RTMC Astronomy Expo

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The RTMC Astronomy Expo was originally called the Telescope Makers Conference, then the Riverside Telescope Makers Conference (RTMC). This annual event 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.

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. RTMC has included events for the whole family with horseback riding, hikes, activities for spouses & 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). Many vendors contribute door prizes on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

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 43rd Annual Event

The 43rd annual RTMC Astronomy Expo will take place from Wednesday, May 25 through Monday, May 30, 2011.

Dr. Peter Jenniskens will give the Keynote address Saturday evening on the impact and recovery of the first asteroid to be detected before it struck the Earth, 2008 TC3. As written up in Sky & Telescope and elsewhere, Dr. Jenniskens led recovery teams into the Sudan to find fragments.

Craig Stark, developer of powerful but low cost Astroimaging software packages, will be leading the RTMC AE Premium Astrophoto workshop this year. A neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine by day, Craig is known throughout the imaging community for his software and even more for his ability to explain in practical terms how to take and process great images.

Sponsors for the RTMC Astronomy Expo include:

Event Location

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)

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