Return to the Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews home page


Speciality Forums >> Astronomy Clubs and Star Parties

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | (show all)
amicus sidera
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/14/11

Loc: East of the Sun, West of the M...
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: gmartin02]
      #5226032 - 05/16/12 11:19 PM

Quote:


Perhaps it is because of the excessive single day daytime admission price ($25)




$25/day/person, while a not-inconsiderable sum, is pretty much de rigeur for such specialized events in these times. Expenses can be quite high if the group is required to obtain insurance and permits for the event.

That said, I wonder how much of a dent the internet has made into attendance of these and similar events... no real need to go to a convention to see a vendor's offerings. Also, the rise in the price of gasoline in recent years may be responsible for making many think twice before driving to RTMC from surrounding areas.

While there will probably remain a core group who attend RTMC and other events such as Stellafane religiously, their numbers, already small, will dwindle further as cultural changes continue, and the old guard passes on.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Matthew Ota
Hmmm


Reged: 04/30/05

Loc: Los Angeles, California
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #5229215 - 05/19/12 05:35 AM

I am certain that the economy is the reason for the downturn in attendance at RTMC. I went there from 2000 to 2004, when I scored VIP cabin space due to my volunteer work with TIE. My last time there was in 2006.

If anything, I want to go back just for the raffle, which to me is the most entertaining part of the whole RTMC experience.

In addition, the vendors were known, at least when I went in previous years, to have special sale and factory blemished goods at bargain prices. In addition the swap meet was good for bargains on used equipment such as eyepieces.

I plan to be there in 2013. I will be at PATS again in September 2012.

I cannot go this year due to financial hardship.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Rich 1
member


Reged: 05/04/10

Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: Matthew Ota]
      #5240631 - 05/26/12 12:41 PM

Take a look at the average age of RTMC's attendees...most I've seen are over 40. Since it's a long way to travel for just a one day outing, one has to camp if your going to stay overnight. As I've gotten older (I'm 57) I'm much less prone to "rough it" and camp.

I think RTMC's biggest downfall is that the demographic of amateur astronomers is getting older, combined with many more options to buy equipment (i.e. PATS) combined with so many more low cost telescopes that fewer are making their own or are interested in trying.

I've noticed too that at gatherings like these there's very few young people. Guess our hobby just isn't exciting enough.

Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Whichwayisnorth
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 07/04/11

Loc: Southern California
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: Rich 1]
      #5241571 - 05/27/12 12:25 AM

I just got back from there. Just a few hundred people in total for a Saturday. I checked out the swap meet which was mostly people selling non-astronomy related items like bull whips and crystals. NO THANKS. The sponsors I spoke with were very disappointed in the turn out. One of the bigger names there flat out told me that they would probably not go again.

I will not be going back again.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
MikeRatcliff
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/12/04

Loc: Redlands, CA
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: Whichwayisnorth]
      #5242679 - 05/27/12 06:46 PM

Haven't been there in several years, but I went Saturday afternoon and had a good time. Wish I had gotten there earlier in the day to do the whole thing. Observing was decent until the wind came up.

If they offer it next year, I will likely go again.

Mike


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Rich 1
member


Reged: 05/04/10

Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: MikeRatcliff]
      #5242761 - 05/27/12 07:48 PM

I'm curious how the weather was Friday, heard they got some snow.

Rich


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Alex McConahay
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/11/08

Loc: Moreno Valley, CA
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: Rich 1]
      #5243414 - 05/28/12 09:01 AM

It was a cold and clear Friday, and there was a wind.

It was a very curious weather phenomenom Friday night. People were observing, with nice skies, but about five miles away, in Big Bear City, it was raining, and later turned to snow. Even while folks were observing up at Camp Oakes!!! When I woke up Saturday, there was a dusting of snow, but it was clear as a bell. Weird.

Alex


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gmartin02
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 04/11/05

Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: Darren Bly]
      #5243731 - 05/28/12 11:54 AM

Quote:

Greg we should try to get together at RTMC. I'd love to meet you. Ask anyone with a Kern Astronomical t-shirt, they'll know where I am.



