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2008 Convention Schedule, Activities & Events

This page contains an Overall Schedule of Events, and details about the following Activities and Events:

ATM Mirror Grinding Demo Saturday Technical Talks Children's Activities
ATM Short Talks Beginner Talks Horseshoe Pitching Contest
OSLO Workshop Solar System Walk Jeanne Krzywicki Library
Friday Evening Informal Talks Saturday Evening Program Museum of Telescope Making
Swap Tables Raffle Telescope Hunt

Special Events to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the Invention of the Telescope

To help celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first patent application for the invention of the telescope, we are scheduling the following special events:

Telescope Hunt The Telescope Hunt will be similar to a scavenger hunt, in that partici-pants will look for posters, scattered about the convention area, each showing a different type of telescope which must be identified. Poster Session Tell us what you think is the most important astronomical discovery using a telescope and win a prize. Vote for your favorite answer in the Pavilion.
Click the links for more details, times and locations.

Overall Schedule of Events

You can print this 2008 Overall Schedule (one page, PDF format).

Clink links to go to details about the selected event.

Thursday, July 31st
3 pm-10 pm: Early Entry (with Early Entry Permit)

Friday, August 1st

9 am: Registration Gate Opens (normal entry)
10 am-6 pm: Shuttle Bus operates
11 am-Noon: Astronomy Activities for Kids [McGregor]
Noon-6 pm: Mirror Grinding Demo [Pavilion]
1 pm: OSLO Lens Design Workshop [TBA]
1:30 pm: Horseshoe Pitching Contest [McGregor]
2 pm: ATM Short Talk [Pavilion]
3 pm-4 pm: Astronomy Activities for Kids [McGregor]
3 pm: ATM Short Talk [Pavilion]
4 pm: ATM Short Talk [Pavilion]

4:15 pm: Solar System Walk [behind Clubhouse]
5 pm: Stellafane for Beginners [McGregor]
5 pm-8 pm: Hartness House Museum open
5 pm-8 pm: Registration for Optical Competition [near Clubhouse]
6 pm - 7pm: 12-step Recovery Meeting [north end of the Pavilion]
8:30 pm: Informal Talks begin [Pavilion]
10 pm: Dipper Full of Stars: A Tour of the Night Sky [McGregor]
10 pm: Optical Competition Begins [near Clubhouse]
10 pm: Registration Gate Closes
Saturday, August 2nd
7 am: Registration Gate Opens
7 am-5 pm: Swap Tables open
8 am-9:30 am: Registration for Telescope Mechanical Competition [near Clubhouse]
9 am-Noon: Telescope Hunt
9 am-5 pm: Shuttle Bus operates
9:30 am - 1 pm: Mirror Grinding Demo [Pavilion]
10 am- 1pm: Telescope Mechanical Competition [near Clubhouse]
11 am: Telescope Field Walk [meet at Clubhouse]
11 am-Noon: Astronomy Activities for Kids [McGregor]
12 pm: Solar System Walk [behind Clubhouse]
1 pm: Demonstration of Basic Optics [McGregor]

1 pm- 5 pm: Technical Talks [Pavilion]
3 pm-4 pm: Astronomy Activities for Kids [McGregor]
5 pm: Using a Telescope with your Child [McGregor]
5 pm-8 pm: Registration for Optical Competition* [near clubhouse]
7 pm: Evening Program in the Amphitheater
10pm: Discover & Enjoy the Sky [McGregor]
10 pm: Optical Competition Begins* [near Clubhouse]

Sunday, August 3rd

8 am-Noon: Convention Cleanup
9 am-Noon: Hartness House Museum open
New to Astronomy Event
New Telescope Maker Event
Advanced Telescope Maker Event
Children's Event
Telescope Competition

* Only if the Optical Competition is clouded out on Friday.

[McGregor] In or near the McGregor Observatory, Stellafane East.

[Pavilion] In the Flanders Pavilion, Stellafane East.

[Clubhouse] In or near the Pink Clubhouse on Breezy Hill.

Summary of Talks

A summary of the many Talks given at convention, including an explanation of each type of talk, categorized by level (kids, beginner, intermediate and advanced). This is a good place to see all the talks offered at convention, including a wide selection for beginners, and to select the talks that will be most beneficial to you.

