Imaging a rare celestial event requires advanced planning, the right equipment, and often a lot of post-processing. Tony Cook traveled from the UK to Paphos on the southwest of coast of Cyprus (we suppose for the over 300 sunny days a year) to image the 2004 Transit of Venus with his Tele Vue-85, Coronado SM60 hydrogen alpha filter, Canon 10D camera, and Losmandy GM-8 mount. The 85’s optical capabilities and airline portability often makes it a favorite for amateur astronomers chasing down rare events like this.
Tele Vue received a CD-ROM in the mail with the cryptic title “Boggy Natives” hand written across the top. It was full of bird images.
An accompanying letter, signed by Walt Spence & Doug Buck explained it all. They told us that 90% of the images were “taken around Niceville’s scenic Boggy Bayou (yep, a real place)” in the Florida panhandle. Here are excepts from that letter:
I have owned a TV-85 for several years and had many happy hours with it studying both night sky and daytime nature subjects. It was purchased strictly for observing fun. Almost a year ago my friend, Doug, was trying his hand at nature photography and was not happy with the results he was getting from his telephoto kit lens. I suggested purchasing a couple of adapter parts and trying the TV-85. The results were spectacular …
Doug has since obtained a couple of large telephoto lenses for actions shots. … The TV-85 beats both on sharpness, even the vaunted Canon 100-400L IS.
Thanks for producing such a versatile and competent tool. Worth every nickel. People gasp and sit up straight when we show them the images.
We gasped too! Here’s a closeup crop of the Heron.
The January 31, 2018 full moon was a trifecta for many moon-watchers that night. The moon was larger than average (a supermoon) because mid-eclipse was just 30-hours after its closest approach to earth; it was the second full-moon of the month (colloquially a blue moon); and in parts of the world it passed through the earth’s shadow (a lunar eclipse). Joe Beyer was ready to image this rare event with his Tele Vue-85 outfitted with a 2″ Tele Vue 2x Powermate amplifier.
We asked Joe for some background on how he got this image and he told us in his own words.
I will not take astrophotography images ever again without using a guiding mount!
There’s always a story behind every image — right? The image was taken from my back yard in the San Francisco Bay Area and I was very lucky to get a good one. I got up at 2:30 AM and the weather was perfect. I planned to take the images using a stationary tripod, as I had done many times before when getting moon images, and had no problems taking the phases prior to the full eclipse. When the full eclipse started the light level dropped so much that I was having a hard time freezing the moon motion and still getting an adequate exposure. To add insult to injury I had a brand new Astro-Physics mount sitting in the living room — less than twenty feet away — but by then there was no time to set it up! Changing the ISO and shutter speed, I was finally able to get a couple shots that looked good. Lesson learned, I will not take astrophotography images ever again without using a guiding mount!
This next image was a labor of love. It is a wide-field view of the rich nebulosity surrounding the reflection nebula cataloged as Van den Bergh 141 — also known as the Ghost Nebula. To capture the detail in the image below required a fast instrument and a lot of time.
From his home in Sudbury, Massachusetts, Carlos David took over 23-hrs of exposure in September, October, and November of 2014 to create the VdB141 wide-field image. His Tele Vue-85 was equipped with our 0.8x Reducer / Flattener and Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR with Astronomik CLS Clip light pollution filter. This setup had a 480-mm effective focal length at f/5.6 and over 3.1° field on the diagonal of the APS-C sized chip. He took 140 exposures of 10-minutes each (the sky fog limit) over those months. That was followed by experimenting with software to pull out the celestial details from the background noise.