As hundreds of astronomers made their annual pilgrimage to the “shrine to the stars” this year, the Springfield Telescope Makers were preparing to celebrate Stellafane’s 100th anniversary.

The Springfield Telescope Makers (STMs) celebrated their 100th anniversary during their annual Stellafane Convention during August 17–20. They honored the history of their club and amateur astronomy as a whole.

A group of people listening to a talk in Stellafane's Flanders Pavillion
Clifton Ashcraft presented a lecture on “Exploring the Local Supercluster” on Friday afternoon.
Sabrina Garvin

Every year, Stellafane devotees love to bluster about how many years they’ve attended this historic convention. But this year, old friends from a century past rejoined the celebration. For starters, a life-size standee of Russell Porter and a poster display about the STM’s founding members sat atop Breezy Hill on Friday morning.

An elderly man standing next to a standee of Russell Porter in front of a pink building and a radio tower
This standee of STM founding member Russell W. Porter greeted guests first at the pink clubhouse and later at the Flanders Pavilion. Beside him is long-time Stellafane attendee Don Greeley. Subscribers may recognize him as my grandfather (and several Stellafane attendees did) from Peter Tyson’s August 2023 Spectrum column.
Sabrina Garvin

Later on Friday, “time travelers” from the 1920s littered the grounds and joined Russell Porter (Mario Motta) and the Stellafane Little Man for the Saturday evening program. Afterward, Kristine Larsen gave the Shadowgram, the talk given before they keynote speech while the organizers waited for the sky to darken so the keynote speaker could use projected images, based on a survey she took of the attendees’ favorite things about Stellafane, and S&T contributing editor Joe Rao gave the keynote speech on his adventures chasing solar eclipses. The festivities finished up just in time for the foreboding clouds that had been hanging over Breezy Hill all day to part.

A slide from a slideshow depicting a collage of people holding up signs with letters on them that spell "Thank you Russell Porter"
Kristine Larsen finished up her Shadowgram with this slide dedicated to Russell Porter.
Sabrina Garvin

Guests included newcomers, annual attendees, and those recently returning after long hiatuses. They brought with them new entrees to Stellafane’s telescope-making competition, as well as old champions. Come Saturday, a field of historic and prize-winning telescopes from years past had sprouted up.

A mostly empty field with a few telescopes on it below a pink building and the Porter Turret telescope
A view of the observing field facing the Pink Clubhouse on Friday afternoon
Sabrina Garvin
A busy field full of people and telescopes
A view of the same observing field in the opposite dirrection on Saturday around noontime
Sabrina Garvin

Telescopes that hadn’t seen Vermont skies in decades were once again planted in the “stella-mud” and enjoyed two beautiful nights of stargazing. While Thursday night was clouded out, by Friday night S&T staff, their families, and a few friendly observing-field neighbors spent the night together, targeting deep-sky objects and trading scopes and binoculars to compare views.

While Saturday became cloudy and cold, the skies opened up around midnight to reveal the lovely glow of the Milky Way. Those who preemptively forecast a rainy night had already packed up their scopes for the weekend, but the faithful stayed to enjoy the stars.

The Milky Way
The Milky Way — a vivid feature under dark skies — glides over Breezy Hill at the 2021 Stellafane summer star party.
Sean Walker

The following morning, hundreds of astronomers made the trek back down the mountain, excited for next year. Happy 100th anniversary, Stellafane! I can’t wait to see you all again next year.


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