Amateur Telescope making - Mirror Grinding Demonstration

There will be a HANDS ON mirror making demonstration Friday from Noon until 6 pm in the Flanders Pavilion. Gain first-hand experience working on mirrors at every stage of grinding, polishing and testing. Experienced ATMs will help explain each step of the process. The demonstration will continue Saturday 9:30 a.m. until 1 pm

Telescope Hunt

To help celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first patent application for the invention of the telescope, the Springfield Telescope Makers are holding a Telescope Hunt. The Telescope Hunt will be similar to a scavenger hunt, in that participants will look for 14 posters, scattered about the Pink Clubhouse area and the convention campsite area, each showing a different type of telescope. The first person to correctly identify all of the telescope types, or the person to correctly identify the most telescope types, wins a prize. The Telescope Hunt will start Saturday, August 2nd, at 9:00 am and end at 12:00 noon. Pick up your score sheet and instructions at the front door of the McGregor Observatory.

Poster Session

To help celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first patent application for the invention of the telescope, you are invited to submit a one page, letter sized (8 ½” x 11”) paper answering the following question: “What do you think is the most important astronomical discovery using a telescope?” Please explain your answer. The paper must be saved as a one page, letter sized Word document or a PDF file. Any entry submitted that is more than one letter sized page or not a Word document or a PDF file will not be accepted. Please email the file to no later than July 25th, 2008. Any entry that is received after July 25th, 2008 will also not be accepted. The poster session will be held in the Flanders Pavilion throughout the convention. Please stop by and vote for your favorite entry. Voting will end at 5:00 pm on Saturday, August 2nd, 2008. The entry with the most votes will win a prize and be announced at the Saturday evening program.

ATM Short Talks

There will be a series of short talks on various ATM topics Friday in the Flanders Pavilion, every hour on the hour, during the ATM demo starting at 1 p.m. The purpose of these talks will be to describe, in detail, the procedures that will be demonstrated during the ATM demo and to introduce beginner ATMs various introductory subjects. Please check back later for the titles of the talks as the convention approaches.

These talks are in the Flanders Pavilion and typically last about 30 minutes.

2:00 pm ATM Short Talk: Rough Grinding by John Vogt

3:00 pm ATM Short Talk: Fine Grinding / Polishing by Dave Britz

4:00 pm ATM Short Talk: Mirror Quality by Dick Parker

OSLO Optical Design Software Workshop  [Advanced Amateurs]

Learn how to use the optical design and analysis software OSLO.  Bring your laptop with OSLO EDU already downloaded (works on PC only) from this site: You are welcome to attend even if you don’t have a laptop and learn from the projected computer screen.  However, preference will be given to those bringing laptops. We will learn how to set up basic telescope types (achromat, Newtonian, Gregorian, Schupmann as time allows), vary parameters, and evaluate image performance. Our  instructor, Bert Willard, of the Springfield Telescope Makers, has used OSLO for many years as an optical systems designer at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

Saturday Technical Talk Schedule  [Advanced Amateurs]

[Easily printable Tech Talk Schedule in PDF format]

The purpose of the Saturday afternoon “technical talks” is to provide relatively advanced amateurs a forum to discuss various projects that other relatively advanced amateurs are currently working on. While everyone is welcome, of course, please do not be surprised to hear a lot of astronomical jargon, hear about some very complex technical issues and maybe even see a few confusing equations. If you have a suggestion for a subject for a technical during an upcoming convention please click here.

The Saturday afternoon program begins in the Flanders Pavilion at 1 p.m.

