Workshops & Presentations

Nightfall features a premium workshop on Saturday and free presentations throughout Friday and Saturday. The premium workshop requires a fee, preferably paid in advance. Space is limited but if seats are still available, the fee may be paid at the door.

Jump to Registration for the Premium Presentations

Jump to List of FREE Presentations and Events

Nightfall 2018 — Premium Speakers

We’re doing things a little differently this year at Nightfall. Rather than having one speaker present a 4-hour workshop, we’re having 4 speakers present one-hour talks on varying topics. Your admission price to the Premium Workshop grants you access to all 4 presentations. As a courtesy to the presenters, please arrive on time and do not leave early unless absolutely necessary. Presenters, titles and times subject to change. Check the printed schedule upon check-in.

The premium presentations occur between 10AM and 4PM on Saturday, November 3rd. There will be a 2-hour break from noon to 2PM for attendees to have lunch, stretch, etc. Presentations will take place in Meeting Room #2, near the laundry/gym building (north end of the property).

Premium presenters and topics include:

Greg Benecke

My Star Trek: Lessons in Astrophotography

Greg Benecke - Presenter at Nightfall 2018

Greg Benecke – Nightfall 2018 Presenter


Greg will present a compilation of some of the lessons he has learned in his 11-year journey from complete novice to somewhat advanced amateur astrophotographer. Some of the common issues astrophotographers experience as well as a few less common issues and the solutions he has chosen will be presented. Solving these issues results in clear improvements in the quality of the data captured and the processed results.

Greg is a retired electronic systems engineer. His first DSLR astrophoto was taken August 11, 2007 after his unsuspecting wife gave him permission to take the plunge into the bottomless pit this pursuit can become. Since then he has imaged using a variety of refractors, reflectors, and catadioptrics on both a mid-range and a high-end GEM mount using a modified DSLR and cooled OSC cameras. The pursuit of the best data gathering and processing has provided many challenges and lead to the resulting lessons learned.


Tom Bash

High Resolution Solar System Imaging

Tom Bash - Nightfall 2018 presenter

Tom Bash – Nightfall 2018 Presenter


Today’s low-cost, high-speed video cameras and powerful computers loaded with free software make it easy to explore the fascinating field of high resolution solar system imaging. But like other flavors of astrophotography, the devil is in the details when it comes to getting the best results. This workshop will cover the practical and theoretical requirements for image acquisition using a video camera, with the goal of understanding how to get the best data possible from your site and equipment. The processing of video files using freeware AutoStakkert! and RegiStax in combination to optimize resolution will be explained and demonstrated.

Tom Bash has been a Nightfall regular for over ten years. He started out in planetary photography in the 1980s with an orange-tube C8 and TechPan film shooting at f/200, so he eagerly adopted digital imaging during the webcam revolution in the 1990s. His images have been published in Sky & Telescope and Astronomy magazines, and many of his lunar images have been featured on the LPOD website. One of his lunar images was helpful in targeting NASA’s LCROSS impact mission in 2009. He has presented at imaging conferences and astronomy clubs, and he consults with Woodland Hills Camera & Telescopes helping their customers with imaging. He is an engineer working in the medical device industry and lives in Huntington Beach with his lovely wife Litta.


Daniel Perry

Understanding Power

Daniel Perry - Nightfall 2018 Presenter

Daniel Perry – Nightfall 2018 Presenter


If you do visual astronomy in remote dark-sky locations, you need little more than a Celestron PowerTank or a similar battery to get through a couple nights. But what if you’re an imager with a thermo-electrically cooled camera, a laptop, and all the other items that require power? You will need much more than a few amp-hours of power. In this presentation, Daniel will cover the basics of calculating your power consumption and will review some current (no pun intended) technologies to help get you through multiple nights of imaging when there’s no AC power nearby.

Daniel started in astrophotography in about 2001 with the purchase of a used SBIG ST-7. While he currently has an observatory at GMARS, he still enjoys getting out to remote locations to enjoy darker skies and the solitude of being in unpopulated areas. You can see some of his images and current equipment lineup at


Alex McConahay

Imaging Under the Hood

Alex McConahay - Presenter at Nightfall 2018

Alex McConahay – Nightfall 2018 Presenter


Why do we dither? Why do we guide? What is image calibration? What does it mean to stretch a linear image? This is a workshop about image acquisition and processing, emphasizing not how it is done, but why. An imager who understands the concepts behind why we need to do certain things in imaging applies the procedures more intelligently and efficiently.

Alex has been coming to Nightfall for twenty years. He is an Astronomical League Master Observer, past President of Riverside Astronomical Society, past Board Member of RTMC Astronomy Expo, one of the founders of The Astro Imaging Channel, and an RTMC Merit Award Honoree. He has presented in numerous venues, including Nightfall, RTMC, many clubs, and the National Parks. He has published articles in Sky & Telescope Magazine. Alex is a retired teacher and high school principal, has traveled extensively, and lives in Moreno Valley with his supportive wife. See for more.


Premium Workshop Registration

If you’d like to purchase admission for more than one person, simply click the Pay Now button above and enter the number of attendees on the page that follows.



Free Presentations & Events

In addition to the premium speakers, Nightfall always features several free presentations for all to attend. Arrive early as seats may fill up!

Below is a tentative list of events and planned presenters. Please note that we are often firming up the speakers and schedule right up to the start of the event. This is a partial list and is subject to change. It will be updated as more information becomes available. Be sure to pick up the printed schedule at the hotel when you check in.


  • 10:00 – What’s New & Exciting in the Astronomy Market: Simon Tang of Woodland Hills Camera & Telescopes
  • 11:00 – How Far Can I See? Further Than You Think!: John Goss of the Astronomical League
  • 14:00 – How to Take Your First Astrophotos: Alex McConahay
  • 15:00 – Processing Your First Astrophotos: Alex McConahay
  • 16:30 – Welcome Reception at the Big Horn Bar & Grill (adjacent to the main office): Light snacks and beverages served.
  • 20:00 – Scorpion Hunt: Meet at the amphitheater and bring a UV flashlight (Do not harass or kill any scorpions!)


  • All Day – Solar Viewing in RV Space #83: Simon Tang
  • 10:00 to 16:00 – Premium Presentations: See information above.
  • 12:00 – New Collimation Techniques: Don Pensack of Eyepieces Etc.
  • 16:30 – Potluck Star-B-Q in the picnic area: Everyone is invited! We provide the grill and utensils. Bring something for yourself to grill and a side dish to share (preferred but not required)
  • 19:00 – Nightfall Sky Tour: Dennis Mammana at the amphitheater
  • 22:00 – Ice Cream Social at the Big Horn Bar & Grill: Hosted by Woodland Hills Camera & Telescope. Remember to bring your ticket!


Previous Premium Workshop Presenters

We’ve been fortunate at Nightfall to have the likes of Richard Wright, Jr., Mike Unsold, Neil Fleming, Warren Keller, Adam Block and many other familiar names join us to share their knowledge and love for astronomy and astrophotography. Checkout the archives page for more information on previous Nightfall presenters.