Huge Astronomy Expo Lands in New York Area This Weekend

Total Solar Eclipse Map
The total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017 (whose path of totality is shown here) will be the subject of multiple presentations at the Northeast Astronomy Forum, held April 8-9 just north of New York City. (Image credit: NASA)

Scientists and stargazers are gearing up for what's billed as one of the biggest astronomy expos in the world. 

The Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) will be held April 8 and April 9 at SUNY Rockland Community College in Suffern, just north of New York City, and will be there to report on all the action.

"Each year, we focus on building upon the previous year's conference by continually adding new and exciting things," NEAF co-organizer Ed Siemenn told via email. Siemenn is also a member of the host organization, the Rockland Astronomy Club.

"In addition to live radio broadcasts and interviews with our speakers this year," Siemenn added, "we are expanding the reach of our NEAF Talks by adding live professional streaming on the internet, which will be available worldwide on our YouTube channel."

This year, a large emphasis will be placed on the total solar eclipse that will sweep across the continental United States on Aug. 21. This event was previewed at NEAF last year by eclipse expert and retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak; this year, at least two NEAF talks will cover the solar eclipse.

One presenter, Michael Reynolds, an astronomy professor at Florida State College, will be "speaking about the science behind an eclipse and the compelling human fascination with them," Siemenn said. Following Reynolds will be a "lighthearted" discussion with skywatching columnist Joe Rao, whose discussion is called "How to Survive August's Total Eclipse."

Other featured speakers include:

  • Scott Bolton, principal investigator of NASA's Juno mission at Jupiter
  • Sara Seager, an astrophysicist and planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Todd May, director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
  • Caleb Weiss, United Launch Alliance's Commercial Crew Program manager
  • Frank DeMauro, vice president and general manager of advanced programs for Orbital ATK
  • James Albury and Dean Regas, co-hosts of PBS-TV series "Star Gazers"
  • Roberto Abraham, a professor at the University of Toronto who will speak about the Dragonfly Telephoto Array project

Organizers expect the NEAF to attract at least 4,000 attendees this year, Siemenn said.

The expo will feature lectures, workshops, planetarium shows, classes, demonstrations and a trade show with more than 100 vendors and exhibitors. For those looking to get involved in the science, there will also be conferences and workshops featuring astronomers from the Lowell Observatory in Arizona and other institutions.

To register, go to the NEAF website at

This story was originally published on March 31.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: