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2010 Convention Reports

Here we present reports contributed by convention attendees, giving another perspective on what went on or was important to them.

As I drove up to Breezy Hill from Chester on Thursday night, I had my moonroof open and I was able to observe a few deep-sky objects with my Celestron 8x42s such as M39 from inside my car after I arrived at the lower campgrounds. I was parked next to the McGregor Observatory so the first object I saw telescopically last night was M13 through a 22mm Panoptic and the 13" f/10 "Super-Schupmann", the world's largest Schupmann medial refractor.

I scanned the southern sky with the binoculars before heading down the hill. I swept up M4, M6, M7, M8, M11, M17, M22, M24, Barnard's E (B142 and B143), and the Pipe Nebula (LDN 1773). The transparency was not the best but I certainly wasn't complaining. I also witnessed a fine pass of the Lacrosse 5 spy satellite.

I heard the voice of "Uncle" Al Nagler and said hello. He had the new 3.7mm Tele Vue Ethos in his 127mm Tele Vue apochromat. I had looked through this 110 degree AFOV ocular at NEAF but hadn't had a chance to observe anything at night with it. Al had M22 in view and a great view it was. Not only were stars sharp to the very edge of the 110 degree field but the eye relief was excellent. It was definitely the best view I've ever had through an eyepiece that short in focal length. We then looked at M11, which looked great for such a small aperture. I asked Al if he had ever noticed that M11 resembles a five-pointed star and described it to him. He took a peek and agreed.

John Vogt and his excellent homemade 32" f/3.9 Dob were just to the left of Al's refractor. I climbed the ladder and beheld M51 and its companion NGC 5195 through a 17mm Ethos, IIRC, and the new Tele Vue Paracorr prototype for ultrafast mirrors. A bit later I returned and saw NGC 6960, the western segment of the Veil Nebula, through a 21mm Ethos. It was the best view I've ever had of the "Witch's Broom". I was able to detect a faint pink hue in the nebulosity. A few other observers indicated the same.

That night I met reporter Paula Routly. Her article on this year's Stellafane convention appears at here.

I spent most of the remaining time I was there with Al and observed a variety of celestial objects through a variety of Tele Vue (naturally!) eyepieces, including M17, M24, M27, M31, M32, M110, the Double Cluster, Stock 2, and Jupiter. I also saw NGC 7662 (the Blue Snowball Nebula) through a homemade 12.5" Dob, Uranus through a 16" Meade LightBridge, and NGC 7331 through a 20" Dob. At one point, a brilliant meteor slashed eastward into, and not out of, Perseus, so I suppose one could call it an anti-Perseid. I also caught the pass of the Cosmos 2360 rocket.

Some clouds began to appear in the north but dissipated. However, the transparency in the southwest was deteriorating rapidly. Soon only the northeast and eastern sky was clear and most people began closing down for the night. I took my leave and got a good night's sleep at the bed and breakfast in Chester where my wife and I are staying.

Friday and Saturday nights were even better! A great many celestial objects were observed with numerous telescopes. One of them was M15 through the 10" Ritchey-Chretien Cassegrain in the small dome.

During Saturday afternoon, I viewed the large active region AR 11092 (Sunspot 1092) on the spinning disk inside of the 12" Porter Turret Telescope dome (see here for a video of the sunspot). I also caught a glimpse of a large solar flare that afternoon through binocular PST and Lunt H-alpha rigs. At one point, I ran into videographer Eva Sollberger and chatted with her for a bit. Her video of the event can be seen at here.

The Saturday night keynote talk on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey was excellent.

I saw a number of bright early Perseids at Stellafane on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights and missed witnessing several more while looking through the eyepieces of various telescopes. A couple of them left persistent trains that I could see through my 8x42s for quite a few seconds afterwards.

This was the second year in a row that we had three nights of observing at Stellafane. Even though it sprinkled for a few seconds early Friday morning, with Jupiter and a few stars visible at the time, I can't consider that brief "star shower" to be "Stellarain".

As usual there were many interesting and beautiful telescopes entered into the competition, including Thomas Lumenello's 5" folded refractor, Ross Sackett's 6" single-arm travel Dob, Bob Pfaff's unusual12.5" SCT, and, the big winner, Gerry Logan's 6.3" folded refractor. Fellow DVAA member John Symborski took the 1st place Optical Over 12" award for his 16" Newtonian.

Some of the photos that I took this year are posted here. A short article on some of the telescopes at the convention can be found here. Videos on this year's Stellafane are available here and here.

Dave Mitsky

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