Ah, springtime has arrived once again! And with the cold, harsh winter weather behind us (for most of us anyways), it could only mean it's that time of year for the annual Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) extravaganza! On April 16-17, 2011, NEAF's 20th Anniversary show took place at Rockland Community College, Suffern, New York. This year, what is arguably the world's largest astronomy tradeshow, led by Chairperson Alan Traino and organized by the Rockland Astronomy Club, crowds were noticeably larger this year than in previous years, as this held true throughout the entire 2 day event. With world-renowned featured speakers, an exhibit area with over 140 commercial vendors present, portable planetarium shows, solar observing, beginner's and kid's workshops and may more fun activities, astronomy enthusiasts were able to immerse themselves with anything and everything astronomy! Best of all, guests were able to feast their eyes on all the latest astronomical equipment, related gadgets and must haves! Celestron once again attended this spectacular east coast show and sent out a team of representatives covering Marketing, Product Development and Sales departments. Representatives included Director of US Sales, Ben Hauck; V.P. of Product Development, Corey Lee; East Coast Sales Manager, Ed McDonough; Product Development Manager, Jason Fournier and myself, Marketing Communications Coordinator, Kevin Kawai.
Rainy weather commenced during the first day of the show that brought thousands of attendees inside the gymnasium. Perhaps it was a good omen, as guests began "pouring" into the exhibition area - not only serious amateur astronomers but also quite a number of beginners, families and couples of all ages. Celestron exhibited many exciting optical products - some new, some already established and time tested, including our flagship CGE Pro 1400 HD, CGEM DX 1100 HD, CGEM, Heavy Duty Wedge mounted to a CPC 1100, C925-SGT, NexStar 6 and 8SEs, NexStar 127SLT, OMNI XLT 150, Granite and SkyMaster Series binoculars, Regal 80F-ED spotting scope and our new Nature, Outland and Oceana monocular lineup. We were also very excited to showcase our new and upcoming affordable, automatic alignment telescope series - the SkyProdigy. We feel this telescope will be ideal for beginners and everyone else who seeks a high quality telescope to begin observing the night sky right away - turning them into instant astronomers! This year, we've focused quite heavily on our outdoor products market and brought along many new, exciting weather stations, handheld GPS and portable electronic devices. These devices included ReTrace, which allows users to retrace their steps, so they won't get lost; CoursePro, a handheld GPS device which will provide golfers with a competitive edge on the course; and TrekGuide, a great hiker's companion which features a digital compass, altitude, barometer, temperature readings and more! For students, teachers and science hobbyists alike, we showcased digital microscopes such as the Deluxe HandHeld Digital, LCD Handheld Digital and LCD Deluxe Digital microscopes which all proved to be crowd favorites - even at an astronomy show!
During NEAF, we were thrilled to welcome a couple of Astronomy Prodigies to the Celestron booth - Caroline Moore and Hudson Kendall. Caroline, a high school honor roll student, who at age 14, discovered her first supernova, sn2008ha - a type 1a-p supernova and the least supernova ever observed. Half a year later, Caroline discovered her second supernova, sn2009he. Since then, she has often volunteered her spare time helping out and inspiring children in her community to have a better understanding on the wonders of astronomy, space and science. She has won numerous, prestigious awards and in October 2009, was a personal guest of President Obama in what may have been the first ever White House Star Party - "A Night of Astronomy." Also visiting the Celestron booth was Caroline's friend, 12 year old Hudson Kendall and his mother, Keli. The Kendall's, from Utah, befriended Caroline, her father Bob, as well as Celestron staff members last October during the USA Science and Engineering Festival which took place in Washington DC. Hudson is a science enthusiast, inventor and a big fan of Bill Nye the Science Guy. His dream is to one day become an astronaut. There's no question you'll be hearing a lot more of Caroline, Hudson and many more bright "shining stars" of their generation in the future. We wish them both continued success in making new discoveries and positive changes that will enrich people's lives for a better tomorrow. Reach for the stars!
What a great time was had by all at this year's NEAF event. Thank you Alan Traino, the Rockland Astronomy Club and all others involved for your tireless efforts, hard work and dedication to help make the 2011 NEAF the best one to date. Celestron was thrilled (as always) to participate at this great annual event and to showcase our latest products. Best of all, it was just great meeting our customers and supporters face to face and seeing our long time dealers and friends in the astronomy community. It's only April, and there's still a lot of new, exciting announcements in store from Celestron during the remainder of the year. Just you wait and see! See you all again at the 2012 NEAF event!