NEAF 2002

This is NEAF on Saturday morning.  The Televue line is on the left.  Cash only, please<g>

NEAF 2002: An Astrophotographer's Perspective

May 18-19, 2002

How convenient, my company decided to hold a meeting in Newark, NJ the week prior to NEAF.  This provided a great opportunity for me to attend the highly acclaimed event for the first time.  

Rockland Community College, site of NEAF, is located 40 miles north of the Newark airport.  The gymnasium facility is very appropriate for the event with ample space for vendors and an appropriately sized auditorium for the presentations.

Over 60 vendors ranging in focus from miniature telescopes to Software Bisque and the Paramount mount were on display for the two days.  The full program and list of vendors can be found at

I realized on Saturday morning that I had made the transition to a pure astrophotographer when I had no desire to stand in the Televue line for deals on eyepieces and other viewing equipment.  Al Nagler is always a great participant in this event.  He enthusiastically shared his telescope and astronomy knowledge with many attendees.  

Mr. Al Nagler shares his telescope knowledge with attendee

Event highlights:  

Dr. Rob Gendler lectured and presented his astronomical images.  I must say, I have long admired the web presentations of Dr. Gendler's images, but seeing those huge prints up close was even more impressive.  The images were smooth and had great dynamic range.  The presentation was very comprehensive regarding all aspects of CCD astronomy.  His lecture was one of the most well received during the entire conference.  My short time to interact with Rob was very enjoyable and educational.  It was obvious that Rob has a tremendous passion for imaging and his commitment to excellence is second to none.   
For Rob Gendler's online images, please go to

Dr. Gendler shares views of his images with attendee

Vixen telescopes.  Vixen was on display with Highpoint Scientific.   According to Bill Copeland, Vixen sales manager, the company is now a division of Tele Vue Optics.  The Vixen telescope catalogue got me very excited.  Great offerings for the astro-photographer like their medium format capable DED 108SS doublet ED refractor with 540mm focal length at f5.  Many other great telescopes and astrophotography accessories.  The Televue/Vixen relationship will prove to be very interesting to watch as time goes by. 

 Software:  There were two very interesting software offerings presented.

Lunar Map Pro:  Mr. Hung Q. Pham (right) and colleagues are preparing to launch a very interesting high resolution Lunar software, Lunar Map Pro.  More information can be found at

For lunar observers, this may become the equivalent of planetarium programs like The Sky or Megastar.  Observers will be able to print custom lunar maps, flip, reverse, or rotate the map to match the view through any telescope, measure lunar distances, and more. 

Main Sequence Software: Desktop Universe  You may have seen the teaser ads in Sky and Tel for Desktop Universe.  Mr. Peter Ceravolo (standing) and his colleagues demonstrated the software at NEAF.  Imagine a planetarium program overlaying a mosaic image of the entire sky!  Yep, that's right.  The ENTIRE sky.  Imaging was done at two locations:  Sun Glow ranch in Arizona and a site near Ayer's Rock in Australia.  The imaging itself was performed with a CCD AP9 with 3k by 2k array size and total of 20,000 images all one minute in duration!  Peter designed the 150mm lens and also used a custom GOTO mount.  The effort is quite impressive.  I can't wait to see the full release software.  Expected release date is July 1.  For more info go to

David Levy Tails and Trails: A lifetime of observing the night sky.  Can you remember what event first sparked an interest within you for astronomy?  Mr. Levy recalled the days of his youth in a summer camp where his first glimpse of a meteor sparked his interest in  astronomy.  That passion has not waned to this day.  It was ironic in a way to listen to Mr. Levy.  It was his comet, Shoemaker/Levy 9, that rekindled my interest in astronomy, now over 8 years ago.  David's passion for the simple beauty of the night sky is contagious.  I find myself cluttering my original wonder of the night sky with concerns over mechanical or equipment functionality.  Mr. Levy has helped me to regain the original wonder I discovered on my first nights out with the stars...I will never let that wonder become a faded memory again.

There were many other great products and presentations.  The solar presentation by Dr. Mary Lou West was outstanding, as well as Dr. John Grunsfeld's (NASA astronaut) presentation on the Hubble Telescope upgrade.  NEAF is a world class event.  If you have an opportunity to check it out, I heartily recommend you do.  Clear skies, Jeff.