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Practical Astronomy Show - Kettering Conference Centre on Saturday March 9th

Practical Astronomy Show - Kettering Conference Centre on Saturday March 9th

The Practical Astronomy Show (PAS) is a new one-day event in the astronomy show calendar. I was held in the Kettering Conference Centre in Kettering (its actually outside the main town centre and is very easy to reach from the A14) on Saturday 9th March.

The venue has lots of free parking and the event itself is FREE for the public to attend. There were lots of trade stands, including ourselves, as well as stands from various individuals and organisations devoted to astronomy/astronomy outreach too. In addition there were a number of free talks throughout the day. The main "theme" for this event was, as the name of the event suggests, is practical astronomy, and the talks, as well as lots of the discussion topics that were had, were related to how to use and get the best from (already purchased or ready to be purchased) equipment - i.e. practical based.

We arrived, like the vast majority of other traders, on the Friday to set up our stand. We were all on the first floor but there were two lifts that were nearby that helped with the movement of goods from our van to our stand. We then began the job of unpacking and setting everything up. 

Our booth at PAS

Some of the mounts/telescopes set up including the 10Micron Leonardo binocular mount but with a Celestron C5 SCT on it for the moment.

Daniel unpacking more boxes

Busy unpacking

Unpacking and setting up all the mounts and telescopes was straightforward and quick....until it was time to face the "big one"....the 10Micron GM3000 and its pier as well as the telescopes (yes telescopes...plural) that were going to sit on the mount.

10Micron GM3000 on top of the pier with the 2 lifting bars.

Daniel and Lee rest for a little while after lifting the GM3000 up and onto the Baader pier. The lifting bar is still attached to the mount.

After lifting the GM3000 from its wooden shipping crate using the supplied lifting bar, we carefully we mounted and secured it on the Baader pier. We then attached the 20kg counterweights, 8" wide dovetail bar and Baader Losmandy clamps ready for the telescopes to be added. Adding the two Celestron telescopes side-by-side was going to be "fun"....but with some help and careful manoeuvring...we managed.

10Micron GM3000 with Celestron RASA 36 and Edge 11 HD

Success! The 10Micron GM3000 mount and the Celestron RASA 36/14" and Celestron 11" Edge HD telescopes are now all on ready for demo! (just one more 20kg to add)

We had a number of Celestron telescopes and mounts - some for our stand and some for display on some of our dealers' stands - and also had a good range of Baader Planetarium accessories too. For our stand we had the following: 

  • 10Micron GM1000 mount on Aries tripod: with the new Celestron 8" F/2 Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph (RASA) 
  • 10Micron GM2000 Ultraport mount on Centaurus II tripod: with a PlaneWave CDK12.5" Telescope
  • 10Micron GM3000: with an 8" wide Baader dovetail bar (remember Losmandy bars are only 3" wide!!), two Baader clamps so that a Celestron 14"/36cm RASA and a Celestron 11" Edge HD telescope could be mounted side-by-side. All of this equipment was balanced with 60kg of counterweights and all were sitting atop a Baader 1.2m steel pier. The whole thing weighed about 350kg!
  • 10Micron Leonardo Binocular Mount: This is a versatile, easy to use, extremely high quality precision engineered parallelogram mount for binocular astronomy or for use with a small telescope or spotting scope (for astronomy or for daytime/nature use). It was mounted on a high quality wooden tripod from the Italian company - Geoptik. For demo purposes we had a Celestron C5 spotting scope and Celestron 25x100 binoculars to be used on this mount. 
  • Celestron Evolution 8" HD with Starsense
  • Baader Steeltrack II motor focuser
  • Baader Universal Filter Changer display, Baader ClickLock system and Baader M68 System 

After we set up all our display telescopes, we made sure our televisions worked with our promo videos and had all the product information labels attached to their respective products and then it was time for a well deserved meal to end the day.

Part of our stand

Our stand just prior to the event opening.

Saturday morning arrived and we were all in early to do some final organising. The show opened to the public at 930am but by 9am a long queue had already formed outside the entrance. 

30 mins to opening and the queue to get in is getting longer!

 A long queue...and thats 30 mins before the event opened! You can see the queue outside though the bottom right pane of glass.

At 930am people were allowed in and there was an immediate "buzz" of excitement in the air. We had a lots of people coming to our stand, gathering around our display equipment and asking lots and lots of questions. The Celestron RASA 8" astrograph got a lot of interest and the "big one", the GM3000 with the Celestron 14" RASA and 11" Edge HD, got a lot of gasps and "wow"'s! 

Celestron telescopes on display

Practical Astronomy Show early on. Busy and got busier after the photo was taken! 

Our stand not long after the event opened

Our stand not long after the event opened.

We all had a chance to have a short, quick wander around the other stands during the day and all the stands had lots of people around them and everyone seemed to be busy. We certainly were busy the whole day and that buzz of excitement in the air lasted through the whole event and never subsided - even when the talks were happening! 

At the end of a great and successful day it was time to pack up and depart. We managed to get our display equipment dismantled and re-boxed in good time.....and getting the two Celestron scopes off the GM3000 was much easier than putting them on! All that was then left to do was to dismantle the GM3000.....

GM3000 - at the end

10Micron GM3000 .... all alone at pack up time.

It was great to be able to meet up with our dealers and meet and talk to people about, and demonstrate, our products. The Practical Astronomy Show was very well organised and it was a great event to attend and to be part of...and it was great fun! We look forward to the next one! 

** Just announced as the post went live - the next Practical Astronomy Show will be held on Saturday March 21st 2020 at the same venue location.

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