Northeast Astronomy Forum, part one

Posted by David Eicher
on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Astronomy magazine’s booth at NEAF, with Dina Johnston and Jamie Rinehart, Northeast Astronomy Forum, April 18, 2015. // Credit: David J. Eicher
Wow. I am utterly exhausted after spending 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 first 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.

I enjoyed seeing many new products on display, and the powerhouse exhibitors were there in full force — including Celestron, Meade, Tele Vue, Oceanside Photo and Telescope, Stellarvue, PlaneWave, iOptron, Astro-Physics, Canon, SBIG, Explore Scientific, SkyWatcher USA, Vixen, and many others.

The talks at NEAF were great as usual. The first day’s presentations included Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Space Flight, talking on the need for human space exploration. Peter Saulson of the LIGO Project described how astrophysicists are listening for the telltale screams of colliding black holes with this magnificent engineering project.

I was amazed to run into Matt Penn, who I had not seen in years, an associate astronomer at the National Solar Observatory at Kitt Peak. Matt spoke on living in the atmosphere of the Sun, reflecting on weather issues and how solar storms affect us on Earth. Back in the day, some 25 years ago or so, a young Matt Penn used to write stories for my home-produced Deep Sky Monthly magazine.

Another old friend, Kelly Beatty of Sky & Telescope, described how astronomy enthusiasts can prepare for the upcoming New Horizons encounter with Pluto. Good friend Chris Go, one of the world’s great planetary imagers, told the audience how they can get started with capturing their own pictures of the planets.

There was much more. I’ll continue reporting on what happened at NEAF, and at NEAIC, over the next few days.

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

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