Uranus Opposition October 23rd

Uranus by Instagram user astrobobo. Copyright astrobobo. Used by permission. Imaged with Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate™ on Celestron EdgeHD 8″ SCT (effective focal length = 5080-mm) and ZWO ASI290MC camera.

On the 23rd, the “ice  giant” Uranus will be visible all night, as it rises when the sun sets (hence it is opposite the sun). It will also be at its largest for the year: a diminutive 3.73″ of arc. Due to its distance and close-to-circular orbit, Uranus doesn’t vary that much in brightness over time.  It will reach magnitude 5.7 from mid-October through early November before slightly fading to magnitude 5.9 in late March 2019. This makes it a naked-eye target in dark skies and easy to locate in a binocular or finderscope.

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Imaging in the Stratosphere with Tele Vue!

Air China A332 crossing the Moon (crop) by Instagram user Kacper Lechwar. Copright Kacper Lechwar. Used by permission. Air China Airbus A330-243 is captured poking its nose into the Sea of Serenity as it crosses the face of the Moon. Imaged using 254mm / 1200mm Dobsonian telescope with Tele Vue 2x Powermate™ and Canon 1200D / EOS Rebel T5 (18.1-megapixel) camera. Shot at cruising altitude (30,000+ feet). With this Powermate™ setup, Kacper takes a series of images in quick succession of each plane. He then reviews them on a computer before processing the best ones. Click to see full image.

We’ve noticed a proliferation of close-up plane images on Instagram made using Tele Vue Powermate™ image amplifiers. What is amazing about these images? They are taken from the ground with the plane at jet-aircraft cruising altitude. This is the imaging side of the hobby of “plane spotting.” It is sort of like bird watching — but the “bird” is much bigger and potentially much further away: in the stratosphere!

While imaging a bird can be serendipitous, the modern plane spotter has the advantage of free online flight-tracking software, such as FlightRadar 24 and FlightAware, to predict what aircraft are approaching their location. Aircraft identification, route, speed, altitude, and heading are just a click away. This software has also made its way to the ubiquitous smartphone. Thus, unlike birding, plane spotters can anticipate targets to observe in advance. This gives the spotter time to prepare for encounters with common and rare aircraft — like the Antonov An-225.

Antonov An-225 Mriya GML-LEJ by Instagram user Krzysztof Migo. Copyright Krzysztof Migo. Used by permission. Antonov An-225 Mriya caught flying from Kiev to Leipzig. Imaged using a Skywatcher 200/1000 (f/5) scope with Tele Vue 2x Powermate™ and Canon 700D / Rebel T5i camera (18.0 megapixel) DSLR camera. . Shot at cruising altitude (30,000+ feet).

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Al’s Busy Fall Schedule!

Al Nagler with Robbie controlling the Tele Vue-NP101is scope in Central Park, NY.

Autumn Starfest Review
Last SaturNday, Al Nagler began his talk at the Amateur Astronomers Association (AAA) of New York’s Autumn Starfest in Central Park by reminding the audience he “grew up in this area” and saying it was “magical to be here.” Standing next to a 133” diagonal screen, he proceeded to explain how a city kid developed a love for astronomy that began at the old Hayden Planetarium – located just a 15-minute walk from where he was speaking.  That passion for astronomy led to a job creating optical systems for the Apollo’s lunar landing simulator, which ultimately served as the inspiration to develop optical products for amateur astronomers.

The horizon from the Sheep Meadow in Central Park was better than you’d expect.

Afterwards, Al had a Tele Vue-NP101is on a Gibraltar HD4 mount setup for people to view through using various Ethos, DeLite, and Nagler eyepieces. Due to the clouds, deep-space objects were hit and miss. When the clouds were dense enough to obscure the Moon and the bright planets, views of the surrounding buildings were shown instead. Said Al afterwards:

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Al Nagler to Speak in Central Park this Saturn-Day!

Tele Vue Founder and CEO Al Nagler will be the lead-off speaker, Saturday evening, at this year’s Autumn Starfest in Central Park, New York. This free, annual event, hosted by the Amateur Astronomers Association (AAA) of New York, will feature speakers (with a 133” diagonal screen for people in the field), telescope viewing courtesy of the AAA members, free raffles, and gift bags for the first 250 entrants. Views through the telescopes will include “Jupiter, dwarf planet Ceres, Saturn, asteroid Vesta, Mars, and nearly Full Moon. Beyond the solar system, bright globular clusters, open clusters, and multiple stars can be observed”.