Hi Darren,

I did stop by RTMC Saturday afternoon, but was only there for about an hour and a half. I looked for people with Kern Astronomical t-shirts, but didn't see any

Sorry I missed you - perhaps I'll go for longer next year and run into you.

Greg


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
gmartin02
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 04/11/05

Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: Tom Polakis]
      #5243860 - 05/28/12 12:51 PM

Quote:

A conference held on a weekend away from Memorial Day that is not at Camp Oakes might be a nice star party, but it would no longer be RTMC. Good luck finding a dark site with facilities for a thousand attendees.

Camp Oakes is a pleasant place to spend a long weekend, but it is not a dark site. This fact was recognized by most of the people who didn't bother to show up when the organizers tried to turn it into a star party. If they moved the conference into summer, they would be competing with other star parties held at dark sites during the prime observing season.

Attendance recovered from 400 to greater than 800 when they moved the dates back to Memorial Day weekend. It would certainly fall again if they moved it away from Memorial Day, whether it's in May or during Summer.

A big reason for the rapid decline in vendor presence is the emergence of PATS as a trade show. Vendors would rather show off their wares in a climate-controlled room than a dusty field. In addition to the presentations and meeting old friends, the vendor field was one of the attractions of RTMC. I don't have an answer for how to get the vendors to return.

Tom



I went up Saturday afternoon with my 10 year old daughter, but only stuck around for about an hour and a half (my brother just bought a house in nearby Crestline, so we went to visit him for dinner).

Tom, you are right - RTMC is not really a star party, because it is not very dark. It is no longer a good event for looking at vendor wares, because the vendors are barely showing up any more - in the "premium" vendor area, there were only a small handfull of vendors (Meade, TeleVue, OPT Woodland Hills Telescope), with huge empty spaces in between. The vendors that I talked to didn't seem very thrilled to be there.

The main observing field was almost empty - only 2 or 3 telescopes were set up from overnight observers. Maybe this got better at night time. I years past, even though it is not the darkest site, I got the opportunity to look at & through many large and/or innovative telescopes in the evening at the main observing field, but it doesn't seem to be very active as it used to be.

So, not optimum for star party observing, not much good for vendor browsing, that pretty much leaves the lectures as a good reason to attend the event.

When I looked at the RTMC website, I couldn't find a schedule of lectures, so was unable to plan an attendance time or date around talks I would be interested in. Perhaps if I registered early enough these would have been mailed to me, but since I did not, I had no idea until I arrived & got a program what was happening when.

Oh well, I still made the vendor rounds and bought a couple of items. I may go back next year for the lectures (if I can get the list of dates & times from the website so I can plan when to come), but probably won't go for vendors or observing any more.

Greg


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
jeffg
member


Reged: 02/13/07

Loc: Irvine CA
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: gmartin02]
      #5244077 - 05/28/12 02:48 PM Attachment (66 downloads)

I was there on Friday afternoon. I only stuck around for about an hour. Nothing to see, no afternoon talks, and only a few vendors. Friday afternoon used to be the day you could get some really good deals stuff from the vendors, but they didn't seem to have much stuff with them. Attached is the view of the so-called "telescope field". I guess the answer to the original question of "Does anyone go to RTMC anymore", is not really. I doubt I'll bother going next year.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
seryddwr
Innocent Bystander
*****

Reged: 02/19/10

Loc: La-la land.
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: jeffg]
      #5244487 - 05/28/12 06:56 PM

It's a real shame to hear that one of the long-time events in amateur astronomy is fading away.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
OleCuss
member


Reged: 11/22/10

Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: seryddwr]
      #5245371 - 05/29/12 10:29 AM

Not sure it is really going away.

As a first-timer it is difficult to judge, but the impression I got is that they are mostly down to a core of individuals who will show up almost no matter what.

I ended up with the feeling that it had faded but may not be fading.

Do remember one other thing. For Southern California it was COLD at night. That put a big damper on people wanting to set up their telescopes - or to show up at all.

