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2016 RTMC Astronomy Expo

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#1 MartinC

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Posted 12 March 2016 - 09:28 PM

    The 48th RTMC Astronomy Expo is coming on Memorial Day weekend, May 26-30. We’ve been meeting at Camp Oakes in Big Bear, California since 1975. This year our theme is “Fun With Our Sun,” featuring keynote speaker and solar astronomer, Tamitha Skov of SpaceWeather.tv. Dr. Skov is an engaging speaker and active solar astronomer that you will enjoy. We’ll have plenty of safe solar observing during the day along with nightly star parties on both upper and lower fields. Our vendors with bring the latest astronomy goodies. By popular demand, we’re bringing back the “big tent” for the vendors. At the swap meet on Saturday and Sunday, see what treasures others have brought to sell.

    We’ll have our astrophoto workshop along with an astro-imaging exhibition, merit awards for telescope-making, and a fun-filled Beginners’ Corner with talks and activities designed for new astronomers. There will also be activities for families with children. If fact, this year we wanted to make it easier for kids and college students, so all kids up to age 17 enter for free, and adult students showing ID will get a day pass for half price.

    The planets are on display this May, with Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars at its closest approach coming right on time for RTMC. Guaranteed, there will be some amazing telescopes of all types and sizes to look through. Bring your own telescope and join the party. If your telescope frustrates you, we’ll have a “Telescope Urgent Care” booth with someone there to assist. We hope you will come join us!

 

Martin Carey
President, RTMC Astronomy Expo



#2 Alex McConahay

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 09:29 AM

Cool. 
 

I, of course, plan to be there.

 

David Ault, from the Astro Imaging Channel, will be doing the Premium AstroImaging Workshop.

 

And there is always lots to do and see at this event.

 

Alex



#3 Teresabip

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 02:58 PM

I will be there too!

 

This year we will have Boy Scouts at the camp to earn their Astronomy badges. We haven't been told how many yet by them (up to 120 they said), but it would be GREAT to help a new generation learn to love the sky!!

 

With the FREE ADMISSION for children, this is the year to bring the kids and grandkids and show them the wonders of the Night Sky, and introduce them to Solar Astronomy!

 

Cheers-

Teresa



#4 Censustaker

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Posted 04 May 2016 - 11:42 AM

I'll be there, too! can't wait. This is the first year that I'll be bringing two children instead of one. 



#5 Alex McConahay

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Posted 05 May 2016 - 10:26 AM

Just a reminder--Discounted Pre-registration closes Saturday!!!

​ALex



#6 Teresabip

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Posted 07 May 2016 - 02:22 PM

We've been told there will be 100+ Boy Scouts at RTMC-AE to earn their Astronomy badges! Please bring a telescope to the Main Field Saturday night and help us create a new generation of stargazers!

 

Also, we have MORE VENDORS! So far we have Explore Scientific, Vixen, Woodland Hills, Orange Co Telescope, Daystar Filters, TeleVue, HoTech, Astro-Hutech, Photonics Cleaning, Dave Chandler Products, Great American Eclipse, Mare Meteoritics, InfiniTees, Astro Parts Outlet, Sue G's Jewelry, GemsAplenty, Cecil Rocks and San Diego Rocks. The RAS and AVA clubs will both have booths with "club stuff" for sale, and the Swap Meet is still an active event both Saturday and Sunday mornings. Dig up and get rid of that telescope "stuff" you don't use anymore!

 

The Big Bear Astronomical Society is sponsoring a lecture by Dr John Varsik Thursday at 4pm at the Discovery Center. Here's a link to the page: https://www.facebook...nomicalSociety/. You might need to scroll down to see the lecture announcement.

 

Info: http://www.rtmcastro...rg/general.html

 

Hope to see you there!


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#7 mtblodgett

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 06:51 PM

Your single day admission is way too high.  Someone going up with their spouse and kids could easily pay more than $100.  Given the lack of vendors and attendance I am not sure it s worth it.  Maybe the venue should be closer.  Just a thought.


