Sky & Telescope met with readers old and new at the annual Northeast Astronomy Forum.

NEAF floor on Saturday morning
The showroom floor on Saturday morning.
Sky & Telescope / Sean Walker

The annual rite of spring for North American astronomy enthusiasts returned this weekend, with the annual Northeast Astronomy Forum and Telescope Show (NEAF) in Suffern, New York. Organized by the nonprofit Rockland Astronomy Club, the trade show was a more subdued affair than in recent years — likely due to the total solar eclipse that crossed North America less than two weeks prior.

Still, many familiar names were in attendance including Celestron, Explore Scientific, PlaneWave Instruments, Software Bisque, QHY, Starlight Xpress, Atik, and Vixen,  and a few new vendors made their first showing. Among the large displays, Tele Vue Optics was out in force, and greeted attendees with a sale of blemished eyepieces from all their innovative designs at prices that were hard to resist.

NEAF 2024 S&T Booth
Sky & Telescope's booth at the Northeast Astronomy Forum
Sky & Telescope / Diana Hannikainen

The fun started at S&T’s Friday evening reception for manufacturers, where Editor in Chief Peter Tyson enjoyed chatting with long-time supporters such as Al Nagler of Tele Vue and Jeff Simon of Sky-Watcher. S&T also welcomed new friends from Suzhou, China, where ZWO is based.

The show itself was hopping on Saturday, with throngs of astronomy enthusiasts walking the exhibit hall. The Sky & Telescope booth was in its usual place at the bottom of the stairs, so editors were well-placed to greet astronomy enthusiasts as they filed in. It’s always such an exhilarating sight to see eager faces, their eyes shiny with the anticipation of sharing their passion with other like-minded folk. Some were there to spend money, others to learn about what’s new in telescopes or cameras, and still others just to absorb the atmosphere.

Sky & Telescope booth
One of the most popular elements of the S&T booth was two tables full of free back issues, which went to individual enthusiasts and to club managers for distribution to their members and at events.
Sky & Telescope / Peter Tyson

The highlight for S&T staff was, as always, to meet our readers and subscribers and to chat with them about their hobby or a story that just ran. There’s much pride when a subscriber tells us what their first issue was, more often than not from decades back: They still all remember the exact month and year of their first Sky & Telescope. And many of them have kept every single issue of the magazine since that first copy. It just warms our hearts to chat with our readers. We also delighted in the many children who came with their parents or grandparents (many of whom went away with Sky & Telescope coloring sheets in hand!).

New Telescopes, Eyepieces, and More

Celestron booth
Celestron's large booth
Sky & Telescope / Sean Walker

"Smart telescopes," or fully-integrated telescope systems with built-in cameras and computers, were seen in practically every corner of the event.  Celestron showed off its recently announced Origin Intelligent Home Observatory (don't call it a smartscope), which combines its fast Rowe-Ackermann astrograph optics with an upgrade-ready camera and on-board electronics to make a turn-key system.

Chinese manufacturer ZWO had one of the busiest booths, showcasing all their planetary and deep-sky systems. The company unveiled its new wireless ASI2600MC Duo deep-sky camera at the show, which pairs with its ASIair control systems.

Sky-Watcher mount
Jeff Simon shows off Sky-Watcher's new strain-wave mount, the Wave 100i.
Sky & Telescope / Sean Walker

Sky-Watcher USA also used the event to debut its new strain-wave driven mounts, the Wave 100i and Wave 150i. Further afield, Pegasus Astro showed off its prototype of the SkyEye, an electronic eyepiece with a built-in camera and viewer. It produces color images of deep-sky objects when paired with your tracking telescope and can even transmit those images to your smartphone or tablet. Our friends at Innovations Foresight demonstrated its AI-assisted auto-focus system for astrophotographers.

The SkyEye electronic eyepiece promises to revolutionize observing by stacking short exposures and displaying them as a color image in the viewer in the user's own telescope of choice.
Sky & Telescope / Sean Walker

Many attendees were also on hand Thursday and Friday for the Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference (NEAIC), a two-day meeting organized by Bob Moore that features workshops and lectures by both amateur and professional astro-imagers, several from Sky & Telescope contributors including Ron Brecher, Richard S. Wright, Jr., and planetary imager Christopher Go.

NEAF Events

Besides equipment vendors, the Astronomical League and many clubs — mostly local, but some from farther afield — also had representatives engaging with the public and sharing their love for the night sky.

As with other years, attendees could listen to talks given by renowned figures in their fields. This year subjects of talks on the main stage ranged from the 30 years since Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 to the Artemis Moon mission to one given by one of the NASA seamstresses who sewed the shuttles’ protective thermal blanket.

For those who are too busy to sit through one of the main-theater talk, NEAF also arranges shorter sessions in a theater on the showroom floor, where listeners learned, among other things, on what they can do to help combat the ever-more-concerning issue of light pollution.

Workshops dedicated to professional-amateur collaborations brought together researchers and backyard observers, while the pop-up planetarium had a steady stream of kids and their parents eager to be wowed.




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