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2009 Convention Reports

Here we present reports contributed by convention attendees, giving another perspective on what went on or was important to them. If you have a convention report to share here, please send it to us. Thanks!

The Springfield Telescope Makers have 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 2009 convention.

A report from Ken Slater, Springfield Telescope Makers, Stellafane Webmaster and Trustee:

Wow! It's not unusual for us to get short notes of congratulations or thank you after convention, and we certainly appreciate them every year. However, this year they are really pouring in at a rate I have not seen before. Clearly attendees were very happy to have Alan Bean as the keynote speaker, and have him available at other times, such as the fundraising dinner, the book signing, and about the grounds. Gary Cislak, our current VP, should get all the credit for this: he had the vision and drive to make it happen, and worked very hard to insure it would be successful.

Another person who deserves a lot of credit is Tom Spirock (past Secretary and Webmaster). Tom labors tirelessly every year to organize the convention program, find great topics and speakers, and get them all scheduled. Recently he has been doing a great job on the advanced topics workshop, getting the Double Star Workshop suggested by Jim Daley scheduled last year and planning the Imaging Workshop this year. Tom is a humble guy (unless your talk to him about the New York Yankees) but he is a key behind the scenes contributor to making our conventions a success.

Also, an entire convention without rain was a big hit (We will see what we can do along these lines next year :-). The Antique Telescope Society Workshop organized by John Briggs on Thursday was also very well received and had an excellent program.

It takes a huge team effort from a lot of people to make convention happen: Club Members, Volunteers, and Speakers. Alan bean would be proud of us, we make up our minds to do it, and figure out how to solve problems often in real-time. It's a lot of work, but worth every second.

Every year we do our best to produce an excellent convention for you. This year we seemed to have hit a home run. Next year is our 75th convention, and we are thinking hard about how to make it a special event also...

Submitted by Keith Dayer of the Albany Area Amateur Astronomers:

Had a great time at Stellafane (after a very long hiatus). I have day tripped up there over the past 20 or so years, but was a regular from 1970 to 1986. On Thursday I camped on the grounds for the first time since 1974.

Went also to the Alan Bean dinner Friday at the Hartness House, where we stayed Friday and Saturday. Got a couple of shots there that may be of interest. In one, Karen Canton and I are on either side of Captain Bean. Karen and I were last at Stellafane together in 1973 and again in 1975. We had first met on the 1973 African Eclipse cruise on the P&O flagship, Canberra. Neil Armstrong was on board for the eclipse cruise, so it seemed like we kinda came full circle by returning to Stellafane on another occasion where there was an astronaut in attendance.

I love the website, by the way, but especially love that the spirit of Stellafane has been so well preserved. To me camping up there felt the same to me as it did nearly 40 years ago.

Submitted by Dave Mitsky, ASH, CAS, DVAA

Once again it was time for my annual pilgrimage to the hallowed grounds of the Stellafane ATM convention near Springfield, Vermont.

The sky was pristine atop Breezy Hill on Thursday night.  I spent four hours observing with a number of fellow Stellafane conventioneers, including Sue and Alan French and fellow DVAA member Scott Ewart.  I had views through the 13" f/10 Schupmann medial refractor housed in the McGregor Observatory, Shane LaPierre's 18" f/5 ATM Dob, Scott's exceptional 12.5" f/5.5 ATM split-ring equatorial Newtonian, a 12.5" f/6 Dob, Shane and Dylan LaPierre's 8" f/5 ATM Dob, an 8" f/6 Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dob, Sue's 130mm f/6.3 Astro-Physics Gran Turismo apochromat, and Scott's 102mm f/8.6 Tele Vue Renaissance refractor.

Jupiter was almost at opposition and was outstanding.  While using Scott's wonderful 12.5", a dual first place award-winner at Stellafane 2005, I observed the GRS, a dark area following the GRS, and a subtle hint of the impact zone as it appeared on the limb.  We were able to use 350x (5mm Nagler Type 6) rather easily and with Scott's 2-4mm Nagler zoom I saw the Galilean satellites as I've never before seen them.  They were easily visible disks at magnifications up to well over 800x.  As seen at the 2mm setting, Ganymede and Callisto were remarkably large.

