Heavy-duty imaging at the 2014 Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference

Posted by David Eicher
on Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dolores Hill of the University of Arizona describes the new and spectacular OSIRIS-REx mission to return an asteroid sample to Earth, NEAIC, Suffern, New York, April 11, 2014. // all photos by David J. Eicher
Day two of the famous Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference (NEAIC) got off to a fast start Friday, April 11, 2014, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Suffern, New York, with about 200 serious imagers attending talks and sharing their love of the universe. Talks began with a breathtaking session by English astroimager Gordon Haynes, who is using a new Tele Vue system from mid-north England to produce incredible views of deep-sky objects, many of them processed in Photoshop with the so-called Hubble Palette. You will be able to read more about both telescope system and the great results Gordon is getting in upcoming issues of Astronomy magazine.

I was also struck by the drama of the talk by my friend Dolores Hill (I’ve known she and husband Rik since I was 15!), who is involved with the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission at the University of Arizona. This amazing mission is set to encounter minor planet 101955 Bennu and return a ground sample of its regloith by 2023. This will be a milestone moment in the history of asteroid exploration and in the understanding of the early solar system.

Other day two NEAIC talks were engaging: Ted Blank of the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) described a raft of occultation activities the long-established group is conducting and how imagers can get involved in their research programs. Longtime Astronomy magazine contributor Rich Jakiel delivered a packed-house description of understanding lunar geology through imaging. Jay Ballauer provided beginners’ workshops throughout the day. Texas astroimager John Davis, well known for his breathtaking portraits, described how to capture art in astrophotography, much to the delight of the crowds. Jerry Lodriguss again delivered a nice presentation on secrets for capturing planetary images with a DSLR.

Before the much anticipated door prize drawings, I gave a short talk about the upcoming Starmus Festival to be held this September in the Canary Islands, an event you’ll be hearing much more about over the coming weeks. And then after two exhausting days, NEAIC concluded for 2014. (See starmus.com for more info.)

Celestron’s Eric Kopit announcing details of the company’s revolutionary new products, Suffern, New York, April 11, 2014.
A significant event also occurred in the evening, at the towering Sheraton hotel in nearby Mahwah. Celestron, the world’s leading manufacturer of telescopes, set up a very nice reception in which the company unveiled a number of highly innovative and surprising new products. President and CEO Dave Anderson introduced the festivities, allowing a number of his employees to describe the details of the new products. A new line of user-friendly SCTs, dubbed the Evolution line, offers an amazing array of built-in niceties that make using a telescope more simple than ever before and connect a battery of capabilities of the instruments to owners’ mobile devices and computers via Wi-Fi. It is really a revolutionary step, and you’ll read much more about them in an issue of Astronomy very soon. The company also introduced a surprising and revolutionary wide-field, short-focus astrograph, an 11-inch f/2.2 instrument that will produce amazing, wide-field views of deep-sky objects. For more info, see http://www.pr.com/press-release/552346.

And finally, anticipating NEAF the next morning, the Astronomy Foundation held its annual meeting, this outreach group anticipating a 501c3 nonprofit status shortly and a new raft of energy and activities.

For all images from this trip, visit the Online Reader Gallery.

Related blog: Deep thoughts at the 2014 Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference

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