2007 Convention Reports
Here we present reports contributed by convention attendees, giving another perspective on what went on or was important to them. We haven't gotten many reports this year. If you have a convention report to share here, please send it to us. Thanks!
The Springfield Telescope Makers would like to acknowledge all the thank you e-mails we have received after the 2007 convention. Typically brief, they generally offer thanks or congratulations on a convention well done. We appreciate getting these. We have also received a few suggestions for improvements, and we appreciate that feedback also. If you have a suggestion, please send it to us. You can be assured it will be read by our club officers and convention staff and considered as we plan the 2007 convention.
Submitted by Tony Ortega, a report on his talk on Robert Burnham Jr.:
Tracking down what had happened to the author of Burnham's Celestial Handbook was something of a detective tale. My investigation in 1997 revealed that Robert Burnham Jr. had died in 1993 and almost no one knew it. In the ten years since my biographical tale was printed in Phoenix New Times, fans of the Handbooks have occasionally brought up the possibility of a memorial dedicated to Burnham. Last year, members of Cloudy Nights Forum began to talk more seriously about it, and now a group of people that includes Burnham's surviving sister and niece is working with Lowell Observatory to make the memorial a reality. For Stellafane, I brought some rare slides of Burnham as a young man, with the first telescope he built himself, and of his home laboratory. The memorial effort has a website [Was http://www.rbjm.org/ but is not functional in March 2009] and is now working with the East Valley Astronomy Club in Arizona, which has generously agreed to host a nonprofit memorial fund. We're now taking donations for the memorial, and there are more details at both websites.
Submitted by member Jim Daley:
The Second Annual Double Star Workshop was held in the library room of the McGregor observatory on Friday August 10, 2007 beginning at 1:00pm. The workshop was well attended, in fact, we ran out of room and many people tried to listen through open doors. Here is a brief workshop overview. I opened the workshop with a discussion of why we measure doubles, both astrometrically and photometrically and something about the amateurs role in contributing their data including the required publication of results in various peer-reviewed amateur professional journals. Next I displayed copies of the known double star books, most out of print. My technical discussion centered around the measurement of high differential brightness pairs and the special techniques and tailpiece device I employ to carry out the measurement. The device was handed around the room for inspection.
Clif Ashcraft (AAI) was the next presenter and his very fine talk described the use of coarse objective gratings for determining focal length, a parameter used in our CCD astrometric programs, which must be of the highest precision. Clif demonstrated with easy formulas how even a simple grating of thin plywood strips gives incredible accuracy in the FL determination. Clif publishes his data in the "Journal of Double Star Observations" and his talk will appear there soon as well.
Frank Smith (NHAA) completed the program telling of his experiences at Kitt Peak working with professional astronomers getting setup to utilize the 20-inch for double star measures and how very interested the professionals are in amateur work in this area. Frank also described his work using remote robotic telescopes in his measurement program. Frank is about to publish his first set of extensive measures in The Journal of Double Star Observations.
The plan is to hold another workshop at next years convention.
Submitted by Dave Mitsky:
The weather gods were in a good mood on Friday night at the 72nd annual Stellafane ATM convention in Springfield, Vermont. As a result, the thousands of people at the Stellafane ATM convention were treated to a spectacular night of observing.
The Milky Way was extremely prominent and mottled and M7 was an easy naked eye target that night. I saw many meteors and had some incredible views through some of the large Dobs on the lower field including 25, 28, and 32 inchers.
The two most memorable sights of the night for me were both through Tele Vue's incredible 100 degree AFOV 13mm Ethos ocular. M27 through John Vogt's 32" ATM Dob and the Ethos was truly unbelievable and I've never before seen M31 look as it did through Al Nagler's 127mm Tele Vue apochromat and the Ethos. This yet-to-be released new eyepiece is simply amazing.
On Saturday night, the transparency and seeing weren't nearly as good as the previous night but Stellafaners were happy to have a second clear night, well, at least until shortly after 1:00 a.m. A 28" Starstructure Dob provided an excellent view of NGC 6543 that night. The central star was a blazing beacon and the nebula appeared as a bright blue ovoid.
There were perhaps fewer ATMers than usual competing in the telescope making contest but there were some excellent entries nevertheless. My favorite, an elegant 18" single truss tube Dob, happened to be the first prize winner in both craftsmanship and mechanical design.
As usual, I ran into and observed with a number of friends and acquaintances including Al Nagler, Phil Harrington, and Sue and Allen French. I've posted some of the many photos that I took at this year's Stellafane here Springfield now holds another unique claim to fame. Browse here to find out just what that is.
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