NEAF turns 20: the annual Northeast Astronomy Forum has something for every amateur astronomer regardless of age, experience, or field of interest.
Sky & Telescope, a long-time NEAF sponsor, always has a big turnout, and this year all of our editors were on hand. Pictured in this story (and identified with numbers at the lower left corner of each image) are the people and products that especially piqued our interest. The notes below for selected images expand on the captions that appear with the pictures.
1. Celestron's soon-to-be-released SkyProdigy telescopes, which currently includes a 70-mm refractor, 90-mm Maksutov-Cassegrain, and 130-mm reflector, use onboard "StarSense technology" to automatically identify stars and initialize the scopes' Go To computers. They offer telescopic exploration of the heavens to people with no previous knowledge of the sky.
2. The folks at Explore Scientific were soliciting feedback on a prototype 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope fitted with an illuminated 8x50 erect-image finder and 2-inch star diagonal with enhanced coatings.
3. People who stopped by the SBIG booth to check out the new CCD-based ST-i planetary imager and autoguider also got a chance to meet the company's new owner and CEO, Ron Bissinger, who is a long-time amateur astronomer currently involved with pro-am collaborations on observing exoplanet transits.
4. Bresser's new Messier line of refractors and Newtonian reflectors (exclusively distributed in the Americas by Explore Scientific) includes full-feature telescopes for all levels of serious observing from beginning to advanced.
5. Of special interest at Explore Scientific's booth was the upcoming 6-inch apo refractor featuring a carbonfiber tube, air-spaced triplet objective made with extra-low dispersion Hoya glass, and a 3-inch, dual-speed rack-and-pinion focuser. The right-angle, errect-image 8x50 finder has separate focus adjustments for the eyepiece reticle and the finder.
7. Industry newcomer AG Optical displayed several astrographs with impressive design credentials. Systems based on Newtonian and Dall-Kirkham optics (both equipped with image correctors) are currently available in 12V2-, 16-, and 20-inch apertures.
9. Optec's high-precision FastFOCUS system takes advantage of the removable secondary mirror in Celestron's Fastar-compatible Schmidt-Cassegrain scopes. The prototype on display was for the 11-inch EdgeHD scope, but another is in the works for the 14-inch. The FastFOCUS system allows the user to focus the EdgeHD scopes after engaging their highly effective primary mirror locks that eliminate image shift.
12. One of the "must-see" items at the Vixen display was the pocket-sized Polarie tracking mount planned for release later this year. Looking at first glance like an oversized point-and-shoot camera and powered by two internal AA batteries, the Polarie has a bubble "level" calibrated for latitude and a peep-sight for aligning the mount on Polaris. Another noteworthy feature is a half-sidereal drive rate, which is one of the "secret" techniques used to take many of today's outstanding starscape photographs.
14. After making a name for itself with its highly acclaimed tangent-arm tracking systems, AstroTrac is developing an extremely portable German equatorial mount for astrophotographers wanting dual-axis guiding capability.
15. The tiny all-weather, all-sky camera from Moonglow Technologies is made for monitoring sky conditions at remote observatories. An optional "uploader" system converts the camera's video signal for computer display, making it easy to monitor conditions over the internet.
16. MallinCam's new Xtreme model offers shutter speeds from 1/12,000 second to 100 minutes, making the color video camera suitable for everything from high-speed solar and lunar observing to long-exposure deep-sky imaging. The camera also features a built-in title generator, and options include a chip-cooling system and wireless exposure controller.
1. Celestron's flagship 14-inch scope shared the spot-light with the company's soon-to-be-released SkyProdigy technological wonder.
2. A prototype 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope generated a lot of comments at the Explore Scientific booth.
3. SBIG's new company owner and CEO, Ron Bissinger (left) and Alan Holmes were on hand to talk about their new CCD-based ST-i planetary camera and autoguider (inset), which features 16-bit images.
4. Bresser's new Messier line of reflectors and refractors includes this handsome 6-inch f/8 Newtonian, which attracted lots of attention.
5. Scott Roberts of Explore Scientific showed off an attractively priced 6-inch apo refractor due out this summer and a prototype heavy-duty German equatorial mount now being field tested.
6. Approximately 150 exhibitors were spread across NEAF's expansive floor space.
7. The precision-engineered astrographs from Dave Tandy's AG Optical have honeycomb tubes (inset).
8. QSI's new 600 Series cameras have internal 8-position filter wheels.
9. Optec's high-precision FastFOCUS moves the secondary mirror of Celestron's Fastar-compatible scopes.
10. Eyepiece and accessory cases from Wood Wonders combine style with utility.
11. Urban Observatories incorporates boat-building technology in its compact domes.
12. Brian Deis shows off Vixen's upcoming Polarie tracking camera mount powered by internal batteries.
13. Markus Ludes of Lunt Solar Systems exhibited a prototype 230-mm (9-inch) hydrogen-alpha solar telescope.
14. AstroTrac's Richard Taylor (right) talks about his highly portable German equatorial mount with Walter Hildebrand of Astrosysteme Austria.
15. The tiny all-sky camera from Moonglow Technologies can remotely monitor the sky day and night in any weather.
16. MallinCam Xtreme melds the performance needed for deep-sky imaging with video-camera simplicity.
Visit SkyandTelescope.com/neaf2011 to see video interviews with some of the manufacturers exhibiting at NEAF this year.
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|Title Annotation:||Astro Gear|
|Author:||di Cicco, Dennis; Walker, Sean|
|Publication:||Sky & Telescope|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2011|
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