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.

Flaming Star Nebula (Bi-color) by Instagram user Michael Stark. All Rights Reserved. Tele Vue-NP101is photo/visual APO telescope with ZWO ASI1600MM monochrome camera and Starlight Xpress 2″ Filter Wheel all on Losmandy GM8 mount. Same as Hubble Pallet image but processed in bi-color using just the Baader Hydrogen-α and SII filter images.
How did your interest in astronomy/imaging develop?

After several years of being curious about space and feeling lost when looking at telescopes, I bought my first telescope for the perihelic opposition of Mars last year. That quickly turned into a passion for astrophotography, as a camera can see a lot fainter than my eye. Plus, it’s easy to share those views with friends, family, and the larger astrophotography community.

One of the things I enjoy about astronomy in general is that its an area of science where meaningful contributions and discoveries can still be made by amateurs. Mostly though, I enjoy imaging nebulae. The magnitude and process of star formation, plus the shear beauty of them. I find them both awe-inspiring and introspective.

Lion Nebula by Instagram user Michael Stark. All Rights Reserved. Lion Nebula (Sharpless-132) in Cepheus is an emission nebula 10,400-light years away. Hot, massive stars provide the energy that ionizes the gasses in the nebula and cause them to glow. In particular, some Wolf-Rayet stars in the nebula produce broad emissions in the Hydrogen (shown in red) and Oxygen (shown in blue) spectra. Tele Vue-NP101is photo/visual APO telescope with ZWO ASI1600MM monochrome camera and Starlight Xpress 2″ Filter Wheel carried on Losmandy GM8 mount. 7-hours total exposure time through narrowband Baader  filters mapped a follows: Hydrogen-α: red, OIII: blue, and SII: yellow (at 75%).
Why Choose the Tele Vue-NP101is?

“Tele Vue equipment holds its value really well, so I knew I could sink my savings into the set.”

After a couple of scopes/setups that weren’t really designed for astrophotography, I knew that that was the direction I wanted to focus on and was looking into getting a telescope and mount that I wouldn’t be in danger of out-growing. I was fortunate enough (it pays to stay friends with your ex-wife!) to find a great deal on an NP101is and complete set of Nagler eyepieces. Tele Vue equipment holds its value really well, so I knew I could sink my savings into the set. Since I don’t do much visual astronomy, I sold off most of the eyepieces — but not all, of course 😉 .

Horsehead and Flame Nebulae by Instagram user Michael Stark. All Rights Reserved. The Horsehead (Barnard 33 at right) and Flame Nebulae (NGC 2024 at left) are separated by the bright blue supergiant star Alnitak, the easternmost star of Orion’s Belt. In fact, the “Flame” is “lit up” by Alnitak. The flame-like appearance is enhanced by dark “branches” of light-absorbing gas in the nebula. As for the Horsehead, it’s appearance is due to the three-star system Sigma Orionis toward the upper-right of the image. It causes hydrogen gas to glow behind a dark concentration of dust that has the distinctive appearance of a horse’s head. Tele Vue-NP101is photo/visual APO telescope with ZWO ASI1600MM monochrome camera and Starlight Xpress 2″ Filter Wheel (for narrowband) or ZWO EFW 1.25″ filter wheel (for  RGB) carried on Losmandy GM8 mount. Taken through Baader Hydrogen-α, Red, Green, and Blue filters. “Super happy with this and only 95-mins of exposures.”
What do I like most about the Tele Vue-NP101is?

I find that f/5.4 is an ideal focal ratio. Much brighter than the f/10 and f/7.5 scopes I had been using, but not requiring specialized filters or being difficult to focus like an f/4 or f/2 setup would be.

“stars are crisp and clean right to the edges of the frame”

Not requiring the additional cost/weight/trouble of a field flattener is nice — the stars are crisp and clean right to the edges of the frame. Lastly, I love that the scope is produced in the United States, with a dedication to quality that is lost by a lot of manufacturers in general.

