My first time at NEAF (North East Astronomy Forum) was great fun – like a kid in a candy store! The above picture was taken just after the Saturday morning opening, so the place was not very crowded yet. I heard people say that the attendance was down a little this year. The presumed reason was that people are saving their travel budget to view the eclipse later this year. It’s probably also true that there were fewer visitors from outside the U.S. because they are concerned about how they would be treated at the border.
NEAF is run by the Rockland Astronomy Club (RAC) near Suffern, NY and located at the local community college. It’s pretty easy to get there from New York City, but I drove down from Burlington, VT so I could visit family along the way. That’s about a 5 hour drive.
There were a lot of big telescopes on display, including the above 8″ refractor, and the beautiful reflector below.
Solar telescopes were also very poplar this year, as you might expect. Since solar scopes are never very large (they would be too expensive), I guess Lunt Solar decided they should put a bunch of scopes together:
That’s not a functional array of telescopes, since they are blocking each other, it’s just an interesting way to show the various models they have. Quite a few solar telescopes were also set up outside and we got some very nice views of the Sun.
There were presentations going on in 3 separate locations throughout NEAF, but I missed most of them, as I was too busy talking with vendors about their latest products. Explore Scientific had a large booth – large enough that they could park an AirStream trailer on one side and still have room to display all their products:
I had a long talk with one of their design engineers about current and future product development – very interesting. And, of course, I visited many other companies with whom I have had dealings over the last 12 years. I didn’t get pictures of all of them, but want to especially thank Bob at Oregon Observatory for showing one of my backlit prints at his booth, and Bruce at Astro Factors for introducing me to several good contacts.
ExploraDome offers modular observatories that are easy to set up and can be motorized for remote observatory use. Since that is something I’m interested in doing some day I visited their booth and was amused to see this sign over the entrance to a dome they had on display:
The things I got most excited about at NEAF are (1) New Mexico Skies Astronomy Enclave, (2) the Sky-Watcher Esprit series refractors, and (3) the concept of full-image guiding (that is, using the entire image to derive guiding rather than just a single star position). I also had some good discussions with customers, competitors, and colleagues about the future of focus control. These talks confirmed some ideas I’ve been thinking about and I’ve decided to make some changes, which I’ll be telling you about in a future post.
But the most important and enjoyable thing about NEAF is getting to meet face-to-face with people I’ve corresponded with for years, but never met. Here’s a picture of me with Roland Christen of Astro-Physics:
Can you tell how happy I was?