that overlooks the Connecticut River with beautiful views of Mount Ascutney to the west, we will have many telescopes set up for your viewing enjoyment, and skilled members of the club will answer you questions and point out celestial wonders. The evening will start at 8:00 PM with a talk about the history of astronomy in the Upper Connecticut River Valley. When darkness falls, we will begin telescopic viewing. More details in the press release.
National Park Service Press Release: PDF
Star Party & Open House at Stellafane September 20 7:00 PM
Jordan Road, Springfield, VT - Follow the signs from VT-11 and Breezy Hill Road.
The 22nd Annual Stellafane Open House and Star Party will offer tours of the National Historic Landmark, our observatories will be open for viewing, and we will be happy to answer your questions about Stellafane, Amatuer Astronomy and the Night Sky.
Stellafane Event Flyer: PDF
[2014-Feb-06] Several years ago Dr. Dan Fabricant of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics donated some Zerodur slugs to Stellafane. The slugs were scrap left over from coring out material for use in Masers (club member Dave Prowten facilitated this donation). The donor asked that if we made mirror blanks out of the material, he would appreciate having one of them.
Club member Dave Kelly took on the job of slicing the slugs and grinding their two surfaces parallel. For the blank he planned to return to Dr. Fabricant, he took the further step of polishing all surfaces, including the edges, to a fine polish. On Friday, February 6, Dave, Deb Clogston and Paul Valleli visited CfA to present the mirror blank to Dr. Fabricant (see photo).
The Springfield Telescope Makers appreciate this donation, and look forward to using these fine Zerodur blanks in future projects.
[2014-Jan-23] Father and son Alan & Aaron Sliski, Ken Launie, and John Briggs, all veterans of the annual Stellafane Convention, teamed to disassemble a 37¼-inch clear-aperture Boller & Chivens reflector built in 1965 for Princeton University. The effort will facilitate a new life of education and research for the telescope, now in the stewardship of the Michele and David Mittelman Family Foundation. Disassembly began immediately after the 2013 Convention, when the optics, mirror cells, a spare primary mirror, and lighter parts were removed by Briggs and Launie with the help of Princeton staff and a rental truck. The process continued in late September, when Briggs and the Sliskis returned to prepare the instrument for heavy disassembly by riggers. The excellent telescope, built by the famed Boller & Chivens firm and second-to-none in quality, will allow expanded activities similar to those already underway at HUT Observatory in Colorado, operated by the Michele and David Mittelman Family Foundation.
Many more details and photos of this effort are reported here.
[2014-Jan-15] All of us at Stellafane are saddened to learn of John Dobson's passing on January 15. John was an honorary member of the Springfield Telescope Makers and attended many conventions in past.
Kelly Beatty has a nice article about John over at Sky & Telescope with many links if you wish to learn about this legend of telescope making. And here is a link to Dobson's obituary in the New York Times.