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NEAF 2010 - Part 1

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NEAF 2010 pt 1
2010 NEAF Report
Tom Trusock

Well, yet another NEAF has come and gone.  For my part, it's always a blur of activity - leave work, drive down to Detroit, fly to NY, and get in rather late on Friday night.  The next couple of days goes by in a blur, and before I know it, it's Monday and I'm on a flight back to Detroit trying to process everything that I'd seen this weekend.  It's a bit of a task, let me tell you.  And this year seems harder than most.  Trends seemed to be pretty simple - the watchword for this year seems to be better, faster, larger - and just plain more of everything - choices included.  I'm not an imager, but a number of my friends were raving over the new offerings from QSI, while my eyes were naturally drawn to the two massive dobs being shown (both offered for sale as opposed to some of the personal showpieces in years past).  And then there's the Ethos SX - but I'm starting to get ahead of myself here.   I'm gonna make you wait for that one - the best stuff is ALWAYS worth waiting for...  :-)

Let's start with the CN sponsor - Astronomics.  They had a massive booth this year, and probably brought the most gear of anyone - manufacturer or vendor.  They had some new offerings from Astrotech this year - including the Quad 65 - a triplet with an integrated flattener for imaging.  So, the first thing you're going to ask - did I get a shot of it?  No.  They sold within 15 minutes of the show opening.   But anyway - you don't want to listen to me blather - you had enough of that with the webcasts.  Which will, incidentally be archived on the site for those that couldn't get into see them as they were happening.  (We maxed out our connections several times over the weekend - evidently we were pretty popular with homebound astronomers.  We're looking at some steps to increase our number of connections for next year as well.)  So, here we go!

Mike B from Astronomics:
If you would have seen the deals he offered, you would have
 had this look on your face too!  I'm  amazed I came
 home with my credit cards intact.

Can you say - "Out the door"?  I knew you could.

Mike in action.

This view just begins to give you a hint of the size and amount of gear they had onhand.

Make Mike an offer!

Yes, it's shipping.

The award for biggest refractor goes to AT this year, for this 8" Achromat.  And in case you were wondering:

And they had the new 100 deg TMB eyepieces on display.

No clue as to performance.

But that was just the beginning:

Here's Ricky from Lunt.

And a few of their scopes...

But the best was in use out at the Solar Star Party. (Wait for it...)

Not to be outdone, the folks at Daystar were doing their best to get your business as well, with new product too.

$11k.  I'll take two and use it on a binoscope.  Aw, who am I kidding.  I don't even have a solar scope at this point.

This one is a little more affordable.  But if you have to ask the price: 1) You can't afford it, 2) you're not a true solar observer, or 3) both.

iOptron was there showing off a new mount.  The iEQ45 - 45lb load.  John says it will begin shipping this summer.

The payload is 45 lbs, and the price is ~$1600.

Yes, there's a company that specializes in Astronomical Tours.  I didn't know either.

Don Yeier is a staple at the show.  He had a couple of boxed sets of Brandons that I seriously consided, but after reflection I decided to save my money for the new Ethos SX that TV announced.

Ron Burrows from Wood Wonders

Beautiful work.

And they are lighted as well.

It was really nice to meet Rich Talcott from Astronomy Magazine. 

Art and the crew from Texas Nautical were there with the...

CCA-250.  Yes, that's carbon fibre.

And this little gem - the Baby Q.  I offered to take it home so Art wouldn't have to pack it, but...

Yep, that's Jerry Lodriguss.

It was good to finally meet him.  He's as nice a guy as you would think.

Dave Snay at the ATT booth.

Vic Maris from Stellarvue

And Greg Crinklaw - Author of one of the best software packages on the market for the visual observer.  Skytools.

And let's close (part 1) with the biggie:

For visual observers, this was probably the best news of the show.  This 3.7mm Ethos SX pushes the design limits to provide a 110 deg (sharp to the edge) apparent field of view.  For Al, this was a milestone as it equals the AFOV of the simulator he built for the Apollo program (and hence the name - Simulator eXperience).

Here's Al showing off the 2" skirt on the new 3.7mm Ethos SX. 

Here we're about to startest the 3.7 - and yes, it's an amazing eyepiece.  (What did you expect?)  Yes, I'm on the wait list.  No, I don't know exactly what it's going to cost (outside of around the price of the 10mm ethos).  And yes.  There IS a noticable difference in AFOV between 100 and 110.  And no.  TV says this will be the only one in this focal length.  Yes, we tried it in a binoviewer.  The ER was a bit tight, but the view was astounding.  And yes.  I would recommend one.  Highly. Any other questions?

On Sunday, Al brought in his 1882 Alvin Clark Refractor, and they set it up next to this brass TV85.  Man, that Clark throws up a fantastic image.  (I can't help but wonder if they will be saying this about TV gear 100+ years down the road.)

Another shot of the Clark.

David Nagler giving a grin in the expansive TV booth.  Yep.  The Blem sale was back this year.  No, I have no idea if it will be back again next year.

Al with the new focuser.  A collaboration between Starlight and Tele Vue, it has a paracorr built directly into the body.  Other new products announced by TV at the show included a new Paracorr type II (designed to provide the best correction for the new, ultra fast dobs, and another collaboration with Starlight which involves a complete revamp of their dual speed focuser.  No, no pics of that - sorry.)

Coming up in Part II
  • The Solar Star Party
  • Two MASSIVE commercial Dobs
  • A chance to meet Thomas Mathis (and a relative!)
  • Bioviewers, binoviewers, and binoviewers
  • William Optics is back!
  • And the possibly most innovative product of the show, from a most unexpected vendor...
And much, much more...


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