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Stellafane 2015 - New Horizons - Pluto

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#1 George N

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Posted 04 May 2015 - 12:53 PM

Early registration is open for Stellafane 2015! See: http://stellafane.or...2015/index.html

 

The Keynote Presentation (Saturday evening) will be given by Alan Stern, the Principle Investigator with New Horizons - and this just a few weeks after the passage of Pluto. It should be a good talk!

 

Plus: Pluto itself will be less than 24 arc minutes from a 4th mag star, altitude 26 degrees due south, at 10 PM each evening...... making for an excellent change to observe it!

 

On the registration page they are conducting a survey about what to do in 2017....

 

 

.....and this will be a Perseid year! So, be prepared for lots of noise on the observing fields!

 



#2 George N

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 03:09 PM

....five weeks to go..... start packing!



#3 Tiny

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 01:40 AM

Well the weekend was a bust for weather. New Horizons presentation was very enjoyable and informative though and worth checking out once its been uploaded for anyone who couldn't/doesn't attend.

 

On an aside I didn't attend last year but this revised food vender format is awful (price gouging) comparative to other years. Unless im mistaken the prior vender bowed out after 2013? Use to be a reasonable flat fee for a meal (main course, 2 sides, drink and desert) and now they're nickel and diming everything (pulled pork $8 slapped on a basic burger bun +$4 more for baked beans +$5 more for mac and cheese +$2 for a small bag of chips +$2 for a canned beverage etc etc.... It was like a bad joke and really peeved me off. Wont be giving them a dime more as long as they keep that up, that's for sure. Not to beat a dead horse but I watched 2 guys pay $16 for a can of soda and 2 cheese burgers on cold buns (again no sides) and the vender couldn't even be bothered to melt the cheese on them, slapped straight on from the package. I hope others complained as well. With a Shaws 5 minutes down the road I just assume bring a portable grill from now on.


Edited by Tiny, 21 August 2015 - 01:43 AM.


#4 George N

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 10:23 AM

Well the weekend was a bust for weather. New Horizons presentation was very enjoyable and informative though and worth checking out once its been uploaded for anyone who couldn't/doesn't attend.

 

On an aside I didn't attend last year but this revised food vender format is awful (price gouging) comparative to other years. Unless im mistaken the prior vender bowed out after 2013? Use to be a reasonable flat fee for a meal (main course, 2 sides, drink and desert) and now they're nickel and diming everything (pulled pork $8 slapped on a basic burger bun +$4 more for baked beans +$5 more for mac and cheese +$2 for a small bag of chips +$2 for a canned beverage etc etc.... It was like a bad joke and really peeved me off. Wont be giving them a dime more as long as they keep that up, that's for sure. Not to beat a dead horse but I watched 2 guys pay $16 for a can of soda and 2 cheese burgers on cold buns (again no sides) and the vender couldn't even be bothered to melt the cheese on them, slapped straight on from the package. I hope others complained as we ell. With a Shaws 5 minutes down the road I just assume bring a portable grill from now on.

 

Weather: "A Bust"? Really? I went all night on Thursday - well I quit less than an hour before dawn, and just sat in a lounge chair watching meteors. The conditions were typical for Stellafane - pretty good, but not as dark as a few places in the Northeast (like Cherry Springs or the Adirondacks). Friday night I opened my 20" for about 90 minutes, and had some good views with my 20x80 binocs for a while. A fellow near me had his GoTo 18" Dob working the 'sucker holes' most of the night. I pretty much figure on one good night, one 'partly cloudy' night, and one rainy night at Stellafane. That's pretty much what we've had for the last several years, and is close to what I've experienced over the past 21 years. ( Before they opened on Thursday I use to observe from Ascutney State Park on Thursday nights. )

 

Presentations and talks: They will have a hard time finding a main speaker who will measure up to this year's! John Bortle was a little mono-tone with his Shadowgram, but the subject was one I find interesting: Stellafane history. All of the others thru-out the weekend were 'typical Stellafane' - mostly interesting. I attended some of the mirror grinding presentations ( I currently have two 8" in fine grinding), and they mentioned that there was far more interest in mirror making this year than in the last several.

 

Food: The guy who did such a great job up until 2013 finally retired after that year. I had talked to him then and he said that 'age' was catching up. I had hoped that the new vendor would get his act together by this year - but he's a one trick pony: pulled, pork - that's it. Otherwise, the food was awful, and there was no food at all Thursday night as promised. It use to be difficult to find a place to sit in the food tent, but this year it was mostly empty - even the STMs did not use it. I have been in contact since the Convention with several STM Officers (on other issues) and they brought up the fact that their FIRST Priority for improvements by 2016 is finding a new food vendor. Let's hope that the can do it!

