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2017 Stellafane Convention

The 82nd Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers on Breezy Hill in Springfield, Vermont, the 2017 Stellafane Convention, was held Thursday through Sunday, July 20-23, 2017.The 2017 Convention is dedicated to club member Allen Tinker.


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We are very interested in feedback, comments or suggestions on any aspect of convention, we are always working to make improvements every year.

Photo by Gabor Furesz
Little Girl, Big Scope, Immense Milky Way Friday Evening at Stellafane.
9 year old Miriam Joy Patton enjoys the view from a 25" Obsession telescope.
Photo © Gabor Furesz courtesy of the Westport Astronomical Society
Little Girl, Big Scope,
Immense Milky Way.
Friday Evening at Stellafane

Thanks to All!

The Springfield Telescope Makers would like to thank all those who attended the 2017 Stellafane Convention and made it a success, especially all volunteers and club members who help with setup, program and operations and  cleanup, and all the excellent speakers who make their expertise and experience available through their talks and workshops. To those of you who brought homemade telescopes to display on breezy hill, a special thank you for sharing your accomplishments and inspiring the next generation of telescope makers - we had a great set of interesting and innovative scopes this year.

Convention Summary

As expected, attendance was about 15% below our 5 year average due to the Great American Eclipse on August 21 - some folks could only make one astronomical event, and chose the eclipse over Stellafane. Originally this convention was scheduled for August 17-20, but that did not allow time for eclipse travel, so we moved it back a month. We expect to see everyone back here in 2018!

Optical competition was completed on Friday. The convention was rain-free (well, there was a drop or two some of us felt during the Saturday evening program, but no one got wet). The best viewing was Thursday night, Friday night had some clouds to dodge, and it was completely overcast on Saturday night.

There was a strong field of telescopes in both the optical and mechanical competitions, and the judges in both categories had difficult deliberations and there were several ties. There were 35 total entries with 5 of those in the Master Class.

Chris Stewart attended from South Africa, and he shared with us many of the things they do at Scope-X - a convention very much like Stellafane on that continent. He won three awards for clever mounts and accessories he brought with him.

Nagin Cox of NASA JPL presented an excellent keynote address on her experience in working on robotic solar system exploration. She met with our teen robotic participants earlier in the day and shared her experiences with those young people also.

Our food vendor, Jim Ferguson, offered a Lobster Dinner on Friday evening to compliment the Chicken BBQ on Saturday evening and that was very well received by the conventioneers.


A great selection of speakers, workshops, demonstrations and events for every level: children, teens, beginners, intermediate and advanced amateur astronomers. Click on the link above to see everything that was going on during convention.

Our Saturday Evening Program featured keynote speaker Nagin Cox, NASA JPL Tactical Mission Lead on the Mars Curiosity Rover. Kris Larsen delivered the Shadowgram address on Messier Mania, Aperture Fever, and Eclipse-on-the-Brain: A Guide to Common Astronomical Ailments.

Hartness House Workshop on Exoplanets

The search for and study of Exoplanets is a relatively new and very exciting field of astronomy. Once beyond the detection limits of even the most sophisticated professional telescopes, advances in both camera and computer technology have brought the discovery and study of Exoplanets into the realm of the serious amateur astronomer. At Springfield’s historic Hartness House, home of the Hartness Turret Telescope and the Hartness-Porter Museum of Amateur Telescope Making, a day discussing a wide variety of Exoplanet projects, at both the amateur and professional levels occured.


The Springfield Telescope Makers would like to thank the following people and/or companies for donating prizes to the raffle at the 2017 Stellafane convention or goods and services that are sold or used for the convention. We thank:

Tele Vue Logo

Special thanks to Tele Vue and Al & David Nagler for donating
sets of their Premium Eyepieces for many, many years.
This year, four sets were raffled off.

Willman-Bell Logo

Special thanks to Willmann-Bell and Perry & Patricia Remaklus for donating sets of their excellent Astronomy and Telescope Making Books for many, many years.

This year's book prizes were three large sets of Willmann-Bell books.

Steve & Terri Simoni Student Transportation of America

White River Jct., VT and driver Cheryl

Ursa Major Stencils Astronomical Society of the Pacific

San Francisco, CA

Spectrum Telescope

Cammorillo, CA

Kopernick Observatory & Science Center

Vestal, NY

Gary Hand Stargazer Steve Telescopes
Steven Forbes Jim & Martie Erickson
Kris Larsen

Call for 2017 Convention
Photos, Videos & Reports

We would like to add your photos or convention report to our web pages, and link to your hosted videos on YouTube or other services. Your experiences gives a much more comprehensive view of the convention than we can do ourselves. Please send them via email

Photo Gallery

The 2017 Convention Photo gallery, with candid images taken by the Springfield Telescope Makers and many attendees who send us photos they have taken (See the pink box at right if you have photos to send us for posting on our web page).


Videos from our attendees.

Dave Kelly's Telescope
Dave Kelly's 12½-inch f/4.5 Dobsonian. This won master class awards in Optical, Mechanical & Craftsmanship at the 2017 Convention.   Photo by Richard Sanderson
Dave Kelly's 12½-inch f/4.5 Dobsonian. This won master class awards in
Optical, Mechanical & Craftsmanship
at the 2017 Convention.

Telescope Competition

Details and photos of all the telescopes and other items entered and all the winners are here.

Observing Olympics

A challenge to observe at least 15 deep sky objects, accessible in small to large amateur telescopes, has been developed for us by Larry Mitchell, who is in charge of the Texas Star Party Advanced Observing Program. Try your observing skills and earn a pin for your efforts. These lists remain available after convention.

Teen Program

A hands on class working in teams to construct Curiosity Rover inspired technology that was demonstrated at the Convention. For teens age 12-19.

General Information

This page contains important information about the convention, including lighting policies, pet policies, food service, on-site bus service and where to set up your telescope. Check this page for answers to any questions you may have.

Lodging & Campgrounds

If you are not camping at Stellafane, you will need some place to stay. Here is a listing of Motels, Hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, and Campgrounds in the area.

Directions & Maps

Need to know how to get to Stellafane? Here are written directions and a map for after you get off the Interstate. We also have a site map of the convention area. See also Local Airport Information.

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