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Stellafane 1996


1996 Stellafane Trip

On August 9, 1996, my good friend Lou Thieblemont and I packed our bags, checked the weather, and took off in a small plane for Springfield, Vermont. For several months we had been anxiously awaiting this trip to Stellafane. Stellafane is the largest convention of amateur astronomers and telescope builders in the country. The trip was interesting as there were rain showers and fog along the entire route, but Lou, an extremely experienced pilot, guided us quite safely. I learned quite a bit from him on the trip to add to my much more limited piloting skills. Click on the thumbnails below for the full size image.


After arrival in Springfield, we picked up our rental car and headed to the Castle Inn, where we stayed (pictures of that later). After checking in, we drove to the Stellafane site and arrived as the telescope making demonstration was in progress. This is one of the paths on the Stellafane site leading to the demonstration tent.





Here we see John Vogt in the process of polishing a mirror. The mirror blank is in his hands while the polishing tool is secured to the wood on the barrel. Below, Lou talks with John about the mirror.






Another Stellafaner gives polishing a try while Lou looks on. Below, Lou checks the progress of the polishing process with a magnifier and a flashlight.






Lou and I finally spotted John Dobson, the celebrity guest speaker at the convention. John is well known for promoting amateur astronomy and inventing a very popular type of telescope, the "Dobsonian". This type of telescope is easily transportable, well suited for visual observation, and more affordable than other types of telescopes. John's quick wit and unique perspective on life and astronomy intrigued and entertained everyone throughout the entire convention. Here we see John preparing a "pitch lap" which is part of the mirror making process.


One of the attendees got John to autograph their Dobsonian telescope. What a great idea!




John took time for a picture with me.




As evening approached, we hoped to get in some observing under the dark Vermont skies, but clouds prevented this. Although a majority of Stellafane attendees camp on the convention grounds, Lou and I headed back to the hotel about 1:00am. Of course, by the time we arrived the clouds had started to dissipate. After a short discussion, we decided to go to bed and get an early start the next morning.


Calvin_flying.jpg (8927 bytes)

On Saturday morning, Lou and I headed to the airport and took the airplane up for some aerial shots of the convention site. It was a beautiful morning, much different than the weather the day before. Lou was able to get a photo of the "pilot at work"!

Stellafane aerial.jpg (16658 bytes)






Life wasn't too tough while we were in Vermont. Here is a picture of "The Castle", in Proctorsville, Vermont, where we stayed. It is a beautifully restored mansion setting high on a hill. The owners, Dick and Erica hart were delightful and excellent hosts. The cuisine was outstanding. Below is a picture of the guest room where we stayed. The Castle can be reached at (802) 227-7222.


After an enjoyable and tiring weekend, it was time to head home to Pennsylvania on Sunday morning. The weather was certainly better than it had been on our Friday trip as you can see by this shot taken from the airplane window.







[Link to Stellafane Home Page]





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Last modified: March 13, 2009