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#8 Censustaker

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Posted 19 May 2016 - 12:48 PM

Your single day admission is way too high.  Someone going up with their spouse and kids could easily pay more than $100.  Given the lack of vendors and attendance I am not sure it s worth it.  Maybe the venue should be closer.  Just a thought.

 

If it helps: kids are free this year.


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#9 mtblodgett

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 01:32 AM

My wife, myself, son (who is grown) along with his friend.  Also my mother in law went last year.  That's a lot of money...plus the concession will be scaled back and there will be fewer vendors.  I wish RTMC and those of you that are active good luck.  I would suggest moving it closer to town where it would be more convenient.   Anyhow, I do appreciate all the work you guys have done for RTMC.  The attendance has fallen from over 2,000 to around 400.


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#10 Darren Bly

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 03:04 PM

My wife, myself, son (who is grown) along with his friend.  Also my mother in law went last year.  That's a lot of money...plus the concession will be scaled back and there will be fewer vendors.  I wish RTMC and those of you that are active good luck.  I would suggest moving it closer to town where it would be more convenient.   Anyhow, I do appreciate all the work you guys have done for RTMC.  The attendance has fallen from over 2,000 to around 400.

 

I know how you feel.  I went 27 years in a row and my club would send 15 to 20 every year.  We are 190 miles away and the lack of venders and people has killed RTMC for us.  This year my club will send only three people and all three said this could be their last time.  I'd love to go back but at this point RTMC hasn't given me a good reason to come back.


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#11 Censustaker

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Posted 22 May 2016 - 08:23 PM

What, apart from vendors, do you think RTMC should change? I ask because it seems like the number of vendors is out of their control?

#12 Calypte

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 12:41 AM

What, apart from vendors, do you think RTMC should change? I ask because it seems like the number of vendors is out of their control?

RTMC can't be saved.  Its time has passed.  I haven't been to as many RTMCs as Darren, but I went to a lot of them.  Worse, with the demise of PATS and ASAE, there's nothing in the west, unless you consider OPT's event to be a suitable substitute.


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#13 mtblodgett

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 12:59 AM

This is a response to Censustaker.

please consider this response as some constructive criticism.

1. The vendors would come is there was more people...how can RTMC attract more people...?

2. Entrance fees are way to high.

3. Venue is too far.

4. There are much better places in So Cal for observing (one year I brought up two SCT and MAk and all the dust ...

The SoCal market is the largest for amateurs, the largest clubs, the largest number of retailers, even with light polluted skies...reach out to us.

5.  Speakers and activities.

I have been going to RTMC since 1992.


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#14 Censustaker

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 01:21 AM

In regards to #3 - I think it's probably more a combination of the quality of the skies vs. the distance.   I would agree that going the same distance as big bear (~1.5 - 2 hours) there are better viewing locations. But would those locations be able to support a large number of people, vendors, etc? 

 

In regards to #4 - the 3 socal retailers that I know of will be present (Orange County Telescope, OPT and Woodland Hills), along with explore scientific and televue. I guess it's only Celestron/Skywatcher and Orion that's missing?

 

In regards to #5 - isnt it up to speakers to volunteer? Or do you think that the committee should "evangelize" more to get different speakers? I am speaking this year if that helps :D What kind of activities do you think would be more attractive? I personally think a telescope building activity where you could pay a "materials fee" for a mirror blank, etc, would be attractive.



#15 Alex McConahay

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 08:28 AM

You know, despite some talk by those who remember the old days, RTMC is still alive and very active. This is especially true compared to other events in the area and around the country, if not to the RTMC of the mid 90's.

 

There are three speaker venues, each providing workshops and talks for Beginners, Advanced, and in between. There are activities for families. There has been a mirror grinding exhibition every year of late, and Active Merit Awards program for ATMers. The Premium AstroImaging Workshop still draws a crowd every Sunday. There is decent, if not great, observing--certainly to the eastern horizon  and up.

 

And four nights of admission and camping for $42 is not that bad a deal. $25 a day for single day is really not pushing it, either.  

