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.

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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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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2019: Solar and Lunar Phenomena Overview

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.
Mercury Transit
The premier event of 2019 awaits the end of the year when Mercury appears to pass over the face of the sun (as seen from Earth) on November 11th from 12:35 to 18:04 UT.  Due to its diminutive size — only 10-arc-seconds in diameter —  eclipse glasses over your eyes will not do: you’ll need a properly solar filtered telescope, binocular, or telephoto lens to view it (see Viewing/Imaging Resources at bottom). Don’t miss it as the next transit of Mercury won’t be until 2032.

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2019 Anniversaries

Tele Vue Eyepiece Evolution Highlights: it all began with the Apollo Program.
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.
 

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Tele Vue Scope Renaissance! (Part I)

Tele Vue Renaissance brass telescope (built 1984-1993) was the first Nagler-Petzval type lens design to go into wide-spread production.  With its solid brass tube, its classic look is timeless.
Restoring a Storied Scope
A customer recently called because his vintage Tele Vue Renaissance telescope needed some tender-loving care.  The Renaissance was our second model, put on the market after the 1981 “Multi-Purpose Telescope” (MPT). The customer’s scope was built in 1985 and is from the initial production design with a bolt-on focuser.  After discussing the obvious issues that needed addressing and our evaluation process, he decided it would be worth it to him for us to have a look at the scope.
 
When we received the scope, the most obvious troubling issue was the focuser.  It was unusable. The pinion shaft was badly bent and two of the three teflon runners supporting the draw-tube along its travel were missing.  The outer surface of the objective showed years of grime, and all of the brass components were heavily oxidized. The optics, however, were only slightly mis-aligned, producing a mildly flaired star shape at high power, but the image was still serviceable for terrestrial and deep sky  viewing.  Sadly, after a complete optical and mechanical inspection, we concluded that it just wasn’t worth the effort and expense to revive the telescope.  That, however, was not our customer’s conclusion.
 
He gave us the go-ahead and we proceeded to give his 1985, brass Tele Vue Renaissance a new lease on life. A “renaissance” for this Renaissance if you will!
 
Left: The brass telescope tube in need of polishing. Right: tube after machine and hand polishing.

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Tele Vue Scope Renaissance! (Part II)

This post is about maintaining a brass Renaissance and matching Gibraltar mount. For the post on restoring a brass Renaissance, please see our companion blog post:

 

Vic Bradford’s brass Renaissance 102 on matching Gibraltar mount stands in front of an antique pie safe. Images courtesy of Vic Bradford.

Vic Bradford has owned a brass Renaissance telescope since 2006, about 20 years after he first saw Al Nagler show one at a Riverside Star Party. He regrets not owning one sooner as “the scope uniquely merges the beauty of form and function”. We’ve reprinted some excerpts below from a treatise he sent us on caring for the brass on his Renaissance telescope and brass fittings on his matching Tele Vue Gibraltar mount. He offers a caveat to the reader: “you may find these suggestions overkill and much can be said for simply leaving brass alone so it can develop a nice patina. Like any other fine equipment, though, it benefits from good care and research.”

These instructions are for cleaning and polishing brass lacking a clear-coating. Following these instructions will ruin your coating.

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