Day 1 of the Arizona Space and Astronomy Expo

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Saturday, November 1, 2014

Planetary imager Christopher Go and Celestron product manager for astronomy Bryan Cogdell enjoy a moment at the Arizona Space and Astronomy Expo. // All images: Astronomy: Michael E. Bakich
It’s the first day of the Arizona Space and Astronomy Expo (ASAE), the two-day public event that follows the three-day-long SouthWest Astrophotography Seminar (SWAP) in Tucson, Arizona. Today (Saturday), the doors opened at 8:30 a.m. I worried a bit before arriving that the start time was a bit early, but when I walked in around 8:40 a.m., there were already scores of people wandering about and talking to vendors.

This is my first year attending this event, but by all accounts it’s bigger than its two previous incarnations. Bigger also means more vendors are in attendance, which is great for people looking to buy that perfect telescope, camera, or accessory. As I meandered around, I took the opportunity to chat with dozens of vendors large and small. In all cases, I was looking for new products they had introduced and that we could get to review in the pages of Astronomy. And I was successful.

Vic Maris and his wife Jan pose with Stellarvue's newest refractor. Look for a review of this telescope in an upcoming issue of Astronomy.
I had great conversations with Bryan Cogdell of Celestron, Brian Deis of Vixen Optics, Vic Maris of Stellarvue, Michael Zeiler of Great American, and many others. I also spent time with Teresa Lappin and other members of the Tucson Amateur Astronomical Association (TAAA). The TAAA is the group that volunteers its time to make the magazine’s annual star party at Pima Community College’s East Campus in February such a success. See you in three months!

I also chatted with a couple people who had written for the magazine, and I approached others about submitting story ideas based on their talks, where they worked (and on what), or their experiences. I even chatted with Brent Archinal, a college buddy of mine from the Ohio State University, about Editor Dave Eicher and me coming up to Flagstaff in February to do a story about the U.S. Geological Survey there … a facility that’s heavily involved in astronomy.

Saturday morning's panel at the Arizona Space and Astronomy Expo discussed 'The Science in Science Fiction.'
Although I spent most of my time in the large exhibit hall, I did manage to slip in and out of some of the talks. My favorite (an easy guess if any of you have read my blogs from Comic-Con or other conventions) was the “Science in Science Fiction” panel discussion.

Moderated by one of TV’s Meteorite Men, Geoff Notkin, with panelists science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, “Bad Astronomy” columnist Phil Plait, producer and director Suzee Corbell, author and sci-fi historian Chris Cokinos, and author and podcaster Michael Mennenga. Unfortunately, attendance wasn’t great, probably due to the time of day the panel occurred. About 100 people listened to the lively discussion.

Attendees and the general public together enjoyed views of the Sun at the solar observing area of the Arizona Space and Astronomy Expo.
One cool activity several vendors and attendees participated in was the solar observing, which was also open to the public free of charge. Telescopes of all sizes provided white-light views of sunspots and Hydrogen-alpha filtered looks at prominences, flares, and the solar chromosphere.

The first day of ASAE 2014 seemed to fly by. I’ll be back tomorrow.


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