RTMC Astronomy Expo 2010

May 12-16, 2010, Big Bear, California - YMCA Camp Oakes



RTMC tried to hold the event at a new time this year as an experiment.  The hypothesis was that they would get a better turnout if the weekend wasn't scheduled around Memorial Day, but instead upon the New Moon in order to attract more observers.  Although well intentioned, the result was what appeared to be a third of RTMC's regular attendance and several perennial vendors missing.  I heard several angry comments from attendees about changing the date and how hard it was to take time off of work to attend the event.

I had not planned to attend RTMC this year because of an increased work schedule, but was able to do so with my son at the last minute.  We once again had a great time.  I only bumped into a few other AVAC members, notably Don Bryden (who came away with both a first place photography award and a special Telescope Innovation award) and Tom and Heather Varden.

I drooled over the latest Ethos being offered by TeleVue and was shown the view through the Ethos 21mm  combined with the TV-102. Wow.  ...Seriously...  Wow.

With reduced attendance, there were several deals offered among the vendors.  I saw a 10" Discovery dob telescope in perfect condition sell between two men for $150 + a fossil!  I got my son a Thousand Oaks solar filter for his 3 inch scope for $50, brand new, after some talking.  I think we came home with just $8 left in my wallet.  RTMC is always a reminder that cash talks.  Meade, Celestron, Explore Scientific, TeleVue, Woodland Hills Telescope, OPT and others anchored the main vendor area.  As an attendee, I would like to sincerely thank each of them for their continued support of the event.

The seminars/presentations were excellent this year.  I learned a lot from a physicist that I met who works at the McDonald Observatory on Mt. Locke in Texas.  We had a great philosophical discussion on the nature of Dark Energy, and my son was VERY patient while his old Dad dusted off some brain cells!  I met another interesting man while waiting to go sit inside on Saturday for the awards ceremony who was a professional researcher for the Library of Congress.  He had flown out to California just for RTMC.  How cool is that?

It is my hope and recommendation that the organizers of RTMC return the date back to Memorial Day weekend so that people's schedules can better align to attend the event.  What makes RTMC fun are the variety of opportunities that there are to interact with people with the same interests.  The interaction may be sharing innovations about telescopes or imaging techniques, excitement over the latest vendor's products, bragging a bit about a new eyepiece, telescope, or meteorite that you just got a great deal on, attending talks by leading names in the hobby, or just hanging out with random people while waiting to go in for dinner.  It all comes together for a unique event in the amateur astronomy world that everyone needs to support next year.


The Antelope Valley Astronomy Club was proud once again to be a Silver B Level Sponsor of the event.