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NEAF 2013: this two-day gathering is one of the world's premier annual astronomical events.

During a pleasant weekend last April, several thousand astronomy enthusiasts made their annual pilgrimage to Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York, for the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF). The debut of new astronomy gear is always a highlight of the gathering, and our photo coverage this year focuses on some of the equipment we found particularly interesting.

1. * The fist-sized StarSense module is a retrofit that adds fully automated and foolproof initialization to most of Celestron's Go To scopes made during the past decade.

2. * You'll never have to worry about a heavy eyepiece unexpectedly spinning sideways with this 2-inch star diagonal and Inter-Locking Visual Back (IVB) for Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes. A toothed coupling allows quick and secure positioning of the diagonal in any viewing position.

3. * With their EOS EF mounts, Canon's Cinema lenses offer unprecedented optical and mechanical quality for discriminating night-sky photographers.

4. * Celestron's new off-axis guider includes helical focusing on the guiding port along with features that make it highly compatible with today's digital cameras and autoguiders.

5. * This flight-ready spare for a crowd-funded satellite slated for launch later this year garnered lots of attention. Watch our in-depth video interview with project leader Tim DeBenedictis at

6. * The folks at Explora Dome offer a variety of cost-effective solutions for backyard amateur observatories ranging from simple domes to complete buildings.

7. * Mike Simmons, President and CEO of Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), displayed the organization's soon-to-be-available Dobsonian reflector. Imported by Celestron exclusively for AWB, the 130-mm (5.1-inch) f/5 reflector has a collapsible tube and weighs only 14 pounds (6.4 kg), including the mount. But perhaps best of all, it costs just $199 with two eyepieces and free shipping in the U.S.

8. * The just-announced Advanced VX German equatorial mount from Celestron has been specifically engineered for imaging with mid-size telescopes weighing up to 30 pounds (14 kg). It incorporates numerous features found in the company's high-end astrophotography mounts. When fitted with the SkyQ Link WiFi module, it can be controlled with the company's SkyQ app for Apple mobile devices.

9. * Quantum Scientific Imaging's Kevin Nelson shows off one of the company's large-format 700 Series Cooled Scientific Digital Cameras planned for release later this year. Made for chips as large as the KAF-16803, the 700 Series has a unique mechanical adjustment for precision squaring of the CCD to a telescope's optical axis.

10. * Among the larger telescopes on display this year was Meade's new 16-inch LX600 Advanced Coma-Free catadioptric fitted with the StarLock system that automatically acquires a guide star and begins autoguiding the telescope each time it is aimed at a new target.

11. * A relative newcomer in the world of premium Dobsonian reflectors, New Moon Telescopes exhibited several of its finely crafted wooden scopes that feature a one-piece collapsible truss section, such as the one seen in this picture with company owner Ryan Goodson.

12. * Familiar faces at amateur astronomy gatherings around the country, Perry and Patricia Remaklus were ready to answer questions about the books published by their company Willmann-Bell. It's impossible to overstate how much their specialized titles on telescopes, telescope making, optics, observing, and astrophotography have benefitted the hobby during the last 40 years. The Uranometria 2000.0 star atlas has been a mainstay of observers since it was introduced in 1987.

13. * Although Sky & Telescope readers will likely associate John A. Davis with spectacular deep-sky photography that's appeared in the magazine recently, the Texas-based astrophotographer garnered much of his celebrity status at NEAF, especially with younger attendees, as the multi-talented creator of the Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius cartoon series.

14. * Although QHYCCD's digital cameras are better know outside of North America, that might change now that AstroFactors in Plano, Texas, has become a distributor.

15. * Among the prototype equipment on display this year was this integrated imaging setup that rigidly couples a Tele Vue TV-NP127 (5-inch f/5.3) apo refractor to a large-format FLI CCD camera and Atlas focuser.

16. * Although we're focusing on the new equipment at this year's event, NEAF has much more to offer, including lectures, workshops, kids' events, and a program devoted to observing the Sun (pictured here).

17. * MoonLite Telescope Accessories continues to add to its growing line of high-quality focusers for observers and imagers, including the model shown here that allows users to remotely control focus position and camera rotation.

18. * Jeff Simon of Sky-Watcher USA displayed a wide range of telescopes at the show, including this prototype 18-inch transportable Dobsonian reflector that features an exceptionally lightweight primary mirror. A 20-inch version is also in the works.

19. * Teeter's Telescopes had one of the largest displays of Dobsonian reflectors at this year's event. Among them was this new 10-inch f/5 Journey model made for "awesome portability." It's designed to disassemble and fit, along with your observing accessories, in one soft-padded travel case that rolls on wheels.

20. * One of the world's leading manufacturers of spectroscopy equipment for amateur astronomers, Shelyak Instruments debuted its new compact, modular spectrograph system called Alpy. The spectrograph assembly (less CCD camera) seen at right in the picture can be fitted to the separate guiding and calibrations modules at left, forming a complete system for acquiring detailed spectra of faint astronomical objects.

21. * 10 Micron, the Italian manufacturer of high-end German equatorial mounts, exhibited the GM1000HPS, the smallest member of its new robotic mounts. It has a load capacity of 55 pounds (25 kg), and features direct Ethernet connectivity to a remote computer.

22. * A new self-guiding filter wheel and prototype high-speed AO guider for its large-format cameras were among the wares on display by Santa Barbara Instrument Group.

For video coverage of more equipment at this year's NEAF gathering, as well as at past events, go to Videos.
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Title Annotation:Astro Gear; Northeast Astronomy Forum
Publication:Sky & Telescope
Article Type:List
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2013
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