The harsh snows of late-winter in the Northeast may have put a damper on some amateur astronomy activity this year. But with the arrival of spring, amateur astronomers in the region were jolted into activity by the appearance of the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) – just 30-minutes north of New York City. Hosted annually by the Rockland Astronomy Club at Rockland Community College, it is billed as the “World’s Largest Astronomy & Space Expo”. This spring-weekend show features presentations by world-class astronomers and scientists, astronomy outreach groups, kids activities, a big solar star party, and over 100 vendors and exhibitors. With the biggest collection of telescope equipment manufacturers and vendors under one roof, it’s Tele Vue’s biggest event and we bring all our scopes, eyepieces, and accessories every year.
This year’s show coincided with Tele Vue’s 40th year as a company (it’s our “ruby” anniversary!). To celebrate, we launched our “Over the Moon Sale” on the first day of NEAF on April 8th. The “Moon” part of the sale ties into Tele Vue’s roots: Tele Vue founder Al Nagler was instrumental in designing the optical system for NASA’s Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) Simulator which was used to train our astronauts to land on the Moon. The experience of viewing a 110° field of space through the capsule’s window sparked his desire for “spacewalk” views for his own observing. More importantly, Al’s work on designing optics for a variety of simulation projects laid the foundation which led to his 82° Nagler eyepiece. Things have come around full-circle recently as Al is now working with the Tech Works! technology museum in Binghamton, NY on restoration of the LEM simulator.
During show hours, Tele Vue has the opportunity to answer customer questions, demo equipment and reveal prototypes. This year, Tele Vue’s Chairman and CEO Al Nagler was very busy demonstrating a night-vision setup that works with our eyepieces. He also had a scope setup that offered a simulated view of the lunar surface as seen from the Apollo program’s Lunar Module.
Evenings are a time to connect with industry friends. After vendors had completed setting up for the show on Friday night, NEAF sponsor Sky & Telescope invited them all to the Sheraton Mahwah in New Jersey for a reception. (This is apropos as “Mahwah” is derived from an Indian word meaning “meeting place”). Along with the food and drink, an award was made to a young amateur astronomer. Sierra Bradley received the Horkheimer/Smith Youth Service Award from the Astronomical League for her work in public outreach and got a big round of applause from the audience. “Saturn-Day” night, Tele Vue hosts some of our U.S. and international dealers to a dinner. Our wonderful discussions went late into the night. Luckily the NEAF show start was 10 am on Sunday.
Anyone interested in amateur astronomy will find something of interest at NEAF. Consider attending next year if you can. We’ll be there to show you our products and answer your questions.