"If an amateur starts out to build a telescope just for fun he will find, before his labors are over, that he has become seriously interested in the wonderful mechanism of our universe. And finally, there is understandably the stimulus of being able to unlock the mysteries of the heavens by a tool fashioned by one's own hand."
Russell W. Porter, Founder of Stellafane, March, 1923
The Ultimate Star Party?
Although the oldest and perhaps best known, the Stellafane Convention is but one of the growing number of astronomy conventions in North America. Our reputation and the fact that publications list the Stellafane Convention along with star parties in their calendars of events causes some people to arrive at the meeting expecting the ultimate observing experience. In truth, the Stellafane Convention began in the 1920's as a meeting of amateur telescope makers. There has always been observing, but it does not have the emphasis that it does at gatherings such as the Texas Star Party or Florida's Winter Star Party. The Convention is on the outskirts of town and minor light pollution is visible in the sky over Stellafane.
Camping & RVing at Stellafane
If this is your first visit to the Stellafane convention, especially if you are camping, there are several things you should know. First, our camping is very primitive. Only portable chemical toilets are available. You should bring your own drinking water. There are no showers, no electrical hookups and no isolated campsites. You are likely to be camping back-to-back with others. While this usually makes for good friendships it can cause other side effects. The Convention site is often hot and dusty. There are no hookups of any sort for RVs. We do our best to see that everyone has a happy and comfortable convention but don't be surprised by our rustic conditions -- they are part of the Stellafane tradition.
Questions that are not answered here can be directed via e-mail to
Family Service Radios
The convention staff uses family service radio channel 7 to facilitate communications during the convention. Please avoid using this channel when you are at the convention site. Of course, if you have an emergency please contact the staff via channel 7.
Stellafane Lighting Policy
Stellafane does not allow open white lights, on clear nights, except for ½-hour after the Friday and Saturday evening talks end. Vehicular travel after this time is strongly discouraged and is done only at the risk of the operator. We thank you for your cooperation.
The Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. welcomes you to bring your pets to the Stellafane convention, provided the following rules are followed:
Failure to comply with the above rules will result in you and your pet being asked to leave the convention and you may be escorted from the premises by convention security. The Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. thanks you in advance for helping to make the Stellafane convention more enjoyable for everyone Enjoy the convention!
Will Dark-Sky Conditions be Preserved?
We try to preserve the Clubhouse area on Breezy Hill as the dark sky site by limiting the number of cars that go in and out during the night. However, it's not perfect so expect the occasional white light to go by.
Stellafane Endowment Fund
The Endowment Fund will one day guarantee that Stellafane can pay unavoidable costs due to a catastrophic event or if the convention cannot be held. For info please go to the Pink Clubhouse or see the information online here. All contributions to the endowment fund are tax deductible. Thanks!
Online Telescope Registration
If you will be in the telescope competition, you are encouraged to register you telescope on-line here. Note that you must still check in at the Pink Clubhouse before the competition or your telescope will not be judged! Pre-registering your telescope on-line will save both you and us time when you check-in in person at convention.
What should I bring to the Convention?
Whether a day-tripper or a die-hard camper, everyone should bring rain gear for those periodic "Stella-Rains", sturdy shoes for the up-and-down hill walks on rocky terrain (a 2nd pair of shoes and socks is handy in case your feet get wet in the rain!), a cap or visor and sun protection for the sunny days, and bug spray ... (yes, there are bugs, especially at dusk!). Also, no matter how warm the day is, the evening temperatures can plunge, so a jacket (and even gloves) will prove invaluable... campers will obviously need to bring more "stuff". For the protection of yourself and others, just a reminder that Camp Fires are Not Allowed - if you are camping and/or cooking on the Stellafane site, you must use approved cooking equipment, i.e. portable grill or camping cook stove, etc. Do not cut any trees. And, always be careful about disposal of cigarette butts.
Cell Phone Service
Be advised that cell phone service is "spotty" in hilly southern Vermont. Good coverage is generally available near interstates and town centers, but gets less reliable as you move off into the countryside. At Stellafane, you might have to move about the site to get a connection, but most carriers do have a useable signal at least in some (higher) areas of our site. If you can see Mt. Ascutney to the north, you will likely have service.