Meet the Tele Vue-NP101is Photo / Visual APO  Refractor
NPI-4057: Tele Vue-NP101is scope with included accessories.
Al Nagler took Petzval’s portrait lens concept and patented a fast telescope version for the purpose of testing eyepieces (the 5”, f/4 Multi-Purpose Telescope). By 2001, the NP101 (Nagler-Petzval) scope was the ultimate culmination of 30-years of refinement toward optical perfection for the “multi-purpose” concept. However, we did not rest on our laurels: with the CCD imaging revolution challenging telescope optics beyond anything ever placed at the focal plane, we were determined to make the NP series optically, mechanically, and functionally as perfect as possible for imaging on chips with up to 50-mm diagonal, without penalty to its near ideal visual operation.  The resulting Imaging System version of the NP101 is a 4-element, 2-group (Nagler-Petzval) design, with  a 101-mm objective diameter, 540-mm focal length (f/5.4), APO  refractor with a robust 2.4″ focuser with built-in tilt compensation. The NP101is produces a whopping  5.3° image circle at prime focus. Maximum visual field-of-view is likewise huge: 4.9° with 55-mm Plössl (10x) or 41-mm Panoptic (13x).
 
All Tele Vue telescopes are built and tested at Tele Vue and come with a 5-year Limited Warranty.

 
Heart Nebula by Instagram user Michael Stark. All Rights Reserved. The Heart Nebula (also IC 1805, and Sharpless 2-190) glows in mostly hydrogen light from energy provided by giant stars in the open cluster, Melotte 15, at the center of the image. Stellar winds from these young stars are eroding “dust pillars” (star forming regions) visible in the central part of the “heart”. The feature at the top-right is also known as the Fishhead nebula (IC 1795). Tele Vue-NP101is photo/visual APO telescope with ZWO ASI1600MM monochrome camera and Starlight Xpress 2″ Filter Wheel carried on Losmandy GM8 mount. 3-hours total exposure time through Baader narrowband filters mapped a follows: Hydrogen-α: red, OIII: blue, and SII: yellow (at 75%).
 
What is your preferred location for imaging?

I live in Northern California (real north, as in almost-Oregon north) and image from my backyard or front driveway. Skies are Bortle 4 (rural/suburban transition). By doing my imaging at home, I’m able to get a lot more exposures and nights outside than I would if I traveled to a darker site. I don’t have a permanent observatory or shed set up yet, but the ability to run and plan everything via the Ekos INDI client (observatory control and automation tool for astrophotography) and KStars (observation planner) has been nice. I can set everything up and monitor it via my phone.

Moon (High Dynamic Range) by Instagram user Michael Stark. All Rights Reserved. Tele Vue NP101is photo/visual APO telescope with ZWO ASI1600MM monochrome camera all on Losmandy GM8 mount.
How do you process your images?
All recent images processed using DeepSkyStacker (stacking), Starnet (star removal), Topaz Labs DeNoise AI (noise reduction) and Adobe Photoshop. 
 
Tele Vue-NP101is photo/visual APO telescope with Tele Vue Starbeam red dot finder, dial focus indicator, guide scope with ZWO guider, filter wheel, and ZWO ASI1600MM monochrome camera all carried on Losmandy GM8 mount. Image by Michael Stark. All Rights Reserved.
How has your imaging progressed over time?

Currently I’ve been trying to spend more time on individual targets. Most of my images are 3-4 hours of exposure time. It’s been fun, as I’ve been imaging for just over a year, to look back at the photos I took of the same object last year. Progress not perfection.

Did you observe, sketch or image with Tele Vue gear? We’ll like your social media post on that if you tag it #televue and the gear used. Example:
#televue #np101is  #moon
 

When the Sun is up, Michael works in marketing for a manufacturer of premium hardscape and landscape products and is active on the Facebook @astrophotography group.

 
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