I myself had planned to go on Friday but due to the weather I didn't go until Saturday.

I think that if the weather had been better and the economy weren't still pretty lousy - the attendance would have been much better.

But again, I was a total noob so far as the event was concerned so my read could be way off.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
cphk96
member


Reged: 11/01/07

Loc: North Hollywood, CA
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: OleCuss]
      #5245671 - 05/29/12 01:37 PM

Hello All,

This year was the 2nd year of attending this event. I attended last years event. My S/O attended both events with me as well. I am the astronomer, my girlfriend loves to socialize. She loves to visit/talk to other people, and ask to see into the eyepiece. She loved the camaraderie of the meals. She was really disappointed by the lack of companionship that was present at this years event, that she found at last years meals. (This year, they had a open counter style meal plan. We ate our lunch Saturday afternoon by our selves.)

Edited by cphk96 (05/29/12 01:39 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
tim53
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: cphk96]
      #5245804 - 05/29/12 02:56 PM

I stayed from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening. I wish I had the time and energy to stay over Sunday, because the weather was beautiful all day Sunday and it was dead calm when I left about 9:45pm.

Let's not forget that the Annular eclipse was just the Sunday before RTMC, and many people traveled quite a ways from home to be on the centerline. If I couldn't have done both events (have property near the centerline and live only a couple hours from RTMC), I might have just stayed in Utah for a few days of dark skies around new moon and skipped RTMC. I suspect a lot of people did just that.

Yes, attendance was down (it seemed lower than the non-memorial weekend event 2 years ago, but I don't have the stats) and Friday and Saturday nights were cold and windy, but the views through the scopes I looked through were very nice, as were the conversations with friends and new acquaintances during the daytime. I went to several talks on Saturday and Sunday, and enjoyed those. The keynotes were very entertaining and interesting.

I don't have a problem with vendors preferring PATS to RTMC, as I can understand not wanting dust all over your new stock. The benefit of RTMC over PATS is that the vendors *could* show their wares at night. Televue did just that (even though they weren't "vending"). One of the reasons I bought a TV refractor a couple years ago was because I'd been able to view with one at RTMC prior to the purchase. Especially for big-ticket items, I like to know what the scope can do before I commit plastic.

The swap meet was surprisingly well-represented, in spite of the low attendance. It was sad to see John Sanford's gear being sold off, but also good to see it get into the hands of amateurs who know what it is and how to take care of it and make use of it.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Amateur telescope making is alive and well, though it's obviously different from the way it was when RTMC started. I've been to Stellafane and the Oregon Star Party. These events are different from one another and from RTMC, but telescope making is a big part of both meetings.

So, I think it can be again at RTMC. And in spite of the low overall attendance, there were 9 merit award entries (I think that's right). I tried to look through all of the winners on Saturday night. One that sticks in my memory is the young lady who made the 10" Dob, including the mirror, as her first telescope (I think). Views through the scope were beautiful, with pinpoint stars and high-contrast nebulosity - a first rate mirror!

This was my 34th RTMC. I've never missed one since the first in 1979. I've only gone once without bringing a telescope, and I've never stayed less than two days and one night (usually 2, sometimes 3). Unless I'm busy next year with Mars (Curiosity science team member), or unable to "sit up and take nourishment" (with apologies to Tom Dobbins, from whom I done stole that saying), I expect to be attending next year's RTMC.

-Tim.

Edited by tim53 (05/29/12 02:59 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Darren Bly
sage
*****

Reged: 07/24/06

Loc: Bakersfield, Ca
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: gmartin02]
      #5245975 - 05/29/12 04:56 PM




Hi Darren,

I did stop by RTMC Saturday afternoon, but was only there for about an hour and a half. I looked for people with Kern Astronomical t-shirts, but didn't see any

Sorry I missed you - perhaps I'll go for longer next year and run into you.

Greg




Hi Greg.

