Vendors at a star party provide the candy for the good little boys and girls. We all manage to find some reason why we need that beautiful new ????? for our next observing/photography session. It is always great to see the vendors goods live and in-person and WSP provides a great opportunity for one to do just that. Believe it or not, one could sign up for a loaner program from TeleVue where you could actually borrow the eyepiece for a two hour period and fully evaluate the eyepiece on YOUR scope. I bet they sold quite a few Ethos eyepieces through the loaner program. A great win-win program for all.
The diversity of the group is quite substantial ranging from telescope manufacturers like Meade and Televue to t-shirt retailers and fine art painters. One can purchase a $20,000 telescope setup or a AA battery (thanks Astro-Gizmos!) I always learn about a new product or feature each time I visit a vendor. Prior to this WSP I knew little about ATIK cameras. After speaking with Warren Keller, I have a pretty good idea about their products and will likely purchase one of their cameras as an autoguider.
Meade offered views of the sun through their solar scopes which were quite enjoyable. They also had the monster 16" SCT in the photo above that was available for night sky viewing. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to take in the night sky views through the 16". I spent some time with Jim from JMI discussing his motorized binocular telescope system. He had several sizes on hand including the 10" in the image below. I remember one of my first views through a home-made 10" binoscope a few years ago and the views were quite stunning. I had others share with me that the views through the binocular scopes were the equal of larger one-eyed scopes. These are instruments that serious visual observers should consider when purchasing a large scope.
It was also nice to see the Disc Mounts in person again. Every time I see one of these I salivate a great deal. I can just envision one of my refractors on one of these mounts on a night of planetary observing bliss. But I just can't fit it into the budget right now...but I am waiting.
WSP provides a wonderful opportunity to see and test gear first hand. That is a rare opportunity, especially under such wonderful conditions as the steady Florida Keys skies. Definitely one of the great reasons to check out the Winter Star Party.