 

Recently there was a posting showing a drone flight over the Texas Star Party. Take a look at it. Sure there are many scopes on the three fields. But put them all together, and there are yet more at RTMC. Of course at RTMC, they are spread over a much larger area.

 

I will grant that skies are not what you would find at Oregon or Texas. I grant the telescope making is not what you find at Stellafane. The crowds are not what you will find at the Grand Canyon Star party. And nothing compares to the billions of dollars worth of equipment on the strand in the Florida Keys at the Winter Star Party.

 

Yes, I have been to all of these parties. They are all good events. They all have something to offer. In their own distinctive ways, they are all the best star party ever.  None of them is "better" than the others in all categories. Nothing I have seen touches the breadth and depth of the RTMC presentation program. And only NEAF exceeds RTMC in vendor participation. (OK, it does it by a lot!!!)

 

The thing people talk about when it comes to RTMC is that it is not what it used to be. Okay. I get that. But, most of us are not what we used to be. There are lots more events nowadays pulling people every which way, and many people prefer to devote time their astroimaging time to their home observatories, and in general to buying their stuff off the internet. 

 

RTMC is the only one of these events that has to compete with the RTMC of twenty years ago.

 

Quit comparing it to twenty years ago. Think about what it offers the astronomy enthusiast today. If it no longer offers you what it offered you in 1990, that's Okay. Then leave it alone. But, it still offers a lot to many astro amateurs.

 

Alex


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#16 Censustaker

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 09:19 AM

Hear, hear. This will be my 3rd year attending, I wasn't there twenty years ago, but I have found plenty to bring me back - and my children always look forward to going, I've met some great people and learned some awesome things. RTMC still has plenty to offer the amateur astronomer.

#17 Darren Bly

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 11:15 AM

Alex,

 

Screw 20 years ago I'll take what it was 10 years ago!  Heck give me what it was the year before the date change.  The numbers have never recovered.

 

Lets look at the vendor list in post #6 shall we?  There are almost as many vendors selling ROCKS ( Sue G's Jewelry, GemsAplenty, Cecil Rocks and San Diego Rocks) as selling telescope parts and accessories ( Woodland Hills, Orange Co Telescope, HoTech, Astro-Hutech, Dave Chandler Products, and Astro Parts Outlet).  

 

I've been to all of the star parties too and none as tanked as bad at RTMC has.  Alex, we both at RTMC once or twice with 2000 people!  My God 1200 was common!  WHERE DID THEY ALL GO??  Most of them are like me, they see what being offered and don't think it worth the drive.  

 

Given that RTMC is within easy (less that 200miles) driving distance of over 1O million people why can't they get more than 400 or so?  That is really telling.  Vendors bring people and people bring vendors!  This reminds me of PATS.  The first year was great, tons of people and vendors, but each year both went down.

 

We'd love to come back to RTMC......GIVE US A GOOD REASON!


Edited by Darren Bly, 23 May 2016 - 11:51 AM.

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#18 Censustaker

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 11:33 AM

But by your own admission "Vendors bring people and people bring vendors!" - if you don't go, why should the vendors? It seems like what you're asking for is a bit of a deadlock here and apart from your complaint with the rock vendors (and i'm sure the rock vendors aren't preventing astronomy vendors from attending) who else would you like to see come? If the lack of vendors is indeed the problem then someone is going to have to make the first step. 

 

You also left out: daystar filters, explore scientific, sky and telescope, vixen and televue. Those are some pretty good vendors, IMHO. 

 

I also think that having a focus (pun intended) on solar astronomy this year is pretty cool, so thats more day time activities available. 


Edited by Censustaker, 23 May 2016 - 11:40 AM.


#19 Darren Bly

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 01:14 PM

"You also left out: daystar filters, explore scientific, sky and telescope, vixen and televue. Those are some pretty good vendors, IMHO."

 

The above vendors don't SELL anything.  They are there to display.  I listed vendors selling.

 

"I also think that having a focus (pun intended) on solar astronomy this year is pretty cool, so thats more day time activities available."

 

Focus on solar.......where is Lunt?  where is Coronado?

 

 

Do you continue to go to a once great restaurant after the food has become only average?  


