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CN Reports: NEAF 2005 (Part 1)
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Solar Star Party
(Better leave your wallet at home if you don't want to wind up broke....)
Held at Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY (about 45 min north of NYC), the 2005 North East Astronomy Forum (NEAF) was a true extravaganza for the astro gear-head (gear-heads unite!). With more equipment in one place than even I could imagine, you would have to have been truly jaded to not find something that appealed to your tastes and wallet. I dare say that it was a rare astronomer who went home without a single purchase. From the moment you walked into the field house, you were hit with the smell of burning money - eyepieces, filters, telescopes, books - anything and everything astro-related was there - and usually available for purchase. We checked in, picked up our press passes and proceeded to go browse equipment heaven.
Rather than try to describe the assault on the senses, I'll let you experience it with a variety of images. Be warned, there are a lot of photos here, so this article may take a while to load. Be patient.
While there were a ton of companies at the show, there were (in my mind) two real standouts; WO and TV.
William Optics showed several new products which are either currently in production or soon to be, and were the very first booth we hit coming in the door.
Here William Yang shows us the ZS80 binoviewer telescope. While it's not currently destined for the American market, that could change. The scope, a dielectric diagonal, extension tube (for use without the binoviewer), case and multiple sets of eyepieces (4?) for around $800!
We had a nice three hour chat with William and David Yang Sunday evening after the show, and I'll be doing a piece on that a little later. Suffice it to say, these guys are impressive. (Yes Virginia, there really is a David Yang.) Their drive and dedication is outstanding, and they've got some amazing plans for the future. With their position in Taiwan, their influence in China, and their leverage in the States (they both have dual citizenship), they are in a superb position to make things happen. They're a company to watch.
Here's the brand new 105mm version of their ED triplet (looks just like it's little relative - and cost is excellent for a 4" APO - this one should be a home run for the brothers).
The other major presence, and the real powerhouse at the show was (of course) Tele Vue. Just down the road from the WO booth, you could see the line forming for the Nagler blems. Pricing (as anyone who has gone to the show can tell you) was amazing. I picked up an old style TV barlow for $20, a Plossl for $25 and a few other assorted and sundry items. 4x powermates were going for $130, and the t6 Naglers? $190.
I spent a lot of time with Al Nagler - a more enthusiastic, nicer gent you could hardly hope to meet. His attitude was infectious and suffused the entire TV booth (and leaked out into the surrounding throng - undoubtedly due to the great prices on TV Blems - there was a palpable feeling of excitement). Since Gary and I didn't get in till Saturday around 9:30-10:00, we missed the press conference, but Al took the time to walk us through the powerpoint presentation himself. In the photo above, he's explaining to myself and Brian just how easy it is to install the new TeleVue Dioptrx - the astigmatism correcting lens accessory. Look closely, and you can see that it's attached to the eyepeice. TV's committed to providing the absolute best view possible, and IMO, this is second only to the paracorr in it's significance. This is a huge boon for amateurs. I only have .25 diaopter, but even I could see the difference. Al's marketing them in increments from .25 to 2.5, and they can be stacked if you need an adjustment beyond that range. This is yet another TV accessory that I'll be picking up.
Here Al's showing me the TV60 imaging system. With a two inch focuser and digital focus counter - this little guy was capable of some amazing things. If you are curious just how much can be imaged with a 60mm scope, check out Jim Burnell's images on the Tele Vue web site. While photos of things like Markarians Chain are amazing enough, what really astonished me was that this little 60mm scope resolved NGC2158! I asked Al for permission to post that shot in this article so you could see for yourself - so... Here's a full sized image of 2158 (this is a portion of the larger M35 photo on TV's site):
David Nagler and I also spent some time talking about the Vixen arrangement, and the future of Tele Vue over the next few years - look for that article (with more from Al as well) in the next week or two.
And with this peek at the sun (BTW - I think you are going to cost me money Greg), so ends part one.
Coming in part two:
- Does Tom Duggan Find True Love?
- 20-20 Telescopes shows us the Johnsonian Carbon Fiber Pop-up Dob.
- John Gillies face is finally revealed!
- The biggest Tak I've ever seen.
- Vic Maris shows me the light - literally!
- An 18" Dob kit for $30?
- And even more vendors and equipment...
And now for Part II