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2003 Convention Report

Here we present reports contributed by convention attendees, giving another perspective on what went on or was important to them. We usually have quite a few reports sent in, but for some reason this year we only have one.

The weather was generally pretty dismal at Stellafane this year, especially on Friday when torrential downpours occurred (I'll be entirely unoriginal and simply call it Stellarain), but on Saturday afternoon the skies cleared enough to allow solar observing to take place. After leaving the swap meet and walking to Breezy Hill to have a look at the telescopes entered in the competition, I had a chance to view the sun in white light through two telescopes employing Herschel wedges. One was a refractor, as one might expect, the other a Newtonian that employed non-aluminized mirrors.

When I walked back down to the observing field near the McGregor Observatory I saw our star through John Vogt's 105mm Astro-Physics Traveler and a 70mm Tele Vue Ranger. Both refractors were equipped with Coronado H-alpha filters. The Ranger had a 40mm filter and performed quite well but John's Traveler had two stacked 90mm filters and provided simply amazing views. An enormously long filament snaked across one limb, with a surprisingly wide filament beneath it, and several prominences were present. However, the highlight for me was a bright solar flare on the sun's disk near the "upper" limb.

The Saturday evening activities were mercifully streamlined, a most welcome change, but the skies became increasingly cloudy as night fell. When it became evident that it was pointless to stay I called it a night and returned to the Hartness House.

As the weather gods would have it 2003 was not a great year for observational astronomy but as usual Stellafane offered beautiful and innovative ATM instruments to admire, interesting activities to participate in, and informative talks to attend.

Dave Mitsky

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