I'm sorry I missed you. I spent most of Saturday morning at the swap meet. I was really worried on Friday, it was windy and cold all be it sunny. The weather got better as the weekend went on, by Sunday it was really nice. The venders were about the same as last year and the attendance was about 500 or so.

One of the changes for this year was the way the meals were paid for and served and it didn't seem to work very well. Examples? One of my friends had to wait 20min for a vegi burger! There were only two options for a vegetarian dinner all weekend and they ran out of one of them. They really should change the menu, at least for dinner, each night.

I really missed sitting down with new people and having a meal.

On the plus side, we sat with Hap Griffin and chatted for over an hour on Friday night and got lots of pointers. The Saturday keynote by Bob Bower was great.

To sum up: It was a good RTMC. I wish we had more people and venders but I still had a good time.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
MallBoy
super member


Reged: 09/26/10

Loc: Near the Tannhauser gate
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: Darren Bly]
      #5246557 - 05/29/12 11:08 PM

I'm going to say it was a better than good RTMC...not great, but better than good. Low attendance, vendors down, and weather less than comfortable (nowhere near as bad as last years wind!) aside, fun was had by all in our group. I think this goes to show that RTMC can't be pigeonholed into one category, but is a complex beast that I will continue to attend for many years to come!

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
*****

Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: MallBoy]
      #5260529 - 06/07/12 05:23 PM

Well, as someone whose first RTMC was around 1980, let me make a couple comments on what I saw this year:
--Attendance was miniscule compared to 15 years ago. All the attendees could have set up in the main telescope field and it wouldn't have been crowded. And, as it was, that telescope field was nearly empty.
--at times on Friday and Saturday, I swear the number of people attending who came with vendors or vendor families outnumbered guests by a significant margin.
--the number of lectures and hall presentations was down significantly. There was never a time it proved necessary to have 2 presentations going at once to accommodate the number of lectures.
--the swap meet was a tiny portion of what it used to be. Almost non-existent.
--So few telescopes were set up that it was almost a TeleVue-only event. On Friday night, the best night for the Moon, and clear to midnight, Meade didn't bother to set up scopes at all.
And Celestron, Vixen, StellarVue, and 20 other CA companies didn't even come.
--Entering at 10am Friday, I was the only car at check-in. In the past, there would have been a line many many cars long. I remember waiting in a line almost a mile long one year.
--last, the crowd at Mt. Pinos on any clear New Moon weekend is larger, telescope-wise, than RTMC in its entirety.

Frankly, unless things change a lot, for me, RTMC is dead.
And unless the attendance at this Fall's PATS is more than double last year's event, PATS is dead.

Now this is at the same time that star parties such as Julian, or NightFall are going up. And NEAF is doing fine as an equipment exhibition because it is well-attended by vendors.

What does that say? That amateur astronomers are more interested in the observing star parties and well-attended equipment exhibitions now than they are in not-quite-well-attended-equipment-exhibition, not-quite-observer-star-party, events.

RTMC's problem, to the current observer, is that it isn't quite dark enough to be an observing event, and not well-enough attended by vendors to be an equipment exhibition, and not quite educational enough to be a lecture exhibition. Not quite just doesn't make it.

IMO, of course. YMMV.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Tom Polakis
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 12/20/04

Loc: Tempe, Arizona
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5261691 - 06/08/12 10:45 AM

Quote:

RTMC's problem, to the current observer, is that it isn't quite dark enough to be an observing event, and not well-enough attended by vendors to be an equipment exhibition, and not quite educational enough to be a lecture exhibition. Not quite just doesn't make it.





That's a good diagnosis of the problem. It feels like a personal loss to me, because it its days of 1500 reliable attendees, it was a great weekend.

While the Julian Starfest is healthy, I have attended three of the four, and I'm not sure the attendance has increased since the first one. I don't have the numbers in front of me.

Tom


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Jeff Morgan
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 09/28/03

Loc: Prescott, AZ
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: Starman1]
      #5261716 - 06/08/12 11:01 AM

Quote:

Now this is at the same time that star parties such as Julian, or NightFall are going up. And NEAF is doing fine as an equipment exhibition because it is well-attended by vendors.