  • Mirror Making Workshop in Turkey by Richard Parker and Haldun Menali
    This talk will discuss the efforts of ATM's in Turkey to bring telescope making into their country. The Kultur University hosted a mirror making workshop as part of their Amateur Astronomy Symposium in July 2007. As part of that workshop an instructor from the United States went to show a class of 50 students how to make their own telescope mirrors. This talk will summarize that workshop and show the hospitality of the Turkish people.
  • The CHiefspiegler (Jones-Herschelian) and Jones-Yolo by Ed Jones
    Ed Jones will talk about CHiefspieglers, a term he coined for Catadioptric Herschelians, which is a new design he discovered while making a window (unobstructed) telescope. This design uses two correcting lenses, similar to the Schiefspiegler arrangement built by George Dittie, which Ed Jones has applied to a Yolo version. Ed Jones will describe how an ordinary Newtonian can be converted into an unobstructed and fully baffled CHiefspieglers telescope, thus making it the fastest Schiefspiegler design available.
  • Some Lesser-known Massachusetts Telescope Makers of the 19th & early 20th Century by Ken Launie
    In this, the telescope's 400th year, there is increased interest in the history of the telescope. Much of the earliest American telescope making history can trace its roots to individuals who were self-taught amateurs-turned-professional, who were either born in or worked in Massachusetts. Many people are aware of the work of Alvan Clark and Henry Fitz, but Amasa Holcomb, R.B. Tolles, John Clacey and Joel Hastings Metcalf also made significant contributions that are remembered by too few.
  • Astro Imaging - Great Results from Light Polluted Skies by Neil Fleming (
    Neil Fleming, an avid Boston-based astrophotographer, will emphasize techniques, processes and best the practices to capture the highest-quality images from even the most light polluted of locations. Topics will include; capture techniques, initial processing in CCDStack, and processing workflow in Photoshop. He has had work published in each major Astronomy magazine, on NASA's 'Astronomy Photo of the DAY' (APOD), and has spoken at major conferences including AIC, NEAIC, and MWAIC.
  • Plaque to be afixed on the SDS
    Plaque affixed to SDS
    The Stellafane-Donation-Scope: Giving Back to Those Who Gave Us Amateur Telescope Making
    by Robert Teeter (
    Rob Teeter will chronicle this one of a kind project that teamed him, Astronomy Technology Today magazine and nearly two dozen equipment vendors to bring together a "dream telescope" to benefit the Stellafane convention. The program will highlight the design process, the solicitation of components, the construction steps and will conclude with the official unveiling of the 12.5" f/4.8 Stellafane-Donation-Scope (SDS).

    SDS Poster (PDF) that announced this scope at NEAF.

Beginner Talks

[Easily printable PDF Version of Beginner Talks and Solar System Walk] There will be several talks during the convention which will be geared for people who are new to amateur astronomy and the Stellafane convention:

  • Fri 5 pm: Stellafane for Beginners in the McGregor Observatory by Kim Keegan & Dennis Cassia
    Are you familiar with these terms: “The Pink”, “Tent Talks” or “The Turret”? If not, or if this is your first Stellafane or if you are retuning and want to learn more about who the Springfield telescope Makers are, as well as what is going on during this convention, then this presentation is for you. Topics include, but are not limited to: A short history of Stellafane, a description of our site including the buildings and landmarks, descriptions of the scheduled talks and activities, services available at Stellafane, local services off site, etc. in addition to answering any questions you may have about the convention.
  • Fri 10 pm: Dipper Full of Stars: A Tour of the Night Sky by Richard Sanderson
    in the McGregor Observatory
    Using stunning images of constellations, planets, and celestial objects, Richard Sanderson will lead an interpretive tour of the summer nighttime sky. He will describe how the sky appears to move throughout the night and from season to season, and explain the significance of the North Star. He will speculate about life on other worlds and show many of the prominent summer constellations. Following the indoor portion of the program, the group will step outdoors under the stars, weather permitting, where Richard Sanderson will use a green laser to identify some of the highlights of the summer night sky. The presentation is aimed at beginners of all ages.
  • Sat 11 am: Telescope Field Walk  by John Vogt, David Britz and David Groski
    meet in front of the Pink Clubhouse
    During the “Telescope Field Walk”, John Vogt, David Britz and David Groski, all experienced Amateur Telescope Makers, will guide small groups through the fields around the Pink Clubhouse, where the telescopes that will be participating in the mechanical competition will be set up. They will describe the various types of optical designs and mounting configurations that will be on display, point out the subtle details that go into award winning telescopes and be available to answer your questions.
  • Sat 1 pm: Demonstration of Basic Optics, for Beginners by John Briggs in the McGregor Observatory
    The great American physicist A. A. Michelson, famous for his study of light waves, said "If a poet could at the same time be a physicist, he might convey to others the pleasure, the satisfaction, almost the reverence, which the subject inspires. The aesthetic side of the subject is, I confess, by no means the least attractive to me. Especially is its fascination felt in the branch which deals with light -- the beauties of coloring, the exquisite gradations of light and shade and the intricate wonders of symmetrical forms”. In several demonstrations, J. W. Briggs, instructor at Clay Science Center, will share some of Michelson's favorite phenomena, especially as relevant in understanding telescopes.
  • Sat 5 pm: Using a Telescope with your Child by Glenn Chapel in the McGregor Observatory.
    An interest in astronomy starts at an early age. With a child-appropriate telescope, and a list of kid-friendly sky objects to explore, you can launch a child into a lifelong adventure in astronomy. In this presentation, Glenn Chapel will cover telescope basics (optical types, mounts, and eyepieces), recommended telescopes for young astronomers and easy to find sky objects guaranteed to delight your child (and you!). This presentation is not only suitable for parents and their children age 10 and up, but also for beginners of any age, who want to learn the basics of choosing and using a telescope to explore the night sky.
  • Sat 10 pm: Discover and Enjoy the Sky by John Briggs at the McGregor Observatory.
    The beauty of the night sky is a driving motivation for telescope making, the Stellafane convention and astronomy in general. John W. Briggs, a physics & astronomy instructor at Clay Science Center, will show how to become oriented in the sky using popular references, recent new software and other tools of astronomy. The presentation will be appropriate for all ages. Weather permitting, after the program the group will use the historic 5-inch Alvan Clark refractor, originally installed at Abbot Academy in 1875.

