Senior Contributing Editor Roger Sinnott discusses Bert Willard’s off-axis Newtonian reflector. Photo by Dennis di Cicco
The Springfield Telescope Makers held the 82nd annual Stellafane Convention this past weekend, with several hundred amateurs gathering on Breezy Hill in Springfield, Vermont for a weekend of presentations, telescope making, and of course, deep-sky observing. And while the weather wasn’t stellar all weekend, Thursday night treated attendees to a crystal-clear evening of excellent transparency.
This year’s convention was dedicated to Allen Tinker and was held a month earlier than usual to accommodate those headed south to witness the total solar eclipse next month. As expected, there were fewer attendees than in recent years, with one attendee (Chris Stewart) journeying from South Africa to share several of his innovative mounts and accessories in the telescope making competition. Chris received three awards for his outstanding work.
Judges examine Mike Kelly’s exquisite 12-inch Dobsonian. Photo by Sean Walker
Telescope making is primarily what Stellafane is all about, and the annual telescope-making competition drew 35 candidates, including 5 in the “Master Class.” Some noteworthy examples were the gorgeous 12-inch aluminum Dobsonian by master optician Dave Kelly and Chris Stewart’s Tri-rod sector drive that can achieve 3-arcseconds of periodic error using off-the-shelf parts.
Friday evening featured an optional Lobster dinner which I hear was quite good. The evening was partly cloudy, though some good observing was had through large gaps in the clouds. The last holes closed up sometime around 1:30 AM.
Saturday morning began with the ritual haggling at the swap tables for used gear (I made off with a 48-mm Lumicon minus-violet filter) and carried on into an overcast, though pleasantly cool, late July afternoon. The evening amphitheater talks began with the big raffle of donated goods provided by Tele Vue Optics Al & David Nagler, with books from Willmann-Bell, Inc.
Dan Smoody displays his wares at the swap tables Saturday morning.
Longtime attendees who passed away during the year were remembered fondly, including collimation specialist and mechanic Howie Glatter of Howie Glatter’s Collimators.
The convention’s Keynote address was provided by NASA’s Nagin Cox, a systems engineer currently on the mission operations team for the Mars Curiosity Rover. Kris Larsen delivered the Shadowgram address to end the evening. Although Saturday night proved a wash, only a few drops of rain were noted, and friends departed in the morning.
Dominic Fucile of Falmouth, Massachusetts, shows off his “Gilligan Island” telescope, complete with coconut counterweight. Photo by Sean Walker
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