The Kopernik Astronomical Society Presents Kopernik AstroFest 2019

Join the KAS In Our 37th Anniversary of Celebrating the Night Sky
October 25th – 26th, 2019
Kopernik Observatory & Science Center – 698 Underwood Road, Vestal, NY

Register Now

2019 Special Guest Speakers
Keynote Speaker: Ron Brecher


Special Sauce and Dangerous Medicine: Getting the Best From Your Deep Sky Images

What Are the Odds? The Drake Equation and More

Ron Brecher ( has been an avid amateur astronomer for 20+ years, and began photographing the sky in 2006. His deep-sky, Sun and Moon images and articles are regularly featured in print and online magazines, scientific journals, CD covers, websites, calendars and more.

Ron uses PixInsight for processing his deep-sky shots. He offers private tutoring online, and teams up with Warren Keller ( to teach 2- and 3-day image processing workshops. Ron is a regular speaker at star parties and conferences in the U.S. and Canada.

Ron writes regularly for Sky & Telescope and other publications, most recently “Image Calibration” in the November 2019 S&T. He is the Technical Reviewer for both editions of Warren Keller’s, Inside PixInsight.

Ron captures his images from his home observatory in Guelph, Ontario where he and his wife Gail live with two dogs, two cats and two kids. In “real life,” Ron holds a PhD is a board-certified toxicologist with more than 30 years’ consulting experience in toxicology, risk assessment and risk communication. To round things out, Ron plays guitar and lead vocals in the R&B Band “The Exceptions.”

Other Presenters:
Dr. Aileen A. O’Donoghue:
Henry Priest Professor of Physics – St. Lawrence University
“Seeking the Heart of M87″
“Ripples in Spacetime: The Physics of Gravity Waves”
Bob Piekiel
“Bad Seeing or Bad Optics”
Keith Werkman
“Apollo 11 50th Anniversary”
Patrick Manley
“The Planets of Science Fiction and the Exoplanets of Modern Science”


Astronomy Packed Three Day Event Featuring:
  • Astronomy workshops
  • Daily solar observing
  • Getting Started discussions for beginners
  • Equipment Discussions
  • Daily Night Sky Observing
  • Kopernik Observatory Tours
  • Guest Speakers and Presentations
  • HAM Radio Demonstration & Discussion
  • Raffles, Raffles and more Raffles
  • …and much…much…more
Special Events:
  • Kopernik AstroFest Solar Star Party (KASSP)
  • Amateur Astronomy Club Roundtable Formal Discussion
  • Meteorite Lobby Discussion/Show and Tell by Patrick Manley
  • Astrophotography Demonstrations – Using the ZWO Ecosystem – Patrick Manley
  • …stay tuned for more activities as planning progresses…

Schedule of Events
NOTE: This is preliminary schedule, and planning is still underway for.  Scheduled Activities may change without notice. As soon as changes are made, every effort will be made to update this listing. Please check back often for your planning purposes.

Friday Schedule:



12:00 PM Facility open to campers for setup, bathrooms open
Viewing in yard, both solar and astronomical
7:00 PM Doors open to public, facility tours, and observing
Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, juice, donuts available in lobby
7:30 PM Welcome to AstroFest 2019 – Irene Siedlarczyk, Kopernik Society President,
“George’s Best Images, a Video Slide Show” –most images taken at Kopernik – George Normandin, KAS President
8:30 PM Seeking the Heart of M87 – A black hole update, presented by Dr. Aileen O’Donoghue, Henry Priest Professor of Physics, St. Lawrence University.
9:15 PM Night Sky Viewing – in the Domes and in the Yard, Night Sky Laser Tours, “Learner’s Land” – come out to the yard and learn how to operate a telescope. The KAS will provide hands-on lessons or bring your own scope and get help setting it up and operating it with help from the KAS and Kopernik staff, hot beverages and snacks available, bathrooms and domes open all night, Lobby closes at Midnight


If cloudy skies – Patrick Manley will host a demonstration and discussion with meteorites.  Demonstration includes hands on interaction with select meteorites.

Midnight Lobby Closes (Restrooms remain open all night)

Saturday Schedule:



