This year I decided to carry a camera to obtain an image group of the event. I’d recently received a new Canon model, the EOS 1Ds Mark III and although I’d tested it doing some bird photography, something I’ve been doing a great deal of lately, I haven’t
had much opportunity to use it for general shooting. This was a sterling occasion so I packed what I’d need for this endeavor. A decision to employ a camera of this nature isn’t quite the same as carrying a simple ‘point and shoot’ and you don’t
drop it in your pocket between shots. I carried the Mark III on a shoulder strap and although it’s the largest camera of the four Canon bodies I own, this prevents the weight from becoming a significant issue. When in the field doing nature/bird imaging I always
carry a handheld camera & lens in this fashion so it was second nature in practice. I had no desire to carry a flash unit so selected the Canon EF 24~70 F/2.8L lens for this event, quick enough for digital capture in lowlight conditions. Although I always
shoot in RAW format this day I made an exception and photographed only in 8-bit jpeg as I didn’t plan on producing master prints from the exposures. So, without further digression, let's get on with this account...
George on his way to the car as we prepare to depart. We’ve stayed at this Hilton Garden Inn in Nanuet for the last three years while attending NEAF.
My traveling companions and fellow club members from Southern Maine Astronomers – Rob Burgess, George Whitney & Ron Thompson, all astronomers and NEAF veterans.
|View on the floor – not long after the doors opened people began to pour in to view the exhibits. This year TeleVue Optics didn’t sell any eyepiece blems or seconds. This appeared to curtail the early morning rush and line lengths somewhat but it got busy quickly.|
One piece of equipment we all looked forward to viewing was the new 3600GTO mount from A-P – ‘el Capitan’… This is a beautiful and serious piece of architecture; displayed on the
3600GTO they had a carbon fiber 300mm Maksutov Cassegrain mounted as can be viewed here. Howard of A-P can be viewed in the background as the day commences.
|Rob inspecting the mount & instrument. I didn’t see him standing in line to place an order or reaching for his wallet though…|
Rob and Roland posing at the Astro-Physics booth. We had an opportunity to speak with Roland and Marge before it got too crazy... I'm certain they found it to be a busy day.
If you’re involved with amateur astronomy there’s a need to go into detail pursuant to the quality of Astro-Physics equipment and optics. Roland, Marge & staff are known the world over for exceptional products and
outstanding service. We’re always pleased to see new developments this innovative firm has to offer and NEAF is a great place to check these out.
|An A-P 130 EDF on a Mach1 GTO mount. This was the second set up Astro-Physics had on the display floor.|
Art & Steve in front of the display… Want to talk Takahashi equipment? There’s nobody more knowledgeable than Art in the United States as far as I know.
I look forward to seeing both these guys whenever I have an opportunity and hope to do some imaging with Steve soon.
I sometimes refer to Steve as ‘Superman’s Pal’… Laugh if you wish, but I’ve seen him mount his FRC-300 alone more than once. I’m certain I could do this as well but am far from comfortable with doing so as one mishap could get expensive quickly.
|Little Robbie Burgess, George and Steve posing for the camera at the Texas Nautical booth. All of us have Takahashi equipment as well as Astro-Physics products. Both firms have simply outstanding optics & mounts.|
|Last but far from least of this group, this photograph includes Lisa, Steve’s ‘significant other’… This shot was taken in early afternoon after Lisa arrived. I indicated how pleased I was about her showing up stating it was about time they got some class in their exhibit… Lisa was kind enough to share some photos of their girls - yikes, they certainly are growing up.|
|The next booth over from Takahashi was the Diffraction Limited display. Doug George and his associate were present and we talked with them for quite awhile about the version five release of Maxim DL expected next month. Being Maxim users, George, Rob and I were duly impressed with the upcoming changes and looking forward to the new release. If you’re a user of Maxim DL you may wish to get on their website and check out the pending changes.|
|As I was walking around the exhibits I came across a Mountain Instruments MI-250 GTO displayed on one of their MI-8P piers. I used one of these with great success before changing to the Astro-Physics 1200GTO because of the payload available for heavier instruments. I looked this mount over carefully to see the various changes since mine had been constructed and was impressed. I used my MI-250 mostly in the days of film imaging and found it to be outstanding with uncanny accuracy and tracking. My MI-250 GTO was so precise I never had to pull my 6X7cm camera to check centering on an object or make certain of the composition – it always slewed to exactly where I’d planned the exposure. If you were/are a film imager you'll know what I'm talking about. I would recommend this mount and the exceptional service provided by Larry Myers to anyone. If you’re seeking a new mount don’t overlook this firm! Give Larry a call and tell him I referred you...|
|One new addition we noted this year was a display set up by the Astronomical League a non-profit federation of astronomical societies. I’d never talked with any of these folks in person and it was interesting to meet them and do so. Our club is a member of the league and we’re familiar with their publications. We were interested in obtaining some of their observing information and indicated before the day was out we’d be back to prevent having to carry around even more stuff gathered during the day.|
We had a great discussion about things with John, Carroll & Terry and learned some interesting aspects about the Astronomical League and their support efforts for various clubs. A portion of this included new ways to promote our
organization to become more active in our local area – a point we all have an interest in I’m certain.
