My Whirlwind Astronomy Filled April
April is associated with astronomy in multiple ways. We have the yearly celebrations of Earth Day on the 22nd, International Astronomy Day on April 29th, the International Dark Sky Association's Dark Sky Week in the middle of the month, as well as the annual NEAIC/NEAF tradeshows. In addition, I personally and professionally had an April slam packed with all sorts of astronomy events so I thought I'd just run through a little photo-logue and list some highlights. Enjoy!
YURI'S NIGHT IN LOS ANGELES
Every year at the California Science Center, underneath the hulking, heat-tiled underbelly of NASA's ENDEAVOR Space Shuttle, Angelenos, SoCal's space industry, and all sorts of special guests party the early April night away to celebrate humanity's first person in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and the spirit of space exploration.
There were cosplayers, cosplay robots, cast members from The Orville, space tourist Dr. Sian Proctor, NASA ISS astronaut Dr. Jessica Watkins (who gave the keynote address), Britt Adkins from the Celestial Citizen podcast had a booth, as well as lots of movers and shakers, artists, lecturers, institutions, and organizations from space-adjacent fields that were representing. Apparently this was the last year to party underneath the Shuttle as it's being stood up and having another building built around it over the next few years.
NEAIC / NEAF 2023
It's been three years of no tradeshows and limited events due to the coronavirus pandemic and the industry was excited to be back to share new hot products with the public, see what the competition is up to, and to reconnect with old friends. Aside from the amazing gear and dinners out on the town with friends, one highlight was when my boss and Director of Sky-Watcher USA, Jeff Simon as Darth Vader, squared up against Stellarvue's Vic Maris as Obi Won Kenobi (respectively), plus Karen Christen from Astro-Physics as Princess Leia (not pictured). The whole show floor stopped for a few minutes and all the camera phones came out.
Another highlight. Saddling up PlaneWave's DeltaRho 350 OTA on our CQ350 Pro and EQ8-R Pro mounts to see which one looked better. Fun times at the booth.
You gotta come to the shows to get a hat. Or maybe we should sell them online?
We decided on getting some matchy matchy Chuck Talyor's in (close enough to) Sky-Watcher green for that brand cohesion vibe.
The cool kids table with Sky-Watcher, Starlight Express, Starizona, and Astro-Physics.
Check out Kevin's NEAF wrap up for some the hot products we noticed while walking the floor.
Plus a quick stop over in NYC for some museum visits and Central Park walks.
LYRIDS METEOR SHOWER
From time to time we need to update our tradeshow inventory and wind up with gear that can't be sold. We donate to outreach groups, send around to friends in exchange for content, images, and reviews, and some of it like this 14" Flextube SynScan dob goes to me for some test runs under dark skies. I met some friends out in Frazier Park to soak up some meteors, image some galaxies, and stare into globular cluster abyss. The combination of dark skies, big aperture, and the right eyepiece set up really makes those clusters pop!
Just a single raw image of the Leo Triplet with my Evostar + EQ6-R Pro + ASIAir setup that is a dream to image with after some years of struggle with various set ups.
And a new rolling pier for the 6!
That's all for now. Coming up in May is the Texas Star Party though we are seeing reports of bad weather all week so we'll be touring McDonald Observatory and hopefully getting some post processing tips from some of the world class imagers like Richard Wright and Trevor Jones.
Good thing I've got imaging and observing plans with friends over Memorial Day weekend Joshua Tree. Better not be cloudy!
Clear skies all!
Jarred Donkersley is the Senior Marketing Specialist for Sky-Watcher USA and telescope operator for Griffith Observatory and Skies Away in Los Angeles.