More than 2,100 amateur astronomers converged on Suffern, NY, last weekend for the 11th annual Northeast Astronomy Forum and Telescope Show (NEAF) to see the latest in telescope equipment, software, and accessories from more than 60 vendors. "This was the highest turnout yet for the show," says NEAF organizer Alan Traino.
In addition to the exhibitors, the highlight of this year's event was the keynote speaker, astronaut John Grunsfeld, who spoke of his recent experience servicing the Hubble Space Telescope. Grunsfeld stayed on hand to sign autographs and also gave a special presentation for the younger attendees on how he became an astronaut and detailing his experiences in space.
Attendees who stayed past the rain-soaked Saturday were rewarded on Sunday with clear skies and spectacular views of the Sun through a variety of solar telescopes and filters, mostly provided by Coronado.
Several vendors used NEAF to debut new products. Of particular note was release of the software package Desktop Universe by Douglas George and astrophotographer Peter Ceravolo (the team that created Hyakutake: The Motion Picture). The product is the first from the duo's new company, Main Sequence. Desktop Universe uses over 20,000 CCD images mosaicked into a completely interactive sky map.
Also making its debut was Software Bisque’s Paramount ME Robotic Telescope Mount. The relatively light, 65-pound smart mount, was met with much fanfare and anticipation.