Tele Vue-60: post-Hurricane Restoration

“40 Hours of Terror” is how a Washington Post correspondent described Hurricane Dorian’s impact on the Bahamas this past September. The category 5 storm lashed at the islands with 185-mph (295-km/h) winds (tying a record) and relentlessly drove water and debris over land to cause loss of life and $7-billion in property damage. So thorough was the devastation, that recovery efforts are expected to take many years.

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Al with NASA Solar System Ambassador Mike Greene!

Mike Greene, Solar System Ambassador. Image courtesy of Mike Greene.
In September 2019, I attended a presentation at our local New Jersey library by Mike Greene, a NASA Ambassador. The 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 was the featured story as part of a very complete presentation of the entire Apollo program. I had no idea that 1,000 NASA Ambassador volunteers were passionately giving these free history lectures around the country.
 
Of course, I couldn’t resist telling Mike about my connection to the program, and he enthusiastically accepted my request to contribute to his future presentations at libraries in northern New Jersey. After Mike delivers his presentation, he introduces me by explaining my relationship with the Apollo program. Continue reading “Al with NASA Solar System Ambassador Mike Greene!”

Your 2019 Mercury Transit Images!

Mercury Transit 2019-11-11 Time 10-03-50-0631 by flickr user Photon_chaser. Copyright Frank Tornyai. Mercury is about to leave the face of our Sun. Hα image through Wollensak 153/1200 achromat using Quark Chromo with Tele Vue 4x Powermate™ using Lunt double stacked etalons, and ASI174 mono camera. Software used was Genika Astro capture, PIPP, AS!3 , Images Plus and Photoshop.

Images from the 2019 Mercury Transit made with Tele Vue gear have now been posted to social media. We present here the best (with permission) and note that Tele Vue Powermate™ amplifiers “shone” in the creation of most.  Not only does Powermate™ help fast, modern scopes achieve a focal length suitable for imaging the tiny planet, but some high-end, drawtube-side, narrow-band filters requires a Powermate’s telecentric operation to create parallel rays for best image contrast. (See Daystar application of Rear-Mounted Filter page).

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November 11th Mercury Transit Countdown!

From Tele Vue’s patio, the Mercury Transit of May 9, 2016 was imaged in white light with our FoneMate™ adapter using a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 attached to an 18.2mm DeLite eyepiece and Tele Vue-76 scope. Mercury is in the lower-right quadrant and forms a diagonal line with sunspot regions 2542 and 2543 as it passed nearest to the center of the solar disk. Mercury was 12-arcseconds in diameter then and will be just 10-arcseconds for the November 2019 transit. Photo by Jon Betancourt.
It was Johannes Kepler (of “Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion” fame) that first predicted transits of Mercury over the face of the Sun. He predicted the May 1607 event and November 1631 event. However, nobody knew how big (or small) Mercury would appear against the Sun, leading Kepler to misidentify a sunspot as the planet when he observed the the first prediction. Kepler was deceased by the time of the second event, but a French astronomer confirmed the transit took place.
 
The next Mercury Transit is set for 4-days from now: November 11, 2019. This blog will tell you all you need to know to view and image this rare sight!
 

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Uranus Opposition 2019

Uranus at Opposition
Uranus and moons. Celestron Edge 11 with 2.5x Tele Vue Powermate and ZWO ASI224MC color camera. Image credit and copyright by Anis Abdul.
Anis Abdul’s composite image of Uranus and moons is from the October 2017 opposition and was posted to his Facebook page. The imaging gear used was a Celestron Edge 11 telescope, riding on on AP900 mount, that was “amplified” with our Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate to achieve 7,000 mm focal length. Imaging was done with a ZWO ASI224MC color camera . The best 50% of frames from 20-minutes of video were processed for the image. Software used was Pixinsight and Registax.
 
“One of the closer moon (Miranda) is actually visible in my stacks but is lost in the planet glow ,” says Anis. 

The “ice  giant” planet Uranus was in opposition on October 28th. That means that the Sun, Earth, and Uranus all lined up together at an instant in time on that date. Uranus is on the same side of the Sun as the Earth, so the planet was closest to Earth and brightest for the year and in the sky all night long. If you missed it: don’t worry. The slow-moving planet will remain at least 3.7″ of arc in diameter and at magnitude 5.7 for the next month. 

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NP101is: Imaging the Skies Over Northern California!

Flaming Star Nebula (Hubble Pallet) by Instagram user Michael Stark. All Rights Reserved. The bright star AE Aurigae, in the center of the image, is surrounded by flame-like nebulosity. Though there is no actual flame, the UV light from this star is responsible for ionizing the gas in the nebula and causing it to glow. The nebula is about 1,500 light years away in the constellation Auriga (the Charioteer). Tele Vue-NP101is photo/visual APO telescope with ZWO ASI1600MM monochrome camera and Starlight Xpress 2″ Filter Wheel carried on Losmandy GM8 mount. 4-hours of exposures through Hubble Pallet Baader filters: OIII, Hydrogen-α and SII.

We noticed a new and very active imager using a Tele Vue NP101is pop up on Instagram this year. We asked Michael Stark to tell us about his journey into astro-imaging.

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Challenger Center Children’s Space / Astronomy Fair

Apollo 11 astronaut with Apollo 11 eyepiece 😁
Each year, Rockland Astronomy Club member Ed Siemenn (Northeast Astronomy Forum ring-leader), heads the club’s Children’s Fair at the Challenger Center in Rockland County. It’s always a pleasure and honor for me to attend and get kids looking through scopes!
 

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Black Forest 2019 & Observe the Moon Oct 5th!

Image by Jon Betancourt

A late-summer / early-fall tradition, the Central Pennsylvania Observers’ (CPO) Black Forest Star Party was held at Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania last weekend. This is a special place for observers in the northeast: designated a Dark Sky Park by both the state and the International Dark Sky Association, it is one of the darkest areas in the state. It has a large designated Astronomy Observing Field 2,300 feet above sea level where the state has installed concrete observing pads, domes, electricity, and WiFi for observers.

M27 (Dumbbell Nebula) Night Vision image from handheld iPhone (1/4″ ,ISO 3200) taken at the eyepiece of John Vogt’s 32″ reflector. Credit and copyright: Carl Lancaster.

Al spent some time showing people the views through a TNVC PVS-14 Night Vision monocular connected to John Vogt’s amazing 32-inch scope. Al estimates that the views of the Helix Nebula through this setup were like those from a 90 inch scope! Carl Lancaster captured M17 and M27 through this setup by putting an iPhone up to the eyepiece and snapping off pictures. 

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