Of the Moon and Messier Marathon

Composite image of Messier Marathon Checklist over Messier Object images. Messier objects by Michael A. PhillipsCC BY 4.0, Link

Beginning amateur astronomers soon encounter the term “Messier objects.” They learn that this is a list of objects outside our Solar System that are visible through small telescopes. This list was originally compiled by Charles Messier, in the 18th century, from his observations and those of contributors. The catalog has been updated over time, as recently as the mid-20th century, to 110 objects in total.  

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NP127is: Imaging the Skies Over Taos, NM

NGC7000 North America Nebula-NP127is by AstroBin user Jerry Macon. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-NP127is flat-field, APO refractor with ZWO ASI128MC Pro full-frame color CMOS camera with 2″ Astronomik L-2 UV-IR Block filter. Exposure 59 x 240″ for a total of 3.9-hours. Mount:Paramount MEII with Absolute Encoders. Software:Sequence Generator Pro, PixInsight 1.8.

We’ve noticed some nice full-color and RGB  deep-sky images made by Jerry Macon using our Tele Vue-NP127is telescope. They’re all taken from his private Dark Star Observatory in Taos, New Mexico.  His image of the expansive North America Nebula (NGC 7000 – above) displays how the deep red light of Hydrogen-α dominates this emission nebula (an  ionized cloud of hydrogen gas about 3° across). A feature of this nebula is the “Cygnus Wall” section at the bottom, that includes “Mexico” and “Central America.” This feature is a dense star-forming region of dust and gas that is often imaged alone without the rest of the nebula. 

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The Sun from Sunny Barcelona, Spain

protuberancias y superficie solares – 18/11/2017 by flickr user Jordi Sesé. All rights reserved. Used by permission. In this impressive image, a massive solar prominence erupts above the limb of the Sun. Furry spicules are visible along the entire edge of the disk. The roiling surface appearance of the Sun is caused by filaments and fibrils (prominence and spicules away from the limb — see blog text for details). All these solar features are usually invisible in ordinary white light. These phenomena are only revealed through narrow-band hydrogen-α light filters. Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate™ into ZWO ASI174MM monochrome camera using 100mm f/10 achromatic scope with modified Coronado PST Hα and BF10 blocking filter.

If you’re suffering from the cold northern winter like we are at Tele Vue headquarters in upstate New York, you’ll instantly be “warmed” by these “hot” solar images made by Jordi Sesé Puértolas from his balcony in Barcelona, Spain. These photos appear to show a blazing inferno on the “surface” of the Sun. However, science tells us this is not fire we are seeing but hot plasma (ionized gas) and gas in the wavelength of Hydrogen-α light.

Night Vision in the UK: Seize the Night!

This week’s guest blog post is written by Gavin Orpin. The blog came about as a result of a discussion between Gavin and Tele Vue President David Nagler at the recent AstroFest 2019 show held at the Kensington Conference and Events Centre in London.

The constellation Orion over the roof, image by Gavin Orpin. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken through a night vision monocular with a smartphone using the Tele Vue / TNVC FoneMate adapter. An astounding view of Barnard’s Loop (the 10-degree wide nebula arc from above the belt of Orion to the feet) — that normally requires long-exposure imaging to record. Gavin tells us that his images simulate the naked-eye view through the night vision monocular. Huawei P20 Pro phone took the image. Exposure notes: 4mm lens at f/1.6, 20-sec exposure at ISO 100.
March 1, 2019 Update: Filter Magic Coming Soon!

Coming from the U.K., using night vision for astronomy is very rare due to the cost and difficulty of getting the night vision equipment. I estimate there are only around 6 night vision astro users in the whole of the U.K..  However, I was fortunate in that one of my local astronomy club members is the leading U.K. proponent of night vision astronomy, so I was able to see first-hand this technology in action.

[Night Vision] has given me a completely new aspect of the hobby to explore.

Given the significant light pollution, living near central London does create some big issues for visual astronomy. However, night vision has given me the ability to observe DSOs (Deep Sky Objects) with my Tele Vue-85 APO telescope that I would have no chance with normal glass eyepieces. It has given me a completely new aspect of the hobby to explore — for that I am very grateful to my astro club friend and Tele Vue for making it possible for a U.K. based astronomer. In addition, when I do get the chance to visit a dark site, the night vision works even better and I can see things I never dreamed of when I began observing the stars.

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Return to the Moon with Michel Deconinck

This year all eyes will turn to the Moon to mark the 50th Anniversary of the first Moon landing. The Moon is the natural first target for new amateur astronomers, yet all too often as observers become seasoned, the Moon becomes a nuisance that blots the stars from the sky. This week we explore the Moon through the eyes and talented hands of Michel Deconinck. As you will see, there is much to see in the monthly dance between shadow and light on the lunar surface.

The Crater Copernicus © Michel Deconinck. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue 10mm Delos eyepiece (100x) with 4” f/10 Bresser refractor. The 93 km Crater Copernicus was drawn on July 26, 2015, during a waxing gibbous Moon phase. “It is rather difficult to draw, many subtle details emerge such as the arc of small impact craters and its network of lighter lines that are visible over several hundred km. Some landslides are also visible, …”.

Michel Deconinck is an artist in the South of France with a passion for astronomical watercolors. He is very involved with the international astronomical community and his artistic works have been published in magazines, scientific journals, and displayed at conferences and school events. His artistry is augmented with a background in nuclear physics, engineering and astrophysics.

