Let the Astro-Traveling Begin!

As I mentioned in my post about speeding across New York last month, this summer and fall are going to be a very busy time filled with lots of astronomy related travel for the Simostronomer.

It starts in April, when Irene and I will be driving to Suffern, New York, for the Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference (NEAIC) and Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF). Both of these events are hosted by the Rockland Astronomy Club, one of the country's most active and prestigious astronomy clubs. For example, their newsletter, Distant Light, looks like a professional astronomy magazine. Their membership includes people like Jim Burnell and Al Nagler. NEAF is the east coast's major show for astronomy vendors. I gave a workshop there last year on variable star observing, and my first experience with NEAF was a mind-blower. It's a great event. if you ever get a chance to go, do so. NEAIC is held immediately before NEAF, and its more of a high end astro-imaging orgy for guys with sophisticated rigs and observatories, and those considering taking the plunge into this ever-growing segment of amateur astronomy. I'll be giving a talk at NEAIC about using your CCD for science, called "Stand back! We're Going To Try Science." My tip of the hat to the xkcd website and their T-shirt with the same saying.

Then in May, I'll be flying to Boston for the joint AAS/AAVSO meeting, celebrating our 100 years as an astronomical organization in America. This meeting will begin around noon on Saturday, May 21, with an afternoon AAVSO Paper Session followed by the AAVSO banquet that evening.  Sunday will feature a morning AAVSO Paper Session, and an afternoon joint session with the AAS Historical Astronomy Division (HAD). Sunday evening, we'll host the AAS Welcome Reception.  Monday will include two topical plenary talks on variable star science as well as 2 AAVSO-sponsored, variable star special sessions, "Astrophysics With Small Telescopes" and "Variable Stars in the Imaging Era" and an evening open house at AAVSO HQ. I'll be presenting a poster about the AAVSO robotic telescope network at the AAVSO sessions, and I'm giving a talk on my Z Cam research at the "Astrophysics With Small Telescopes" session.

Two days after I get home from Boston, I'll be packing up the car and driving to the Texas Star Party in Fort Davis, Texas. I've never been to the TSP before, so this is something I'm looking forward to very much. I'm taking my telescope and plan to take advantage of some of the darkest skies in North America at this event. I am also giving one of the evening featured talks, and some short papers in the afternoon. I'm also looking forward to a tour of McDonald Observatory, just up the road from TSP.

In July, its back to AAVSO headquarters for meetings and planning sessions. We should be in full blown craziness getting ready for the Fall 2011 AAVSO meeting about then as well as putting the finishing touches on several large grant proposals that are due around that time.

The last weekend in July, Irene and I will load up the camping gear and head for Nebraska for the Nebraska Star Party, August 1-5. This is also one of the big annual star parties held in a remote dark sky site. Another first for me, I'm really looking forward to this, and the telescope and gear will be making this trip too. This star party is held on the Merrit Reservoir, which was created by damming the Snake River. There's lots to do and see during the day. I'm particularly looking forward to a canoe trip down the Niobrara River. The Niobrara is rated one of the top ten canoeing rivers in the country. "Steep canyons rimmed with birch, oak, and pine trees frame the river in spectacular beauty", according to the travel guide. I'll be doing a talk on deep sky objects and variable stars, similar to the one I'll be giving in Texas in June.

I make one last solo trip to Boston in September to put the final plans in place for the October meeting.

Then, in October is the Big One, the AAVSO Fall 2011 Centennial Celebration in Woburn, MA. The AAVSO's 100th birthday is going to be a party. This is going to be the biggest AAVSO meeting in history, with special events, a dinner cruise on Boston harbor, historical and future looking papers and attendees from around the world. Mrs. Simostronomer will even be making a rare appearance at this AAVSO meeting!

We'll be staying home after that, but I have a feeling we might go someplace warm next winter for a while, and we won't be taking a telescope. I'll be completely out of spousal permission units by then.

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