Rob explained that he is a Solar System Ambassador from Maine and an active member of the Maine Space Consortium. He’ll be traveling to Arizona soon for an event with this group where John indicated he would be speaking, so they’ll be seeing each other in the immediate future.
At right: John Goss, Carroll Iorg and Terry Mann of the Astronomical League with Rob Burgess.
My longtime friend Warren Keller provided several lectures at the imaging conference this year. He recently relocated and I was pleased to see him as it’s been
some time since we’ve done any field time together. I learned that Warren has an exceptional memory and we had a few laughs about some of the shared experiences
we’ve had in various remote places seeking out dark sky conditions.
Warren, along with Peter Proulx, formed IP4AP – Image Processing for Astrophotography. They are a resource for learning the art of astrophotographic processing. Their concept commenced with creation of streaming tutorials using Photoshop for image enhancement and grew from there. IP4AP was named a ‘Hot Product’ in 2007 by Sky & Telescope, which is pretty cool... This year they’ve moved forward from one-on-one sessions online to a DVD format. Several vendors will be carrying their work so keep an eye out.
Warren with Al Degutis of AstroPhoto Insight Magazine.
Mathis Instruments had an exhibit with a 20" PlaneWave Corrected Dall-Kirkham (CDK) telescope mounted. These mounts are massive and designed for permanent installations. Besides the fork mount, this firm also offers German
Equatorial mounts in a similar design to the MI-250 but in larger versions - in the case of some models these are much larger.
A closer view of a Mathis Instruments Fork Mount.
|The PlaneWave Instruments exhibit included multiple carbon fiber Corrected Dall-Kirkham (CDK) telescopes. This 20” is mounted on an SBIG Paramount and Monolith pier.|
We had a lengthy discussion with Philip Jackson of Photonic Cleaning Technologies. This firm provides non-toxic, inert polymer systems designed to remove dust, fingerprints,
residues and other contamination from surfaces without scratching or otherwise damaging the material. Phil provided an interesting demonstration and we were intrigued by
how well his products worked. We’ll be checking into this further as collectively we all have lenses and telescopes to keep clean.
Rob & Ron check out the cleaning materials while Philip speaks with another NEAF attendee.
NEAF would never be complete without representation from Santa Barbara Instruments Group... Here’s George graciously serving as a model to display a prototype camera SBIG has been developing
as David Morrow of the firm looks on.
Our understanding was this camera is not yet in production. An STL-11000 similar to mine is on the table to the left.
I should point out that George is a walking encyclopedia of telescope accessory knowledge. I don’t bother looking anything up on line when seeking adapters or whatever without asking him first as there’s a high probability he can indicate exactly what’s required off the top of his head. I have many adapters for my different telescope types and cameras – so many it is difficult indeed to keep everything straight about what goes where and when it may be required. That being said, I virtually have none when compared to the plethora of parts and pieces George has assembled for the many mounts, cameras and telescope systems he owns and uses. We think George should hire out as a kind of a ‘telescope valet’ for budding imagers...
|Queststar Corporation had a display established with their distinctive telescopes on hand to view. These instruments have been around for many years.|
|Our good friend and fellow imager Steve Walters was working the CCDWare booth again this year. Steve (aka to us as Herr Docktor or more frequently, Brother Steve) developed a really neat program, CCD Navigator, which is terrific to use when planning imaging sessions. We saw him walking the exhibits and I took this photograph as we congregated around the Astro-Physics display speaking with Roland. If we’re on our best behavior he’ll let us hang out with him from time to time...|
Gregory Terrance of FLI in discussion with a NEAF attendee.
