A celebration of small telescopes & astronomical research four centuries later

 Makaha Resort
Waianae, Oahu, Hawaii

December 31, 2008
- January 5, 2009

Inaugural Speaker - Susana Deustua - Keynote Speaker - Arne Henden - Luau Speaker - Richard Berry

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 In 1609, Galileo turned his newly made telescope toward the heavens and, in rapid succession, discovered the mountains on the Moon, a multitude of previously invisible stars, and four moons orbiting Jupiter. Many of Galileo’s observations were made from his backyard. Four centuries after Galileo’s 1609 observations—thanks to the revolutionary trio of affordable CCD cameras, small go-to telescopes, and personal computers—thousands of backyard Galileo's around the planet are now probing cosmic mysteries every clear night. They conduct scientific research across a broad spectrum: tumbling asteroids, pulsating stars, eclipsing binaries, transiting planets, and sputtering matter as it spirals onto white dwarfs and neutron stars.


                                                                                                                                                                                               Photo courtesy of Richard Berry
Conference participants gather on the lawn. David Davis and Howard Banich were the tallest, Tom Johnson the most senior,
Alexander Wen and Jo Johnson the youngest, and Kiran Shaw (India) and Robert Rea (New Zealand) traveled the furthest.
All are known to have some degree of aperture fever.

                                                                          Photo courtesy of Richard Berry
Tech Transfer Panel (left to right): Doug Simons, Gemini Director, Dan Gray, President Sidereal Technology; Arne Henden, AAVSO Director; Russ Genet, Cal Poly University; Alan Holmes, President SBIG; and Richard Berry, noted editor, author, and imaging expert. The panel considered how somewhat high cost technologies on giant mountaintop telescopes, such as active primary mirrors, direct drives, etc., could be translated to low cost technologies
for lowland modest aperture telescopes

                                        Photo courtesy of Richard Berry
Doug Simons, the Gemini Director, explains the active optics control system that keeps the Gemini’s 8 meter thin meniscus mirror in shape. A similar but much lower cost system using loudspeaker voice coils could be used with thin, lightweight meniscus mirrors on smaller 1 to 2 meter telescopes.

To commemorate Galileo and celebrate his legacy, 2009 has been designated the International Year of Astronomy (IYA).  This conference honored Galileo and his telescope, by way of the many current builders and researchers—amateurs, students, and professionals—who are successfully designing, building, and using small telescopes, CCD cameras, and even spectrographs to advance astronomical science. The conference celebrated Galileo’s achievements by examining his legacy: the remarkable resurgence of small telescopes and their science.

                                                            Photo courtesy of Dennis Hoofnagle

Conference co-chairs Jo Johnson and Russ Genet
stand with conference facilitator Cheryl Genet. 

                                                            Photo courtesy of Richard Berry
Tom Johnson, founder of Celestron, explained how he
made prohibitively expensive Schmidt-Cass optics affordable,
thus launching the modern small telescope revolution.

                                                                   Photo courtesy of Cheryl Genet
Kevin Kawai from Celestron presents one of the banquet
door prizes, a NexStar 8SE, to a delighted Dennis Hoofnagle.

                                                                 Photo courtesy of Cheryl Genet
Maria Medley anticipates her dinner at the Aloha banquet.
The food at the Makaha resort features many Hawaiian favorites.

                                                                    Photo courtesy of Dennis Hoofnagle
Dan Gray presides at one of the tables during the luau buffet. 
Left to right: Sara Martin, Jo Johnson, Megan Hoffman,
Dan Gray, Cheryl and Russ Genet, Bob and Lois Nelson.

                                      Photo courtesy of Richard Berry
Richard Berry poses behind the conference center.  Richard, something of a shutterbug, took many of the conference’s
photographs at both the Makaha Resort and on Mauna Kea. 
Richard’s extensive background in CCD cameras and image
process, as well as telescope making, was very valuable.

                                                                    Photo courtesy of Linda Palmer
The conference center at the Makaha Resort overlooks an
Olympic-sized pool, 18-hole golf course, and the Pacific ocean.  

                                                                    Photo courtesy of Richard Berry
The Makaha resort is spacious, lush, and sunny.  Rooms open out onto porches with lovely views of the golf course, mountains, and ocean.  Tropical birds add to the feeling of paradise.

The Makaha Resort & Golf Club is a tropical estate nestled in the beautiful Makaha Valley, just a short distance from Makaha Beach. Only forty minutes from the airport, but a world away from the city bustle, the resort lies in a vast canyon of the Waianae Mountains, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

                                                                  Photo courtesy of Cheryl Genet
Makaha beach viewed from the lanai (porch) at Russ and

Cheryl’s apartment not far from the resort. Surfing, boogie boarding, and sunning were afternoon attendee occupations.

                                                                    Photo courtesy of Richard Berry
Ocean and sunset as seen from the Makaha Resort. Several nights were clear down to the horizon and the “green flash” was observed on one of these nights.

                                                              Photo courtesy of Linda Palmer

                                                      Photo courtesy of Linda Palmer
Russ Genet heads back to his and Cheryl's apartment
on the beach after a day of deliberations.

                                                                          The Gemini "Insider's" Tour
The mountain top tour of the Gemini Observatory and the Fredrick C. Gillett Gemini North Telescope began at the  Gemini Observatory Headquarters in Hilo and ascended to the 9000 foot level where we stopped, had a delicious lunch at the Hale Pohaku astronomer's hotel, and adjusted to the altitude (mandatory).  Then it was on to the top at 14,000 feet and an amazing and thorough tour through the observatory, up and down ladders and stairs and all but climbing into the telescope.  

 The 8-meter Gemini telescope through the van window as
we drive up.  Bring down coats, it’s cold at 14,000 feet!


                     Photo courtesy of Richard Berry
Conference attendees during the insider’s tour are dwarfed by the 8-meter Gemini telescope.  The laser beam for an AO artificial star goes up a hollow tube on the left side of the telescope. 
This picture was taken with Richard Berry’s camera and very wide angle lens.  Richard transformed the picture
on a computer to reduce geometric distortions.  Note the hard hats—required gear.


A leisurely lunch at the 9000 foot “Mauna Kea Astronomer’s
Hotel” does double duty by fulfilling the mandatory acclimation
time on the way up the mountain.  The food was excellent.

The Gemini telescope has a bit of a cable wrap problem.  These
are the cables, fluid lines, etc., in azimuth in a motorized,
servo-controlled cable wrap that avoids placing any unwanted
forces on the telescope.  Attendees climbed up a ladder to
 the heart of the telescope to see this unique solution.

  Dan Gray looks at the azimuth friction drive on the 8 meter Gemini telescope.  The 8 bolts hold the spring plate. The faint
strip on the bottom of the picture is the Renishaw tape encoder that determines azimuth within a fraction of an arc second.

The dual motors and one of Gemini’s two altitude trunions. 
A Renishaw encoder tape is on the track.  On the left behind
the trunion is the altitude cable wrap.

As we leave the top of Mauna Kea, the top of its sister volcano,
Mauna Loa can just be seen in the distance between a break in the clouds.  It is rounded, and snowcapped, looking like a cloud itself.


More pictures of conference
participants to come!