Scott allowed me the use of his refractor and I had a great time observing more than a score of DSOs using a 13mm Nagler Type 6.  The Double Cluster, Stock 2, Barnard's E, the Golf Putter asterism and nearby NGC 752, Collinder 399, M17, M24, M27, and M31, to mention a few, were portrayed quite nicely.

I had excellent views of M31 and M76 through the 18" Dob and of a rather dim Hickson 93 galaxy group through the 12.5" f/6 Dob.

During the day on Friday, I spent some on top of Breezy Hill with Scott inspecting some of the telescopes that were entered in the competition. On Friday evening, I sat in on Phil Harrington's talk on binocular observing.  A bit later I had a chance to look through the 21mm Tele Vue Ethos prototype.  Al Nagler was showing it off in Sue's 130mm f/6.3 Astro-Physics Gran Turismo refractor.  We looked at the North America Nebula, NGC 6992 (the eastern portion of the Veil Nebula), M8 and M20, M31, and the Double Cluster.  The Double Cluster was especially stunning.  The 21mm Ethos yields more true field of view than does a 26mm Nagler Type 5 and provided truly excellent views.

I also observed Jupiter and Neptune with Scott's 12.5" Newtonian, Jupiter through a 28" StarStructure Dob, M13 and M11 through Carl Lancaster's award-winning 18" f/4.5 split-ring equatorial Newtonian, and the Double Cluster, NGC 457, and M31 through a 6" f/10 Meade ETX-LS LightSwitch ACF SCT that Phil Harrington was evaluating. Unfortunately, the skies began to grow cloudy starting around 11:00 p.m. EDT.  I left the lower campground observing field at midnight.  By the time I arrived at the B & B my wife and I were staying at in Chester, the skies had cleared.

During the day on Saturday, I looked at more of the telescopes entered in the competition.  There were somewhat fewer entries than in years past.  Nevertheless, many excellent ATM telescopes were on display, including a 6" f/15 Maksutov-Cassegrain built by Gerry Logan that won first place for craftsmanship, design, and compound telescope optics, an extremely compact 12.5" Newtonian travel scope, Gary Fuchs' 4.5" f/27 tri-Schiefspiegler, Douglas Arion's award-winning 10" f/6.1 Newtonian ball mount on an equatorial platform, and Steven Pellarin's award-winning 28" f/3.6 truss-tube Dob.  There were also two very fine Dobs constructed by Jeff Parenteau that won first place prizes for optics in the below and above 12.5" categories.

The Saturday night festivities were quite enjoyable, even though my $50 worth of raffle tickets didn't win me anything, as usual.  Al Nagler donated four bags of Tele Vue eyepieces once again, including the big prize, one containing several Ethos oculars.  The highlight of the night was the talk given by the keynote speaker, Dr. Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the Moon.  It was extremely interesting and very entertaining.

Saturday night was not as transparent as Thursday night but gradually improved with time.  I did most of my observing from atop Breezy Hill, which is quite a hike in the dark from the lower campground area.  Before making the trek to the site of the Pink Clubhouse and the 12" f/17 Porter Turret Telescope, I had looks at M13 and M92 through a 20" f/4.5 Obsession, M27 through the 28" Star Structure Dob which was equipped with one of the two 21mm Ethos prototypes, and Neptune and Triton through Scott's 12.5" Newtonian.

When I finally made it to the top of Breezy Hill, I looked at NGC 7331 through the 10" f/6.1 ball mount Newtonian, M13" through the 10" f/5.5 Dob that won for optics, and M27 (with the other 21mm Ethos prototype) through the 28" f/3.6 Dob.  The fellow who built the prize-winning 10 f/5.5 and 12.5" f/5.6 Dobs offered their use to me and I proceeded to put a few lesser known objects into view such as the Other Double Double (Struve 2470-74) in Lyra and the faint open cluster NGC 6802 in Vulpecula along with old standbys such as M57 and M31.  I also looked at Jupiter through a 6" f/30 (if I recall correctly) Gregorian reflector.  I spent the rest of the night viewing objects such as M11, Jupiter, and Neptune through the 28".

So there were three clear nights at Stellafane this year, a rather unusual event.  As luck would have it, Hurricane Bill passed by the following weekend.

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