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The RTMC Astronomy Expo and the Big Bear Starlight Festival

The Big Bear Lake region is hosting two major astronomy events during the long Memorial Day weekend in 2014.  The RTMC Astronomy Expo, held in the area since 1975, welcomes the first Starlight Festival to Big Bear Lake’s Village area. 

These two events serve different audiences. 

Beginning to advanced amateur astronomers attend the Astronomy Expo from Thursday to Monday to

·         Observe from the dark sky of YMCA Camp Oakes

·         See new developments in amateur telescope making

·         Check out commercial telescopes and equipment brought by vendors for observers

·         Listen to presentations covering observing, telescopes, and getting started in astronomy

·         Check out the Saturday swap meet

·         socialize and observe with friends

On Saturday and Sunday, weekend visitors to Big Bear, of all ages, will learn more about astronomy and outdoor sciences at the Astronomy Outreach Network’s Starlight Festival at Big Bear Lake’s Village as they visit 

·         Sidewalk astronomers

·         Exhibits by the Big Bear Solar Observatory, US National Forest Service, and others

·         Commercial exhibits of science instruments, games, and activities

·         attend presentations on the current state of astronomy and space science


Come join the fun and learn about the universe your way.

RTMC Astronomy Expo

May 22-26, 2014
Camp Oakes
Big Bear City, California

2006-05-27 Panorama

2007-05 RTMC Telescope Field

Main Telescope Field at the RTMC Astronomy Expo

Originally called the Telescope Makers Conference, the Riverside Telescope Makers Conference (RTMC) was founded in 1969 by Clifford W. Holmes as a way for amateur telescope makers to share their craft. In 1975, the RTMC moved to its current home at Camp Oakes, a YMCA camp near Big Bear City. Located 50 miles northeast of Riverside in the San Bernardino mountains, the site offers space for camping, several dormitories and 18 three-sided shelters, a meeting/dining hall, and the Charles Walker Observatory. The camp is located at an elevation of 7,600 feet. Click on the following link to view a labeled aerial photograph of Camp Oakes.

Since its inception, the RTMC has expanded to encompass all aspects of amateur astronomy from beginning to advanced topics and from telescope making to "armchair" astronomy. Recently, the RTMC has included events for the whole family with swimming, rock wall climbing, hikes, activities for spouses and activities for the young kids. In 2000, the official name of the conference was changed to the "RTMC Astronomy Expo."

During the RTMC the camp has more people than a typical recreational campground of its size, but the primary reason for attending is precisely because it offers a chance to rub shoulders with a large number of people who know telescopes and like to talk about them. What we offer is a chance to see and look through a large variety of telescopes (with relatively dark skies and high altitude), attend talks by professional and amateur astronomers on different aspects of telescope construction and use, see some astronomical equipment and software in use, and buy astronomical equipment and software (often at reduced prices). The vendors contribute door prizes for Saturday and Sunday evenings. We don't know exactly what prizes we'll have in advance, but in the past there have been telescopes of 8 to 12 inches in aperture.

Vendors ranging from major telescope manufacturers to people selling T-shirts have booths at the telescope field and along the paths leading to it.

The 46th annual RTMC Astronomy Expo will take place from Thursday, May 22 through Monday, May 26, 2014.

YMCA Camp Oakes, five miles southeast of Big Bear City on State Route 38 at Lake Williams Road between mileposts 44 and 45. This location is about 50 miles northeast of Riverside in the San Bernardino mountains.
Longitude 116° 45' 15" West
Latitude 34° 13' 50" North
Altitude 7250 feet (2210 meters)

Click here for maps and directions..

Moonrise and Moonset (PDT)
Thursday, May 22: moonrise 1:46 AM, moonset 1:55 PM
Friday, May 23: moonrise 2:23 AM, moonset 2:58 PM
Saturday, May 24: moonrise 3:00 AM, moonset 4:01 PM
Sunday, May 25: moonrise 3:38 AM, moonset 5:02 PM
Monday, May 26: moonrise 4:17 AM, moonset 6:02 PM

Keynote Speaker

NASA Project Scientist Steve Howell will be speaking about the Kepler space observatory and its mission to find Earth-sized planets around other stars, and the repurposed K2 mission studying objects near the ecliptic plane of the solar system.

Dr. Howell is a member of the Kepler Science Team and specializes in research on variable and binary stars, CCD detectors and instrumentation , and ultra-high precision photometry. He developed the practice of differential photometry using CCDs and has applied the technique to ground-based exo-planet transit detections obtaining, to date, the highest precision photometry yet achieved. Dr. Howell is involved in educational outreach programs, especially those involving multi-wavelength astronomy, using ground-based and space based telescopes. He serves on numerous review panels and was most recently a member of the National Academy of Sciences panel on NASA's Constellation system. Dr. Howell worked with NASA Headquarters to help establish the Kepler guest observer office at NASA / Ames research center and now works at NASA Ames as the project scientist of the Kepler mission.

Astroimaging Workshop - Richard Wright and the Hitchhiker's Guide to Astrophotography, Sunday May 25th

This year's Premium Astrophotography Workshop on Sunday at the RTMC Astronomy Expo promises another great learning experience for our imagers. Florida's Richard Wright is lucky enough to be a Pro-Am astronomer. He started out a hobbyist, but had talents and accomplishments that earned him a paying job in the field. He is a software engineer for Software Bisque, among other things, and an accomplished amateur imager. His plans for The Hitchhiker's Guide to Astrophotography workshop include a bit about getting started, selecting equipment, and the all important transition from DSLR to CCD. He has a wide range of experience with just about every type of camera out there. He will do a little bit of processing, including some introduction to PixInsight, but is also a great source for information about automating image acquisition. You can tell by the workshop title that it will be a fun event. Richard sees things differently, and is quite the presenter!

The imaging workshop is a premium event at the RTMC Astronomy Expo. It is held all day Sunday and requires separate registration. Participation is limited. So be sure to register for this workshop early.

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