Tele Vue founder Al Nagler was one of 400,000 people estimated to have worked on the Apollo moon landing program. The year 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the culmination of all that effort: the first manned Moon landing. Al’s involvement with that mission and derivative work for the Air Force during that period would inspire him to found Tele Vue Optics and influence our eyepiece designs for decades to come.
“Infinity Display Projectors” covered the triangular windows outside the Lunar Module (LM) Simulator and provided 110° fields of view of the “lunar surface” and accurate representation of the “stars” in space. The simulator’s star field used precisely placed and sized ball-bearings on a computer-controlled black sphere. The realistic lunar surface image was derived from an optical probe moving over a model of the lunar surface.
The LM Simulator optical probe worked so well that, in 1968, the Air Force requested a wider-angle system for aircraft landing and simulation be built for evaluation. Al’s improvement on the LM optical probe design gave him insights that led to the development of his revolutionary 82° Nagler eyepiece line over a decade later.
But the decades-old memory of the wide-field views of the celestial sphere and lunar surface moving through the triangular windows of the LM Simulator continued to inspire Al. So he encouraged his Tele Vue protege, Paul Dellechiaie, to extend the Ethos-SX eyepiece designs to match the 110° apparent field of view of the LM Simulator and bring a true “spacewalk” experience to the amateur astronomer.
The following video from MIT Science Reporter television show in 1966 takes the audience for a simulated lunar landing three years before the actual event. It contains clips of the optical probe over the lunar surface as well as the view through the LM Simulator windows.
As the goal was to land and return people from the Moon before years-end, Apollo program milestones passed quickly in 1969. Because all missions were extensively simulated by the mission astronauts and their backup crews, you can imagine the LM Simulators were very busy that year!
Apollo 9, launched in March, conducted the first manned test of the Lunar Module (named Spider) while in low Earth orbit.
Apollo 10 in May brought a Lunar Module into lunar orbit for the first time. Named Snoopy, it took a two astronaut crew within miles of the lunar surface in a dress rehearsal for lunar landing.
Apollo 11 in July made the historic first manned landing on the Moon with the Lunar Module named Eagle. We take this as proof that the simulator work that Al did must have been pretty good!
The year ended with Apollo 12, in November, making a second successful landing in Lunar Module Intrepid.
Stay “tuned” to this blog for more on the Apollo Moon Landing anniversary in 2019
Tele Vue Product Anniversaries for 2019
The Tele Vue NP-127fli astrograph celebrates 5-years in production. Its sole purpose is to create wide-field images — 4.3-degrees on the diagonal of its 52mm diameter image circle. This astrograph is designed to operate with the Finger Lakes Instrumentation (FLI) Atlas electronic focuser – hence the “fli” designation. Last year we featured some exemplary images made by one of the most prolific users of this instrument on our blog: Tele Vue-NP127fli Imaging the Skies Over Austria.
A slew of products attained the 20-years mark this year. Sky & Telescope magazine’s “Hot Product” review of the 31mm Nagler Type-5 eyepiece acknowledged “dropped jaws” when the editors first set eyes on it. But they extolled the expansive field of view and eye-relief from this ground-breaking eyepiece. The 4x Powermate amplifier, the first with a 2″ barrel, joined the 1¼” models that were introduced the year before (see our Powermate gallery on flickr). That same year also marks the introduction of the first Everbrite diagonal (99% reflection) and 0.8x Reducer.
With the turn of the calendar page, our Paracorr line has been “eating coma” in fast Dobsonian / Newtonians for 30-years. The latest member of this line, our BIG Paracorr Type-2, celebrates 5-years in production. BIG Paracorr Type-2 turns fast Newtonians into astrographs by making color-free coma (star elongation) corrections to the optics. This offers optical benefits for amateurs and professionals using CCD formats as large as 52mm diagonal in scopes as fast as f/3! BIG Paracorr works with 3″ focusers while our smaller Paracorr Type-2 works in 2″ focusers. You can read about the BIG Paracorr in action on our blog post: BIG Paracorr User Profile: Jay Butler.
While we often discuss the Plössl and Nagler eyepieces as being the first astronomical products introduced by Tele Vue, an 1¼” Barlow was also in the mix that first year. Eventually, with a growing number of 2″ barrel eyepieces introduced, we got around to creating a Barlow for that format.
We wish you clear skies for 2019 and look forward to another year of innovation, craftsmanship and bringing the wonders of nature closer, and sharper than you’ve ever imagined!