Another outstanding firm represented at NEAF with excellent products & service is Finger Lakes Instrumentation. I’d been by their booth several times as I wished to say hello to Gregory, but he’s a busy fellow so I kept moving along. Doing business with FLI is always a pleasure and Gregory goes far to make it so. Their PDF focuser is outstanding and works great on my FRC-300. If you’re in the market for a PDF, adapters, filter wheel, camera - any product they carry actually - I would recommend you contact him. Eventually George and I had an opportunity to speak with Gregory and I took the opportunity to capture the image below...
Another firm I’ve seen many times over the years and one I’m always astounded about as I view their work is b. crist miniatures...
they produce miniature representations
of telescopes that are truly works of art. I took the time to get a few shots of the models and was thinking about how great this would be with my macro lens set up,
some lighting and a tripod. These significantly reduced jpg images don’t really do justice to these exquisite pieces, but I believe you can obtain a fairly good idea of the
workmanship exhibited in this effort. I mean really – check this out – it’s not just telescopes, there’s even a miniature roll-a-table, observing guides and a laptop in view...
Please find below several more photographs of the miniatures.
Our associate Ron is an avid solar observer. I believe he does get out at night from time to time but solar observing (and imaging somewhat) is a great interest to him.
George also enjoys this and we’ve been talking about an effort to image the sun with one of my digital cameras. They were aware of a new firm, Lunt Solar Systems LLC, attending NEAF 2008
and this was a major topic in the vehicle heading south. I guess they were pleased about this as both ended up purchasing new solar telescopes before we departed...
You’ll notice that Ron is in just a few of my photographs for the day. This is because he spent a good deal of time outside with Barlow Bob’s solar crew talking with all his solar buds. He did insist that I get a photograph of him with the Lunt Solar Systems group however, so we managed to arrange the composition below. From left to right - Rikki Hocking, Andy Lunt, Russ Tanton of Lunt SOlar Systems with our friend Ron Thompson - a solar observing machine...
|Here he is, the man himself with his trademark yellow observing hat – Barlow Bob doing what he likes best – sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge about solar observing. It’s been my pleasure to have met Bob several years ago when he was only moderately famous. Now he’s the solar observing icon of the known universe - a well deserved distinction I may add…|
|No NEAF account could be complete without at least one photograph of our pal Ralph Marantino (aka the great and Grand Pooh-Bah) from New Jersey. Here he stands in all his solar glory on the observing field…|
|Oliver Thizy of Shelyak Instruments, a French firm, brought several spectroscopes to the solar event this year. In this image Barlow Bob, George, Oliver and an observer discuss the attributes of viewing the solar spectra. Oliver indicated the instrument pictured here is for use on the sun. However, the spectrograph in the enlargement below is designed for multiple applications.|
|We were checking out this beautiful, high-tech Dobsonian in front of the Denkmeier booth when Rob decided he wanted to pilot the device. I was trying to photograph the telescope but it wasn’t as easy as it first appears – every time I got ready to take a shot someone would grab the tube and start moving it around. Smoothness of action on these instruments is an important issue and everyone that meandered by wished to check it out. I was taking some shots when the fellow that tricked out this telescope commented that he was pleased to see somebody noticed… Well we noticed, I’m not a Dob guy by any stretch of the imagination but this was one fine piece of work and fully equipped from what I could see. More views of this instrument can be seen below as well as a few others…|
Another fine individual that any NEAF account must include to be complete is our friend Jim Burnell. Jim is an engineer, imager, telescope maker, author and an all around good man.
We’ve been in the field with or seen Jim at events over the years in various places and it’s always a pleasure to speak with him.
Jim, at left, speaking with Brien Deis of Vixen Optics.
|As much as we would have preferred to stay until the exhibition hall closed we recognized that we needed to get on the road. After making a few last stops and saying a few goodbyes we headed for the vehicle and the road home. I believe next year we should plan more time in New York and attend the other parts at NEAF to take in the full measure of the event. However, that was the same comment we made last year...|