Northeast Astronomy Forum 2016

Posted by David Eicher
on Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Astronomy magazine's booth, with Dina Johnston and Steve Meni, NEAF, Suffern, New York, April 9, 2016 // Credit: David J. Eicher
The largest telescope show in the United States, the Northeast Astronomy Forum celebrated its 25th anniversary this year with a bang. The show took place at Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York, hosted by the Rockland Astronomy Club as always, and capably managed by Ed Siemenn and his talented staff. One of the show’s driving forces, Al Nagler of Tele Vue Optics, was present and all smiles as usual, with a huge crowd surrounding the Tele Vue booth. David and Sandy Nagler also busily showed numerous customers their latest cool stuff.

NEAF took place on Saturday and Sunday, April 9–10, and attracted several thousand astronomy enthusiasts. I was busy talking to people at Astronomy magazine’s booth essentially all day, as many of you who were there saw. The nonstop stream of interested folks was great to see. Thanks to Astronomy’s Steve Meni and Dina Johnston for doing such a wonderful job with hosting , as well as our guests from TravelQuest (our tour partner), Caren Banks and Alec Kozak. We had lots of fun hanging out with them.

Saturday’s talks were magnificent. Alan Stern headlined a packed house with his description of the New Horizons flyby of Pluto, and the audience could hardly get enough of the summaries of what his team has learned about Pluto, Charon, and the smaller moons. And immediately thereafter, a very special session took place in which Sky & Telescope’s Kelly Beatty hosted a talk and discussion with Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh’s children, Annette and Alden, now in their 70s. Their recollections of Clyde and Patsy and the early years, as well as Clyde’s career progression, were fantastic.

Other talks during the two days were also spectacular. Astronomy’s Editorial Board Member Marcia Bartusiak of MIT spoke about black holes and cosmology. Also from MIT, David Shoemaker described the recent discovery of gravitational waves. Well-known astroimager Chris Go described how amateurs can support the Juno mission to Jupiter. Fred Espenak, “Mr. Eclipse,” gave a marvelous presentation on next year’s “Great American Eclipse.” Gerard van Belle of Lowell Observatory talked about the infamous 2006 IAU Pluto vote. And Lowell’s Kevin Schindler and W. Lowell Putnam IV described the heritage of Pluto at Lowell.

And of course NEAF was continuously busy with the more than 100 vendors who showed their telescopes, binoculars, cameras, and accessories. As always, Celestron had the largest and most spectacular booth display, with Meade, Tele Vue, Vixen, Woodland Hills, Oceanside Photo and Telescope, Astro-Physics, and others displaying impressive stretches of product. On Saturday, I did a book signing at the Cambridge University Press booth for my new title The New Cosmos, and I appreciate all those folks who stopped by to pick up the book and to say hello.

I had special fun in seeing and catching up with Richard Berry, my old boss and mentor, who hired me many years ago at Astronomy magazine. Richard is working on a slew of projects as always, and enjoying writing, his telescopes, and drones. And I had great fun catching up with many old friends from Sky & Telescope — Dennis di Cicco, Kelly Beatty, Rick Fienberg. What a wonderful group of guys.

Onward to NEAF 2017 and bring on the eclipse!

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

Follow Dave Eicher on Twitter, and please check out his Author Page on Facebook.

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