18 September 2008

Pacific Astronomy & Telescope Show

The First Annual Pacific Astronomy and Telescope Show (PATS) was held in Pasadena, CA on Sep 13-14. There were a few new wares to be seen which was exciting and fun. The long trip from North Carolina to California, coupled with intermittent Internet service at our hotel, has resulted in a delay in posting this report. Having returned to the office now, here are some highlights of the show.

Saturday was the busier day by far and included the big announcement from Tele Vue of yet more Ethos eyepiece models. Knightware joined the new product fray by announcing SQM-LE Reader, a free program that can be used to read and display data from Unihedron's new Sky Quality Meter LE. The new device is scheduled to begin shipping at the end of this month but the software is available now (http://knightware.biz/sqmreader.htm). To get an idea of how the meter looks, note in the photo below the small black box in front of yours truly, attached to the yellow cable. That's an engineering sample but the shipped version will look the same.

We had the pleasure of talking to many, many interested attendees and met some long-time users of Deep-Sky Planner. It's wonderful to put faces to names. In addition to attendees, we spoke with several product engineers, software developers and store owners. It's always good to get a read on the astronomy product marketplace from the perspective of suppliers. Further, we had some detailed discussions of ideas for new features for Deep-Sky Planner. Explaining the software's capabilities now, and exploring new ideas for it in the future are helpful ways of defining the product.

This show has all the promise of becoming an annual destination for amateur astronomers on the west coast. The organizers obviously did a huge amount of work bringing this show together.

All photos by Mark Lang