 

Improvements: My friends and I asked for improvements to the area we use, and they did it! The big one: cutting down two trees, which added a really big swath of the sky. Rumor has it that the shower now has a gas heater for the water - meaning hot showers! However, one friend who tried it did not get the hot water. We shall see.

 

ATM Contest: Nice selection of scopes 'n stuff this year. It's not 1970 anymore, but some folks are still making innovative ATM scopes.

 

Attendance: One of the STM Officers told me that they had the largest pre-registration in years! It was easy to see the added numbers. What I liked best: the number of "youth" there. There were lots of children, teens, and just in my area two young married couples in their 20's attending their first star party - and both said that they would be back! I was also surprised to see the large group who stood up on Saturday night when they asked for people there for the first time to stand.

 

Maybe Stellafane and amateur astronomy is not dying!

 

I'll be back to Stellafane for as many years as I can make it!
 


Edited by George N, 21 August 2015 - 10:26 AM.


#5 operascope

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 01:06 PM

I thought that overall it was an above average Stellafane.  It was easy to see the boost in attendence.  Camping in Pine Island started filling up on Thursday, and when I went to set up my scope at 7PM on Thursday, the new observing hill was already quite full of scopes!

Weather was only a bust if you arrived on Saturday.  Thursday night was excellent all night, Friday night was sucker holes until Midnight, then a couple of very good hours of clear skies.  I even observed on Saturday night for about 15 minutes (the time between the clouds clearing off and the fog rolling in).  I'd call that one and a half nights out of three, which in the big scheme of things is not too bad at all.

Lots of interesting scopes to look at including the crowd pleasing "Tardis Scope".

But more than anything, there were the amazing people.  First of all, the STMs really  know how to throw a star party!  Then there are all of the friends I've made over the years, as well as the new ones made this year.

A highlight for me was talking to Jim Daley for about half an hour about his introductory Schupmann which he had on Breezy Hill.  The view of Venus in the daytime is not something I will soon forget.  Then on Saturday I also got to chat with Clifton Ashcraft, the designer of the Super Schupmann.

 

I had an amazing time, got very little sleep, and can't wait until next year.

 

BTW, on Thursday, a helicopter circled the Stellafane grounds.  On Friday a plane did the same thing. What was going on with that, anyone know?  I also saw what looked like a B-25 on Satuday.



#6 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 07:53 PM

The weather gods smiled on Stellafane for Thursday night but not so much on Friday and Saturday nights, although some people were able to get in some observing time on those nights. I was exhausted and retired to my motel room after the talks on both nights.

 

Last year the skies were clear all three nights, although the transparency on Friday night was ruined by Canadian forest fires.

 

https://stellafane.o...14-reports.html

 

I wasn't doing a dedicated meteor watch but I witnessed 25 meteors, one of them a sporadic and one of them through my 8x42s while looking at the Helix Nebula, from the lower grounds of Stellafane on Thursday night. There was a wide variation in brightness and duration. A number of the meteors produced trains that persisted for a few seconds.

 

During the course of the night, I observed quite a few celestial objects through eight different telescopes: Sue French's 130mm Astro-Physics apochromat, the 13" Schupmann medial refractor housed in the McGregor Observatory, a 16" New Moon Dob, a 17" ATM Schiefspiegler, Roger Greenwood's tricked-out 18" Obsession, and three 20" Obsessions, including the one owned by George Normandin of the Kopernik Observatory group.

 

At 3:31 a.m. EDT on Friday morning, Iridium 76 produced the brightest satellite flare that I've seen in quite some time.

 

Dave Mitsky


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#7 Tiny

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Posted 22 August 2015 - 01:05 AM

I don't get there until Friday at the earliest, a lot of times Saturday. This is the first year since I started going that was bleh weather.

 

I'll be interested to see if they attempt to roll 2017 into Monday for the eclipse. Hope they do.


Edited by Tiny, 22 August 2015 - 01:09 AM.


#8 kfrederick

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Posted 23 August 2015 - 07:52 PM

The weather gods smiled on Stellafane for Thursday night but not so much on Friday and Saturday nights, although some people were able to get in some observing time on those nights. I was exhausted and retired to my motel room after the talks on both nights.

 

Last year the skies were clear all three nights, although the transparency on Friday night was ruined by Canadian forest fires.

 

https://stellafane.o...14-reports.html

 

I wasn't doing a dedicated meteor watch but I witnessed 25 meteors, one of them a sporadic and one of them through my 8x42s while looking at the Helix Nebula, from the lower grounds of Stellafane on Thursday night. There was a wide variation in brightness and duration. A number of the meteors produced trains that persisted for a few seconds.

 

During the course of the night, I observed quite a few celestial objects through eight different telescopes: Sue French's 130mm Astro-Physics apochromat, the 13" Schupmann medial refractor housed in the McGregor Observatory, a 16" New Moon Dob, a 17" ATM Schiefspiegler, Roger Greenwood's tricked-out 18" Obsession, and three 20" Obsessions, including the one owned by George Normandin of the Kopernik Observatory group.

