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Sneezy24

Astrofest thoughts?

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I went on Friday this year, mainly for the talks (attended all of them apart from first 10 mins of the first!).

In my opinion, the talks are the main reason for going, but I did purchase a Telrad while I was there.

There did seem to be fewer traders present, but still busy on the exhibition floors.

I really enjoyed the talks, particularly Matt Taylor and Brian May.

 

Any other thoughts?

 

Might go to IAS in October and get a zoom eyepiece if the financial controller gives me enough pocket money!

 

When are the skies going to clear??

 

Mick

 

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I went yesterday but only bought a red head-torch that I'd been after, and an AN year book. I did however drool over this

 

20160206_155842.thumb.jpg.88903faa6397ee

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Attended Astrofest 2016 both Days, also went to all lectures which I found enjoyable and informative , been going for over ten years but over recent years there's been a decline in exhibitors attending , is this down to cost of renting a space , attendees not buying equipment or lack of good buys ? or there's not as many retailers about.

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Matt Taylor and Brian Mays talk really good and Matts passion and enthusiasm for his work , Main reason for going is the conference and chatting to fellow enthusiasts!! 

Did buy the Skywatcher Staradventure bundle good saving on the day, will replace my Astrotrac AG that died, not sure if the SA will match the Astrotrac time will tell, just need a clear sky!!!

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I had fun on the Saturday - see my post in the binocular section. I agree about the exhibition being smaller though. Plenty on good offers around on eg televue eyepieces so worth waiting for and purchasing at the event.

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I've gone to the majority of Astrofests since it started.  I went on the Saturday and cannot remember any day which has been so quiet over the years.  Less exhibitors than for a good while, less content than usual on many stands and more traders sharing stands - presumably to save on the high costs.  I think the fact Astrofest is held in the bottom right-hand corner of the UK,  in a venue over three floors, with very little daylight, in an expensive area to find accommodation food and parking, and miles away from anywhere much north of Watford are all contributing to it's demise.  The advantages of the IAS are all too clear to anyone who has attended that event.

I still enjoy most the same thing I have always enjoyed, meeting up with old friends.  I do think though that my visits are going to be less frequent.

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Astrofest, like most London events, is an essentially public transport event and centred within 14M London Metro Area eg a sizeable percentage of UK population.  No event can be on everyone's doorstep.  Stand priced are probably hiked each year - it is a commercial enterprise.  Once-upon-a-time there was free space for local societies !  It usually attracts good [well paid] speakers.

Nytecam

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I also go each year. One if my highlights. Agree with comments on costs 're travel and accommodation. Of course we now have IAS closer to us in Coventry. As a result, majority RAG members go to that instead.

I have posted link to video from this year's Astrofest here.

https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/287177-astrofest-2017-video-from-the-show/

 

Andy

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I didn't really have time available to attend any speaker sessions so I paid £8 for just the "Exhibition". Frankly, I felt this was terribly disappointing. No disrespect to the traders that did make the effort,  but the exhibition area was far too crowded, and  far too few exhibitors for an £8 fee. The organisers should rethink this aspect.

There was inadequate space to 'network' and meet new people and learn stuff. I had hoped to see a few active 'hands on' demonstrations;  and maybe some 'how to....'  sessions in perhaps smaller break out type syndicate rooms.  Perhaps one on astrophotography, another on autoguiders. Instead, it was just a series of "shops" that were so busy that if you didn't have a credit card in hand, you wouldn't get five minutes of attention. I might have bought a host of accessories had these been routinely demonstrated, but the retail staff were constantly being hassled by the crowds and it just didn't feel right to demand more than a minute or two of their time. 

But I did spend £300 and enjoyed a discount that covered my entry cost. Had I not intended making a purchase and secured this benefit, I would have felt the  (exhibition only) entry fee to be very poor value. But there are simple constructive things to make this better (as described).

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35 minutes ago, noah4x4 said:

There was inadequate space to 'network' and meet new people and learn stuff. I had hoped to see a few active 'hands on' demonstrations;  and maybe some 'how to....'  sessions in perhaps smaller break out type syndicate rooms.

+1 for this idea.  Although, of course, it would place demands on both 'demonstrators' and space.  Hence, perhaps, also on cost...

 

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Many years ago I used to go to computer fairs, once a month, 50p entrance and stall holders paid £10.00, it was always packed and took up a huge hall.

Over the years the prices went up rapidly and the sellers and attendees went down rapidly, last time I went it was in a small corner of the original venue, £5.00 entrance and pretty much deserted.

A lesson there somewhere.

Haven't been to Astrofest for a few years, not far as the crow flies but can't be doing with all those trains, I'd rather spend a few hours driving to the I.A.S.

Dave

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15 minutes ago, AKB said:

+1 for this idea.  Although, of course, it would place demands on both 'demonstrators' and space.  Hence, perhaps, also on cost...

 

But how many might not bother to attend again if there is no change? I am sure that many persons, notably on the Friday, could only attend for a couple of hours; maybe merely a long lunch break. I certainly won't bother again with just the exhibition unless I have time to attend speaker sessions.

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Checked the talks out about 10 weeks ago and none appealed, they did not seem that advanced and not sure on the relavancy, many came across as entertaining. At last years I had booked up for the Saturday morning session and found just one to be worthwhile. This year I decided none were, too many seemed to be speculation rather then factual.

The exhibition was as it always is. Although it is perhaps nice to see the big scopes the APM looks nice and is impressive, but it is not really amateur astronomy. Seeing boxes and boxes of Naglers looked good but where is the run of the mill stuff. Orion had their big scopes out and at their big prices - did anyone actually pay for and tuck an Orion ODK12 under their arm and leave with one ?. Agreed nice to see but I guess the actual sales are often zero. Bit too much of a showcase situation. Perhaps aimed at people purchasing for an institution more then Joe public.

