At 9am on Saturday 19th March the doors opened at the Kettering Conference Centre to welcome a long queue of visitors which had formed to attend the 2022 UK Practical Astronomy Show (PAS). This was the second time that this event has been run since its first outing 2019. Originally planned to be yearly, the event had to be postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. This event would be the first astronomy show in the UK since COVID.
I attended PAS representing Baader Planetarium with a small stand. Preparation for PAS had started several weeks beforehand with a shortlist of display and demonstration products and associated information leaflets and a new pull-up banner. Due to a foot injury my wife had to drive me to/from the event and we would be taking our dog along so space in her small car was limited – but it was packed with as much as we could. The final shortlist of Baader products included four demo cases which contained a very wide range from the Baader UFC system, Baader/Zeiss 68 system, a RT Steeltrack with SteelDrive II Motor focuser and controller and a case with the ClickLock eyepiece clamps. Also included was the new Filter Changer and Camera Tilter (FCCT) for use with a range of QHY CMOS imaging cameras on the Celestron RASA 8", Flip mirror II Star Diagonal, Q-turret eyepiece revolver with Classic Orthos, ASTF Solar filter, SkySurfer V, and a range of some of the high popular T-2 spacers/adaptors.
We travelled down on the Friday afternoon to set up the stand and to take the opportunity to chat to other exhibitors which we had not seen for a few years. On the Saturday morning we were greeted by unusually very warm weather and sunny blue skies - a rarity for the UK at this time of year. I arrived at the venue just after 8am to do some last minute “tweaking” to the stand layout and also to have the opportunity to have further discussions with some of the dealers about Baader products.When the announcement was made that the event was starting and the doors were being opened to the public, it immediately became very busy....and it remained busy until the close of the event at 5pm. Throughout the day lots of people came to the stand where lots of discussions about Baader products were had, with many comments on how much people like our range of products and their quality. There was a wide range of interest across the Baader Planetarium range of products, of the enquiries, discussions and demonstrations the most popular were those related to the ClickLock adaptors, UFC system and its usage, AstroSolar ASTF filters and film, Flip mirror II and then Q-turret and Baader Classic Ortho eyepieces. By the time it got to 5pm and the show was over speaking to some exhibitors commented how busy it had been and what a "buzz" of activity and interest there was. It seems that the first post-COVID astronomy show, and the first one of the season, had gone well. It was a great enjoyable day.
The next main UK event is the International Astronomy Show that takes place in October and we very much look forward to being part of that 2-day exhibition.
About the author: Lee Sproats
Dr. Lee Sproats has been interested in astronomy since watching Star Wars in 1977 and has appeared on the UK Sky at Night TV programme. He then went on to study Astronomy where he obtained a degree and then a PhD in the subject at University College London/Mullard Space Science Laboratory. He has worked in Australia in radio astronomy and used optical/infrared telescopes on Hawaii and La Palma and Lowell and Kitt Peak observatories in the USA. After working for the University of Surrey to promote the use of computers for teaching in UK higher education and then as an IT trainer for a stock market company, he went on to work for Greenwich Observatory Ltd where he ran their northern branch and then worked for David Hinds Ltd dealing with our and Celestron products. He is often involved in flight excursions that take passengers to observe the northern lights, has led trips to see the great USA 2017 eclipse near Hopkinsville and was lead astronomer onboard a specially chartered 737 to view the 2015 total solar eclipse at 38,000ft. Lee`s astronomical interests include Lunar observing, astrophotography, photometry and pro-am collaborations.
Since David Hinds stopped operation in December 2020, Dr. Sproats works for Baader Planetarium as our UK representative/consultant and is responsible for looking after our UK/Eire dealers, dealing with Baader Planetarium/PlaneWave/10Micron product support, writing articles and also is involved in our large telescope and observatory instrumentation projects.