For the safety and comfort of everyone, the observing fields should remain smoke free.
First-Aid Kits are located in the Bunkhouse, McGregor Observatory and Clubhouse. We also have trained Medical Staff onsite. Contact Security or STM staff with your needs, or make Emergency Calls on Channel 7 on FRS radios.
In Case of Emergency
In case of emergency please contact Security (by the gate) or any STM member.
Generators & Recharging
Use of generators is discouraged at Convention. Properly muffled RV generators, and quiet portable generators 1,000 watts or less may be used between the hours of 9am to 6pm in the camping areas. Generators may never be used in the observing fields, after dark, or other locations at Stellafane. The generator must not create a hazard. Any complaint of unsafe operation or excessive noise will immediately cause the generator to be banned from operation.
There are outlets along the walls of both the McGregor observatory, and the Flanders Pavilion that may be used for recharging batteries and portable devices. However, the Springfield Telescope Makers accept no responsibility for unattended property.
Where to Set Up your Telescope
We strongly recommend that you set up your telescope in the fields around the Pink Clubhouse or in the field to the south of the McGregor Observatory. You may not set up your telescope in a designated parking area. Please consult the site map, which you will receive when you arrive, as well as the signs posted throughout the convention site for the designated parking locations.
Can I bring a store purchased telescope?
Of course! Everyone who's interested in any aspect of astronomy is welcome at the convention!
Printed Convention Bulletins
If you would prefer to read printed information about the convention, you might want to print this PDF file. All of the information in these bulletins are on the web pages, although the web pages actually contain more information as we do not have the space constraints of a printed publication. This is given out to all attendees when they arrived.
Download the 2016 Convention Bulletin (PDF)
Photos & Convention Reports
We would be pleased to add your photos or convention report to our post-convention pages. Please submit them via email to the Stellafane Webmaster.
Directions & Maps
Once at Stellafane, the Stellafane East Site Map is available from the directions and maps page, below the road map.
Do I have to Walk from the Main Camping/Parking Area to the Pink Clubhouse?
No. There is a shuttle bus that will operate between the main camping/parking area and the Clubhouse on Friday and Saturday; see the program for hours of operation.
Is there parking near the Clubhouse?
No. Parking near the Clubhouse is very limited. We try to reserve the few spots that are available for those who are unable to walk up the hill or take the bus. You may of course drive up to deliver your telescope; we ask that you return your car to the main camping/parking area as soon as possible. Thanks for your cooperation.
Where are Food Services located?
The main food service tent is located just to the south of the Bunkhouse. Note: This food service tent is open all night if you need a snack and/or coffee during your observing session.
Food service will be available for Thursday dinner and for Friday breakfast if you are using our Early Entry option.
Where is the Lost and Found?
The lost and found is at the t-shirt table. Please see the map of the main camping / parking area, which you'll receive when you arrive, for the location of the t-shirt table.
Would you like to help out at convention? Please see our Volunteer Information.
Future Convention Dates
The 2017 Stellafane Convention will be held Thursday through Sunday, July 20-23, 2017.
2 Meter Repeater: W1STM
There is usually a 2 meter Ham Radio repeater, call sign W1STM, operating at 145.15 MHz on site (no tone) during convention.
Golf Carts and ATVs
No personal golf carts or ATV's will be allowed at convention. Only golf carts and ATVs being used for official convention purposes will be allowed.
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 7th.
The Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. has 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 sales, of any kind, at the Stellafane convention. All swap table sales must comply, in concept, with the above objective but are also specifically subject to the following criteria:
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 the Stellafane Web Page. 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.
Lasers pointers can be a helpful tools for astronomers, but can be dangerous if not properly used. Direct viewing of a laser-pointer beam, even briefly and at a distance of a kilometer or two, has the potential to cause temporary blindness – the same effect you get right after a flash photo is taken – or afterimages. These effects last anywhere from seconds to minutes. Glare, which is a reduction or loss of central vision, lasts only as long as exposure to the beam. All these effects could be disastrous if they struck a person operating machinery, driving a car, or flying a plane.
To help use our laser tools safely, the Springfield Telescope Makers, Inc. has adopted these recommendations as policy. These are based on the suggestions from the Laser Institute of America and published in May 2005 by Sky and Telescope.
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