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.