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#20 Starman1

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 01:14 PM

Time, money, quality of site, and the number of vendors and participants.

 

Time: it's OK when it is not on a time near New Moon,  If it's near New Moon, I'm elsewhere.

[Note: It's moved back to the Memorial Day Weekend, so it's only on/near NewMoon occasionally]

 

Money: it costs too much to participate. It costs a lot to rent a van, find a place to stay. I attend a star party with more people and it is very inexpensive compared to RTMC.

 

Quality of site: For the observers, it's just too bright.  Half of the sky is really washed out.  It's OK for planets and Moon and double stars 

and even star clusters if confining the views to one hemisphere, but I have a lot of other sites at a similar distance that are a lot darker.

So if you're drawn to the site for the skies, that's not a good reason to go.  It's no wonder this year is primarily emphasizing solar observing.

It's the one type of observing you can do there.

 

Number of Vendors: So low it barely is worth going.  And some of the new products shown at NEAF aren't even brought by the vendors that do attend.

 

Participants: the number has dropped so low the swap meet is really poor.  Many of the old friends I used to see every year no longer attend.

 

As a star party, it's done-put a fork in it.  When the dates were changed to correspond to the New Moon, the party died.  Since then, it hasn't recovered.

Moving vendors into BigBear essentially killed it dead.  You're talking about resuscitating a dead man at this point.

Looking back, I would say the heyday of RTMC was about 1990 or so, when the attendance on Saturday was a real crowd.

 

This is all IMO, of course.  As a vendor, I could be attracted, but as an astronomy enthusiast and customer, I'm not.


Edited by Starman1, 23 May 2016 - 01:16 PM.

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#21 Censustaker

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 03:02 PM

"You also left out: daystar filters, explore scientific, sky and telescope, vixen and televue. Those are some pretty good vendors, IMHO."

 

The above vendors don't SELL anything.  They are there to display.  I listed vendors selling.

 

"I also think that having a focus (pun intended) on solar astronomy this year is pretty cool, so thats more day time activities available."

 

Focus on solar.......where is Lunt?  where is Coronado?

 

 

Do you continue to go to a once great restaurant after the food has become only average?  

 

Vixen are for sure selling, and i believe ES are, too. But I think Alex's point is valid - most people are buying and learning about their products online (i am at, least.) Seeing the vendors is the least of the reasons I'm attending.

 

For me, personally, the reasons are

  • A chance to meet and interact with other astronomers
  • Attend (and give) a talk
  • Spend a weekend camping with my children taking part in some of the camp activities
  • Observing - the conditions aren't the best, but they are certainly significantly better than my backyard which is my usual observing spot.

I know these reasons are my own and not anyone elses, but I think they make the trip worthwhile. 



#22 skyward_eyes

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Posted 23 May 2016 - 03:43 PM

Don pretty much nailed it from a vendor stand point. 

 

I can only speak for Sky-Watcher but having friends in all the major companies I can assume its very close to the same reasoning. 

 

Time is a big deal. Preparing for shows like this starts months in advance. We have to book rooms, plan for transport of our products, storage of our products plus the time is takes to actually attend the event. We have a limited about of time and budget for each year so we have to pick the events that are going to present the most opportunity. We try to support other events with prizes and such but actually attending is a whole other ball game. 



#23 Calypte

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 12:34 AM

Focus on solar.......where is Lunt?  where is Coronado?

Indeed!  Where are they?  It happens that I'm thinking of upgrading from my SolarMax40, and I'd like to see some scopes and talk to their makers.  



#24 Censustaker

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 12:47 AM

You can read about it in the brochure but I can't see how RTMC
can be blamed for Lunt and Coronado. I imagine some of the vendors will be bringing Solar scopes.

#25 Darren Bly

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Posted 24 May 2016 - 11:44 AM

 

 

Vixen are for sure selling, and i believe ES are, too. But I think Alex's point is valid - most people are buying and learning about their products online (i am at, least.) Seeing the vendors is the least of the reasons I'm attending.

 

 

In less things have really changed those companies do not sell at shows because they are not the the business of competing with their distributors.   


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