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Chris Owen: Tele Vue-85 Narrowband Imager

Jellyfish Nebula, Narrowband by AstroBin user Chris Owen. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-85 APO refractor with TRF-2008 0.8x Reducer/Flattener (480mm f/5.6) with ZWO ASI1600MM Pro camera on iOptron iEQ30 Pro mount. Taken through Astrodon Hα, OIII, and SII filters for a total integration time of 16-hours. This is a striking narrowband filter image of the Jellyfish Nebula (IC 443) and IC 444 reflection nebula in the constellation Gemini. The Jellyfish (lower-right) seems to “pop out “of the screen, apparently “held back” by a tenuous connection to ICC 444 to the upper-left. The bright star Eta Geminorum (one of Gemini’s “toes”) is on the right and to the left is Mu Geminorum (one of Gemini’s “ankles”).

This guest blog post is by Tele Vue-85 owner Chris Owen. Chris is a physician in Orange County California, where he lives with his wife and 3-year old son. You can see more of his images on AstroBin.

I got started in astronomy in the 1990s while I was still in High School. I spent cold clear winter nights in Northern New York learning the basics together with my father on an 8″ Schmidt Cassegrain. I remember trying to manually guide my first prime focus images of M42 with the 2,000mm focal length SCT, shooting 35mm film in 10°F temperatures. The results were predictably flawed and after I went off to college the scope and gear were put away. I went west after finishing school and my astronomy interest faded away under the light polluted sky of Southern California.

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This Week: London Calling!

European AstroFest 2018 at the Widescreen Centre stand (left-to-right): Dr. Simon Bennett, David Nagler, Richard Day, Sasha Kostyaev.

This week’s AstroFest 2019 show, at the Kensington Conference and Events Centre in London, inaugurates Tele Vue’s exhibition season. I’ll once again be guest of The Widescreen Centre. Want to talk about Tele Vue eyepieces? Have questions on DIOPTRX? Need advice on imaging with Tele Vue telescopes? Please find me at The Widescreen Centre stand in the Exhibition hall, open 9am to 6pm, on February 8th and 9th.  You can find complete details on the Exhibition Hall on the AstroFest website.

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Tack Sharp Stars: Overcoming Eyesight Astigmatism

Simulated image of DIOPTRX™ astigmatism correction. Your experience may vary.

This guest blog post is written by Phil Ressler, a longtime amateur astronomer who lives in Los Angeles, though his observing life began on the east coast. Phil is a veteran software industry executive, currently CEO of Sixgill, LLC.

I had never seen pinpoint or round stars — apart from observing our round Sun.

I’m old enough to remember when “pinhole” eyepieces with “soda straw” views defined what a telescope offered to the average amateur astronomer. More than anyone, Al Nagler, and more than any company, Tele Vue, changed that by opening up the sky and making it easier to explore through wider field viewing. Mr. Nagler and his company also showed us that a relatively rich field refractor could not only capably serve as an amateur’s sole telescope: it is the best telescope to own if you’re only having one. We can thank Al Nagler and Tele Vue for laying the foundation for the way visual astronomy is pursued today. Yet despite all that, until I tried a DIOPTRX™ on my 22mm Panoptic last year, I had never seen pinpoint or round stars — apart from observing our round Sun. I’ve been observing the sky through scope optics since 1961, my astigmatism never absent. For people like me, DIOPTRX™ is arguably Tele Vue’s most essential product, because it makes all of Al Nagler’s original work in eyepieces and refractors unmistakably worthwhile to the astigmatic viewer.

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Sunday’s Lunar Eclipse Recap!

At Tele Vue we were stunned with the clarity and “3D effect” of this ghostly image of the red eclipsed Moon hanging in the sky against a starry background. (This is not a composite: those are actual dim stars near the limb of the full Moon!) Kudos to Bruno Yporti for planning and creating this image. Imaging details: Tele Vue-85 APO refractor with Tele Vue 2x Powermate and Canon 6D DSLR on an Atlas EQ-G mount. This is a 6-second exposure at ISO 1600 with effective focal length of 1,200mm. Taken at 03:20:33 local time (UTC -2). Eclipse Lunar Total by Instagram user Bruno Yporti. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
It’s summer in the southern hemisphere and Bruno Yporti, in Londrina, State of Paraná, Brazil, had great weather for imaging last Sunday’s Total Lunar Eclipse of the “Supermoon” over the Americas. At his private, roll-off roof, “Ophiuchus Observatory”, he readied his Tele Vue-85 APO refractor with Tele Vue 2x Powermate and Canon 6D DSLR on an Atlas EQ-G mount for the event. The sky was clear, with almost no wind, when he took the above single exposure — about 8-minutes after mid-totality. In this phase of the eclipse, the Moon was illuminated by the refracted light skimming along the entire circumference of the Earth. The deep-red light bathing the Moon is what we see at sunrise and sunset on the horizon. 

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Don’t Miss the Lunar Eclipse & Jupiter / Venus Conjunction!

(Left) Blue Moon Eclipse by AstroBin user Joe Beyer. Copyright Joe Beyer. Used by permission. (Right) January 2019 Jupiter and Venus conjunction.
Sky watchers are in for a double-treat with lunar and planetary events on the schedule in the next few days. Brilliant Jupiter and Venus dazzle in the morning as the planets approach conjunction. Sunday night in the Americas will be dominated by the total lunar eclipse. 
 

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