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National News / Science

Saturday, 18 May, 2013 12:41 PM

JPL Researcher Trina Ray is keynote speaker at Riverside Telescope Makers Conference Astronomy Expo

Photo credit: Riverside Telescope Makers Conference

Ray will deliver her keynote speech on Saturday night, May 25.



BIG BEAR, Calif. -- NASA JPL researcher Trina Ray, co-chair of the Titan Orbiter Science Team, will be the keynote speaker at the 45th annual Riverside Telescope Makers Conference (RTMC) Astronomy Expo. The Expo will take place from Thursday, May 23 through Monday, May 27 at YMCA Camp Oakes in Big Bear, Calif.

As a leader of the team planning observations of Titan during each Cassini flyby of that intriguing moon, Ray will share highlights of Cassini's discoveries across the Saturn system.

The RTMC Astronomy Expo is the premiere star party event in Southern California. Attendees at the EXPO participate in nightly telescope viewings. In addition to the family activities and amenities available at the camp, there are food and equipment vendors; and astronomy-related talks for beginners and intermediates held all day Saturday and Sunday.

Originally called the Telescope Makers Conference, the Riverside Telescope Makers Conference (RTMC) was founded in 1969 by Clifford W. Holmes as a way for amateur telescope makers to share their craft. In 1975, the RTMC moved to its current home at Camp Oakes, a YMCA camp near Big Bear City. Located 50 miles northeast of Riverside in the San Bernardino mountains, the site offers space for camping, several dormitories and 18 three-sided shelters, a meeting/dining hall, and the Charles Walker Observatory. The camp is located at an elevation of 7,600 feet. Click on the following link to view a labeled aerial photograph of Camp Oakes.

Since its inception, the RTMC has expanded to encompass all aspects of amateur astronomy from beginning to advanced topics and from telescope making to "armchair" astronomy. Recently, the RTMC has included events for the whole family with horseback riding, hikes, activities for spouses and activities for the young kids. In 2000, the official name of the conference was changed to the "RTMC Astronomy Expo."

During the RTMC the camp has more people than a typical recreational campground of its size, but the primary reason for attending is precisely because it offers a chance to rub shoulders with a large number of people who know telescopes and like to talk about them. What we offer is a chance to see and look through a large variety of telescopes (with relatively dark skies and high altitude), attend talks by professional and amateur astronomers on different aspects of telescope construction and use, see some astronomical equipment and software in use, and buy astronomical equipment and software (often at reduced prices). The vendors contribute door prizes for Saturday and Sunday evenings. We don't know exactly what prizes we'll have in advance, but in the past there have been telescopes of 8 to 12 inches in aperture.

Vendors ranging from major telescope manufacturers to people selling T-shirts have booths at the telescope field and along the paths leading to it.


Scheduled Speakers:

Saturday (not the actual scheduled order, which is TBD)

  • "The Cleaning and Characterization of the Chamberlin 20-inch Clark Objective" - Jack Eastman
  • "The Overhaul of the Saegmuller Equatorial of the Chamberlin Observatory" - Jack Eastman
  • "Palomar Observatory History" - Steven Flanders
  • "Science at Palomar Observatory" - Kin Searcy
  • "Alt-Alt Telescopes with Video Feedback Control System" - Howard Royster
  • "Using low-cost / low-tech materials to improve astronomy education and outreach" - Daniel Barth
  • "The Hubble Deep Fields" - Timothy Thompson
  • "Women Hold up Half the Sky: a Brief History of Women in Astronomy" - Joann Eisberg
  • "Telescopes, Eyepieces, and Astrographs" - Richard Berry


  • "45 Years of Spectacular and Interesting Comets" - Charles Morris
  • "Observing Comet Ison" - Steve Edberg and Charles Morris
  • "Through Rose Colored Glasses: What We See Depends on How We Look" - Alex McConahay


Warren Keller AstroImaging Workshop, Sunday May 26th

Some of the finest astroimagers in the world have shared their expertise at the Astronomy Expo throughout the years. This year, teacher extraordinaire Warren Keller will be leading the program.

Warren, (of is not only an accomplished imager in his own right (see his M13 photo), but has shared his expertise in many forms, including his comprehensive "Five S’s" series of articles in Astrophoto Insight Magazine, his extensive "Image Processing 4 Astrophotography" tutorials, and his new series on PixInsight. He will have lots to offer both the beginner and the advanced imager.

The imaging workshop is a premium event at RTMC Astronomy Expo, runs from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Sunday, and requires an additional registration fee. Participation is limited, and workshops have sold out every year, so be sure to register for this workshop early.

Camp Oakes is five miles southeast of Big Bear City, California on State Route 38 at Lake Williams Road between mileposts 44 and 45. This location is about 50 miles northeast of Riverside in the San Bernardino Mountains. Camp Oakes is conveniently located within driving distance of all of Southern California and within a day's drive of most of the Western United States.

Day passes and overnight accommodations, including camping, are available. Throughout the 45 years of the Expo, RTMC has offered free admission to scouting groups.

The Riverside Telescope Makers Conference is a non-profit organization founded by Clifford W. Holmes and the Riverside Astronomical Society in 1969. After having Astronomy Expo events at Riverside Community College and in Idyllwild, the Expo found a permanent home at its present location of YMCA Camp Oakes.

For more information, please visit or contact Harold Johnson at

Source: Riverside Telescope Makers Conference

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Photo credit: Warren Keller

Keller will host his Astroimaging Workshop on Sunday, May 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.





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