7:30 to 10 AM Coffee, tea, hot Chocolate, juice, donuts available in Lobby
9 AM- all day Vendors in Physics Lab, Dark Sky Exhibit, Facility Tours
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Solar Viewing in the Yard (H-Alpha and white light), in the Domes (Herschel Wedge on 6” Astro Physics Refractor, and with the Heliostat, Refractor, dedicated to the memory of the “Legendary Barlow Bob”, Godfrey in 2014, in the Physics Lab)
10:00 AM – 11:15 AM Show and Tell Meteorites – Patrick Manley
10:00 AM – 11:15 AM Activities for Kids – Tish Bresee, Kopernik Staff & NASA Solar System Ambassador
11:00 – 12:15 PM Ripples in Spacetime: The Physics of Gravity Waves presented by Dr. Aileen A. O’Donoghue, Henry Priest Professor of Physics, St. Lawrence University.
12:30 – 1:30 PM Lunch and Astronomy Club Roundtable Discussions (include the NYPENN Girl Scouts)
1:50 – 2:50 TBD
2:00 – 5:00 PM Swap Meet – buy and sell your treasurers (in vendor’s area), used equipment for sale to raise funds for new scope
2:15 – 3:15 PM Bad Seeing or Bad Optics? – Something that hits home with most of us – how to determine the difference, and what can be done to improve certain seeing conditions.  Presented by Bob Piekiel, followed by Q & A and book signing.
3:30– 4:45 PM Special Sauce and Dangerous Medicine: Getting the Best from Your Deep Sky Images – presented by Ronald Brecher, Ron will pull back the curtain on a few PixInsight processing techniques that he uses near the end of his workflow. He will demonstrate how to increase contrast and detail, reveal detail in bright regions, and accentuate dark features in images.
5:00 –5:50 PM The Planets of Science Fiction and the Exoplanets of Modern Science – We may not fully see it at this point, but we have entered a golden age of astronomy.  Exoplanet discoveries and identification have ushered in a whole new era of science and astronomical discovery.  Science fiction has long imagined both human favorable planets and ones that are extremely hostile to our being.  Exoplanet research is finding both of these as well in the real physical universe.  Come check out the intersection of these imaginative existences, and discover what we have found, what we will pursue and how we will identify habitable planets beyond our own solar system.  Presented by Patrick Manley, KAS.
5:50 –6:45 PM Dinner Break and Musical Entertainment by Robert Siegers
6:45 Raffle Prizes
7:30 PM Apollo 11 50th Anniversary – Presented by Keith Werkman, PhD, KAS
8:30 PM What Are the Odds? The Drake Equation and More – Presented by Ronald Brecher, The Drake equation provides a way to think about the odds of other intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. But this type of equation can also provide insights into other existential questions, like “How productive am I likely to be, given the many challenges I face as an amateur astronomer?” Ron will discuss the Drake equation and current estimates for its parameters and predictions. Then, a similar equation will be used for a lighthearted look at the many factors – both within and beyond our control — that influence the productivity of amateur astronomers.
9:45 PM Night Sky Viewing – in the Domes and in the Yard, Imaging Demo of FLI Camera on 20” OGS RC, Night Sky Laser Tours, hot beverages and snacks available, bathrooms and domes open all night.
Sci-Fi movie in Space Science, Lobby closes MidnightIf cloudy skies – Patrick Manley will host a demonstration and discussion related to the ZWO Astrophotography Ecosystem.
Midnight Lobby Closes (Restrooms remain open all night)

AstroFest Donors/Sponsors
Our AstroFest Donors (Past and Present) Are Amazing – Please Support them!

Presented by

Event Details
Hours: Friday, October 25, 2019 – 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, Observing all night if clear.  Also the facility will be open from 12:00 noon to receive campers and/or people interested in setting up their observing gear.
Saturday, October 26, 2019 – 9:30AM to 9:00PM, Observing all night if clear
Entrance Prices: $5.00/day registration for adults. Under 16 free with parent. Groups of 7 or more, please contact us for group pricing. Register Now with the  Registration Form
Extras: Fantastic raffle prizes, Swap meet, coordinated group take out meals from local restaurants, and snack foods will be sold.
Camping Information $5 a night additional fee for onsite camping.

Kopernik Observatory Equipment

6″ AstroPhysics Super Planetary F/12 Refractor Losmandy G11 Mount

20″ Optical Guidance Systems Ritchey-Chretien F/8 14″ Celestron C14 F/11 SCT Celestron CGE Mount

About Kopernik Observatory & Science Center, the KAS, and AstroFest
We are hoping you would consider being a part of our event. At this time talks are targeted for a more advanced group of amateur astronomers from Kopernik, and other astronomy clubs, as well as college professors, graduate and undergraduate students from area Colleges and Universities; as well as interested members of the public. Our AstroFest celebration will begin at 6 PM on Friday, October 25th, and concludes Saturday, October 26th (of course observing overnight if skies are clear). You can decide how much you would like to participate from one day or both. Camping will be available at the observatory or you can find lodging in Vestal hotels.
We are hoping for clear skies to observe after the talks Friday and Saturday, and sunny skies for solar observing on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  This will be our 6th annual KAS Solar Star Party that was founded by the late and great Barlow Bob (RIP).
At this event, we will support a swap meet if people are interested, and you are welcome to sell your astronomical items or trade with others that participate. We will provide a free spot under our Gazebo or dining canopy to do so (first come, first served). This year we will be featuring the sale of various telescopes and equipment no longer needed by the observatory – most of it donated in years past.
One of the purposes of this year’s event is to get others to visit us and see the jewel we have here in Vestal. Not-for-profit Kopernik Observatory is regionally known as a “Space Education Center”. We also claim to be the best sited, best equipped observatory in the Northeast US which is open to the public. We have three domes, one with a 6” f/12 Astro Physics Planetary Special (the second best of the batch of 25 produced) on a G-11 mount/clock drive and NGC-Max; one with a Celesteron 14” with a CGE computer drive and our flagship, a 20” Ritchey-Chretien with an OGS drive. On occasions we talk with astronauts in space on the ISS, Space Shuttle, and in the past, on Mir via amateur radio station.
Directions to Kopernik Observatory, 698 Underwood Road, Vestal NY: From the E or W – take Route 17 (Southern Tier Expressway – future I-86). Get off at the Vestal Exit 67 S (26 S) and proceed up the hill about 5.5 miles. Just past Vestal Center (alleged to be a 40 mph “speed trap”), turn right at the sign “Observatory 2 Miles” onto Glenwood Road. If you miss the turn, you will hit the Pennsylvania state line in about a mile – just turn around and go back a mile. Take Glenwood road a block to the first left hand turn (about .2 mile). This is Underwood Road. Drive up the hill 1.8 miles. Kopernik Observatory is on the left. From the N or S – take I-81 to Route 17 (Southern Tier Expressway – future I-86). Then follow directions from E or W.

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