In addition, beginner may be interested in the Solar System Walks.

Solar System Walk

Friday, August 1st, 4:15 p.m. & Saturday, August 2nd, 12:00 p.m., behind the Pink Clubhouse, by Tom Gorka.
[Easily printable PDF Version of Beginner Talks and Solar System Walk]

To illustrate the vast size of outer space, the Springfield Telescope Makers constructed a scale model of the solar system, based on the Sun being 12 inches in diameter. At that scale, the Earth would be approximately 1/10 of an inch in diameter and 107 feet from the Sun. Jupiter would be 1.2 inches in diameter and approximately 560 feet from the Sun.

The “Solar System Walk” starts up behind the Pink Clubhouse and proceeds down the road going towards the Stellafane camping area. At the appropriate distance, from the scale model of the Sun, there are stations with the appropriate planet, built to scale, and a short description of each planet. The Solar System walk can be taken at any time during the convention. However a guided walk is available at the times mentioned above when Thomas Gorka will provide additional information about the “Solar System Walk” and each particular planet. The walk takes approximately 3/4 of an hour, if you walk all the way to the planet Neptune, with a total distance of 3232 ft, or a little over ½ of a mile.

Children's Activities

There will be four 1-hour astronomy workshops for children held in the McGregor Observatory during the 2008 Stellafane Convention (Friday, August 1st at 11:00 a.m. & 3:00 p.m. and Saturday, August 2nd at 11:00 a.m. & 3:00 p.m.). These astronomy workshops have been held at the Stellafane convention since 1995. Led by Dr. Kristine Larsen of Central CT State University and a member of the Springfield Telescope Makers, each of the four 1-hour workshops includes several activities geared for children ages 5 - 12. Younger children are welcome but will need help from a parent. Each workshop has a different astronomical theme. Please inquire at the McGregor Observatory for the theme for each specific workshop. Due to space limitations, each workshop is limited to 25 children on a first-come basis.

Horseshoe Pitching Contest

The 11th-Annual Stellafane horseshoe pitching contest is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Friday near the McGregor Observatory. There will be adult and kid’s competitions. “Astro” prizes will be awarded.

Jeanne Krzywicki Library

The Jeanne Krzywicki Library, in the McGregor Observatory, will be open throughout the convention, unless the room is otherwise occupied by convention events.

