In what has quickly become a rite of spring, around 3,000 amateur astronomers converged on Suffern, New York, last weekend for the 14th annual Northeast Astronomy Forum and Telescope Show (NEAF) to see the latest in telescope equipment, software, and accessories from more than 80 vendors. "This was the biggest turnout yet for the show," says NEAF organizer Alan Traino.
Organizer Ed Seimenn comments, "With the expanded venue we were able to offer more diverse activities and establish NEAF as one of the premier astronomy trade shows in North America."
This year featured keynote speaker Phil Plait, professional astronomer and author of the book Bad Astronomy, who discussed the so-called "face on Mars." Workshops for every level of interest were presented; from Night Sky magazine's editor Kelly Beatty demonstrating telescopes for beginners, to advanced astro-image processing techniques by astrophotographers Ron Wodaski and Scott Ireland.
Eleven amateur astronomy clubs such as Vermont's Springfield Telescope Makers were in attendance, demonstrating mirror-grinding techniques and teaching newcomers to the hobby that you don't need a big budget to enjoy the universe.
Superb weather greeted attendees on both days and made for excellent solar observing conditions in the courtyard with specialized telescopes, the majority provided by Coronado Technology Group.
Many manufacturers used the opportunity to showcase their latest equipment. Among the highlights were Tele Vue's new Dioptrx astigmatism correcting lenses and a revamped TV-60 optimized for astrophotography. Meade Instruments Corporation provided a first-hand look at its soon-to-be released RCX-400 advanced Ritchey-Chretien telescope, and CCD camera manufacturer Starlight Xpress demonstrated its new SXV-M8C 4-megapixel camera, as well as a new active optics unit compatible with the company's full line of cameras.