Talks shape up for Northeast Astronomy Forum

Posted by David Eicher
on Monday, March 03, 2014

Photo: David J. Eicher
With less than six weeks to go before the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF), the organizers have issued a lineup of talks that will be presented this year. NEAF is the largest astronomy and telescope expo in the United States, drawing several thousand people over a weekend to Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York, about 28 miles north of New York City. The event is hosted by the Rockland Astronomy Club and many of its intrepid, tireless officers, including chairman Ed Siemenn and that well-known personality, Al Nagler of Tele Vue Optics. Once again, I’m proud to say that Astronomy magazine is sponsoring NEAF.

This year’s NEAF will take place April 12 and 13, 2014. Not only will more than 115 vendors display their wares — telescopes, binoculars, cameras, accessories, books, magazines, and more — but nine speakers will make presentations. Additionally, a pro-am conference will take place, raffle prizes will be awarded, STARLAB planetarium shows will be given, children’s activities will be hosted, and beginner classes will be given showing new hobbyists how to get started in astronomy.

On Saturday the 12th, Monica Young of Sky & Telescope magazine will speak about black holes, quasars, and the Milky Way’s molecular cloud known as G2 that will encounter our galaxy’s central black hole. Rick Fienberg, press officer of the American Astronomical Society, will then describe the new era of professional-amateur collaboration in astronomy. Next, my friend Garik Israelian, astrophysicist at the Institute for Astronomy in Tenerife, will speak about spectroscopy for amateur astronomers, as well as the upcoming 2014 Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands.

Astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson of the American Museum of Natural History will then speak about the new Cosmos TV series, which he hosts and was a co-writer.

The final talk on Saturday will be a walk-through of the New Horizons mission, which will fly past Pluto next year, by Principal Investigator Alan Stern.

Sunday’s talks also will bring a large array of subjects to the table. I will start off with a presentation on comets, what astronomers know about them, and the role they have played in uncovering the universe’s secrets and also in the culture of humans, derived from my book Comets: Visitors from Deep Space, issued last year by Cambridge University Press. I’ll then announce the winners of the Comet ISON Photo Contest jointly sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Astronomy magazine, and Discover magazine. I’ll then be joined by Garik Israelian, and we will preview the Starmus Festival for the Sunday crowd.

Stephen Ramsden, director of the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project, will then speak about the importance of STEM outreach in communities and offer a recap of solar activity for 2013 and early 2014. He will be followed by meteorologist Joe Rao, who will talk about the possibility of a new meteor shower linked to Comet 209P/LINEAR coming this May.

And the final talk will feature NASA astronomer Matt Greenhouse of the Goddard Space Flight Center, who will speak on the latest from the James Webb Space Telescope project.

See you in Suffern!

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