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From Tom’s Driveway: Tele Vue-NP127is & Tele Vue-85 Simultaneous Imaging!

Cygnus Wall LRGBSHO (crop of NGC 7000) by Astro Bin user Tom Peter. Copyright Tom Peter. Used by permission. NP127is and TV-85 combined exposures of 22.2-hours. Click for details.

We noticed some unique images on AstroBin.com employing our Tele Vue-NP127is and Tele Vue-85 scopes to simultaneously image the same target. The  images from the two scopes were combined to create the final image — with fantastic results! All the image locations are given as “Tom’s Driveway” in Terre Haute, IN.  Intrigued, we contacted the imager (“Astrovetteman”) to learn how he settled on this technique for many of his images.  So we turn over our blog this week to astrophotographer Tom Peter and his dual-scope driveway setup.

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This Week: Neptune Opposition 2018 and Comet 21P!

Neptune image by Voyager 2 probe. NASA/JPL

With the moon a waning crescent, it is a good time to pick out some faint objects in the sky.

On Friday, September 7th, Neptune rises opposite the sun and is closest to earth. Being in the sky all-night, and at it’s brightest, presents a good opportunity to sight this rarely-seen telescopic planet. Unlike the naked eye planets, you’ll have to crank-up the power to make sure you’ve really found it. Even at 100x it just looks like a magnitude 7.8 star. So don’t expect to see a Voyager 2 quality image through your eyepiece.

Click on image to enlarge. Neptune (dots showing position from Sept. 5 to 12) is just south of a line between Phi- and Lambda-Aquarii. In early September it will be moving slowly toward the Lambda star. Using your finder, or a wide-field eyepiece, setup your field on the stars labeled by magnitude inside the 5° circle. Over the course of the week, Neptune will be approaching a line drawn between the mag. 7.5 and 7.4 stars shown. Neptune will be slightly dimmer than both at mag. 7.8.  83-Aquarii it is the brightest of the stars labeled by magnitude — shining at  mag. 5.5 — and will help you orient the chart.

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Tele Vue TV-60: Surprisingly Versatile Mini APO Refractor

Tele Vue-60: Compact Travel Scope with Imaging Capability
This week we turn our attention to the capabilities of our smallest telescope: the Tele Vue-60. This 60-mm aperture, f/6, APO refractor offers users a maximum 4.3° visual field and a potential of reaching 150x —all this in a package just 10″ long and a svelte 3-lbs. Due to its diminutive size, it is easy to overlook this instrument when shopping for a quality APO travel-scope. But, many users have been pleasantly surprised at the capabilities of this small refractor. 
 
Left: Tele Vue-60 setup for observing (image copyright by Darrel Hess). Right: various deep-space Tele Vue-60 images (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 by Mark Kilner).  All images used with permission.

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Flashback: Great American Eclipse Aug. 21, 2017

Has it really been a year already?  A year since people from all-over converged on a 70-mile-wide ribbon of land, that spanned the continental United States, coast-to-coast , to gaze in awe at the Great American Eclipse. This was the first total solar eclipse to land in the contiguous United States since 1979 and the first coast-to-coast one since 1918. So, for many people, this was their first.

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Return to Stellafane!

The pink Clubhouse on Breezy Hill at Stellafane.
This week I return to Breezy Hill in Springfield, Vermont, for the annual Stellafane Convention. Stellafane is my favorite place in the world. It’s where I won 3rd prize in 1958 for my high school project telescope and 1st prize in 1972 for my 12″ scope. The rich association of telescope making with Stellafane is why this place is considered the “birthplace of American Telescope Making”.
 
I hope you enjoy the following slide show from last year’s convention. It features many images from the Telescope Competition.
 
By the way, “Stellafane” comes from the Latin words “stellar” (star), and “fane” (shrine) so “Stellafane” is a “Shrine to the Stars”.  Never been there?  All amateur astronomers should make a “pilgrimage” to this “shrine” at least once!

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