Springfield, Vt., is not your typical convention destination. There are no headquarters hotels or convention centers, but there is a place called Breezy Hill, where 1,500 amateur astronomers convene for the Stellafane Convention every summer.
The Stellafane Convention is put on in July or August — on a weekend as close to the new moon as possible — by the Springfield Telescope Makers Inc., an amateur astronomy and telescope-making club. Attendance is tied to the weather, says Stellafane spokesman Ken Slater. “We see a fluctuation based on the forecast,” he says, “as many come to observe, so a forecast of rain or clouds will not be conducive to that.” This year, with a mixed forecast, 1,500 people came to Breezy Hill. When there are clear skies, as many as 2,000 attend the convention, which has been held since 1926.
Most camp out on the 86-acre site, where sky watchers set up their telescopes and look to the heavens. The site is a national historic landmark, which includes the Stellafane Clubhouse and Flanders Pavilion, where educational sessions are held. It also includes an observatory and a large, historic turret telescope for stargazing.