 

At 3:31 a.m. EDT on Friday morning, Iridium 76 produced the brightest satellite flare that I've seen in quite some time.

 

Dave Mitsky

Dave that flare was great thanks for giving the heads up  . 



#9 George N

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 12:53 PM

Here is a link to my Flickr Album of photos from Stellafane 2015: https://www.flickr.c...157657308805168



#10 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 07:27 PM

Here are some of the photos that I took on Saturday using my iPod Touch.  I have more yet to process from my Canon camera.

 

The first four are from the Saturday morning swap meet.  I bought a few meteorites to add to my collection.

 

Dave Mitsky

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#11 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 07:50 PM

These are some of the telescopes in the competition atop Breezy Hill.  The beautiful 10" f/6 Dob with twin Jupiters (two knots represented the Great Red Spot) serving as altitude bearings only got a third place in craftsmanship.  The 10" f/4.7 Tardis Dob, which I'd first seen at this year's Cherry Springs Star Party, took second place in mechanical design and got a honorable mention for craftsmanship.  He also got an innovative component award.  The SCT had a wonderfully-simple but exquisitely-machined gravity drive that should have won something.

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#12 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 07:56 PM

More scopes in the competition, including a Schupmann medial refractor, a beautifully restored 6" f/15 Fecker Celestar Maksutov, and the 10" f/5 binocular Dob that was there last year...

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#13 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 08:08 PM

Here are a few more of the entries, including a binocular mount with five degrees of freedom that won the second place special award and the 14" f/4.5 Dob that won third place mechanical design and second place craftsmanship awards, and the historic 12" f/17 Porter Turret Telescope, which was projecting the Sun on to a spinning disk.

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#14 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 08:17 PM

The beautiful armillary sphere that was donated to Stellafane by Real Manseau and more of the interior of the Pink Clubhouse...

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#15 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 08:19 PM

The threat of rain sent everyone scurrying.

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#16 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 25 August 2015 - 08:21 PM

Two of the stations in the solar system walk, threatening clouds and the McGregor Observatory, and the talk on doing science with a DSLR in the Flanders Pavilion...

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#17 Greyhaven

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 08:40 AM

Dave

Thanks for the photos! Stellafane is a most missed astronomy activity for me. I was afraid the food was going to be the big topic this year. :lol:  In all the years since 1981 that I attended I never ate at the food service area. Just too expensive, I would have to have to dip into my raffle funds to fund such a luxury :lol: :lol: . I never found a few days of canned soup, pasta , beans and toast too humbling to ruin the Stellafane experience. I hope more photos are to follow.

 

Grey



#18 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 04:19 PM

You're welcome, Grey.  Your wish is my command.

 

I took these photographs on Friday in and around the McGregor Observatory, which houses the 13" Schupmann medial refractor, at Stellafane East.  The 28" StarStructure Dob shown in the second photo was the largest aperture present this year.  Al Nagler can be seen in the final image.

 

Dave Mitsky

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#19 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 04:24 PM

The anti-gravity rock (to the left of the first photo), more of the scopes on the field below the McGregor Observatory, and the solar observing station...

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#20 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 04:29 PM

Heading down the hill, here's the 10" Ritchey-Chretien Cassegrain housed in the small dome, Kevin Frederick's 17" Schiefspiegler, and many other telescopes.

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#21 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 04:45 PM

This is the area near the Bunkhouse where members of the New Hampshire Astronomical Society and the Kopernik Astronomical Society camp. Patrick Manley owns the beautiful 16" New Moon Telescopes Dob displayed in the second photo.  I had a chance to use the new Denkmeier 21mm L-O-A 21 3D eyepieces in Roger Greenwood's 18" Obsession (photo #5) on Thursday night.  The views of M13, M27, and M57 were incredible.

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#22 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 05:09 PM

T-shirts and other apparel and raffle tickets are sold at the Bunkhouse.  Tele Vue donates four bags of eyepieces every year.  The ones shown in the second picture were the top prize.  A mirror grinding demonstration is held every year outside of the Flanders Pavilion.

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#23 Greyhaven

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 06:18 PM

:waytogo: :waytogo:

Grey



#24 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 09:34 PM

The exterior of the Flanders Pavilion along with some of the sights in the lower camping area, including Houston Hollow, a tribute to the late Walter Scott Houston, and the road that leads to Breezy Hill...

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#25 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 12:36 AM

Springfield, Vermont, the home of Stellafane, on Saturday afternoon, Glenn Chaple's talk on carbon stars in the library of the McGregor Observatory, a talk on asteroid light curves at the Flanders Pavilion, and Larry Mitchell's great talk on his observing programs for the Texas Star Party....


 

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