We continue our conversation with Jarred Donkersley, Celestron’s Assistant Marketing Manager, to discuss how Celestron brings people together through community events, a wide array of products, and a dedication to teach people about our planet. Read part one of our interview to get a stargazing lesson.
What’s the best part about working at Celestron? What makes Celestron unique?
Celestron occupies a unique position at the forefront of a relatively small industry. Because of this we enjoy opportunities to work with all sorts of individuals and organizations. The National Park Service, The International Dark-Sky Association, Stephen Hawking, Phil Plait, John Davis, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, NASA, Bill Nye and The Planetary Society, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Ann Druyan of the Cosmos TV show, Kristie Reddick and The Bug Chicks, and that’s just some of the more well-known personalities. At least once a month some exciting new project gets tossed in our lap.
Add to that the fact that we have some really experienced and loyal staff that have either been in the industry or at Celestron for 15, 25, 35 years or longer and you get a sense of how deep this hobby runs for our team. Some folks at Celestron are the world experts at their particular trade or area of expertise. There’s never a dull moment.
What other things can people use your products for besides looking at the stars?
Everything! We like to say, from the microscopic to the telescopic, there’s a Celestron product for you. Our customers are intellectually curious amateurs and professionals who are excited to observe and image the world around them. You can get a good idea by looking at our Team Celestron. We work with chemists, biologists, birders, naturalists, astronomers, and astroimagers who observe and image everything from cells, bugs, stamps, coins, live medical procedures, to birds, animals, plants and flowers, landscapes, on to planets, the Sun and Moon, double stars, nebulae, galaxies, comets, and star clusters. We even have a guy who specifically images satellites and the International Space Station! Our community loves to share their images and observations and we encourage them to do so on our social feeds and with our upcoming redesigned Celestronimages.com site where they can share their creations.
Approximately how long does it take for your company to develop a new product?
Product development never stops here at Celestron. Every product exists in a web of developing technologies and market strategies. Depending on the product, from start to finish, development can take upwards of 1 – 2 years generally. There’s the initial design from the engineers, the name and look that Sales and Marketing collaborate on, product production, website updates, press releases, promos, posters, product reviews, and then the official launch – usually at one of the larger tradeshows. September’s launch at Photokina 2016 will be rather sizeable with our 3 main categories all being represented, some instant classics, and a few surprises.
During the summer, you put on a MoonWalk event in Los Angeles. Tell us how it went.
LA MoonWalk was an amazing success and we had so much fun putting it on. From the VIPs (Bill Nye, Robert Picardo, John Davis, John Stamos, and Phil Plait), to the artists (Kiel Johnson, Chris Kawagiwa, Esao Andrews, and Adam Hingley to name a few), to the music and presentations – it was a great night for science AND art and possibly the first ever large-scale art opening / star party. We sold out to capacity, auctioned off all 8 of our custom painted telescopes, all 3 graciously donated MOVA globes (with about 425 MOVA promo cards going out in the goodie bags), and sold other artwork including two of my own prints (!), bringing in a substantial donation for our beneficiaries, The Planetary Society and FreeArts.org. We had 10 telescopes set up for viewing the planets and the Moon, a RASA deep space imaging set up with live images of galaxies and nebula even under light polluted skies, AND there was an International Space Station flyover which wowed the entire crowd. With such a great team of dedicated volunteers and artists we can’t wait to start planning for LA MoonWalk 2017!
What other community events do you put on throughout the year?
Oh boy, there’s so many! Aside from the industry tradeshows, we host star parties for multiple dark sky events in the National Parks (happy 100th bday NPS!), there’s the Saturn Awards (for Sci Fi TV and movies), National Science Teachers’ Association, World Science Festival, USA Science Festival, the Stay Wild Adventure Expo, StarFest, Texas Star Party, dozens of birding expos and workshops, and dozens of local southern California star parties for clubs, schools, libraries, and various community groups. Not to mention that many of us also take along our telescopes to friends’ dinner parties, birthday and graduation parties, you name it!
World Space Week’s theme this year is celebrating Earth observation from space as a means to better the human race. How do you think this applies to Celestron?
We believe that the hobby of astronomy endears people to their home planet. We come to understand how fragile we are on this cozy island amongst the vast expanse of the cosmos. Anytime we explore space we can’t help but discover Earth.
Celestron actually has a telescope aboard the International Space Station and it’s used specifically to image our home planet. The telescope is a Celestron CPC 9.25 GPS series scope modified by Starizona to take the best photos possible. NASA uses these ISERV mission images to better understand our planet and to provide data for disaster analysis and environmental studies, especially for developing countries who don’t have the means to assess their territories from space. We’re extremely proud to be a part of this mission and firmly believe that every single telescope that we create here at Celestron and all the relationships that we build, in their own small ways, help the whole world.