RTMC Astronomy Expo 2007

May 25-27, 2007, Big Bear, California - YMCA Camp Oakes

39th Annual RTMC Astronomy Expo

In attendance were Mary Andrus and Milt Sawyer, Karole and Shane Barker, Steve and Kate Trotta + 3 kids, Doug Drake, Clint and Debbie, myself, Terry and Debora Pedroza, Tom and Heather Varden, Darrell and Nick Bennett, and Bill and Jennifer Riedhart.


What a fantastic event this year! 21 AVAC members attended the Riverside Telescope Maker's Conference and Astronomy Expo (RTMC) at Camp Oakes in Big Bear over the Memorial Day Weekend. The three days of fun are centered on all things astronomy related. There was a huge swap meet each day, followed by vendor sales from EVERY company involved with astronomy. There were 71 companies represented this year that were showing off their latest products, and several products that haven't even been released yet. (If you've seen Celestron's "SkyScout", wait until you see Meade's "MySky" unit. Wow! And you won't believe TeleVue's new "Ethos" series of eyepieces with a tack-sharp 100 degree field of view! Both products are coming out in 4-5 months!!)

The fun started off with Darrell Bennett winning a $300 spotting scope. Later he also won a $100 grab bag door prize. There were so many door prizes this year it was hard to keep track, but Karole Barker was the big winner this year, taking home $800 worth of prizes including a spotting scope and a Meade DSI Pro camera with filters. Shane wasn't complaining. We were having Karole and Darrell touch our door prize tickets to see if some of this luck would rub off. It must have, because Tom and Heather Varden got a $75 gift certificate, I got a $50 digital camera mount for the telescope, and Steve and Kate Trotta and the boys came home with at least $100 in grab bag prizes. Are you keeping track? The 21 members who attended came home with $1425 in prizes! You really need to mark this event on your calendar for next year and come join in the fun!

The event isn't just about the free stuff. (OK it was, but there were other activities!) There was an ongoing series of talks at the Meade tent with door prizes awarded at the end of each talk. There were lectures about Community Outreach, Dark Matter, the history of the telescope, CCD imaging, and what equipment you should have as an absolute beginner. There were events for everyone at every level. There was a star party each night where we got to look through all of the new telescopes like Meade's 20" RCX on their new MAX mount, Al Nagler's 127 mm IS refractor with the new Ethos eyepiece for a stunning view of the Ring Nebula.

But did I mention how much free stuff was there? Celestron was handing out hats and very nice hand warmers, I got a mug, pin and Frisbee from Palomar, Meade was handing out carrying bags, pins and patches. I got discounts from nearly every booth. Terry Pedroza got the biggest discount this year though. Maybe it was because he made the largest purchase of our group when he got the incredible Takahashi Temma 2 mount from our Club's sponsor Woodland Hills Camera. It is gorgeous - a work of art really. Not just Terry, but many of our members spread out their spare cash at the event. Bill and Jennifer Riedhart, Mary Andrus and Milt Sawyer, Clint and Debbie, Doug Drake, Darrell and Nick Bennett, Steve and Kate Trotta, Shane and Karole Barker, Tom and Heather (soon to be) Varden, and myself all managed to buy items that we have been saving all year to get. If you have ever even thought of a certain astronomy-related product, it was for sale or trade at RTMC. The Rule of RTMC was once again confirmed: You Can Never Bring Enough Cash to RTMC. Please make your plans to come next year and hang out with us!


We supported our Club's sponsor Woodland Hills Camera with over six thousand dollars of purchases at the event.  Overall, our club members spent approximately $9400 over the weekend, and came home with $1425 in door prizes.


Nick and Darrell Bennett score a $300 Meade spotter scope! Terry Pedroza and Steve Trotta listening to the Beginning Astro-imaging talk by Alan Smallbone
We're all kind of spread out in this photo, but I see Terry and Debora, Kate and Steve, Shane and Karole, Tom and Heather, Doug, and even the lady with the Dalmation we freaked out by yelling, "Out Front! Out Front!" (It's an RTMC thing) Darrell and Nick Bennett with yet ANOTHER doorprize!!
Tom Varden with his $75 gift certificate doorprize The Trotta's ALWAYS win prizes at RTMC!!!
Heather, Tom, Terry and Debora, and my backpack enjoying some time out of the Sun  

The Antelope Valley Astronomy Club was proud to be a Silver Level Sponsor of the event, and Acton Astro was also a sponsor.  Both had their name and website address on the back of all of the handouts!