I went to see one scope, that ultimately did not appeal when I actually saw it. Not sure why.

I think my main concern is that the decent entry level stuff is absent. I don't think I saw any youngsters there. Some "advice" being handed out was questionable - I hope that woman did not buy the binoculars, too big and didn't do what she wanted. Noticed that no iOptron equipment, ES were absent and one Belgium retailer was absent this year. Didn't see Ian King there although I thought I had read they were(?).

 

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Personally I don't like having to buy a whole session (half day) of talks when perhaps only one talk interests me.  I am sure when I first started going to Astrofest you could just book the talks you wanted to go to.  Hence I don't tend to book talks at all any more.  

Carole

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1 hour ago, carastro said:

Personally I don't like having to buy a whole session (half day) of talks when perhaps only one talk interests me.  I am sure when I first started going to Astrofest you could just book the talks you wanted to go to.  Hence I don't tend to book talks at all any more.  

Carole

I seem to recall that as well and the talks were therefore more specific. Now it seems you get a bunch of 4 and they are sort of "diluted". When, similar to youreslf, I find that just one of the 4 have any appeal then I also do not bother. To an extent very few of the talks were sort of "new", as in nothing I have not aleeady attended talks on previously.

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Ian King were there, but in a different place to usual, and looking a bit smaller with less stock on display. One reason I went was to catch up with Rupert at Astrograph and pick up a 0.75x Riccardi reducer, both of which I accomplished. I had hoped he might have had an ASA Revolution there but he was a bit frustrated with their lack of progress. He didn't have his DDM60 Pro demonstrator, he, he 'cos it's sitting in my back garden :D.

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I went to IAS a few months ago and really enjoyed that.  I did think seriously about Astrofest.  In the end the hassle of travelling to and around London, coupled with the cost of staying there put me off.  

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I've pretty much got all the stuff I've ever wished for so I've not much incentive to go a distance to "window shop". I've narrowed down my personal prime interest to that of solar so unless there is an event devoted solely to that I won't be present. I've been to Astrofest and the IAS and enjoyed both but each is now a bit of a stretch just to meet up with a few acquaintances, I meet many more at Kelling each Autumn.  :icon_biggrin: 

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The IAS is definitely better in terms of the number of traders.  However, the speaker line up is not as impressive as at Astrofest and the venue isn't really very good for talks. As many people seem to go to Astrofest primarily for the talks, I suspect that the far poorer facilities for talks and the less impressive speaker list combine to significantly limit footfall at the IAS.

The recipe for an ideal show would have IAS location, accessibility and space mixed with Astrofest talks facilities and speaker list.  Cook for 2 days at gas mark 9.  Season to taste with numerous workshops and product demonstrations.  For a starter, serve with an astro imaging conference and/or a nearby star party.

 

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5 minutes ago, michaelmorris said:

The IAS is definitely better in terms of the number of traders.  However, the speaker line up is not as impressive as at Astrofest and the venue isn't really very good for talks. As many people seem to go to Astrofest primarily for the talks, I suspect that the far poorer facilities for talks and the less impressive speaker list combine to significantly limit footfall at the IAS.

The recipe for an ideal show would have IAS location, accessibility and space mixed with Astrofest talks facilities and speaker list.  Cook for 2 days at gas mark 9.  Season to taste with numerous workshops and product demonstrations.  For a starter, serve with an astro imaging conference and/or a nearby star party.

 

Try the Herstmonceaux Festival, only a couple of vendors but great lectures.

Dave

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Try the Herstmonceaux Festival, only a couple of vendors but great lectures.

I'd love to go to Herstmonceaux and camp for the whole weekend, but since there is no hook up there and all my kit is dependent on electricity, I don;t go, shame really as it's an ideal location.

Carole 

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1 minute ago, carastro said:

I'd love to go to Herstmonceaux and camp for the whole weekend, but since there is no hook up there and all my kit is dependent on electricity, I don;t go, shame really as it's an ideal location.

Carole 

I manage without EH as long as I don't take my wife as she want's the TV working :grin:

Dave

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I manage without EH as long as I don't take my wife as she want's the TV working

I used to use a leisure  battery but it's no-one near good enough for my needs now, and I like hook up in the van as well.  

Carole 

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I thought it was disappointing this year too. I'm in the same vein as others when it comes to the talks - only one interested me, but I didn't want to pay for the others I wasn't going to attend...

The middle level was mainly devoted to Widscreen - they had both the Celestron and Skywatcher stands with them also, but I felt that Skywatcher had just recruited people to stand and give out leaflets - no expertise there. At least from what I saw. And I was surprised to see only one of the new EQ6-Rs on show, and even then only static. It should have been powered up with someone telling anyone that would listen all about it!!

I wasn't shopping this year, so maybe that was a factor - but I met up with various friends, which was the highlight for me!

 

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Well sometimes you wonder what is going on. I asked at Orion Optics about a small 6" mirror, like the one they had in their cabinet, I even pointed to it and said I was thinking of a small compact scope to carry easily. As in the ultra compact design.

I assumed the person was not interested as he quoted me some insane price. Just found their site while searching for mirrors. A 6" mirror on there is around £120, I was quoted £1628+ VAT. Turns out that £1628 is the cost of the 16" not a 6".

Seems we had crossed verbal communication, but I would have thought pointing at the cabinet and saying (I thought plainly) the 6" you have there, would have been enough. They did not have anything over 8"/200mm in the cabinet - it was too small to fit a 16" in it.

I even think i said f/8 as I wanted the focal length. Lets see 16"/400mm at f/8 is 128"/3200mm focal length. Wonder what he thought I wanted to build? :icon_biggrin::icon_biggrin:

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