Arizona Science and Astronomy Expo kicks off in Tucson

Posted by David Eicher
on Monday, November 18, 2013

With my old friends and kindred spirits Dolores Hill (co-lead of the OSIRIS-REx Target Asteroids Program) and Rik Hill (of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Lab), at the Arizona Science and Astronomy Expo, November 16, 2013. // all photos by David J. Eicher
The second annual Arizona Science and Astronomy Expo kicked off Saturday morning, November 16, 2013, in the Tucson Convention Center in the heart of America’s astronomy capital. Organized by Alan Traino, for years a driving force behind the Northeast Astronomy Forum in New York, the show attracted more than 100 exhibitors, outstanding speakers, solar observing and other activities, and hundreds of astronomy enthusiasts who flocked into the event by midmorning.

I was privileged to attend on behalf of Astronomy magazine along with our advertising guru Jeff Felbab, and we had nearly constant activity at the Astronomy magazine booth, right around the corner from our friends at Celestron. It was quite amazing to see a large number of folks I’ve known since I was a teenager — observers and writers Tom and Jennifer Polakis, deep-sky expert and U.S. Geological Survey geodesist Brent Archinal, dark-sky crusader David Crawford, great astroimager Jason Ware, Scotty Roberts of Explore Scientific, Kelly Beatty of the International Dark Sky Association and Sky & Telescope magazine, and many others. The day took on the feeling of a giant class reunion from the distant past!

Astronomy's advertising guru Jeff Felbab stands with the magazine's display booth.
Amateur astronomers were in full browsing and shopping mode. Huge displays from Celestron, where Dave Anderson, Michelle Meskill, Lonnie Wege, and others happily helped customers, and from Meade Instruments, with new executives Joe Lupica and Victor Aniceto, featured a large number of spectacular (and large!) telescopes. Explore Scientific featured Scott’s magnificent tractor-trailer showroom, filled with high-quality optics. Tele Vue had a significant presence too, along with Canon and numerous other imaging companies, all in impressive swing and many featuring new products. 

The talks I heard were amazing. Following welcoming remarks by another old friend, noted astroimager Robert Reeves, and Traino, one of my favorite astronomers in the field took over for a first talk. Alex Filippenko of the University of California, Berkeley, detailed what we know about dark energy and the fate of the universe. It was a great talk and I was mesmerized, even though I’ve heard the talk before — that’s how good a speaker Alex is. Later, astronaut Story Musgrave, the only human to have flown on all five space shuttles, delivered a great talk about his life. He described characteristics that make us successful, from motivation to opportunities to focus, and really impressed the crowd with his wisdom.

Dave Anderson, CEO of Celestron at the Arizona Science and Astronomy Expo, November 16, 2013.
Unfortunately, I missed the exciting science panel discussion on Saturday, as I was chatting with a huge number of astronomy enthusiasts. The panel covered topics of astronomy, science, and communication and included such luminaries as Geoff Notkin, Emily Lakdawalla, Stephen Ramsden, Amy Shira Teitel, Carin Bondar, Lauren Worley, and Michael Belfori.

I also had the chance to continue doing some publicity about Comet ISON when a local TV station, KOLD News 13, Tucson’s CBS affiliate, brought cameras in and talked with me at the Astro booth. This followed shooting promotional footage for a big event planned for next spring, a festival of astronomy and science being planned by Scott Roberts that will take place in Big Bear, California, on Memorial Day weekend. More on this big event coming soon.

It was a great and incredibly busy first day of ASAE. Much more to come, including my participation in a comet panel discussion that will include friends David Levy, Jim Scotti, and Steve Larsen and a book signing for my new title COMETS! Visitors from Deep Space, just out from Cambridge University Press. 

To view more images from my trip, check out the "Trips and Tours" section of the Reader Gallery.

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