Northeast Astronomy Forum, part two

Posted by David Eicher
on Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Delivering my lecture,“Does the Universe Really Care About Itself?,” at the Northeast Astronomy Forum, Rockland, Community College, Suffern, New York, April 19, 2015 // Credit: David J. Eicher
I spent April 9–20 in the New York City area. I spoke at the New York/New Jersey Mineral Show, spent a few days vacationing in the city, and then closed out the trip with covering the annual Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference and Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) in Suffern, about an hour’s journey outside the city. More on all these events to come over the next few days.

This serves as a second report on NEAF, the largest of the events, which draws some 2,000 or more people to Rockland Community College to see more than 150 telescope companies and related exhibitors show their wares — scopes, binoculars, eyepieces, accessories, books, meteorites, and so on.

It was a great time as always, and I want to thank the many people who came to the Astronomy booth to speak with our great advertising team, Jamie Rinehart and Dina Johnston, as well as myself. We talked over so much that I think we solved many of the universe’s mysteries.

The second day’s talks were varied and many. I opened Sunday, April 18, with “Does the Universe Really Care About Itself?” the talk I gave at last autumn’s Starmus Festival. In it, I asked about whether the universe’s own creations, human beings on Earth, really care to know the realities about the universe around them or whether they are caught up in a wash of largely nonsense on TV and the Internet, much of which misrepresents astronomy, cosmology, and planetary science as we know it to be.

Marc Rayman, chief engineer of the Dawn mission to asteroids Ceres and Vesta, delivered an in-depth look at Dawn and all it has accomplished. Launched in 2007, the spacecraft completed its investigation of Vesta in 2012 and has just now arrived at Ceres. Stay tuned for lots of exciting planetary science from this incredible foray into the solar system.

Alan Hirshfeld, professor of physics at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, delivered a talk on “History’s Best Worst Telescope,” focusing on English amateur astronomer Andrew Common’s 36-inch scope, which migrated to California as the reflector known as the Crossley at Lick on Mount Hamilton.

Astronomers Stephen Ramsden and Ben Jenkins described their outreach efforts with the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project, which allows countless people the chance to observe the Sun in white light and other wavelengths each year.

I’ll continue reporting on lots more about what happened at NEAF and at NEAIC over the next few days.

Follow David J. Eicher on Twitter:

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

For related blog, see:
    Northeast Astronomy Forum, part one

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