Given the length of the product development cycles and the cottage industry, one equipment exhibition event per year seems about right, and NEAF seems to be it.

From an observing perspective, traveling to a bright-sky observing event is just plain nuts. Save the effort for Oregon, Texas, or Winter Star Party.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
*****

Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Does anyone go to RTMC any more? new [Re: Jeff Morgan]
      #5261839 - 06/08/12 12:27 PM

There are a few other factors at work in the past several years:
1.the recession. Even people who are working are afraid that they too will soon be unemployed, so they have literally stopped spending. This, of course, deepens the recession and makes them stop spending even more. It's a spiral. One of the things sacrificed: going to shows like RTMC, which was a lot about vendors, and PATS. NEAF is doing well because it is heavily promoted and because the eastern US is doing a lot better financially than the west is.

2.demographics. Sure, Cliff Holmes died, but so have hundreds of regulars who used to attend RTMC every year. And many of the surviving regulars are now so old they cannot handle the altitude or, because they are on fixed incomes, cannot afford to buy the gas to go.
My friends Tom & Edie couldn't go not because of entry fees (which are high), but because it would cost them too much in gas to get to and from. They're retired and live in a motor home.
This hobby, face it, is one composed largely of the science nerds from the '50s, '60s, and early '70s, when the space program was going in earnest and it was OK to go into math and science in school, and a higher percentage of people could afford college. We've never been able to capture the imagination of the generations after for a variety of reasons.

3.lack of promotion. Sure, we have a few people like Neil deGrasse Tyson, but he's promoting astronomy, not observing. And RTMC isn't really promoted among the vendors. When only a couple of CA vendors come to a CA show, you know something is wrong.

4. the brightening of the night skies (or should I say, the THEFT of the night skies). I grew up in a city of 80,000, about a mile from downtown.
We could see the Milky Way every clear night in the backyard. Today, in that town, now 50,000, you have to travel 20 miles outside of town to see the Milky Way at all. The difference is the huge proliferation in outdoor bright lighting. For two generations, we've been sold a bill of goods--that outdoor lighting = safety. In the era of cheap energy, it was affordable light, but we inadequately understood the consequences. 30 years ago, RTMC
was fairly dark. Not perfect, but good enough for some observing to go on. Now it's only that way if LA down below is completely covered with low clouds. It happens, but not all the time.

5.lack of excitement. Remember when people would all look forward to a fantastic swap meet, or days of lectures (many back to back in inside and outside locations) of interest to the observer, or seeing a huge number of vendors in one spot, or seeing old friends and reconnecting, or getting a door prize, or even eating burgers in the outdoors. Now, and for a few years, the swap meet is down because of the decline in ATM, the lectures are a pale shadow of the former (there weren't even two full days of them this year), the vendors didn't come.

6.weather freakishness. For several years, we've had high winds, snow, cold, rain, or something odd. Gone are the regular dry skies with temps in the '80s in the daytime.
Part of that is the time of year, and part is simply that there have been changes in the late May weather patterns.

7.(this one may be major) The huge proliferation in the number of organized star parties. People used to look forward to coming to RTMC, but now there
are literally dozens of major, nationally-advertised, star parties held all over. Even in CA, there are now several big star parties. This dilutes people's interest in attending one like RTMC. There could be just as many amateur astronomers going to major star parties, but local ones might have, and probably did, siphon off a lot of attendance.

8.the rise of astrophotography. Largely, I believe, as a response to the brightening of the skies and huge publicity given the Hubble photographs, more than half
of today's amateur astronomers aren't observers. And astrophotographers don't, by and large, come to events promoting observational astronomy so much as they
attend events promoting imaging.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | (show all)


Extra information
4 registered and 3 anonymous users are browsing this forum.

Moderator:  darklighteditor 

Print Thread

Forum Permissions
      You cannot start new topics
      You cannot reply to topics
      HTML is disabled
      UBBCode is enabled


Thread views: 5239

Jump to

CN Forums Home




Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics