The San Jose Astronomical Association (SJAA) yesterday held its thirtieth annual astronomy equipment auction. As a board member, I participated, actually worked the event.
It was amazing the amount of people that showed up. The Hall at Houge Park was filled with people and lots of gear. For the hour and more before the bidding commenced, people were milling about, checking out what would be up for bid, talking with old friends and catching up, or working on registering their items for sale.
Orion Telescopes donated a lot of stuff, so registering their items took some time, actually it made us start 30 minutes late. But we can't fault them over their generosity.
We seemed to get off to a slow start. We started with a few telescopes that the club was trying to move, but no one seemed interested. Things finally got going once we started working on the small meteorites that someone had packaged up, with descriptions, into small plastic baggies. They were going for anywhere from $5 to $25 for starting bids, and went up from there.
All manner of instruments and implements were available. From entire quality telescopes to pieces are parts were available for the bidding. There was even a home made water color of recent comet McNaught, nicely framed.
The event was supposed to start at noon for registration and go to about 4 or 5PM. But due to the amount of items, we actually ended just before 8PM! Some folks with prior engagements for the evening were pressing for us to take a break so they could settle up and be on their way. So we finally, around 5PM, do just that. We asked those folks who bought or sold something, and who had to go, to come to the table and settle up. That didn't work out so well because some folks didin't get the message, and stood in line to settle up even though they intended to stay and bid or sell some more.
In the end, it was a long day, and I need to extend thanks and gratitude to my family who were expecting me to come home hours sooner. I was expecting a much chillier reception, but I tried to stay in touch and relay the status, so perhaps that helped.
We, the Board, already have ideas for improvement for next year. The next board meeting at the end of May will see a sort of post mortem about the auction, where we will document what went wrong, and how we can improve. Should be fun!