Friday Evening Informal Talks

Friday evening, August 1st, at 8:30 p.m. Bob Morse, of the Springfield Telescope Makers, will conduct the informal talks in the Flanders Pavilion. If you wish to contribute a short talk during this session, you must submit a brief description of your planned presentation with your registration payment or by e-mail here.. Talks are limited to 10 minutes and 20 slides. The time limit will be strictly enforced! A 35-mm slide projector, overhead projector, VCR and a digital projector will be available for your use. Note that if you plan to use the digital projector you must bring your own laptop.

The Famous Stellafane Raffle

Help support the convention and have fun by participating in our raffle. Thousands of dollars in prizes, including books from Willmann-Bell and eyepieces from Televue, are provided yearly by gracious contributors. Tickets are available at the T-shirt table and from designated STM members roaming the grounds. Your dollar goes a long way!

Saturday Evening Program

The evening program will begin at 7:00 p.m. Saturday in the hillside amphitheater. Bob Morse, of the Springfield Telescope Makers, will be master of ceremonies.

  • Greetings, announcements and raffle drawing.
  • Stellafane Shadowgram: by Mario Motta, advanced amateur, eclipse trip organizer extraordinaire, member of the the Springfield Telescope Makers and Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston.
  • Presentation of telescope competition awards.
  • Stellafane Keynote Talk: Thomas R. Williams of Houston, TX, will give a keynote talk on "Resources for ATM: Albert G. Ingalls and His Team of Experts".

    Russell W. Porter and Albert G. Ingalls are well known as the founders of the amateur telescope making movement. Less well understood is a complex network of correspondents that enabled Ingalls, with no prior experience or training, to publish extensively on the subject. Thomas Williams will explore the inner circle of experts that supported Ingalls, whose expert knowledge he needed for his monthly columns and books. The talk will be drawn from research in the Ingalls papers found at the Smithsonian Institution & in other archives and from contacts with surviving family members.

The Porter/Hartness Museum of Amateur Telescope Making

The Porter/Hartness Museum of Amateur Telescope Making is located in the underground rooms at the Hartness House Inn. Visit the museum on Friday from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm or Sunday from 9:00 am to Noon. Admission is free. Map & Directions. Many of the items on display are by or about Russell W. Porter, including the Springfield and Garden telescopes. His artwork traces his arctic exploration years to his work on the 200" Palomar telescope, culminating in his famous cutaway drawings. Other items of interest include early 'scopes and mirror making parts. The Hartness turret telescope, with its 10" Brashear objective may also be inspected.

Swap Tables

The Swap Tables (located at the NORTHEAST edge of the main camping/parking area) are provided to give amateurs an opportunity to trade, buy or sell their surplus astronomical and telescope related items. They operate from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 11th.


At the January, 2005 meeting, the Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. clarified its policy regarding commercialism and Swap Table sales at the Stellafane convention. For the sake of historical continuity, to preserve the uniqueness of the Stellafane convention and to encourage conventioneers to build their own instruments, the Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. do not allow commercial exhibits or sales, of any kind, at the Stellafane convention. All sales must comply, in concept, with the above objective but are also specifically subject to the following criteria:

  1.  Only surplus astronomical, telescope and telescope making related items may be sold.
  2.  Each person will be allowed 16 square feet of table or ground space.
  3.  Items which have the appearance of being specifically purchased or manufactured for sale at the Swap Tables may not be sold.
  4.  All sales must take place within the designated Swap Table area only between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., the Saturday of the Stellafane convention.

The Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. may choose to grant a limited exception to the above policies to astronomy related organizations for their fundraising. Any request for an exemption must be made, in writing, at least one month prior to the convention. If granted, the President of the Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. will notify the requesting organization in writing.

Any member of the Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. has the authority to determine whether a party is in compliance with the established regulations. Any person who is found to be in violation of the stated policies will be required to comply. Failing compliance, the offending party will be asked to leave the convention and may be escorted from the premises by convention security.

The Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. encourages those with questions regarding this policy to contact the Club via e-mail to the Convention Mailbox. During the convention, any questions regarding this policy, the appropriateness of items being displayed, or any information being disseminated should be directed to a member of the Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc.

12-Step Recovery Meeting

There will be a 12-Step Recovery Meeting for members of any such program on Friday from 6 - 7 PM at the north end of the Pavilion, outside weather permitting.

Back to the 2008 Convention Main Page

Page last revised on Thursday, 2017-Sep-07 10:32:23 -0400