Mars Opposition Season Images!

We mean it when we say this upcoming 2020 Mars Opposition will be the “best” one this decade and beyond for mid- and high-northern hemisphere observers. The next time Mars will be this  “large” in the eyepiece is 2033. But at a Declination of -27.8°, it will only rise  11° over the horizon for observers in London. Click image for full-size view.

The public will likely learn from the media that the Mars Opposition is a “one-night” event, on October 13th,  when the planet rises at sunset and is brighter and larger in appearance than usual. However, amateur astronomers know that the 2020 Mars Opposition is more like a “season,” where the planet grows in size each night over months, stays near peak size for a while, and then slowly fades away over the weeks. This gives us an observation window much longer than a single night!  

Mars on 2020 September 04 by flickr user José Luis Pereira. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken with 275mm, f/5.3 Newtonian on GEM mount with Tele Vue 5x Powermate and ZWO ASI290MC color camera from Brazil.

Continue reading “Mars Opposition Season Images!”

Tele Vue-85: Imaging the Skies Over Queensland Australia!

Vesselin Petkov’s imaging setup consists of the Tele Vue-85 APO refractor with Tele Vue 0.8x Reducer/Flattener (TRF-2008) and ZWO ASI533MC Pro color CMOS camera. Orion Mini 50mm Guide Scope with ZWO ASI120MC-S color CMOS camera provides guiding. Tele Vue Starbeam finder allows for swift target area acquisition. All gear is mounted on Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5 mount. Image by Vesselin Petkov. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
The combination of Tele Vue-85 APO refractor and Tele Vue 0.8x Reducer/Flattener (TRF-2008) create a potent, highly portable, flat/wide-field (480mm @ f/5.6) astro-imaging system. The following gallery of Southern Hemisphere nebulae, by Vesselin Petkov, is a great example of the exquisite results possible with the Tele Vue-85.

Imaging was done from his driveway in Queensland Australia in Bortle class 5 (suburban) skies. We’re impressed that the images presented here are composed of color sub-frames without the use of filters or calibration frames.

 
The Trifid Nebula by flickr user Vesselin Petkov. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Hardware: Tele Vue-85 with Tele Vue 0.8x Reducer/Flattener (TRF-2008) into ZWO ASI533MC Pro color CMOS camera using AstroImager for Mac software. Guided using Orion Mini 50mm Guide Scope with ZWO ASI120MC-S color CMOS using PHD2 software. All mounted on Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5.
Imaging: 32 x 300” lights (Temperature -5C; offset 5; gain 10) and no calibration frames from Cairns, Australia in Bortle Scale (1 best, 9 worst) 5 skies. Processing with PixInsight and Photoshop.

“Trifid Nebula” (M20 or NGC-6514) was named by John Hershel (1792-1871) who dubbed it the “Trifid” — from Latin for three parts or lobes — based on his telescopic observations of the divisions in the central part of the object. A single giant star in the center of the nebula powers the red glow of hydrogen gas surrounding it. The outer blue zone is starlight reflecting off of dust. The stars around the nebula are an open cluster.

Continue reading “Tele Vue-85: Imaging the Skies Over Queensland Australia!”

Mars Opposition: Visual Amplification and Imaging Tips

Mars. Copyright Rodrigo Carvajal (@shadalf on Instagram). 11” f/5 Newton with Tele Vue 3x Barlow for an effective focal length of  4200mm. Captured with QHY5III 178C color camera. Images were taken 18-days apart where Mars grew from 13.8-arc-sec diameter to 16-arc-sec. (Resized and re-oriented from original to simulate the change in apparent diameter.)

Mars is growing daily in size and brightness as it approaches opposition night on  13 October 2020.  On that date, the “Red Planet” will shine at magnitude -2.6 and be 22.4″ in diameter. At 5.5° above the Celestial Equator, it will be well placed for northern observers. Enjoy it while you can as it will not reach 22″ again until the year 2033!  See our prior post on the Mars Opposition to learn why this will be the Last “Best” Mars Opposition for Northern Hemisphere!
 

Continue reading “Mars Opposition: Visual Amplification and Imaging Tips”

Last “Best” Mars Opposition for Northern Hemisphere!

Left: Russell Croman’s Mars (© 2003) image with 14″ f/10 RCOS Ritchey-Chrétien Cassegrain and Tele Vue 4x Powermate using Philips ToUCam Pro webcam as imager. Effective focal length was 14,224mm! Stack of about 800 frames (best of 2,400 taken) at 1/25″. Image taken 25 July 2003 and featured in Sky & Telescope magazine.
Right: Ericli28 Mars (© 2016) image with C11 and Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate using QHY5L-II-M camera. Taken June 2, 2016. This was an AstroBin Image of the day for 19 March 2017.
Images are copyright by their respective owners.

The Mars 2020 opposition will be the “best” this decade for mid- and high-northern hemisphere observers.

Let’s start out by stating that the Mars 2020 opposition will be the “best” one this decade for mid- and high-northern hemisphere observers. (Better even than all the ones in the 2010’s!) On opposition night, 13 October 2020, the “Red Planet” will be brilliant in the sky at magnitude -2.6 and 22.4″ in diameter at a Declination of 5.5° above the Celestial Equator. It will reach 44° in elevation above the horizon in the city of London, UK.

Mars is an “outer planet”: its orbit is outside that of Earth’s orbit. Opposition: Earth and outer planet line up on the same side with Sun (bottom of diagram). Conjunction: Earth and outer planet line up on opposite sides of the sun (top of diagram). Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

(Due to the non-circular orbits of Earth and Mars, the instant of opposition is not usually the same as the closest approach between the pair: there can be a two-weeks difference in time. So, we’ll talk in round numbers when discussing the size of Mars around the time of opposition.)

With regard to this year’s event: yes, there have been “bigger” oppositions. In 2018 Mars was 24” in diameter (ranking with the super-duper, 2003 opposition that had Mars at 25″). However, while Mars was bigger in 2018, it was at -25.4° Declination and barely cleared your neighbor’s fence in the northern hemisphere. This year it’ll be +30.9 degrees higher in the sky! 

Continue reading “Last “Best” Mars Opposition for Northern Hemisphere!”

Comet NEOWISE in the Northern Skies!

Comet Neowise 12 JULY 2020 by Instagram user Marcella Botti. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken from Ca’ del Monte in northern Italy on 12 July 2020. Tele Vue Genesis APO refractor  (The Perfect Telescope …) with Canon 77D on iOptron GEM45 mount. Exposure was 70 seconds at ISO 800.

Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) has been intriguing northern sky watchers all summer and will continue to do so for a bit longer as it travels through the “paws” of Ursa Major. It became glorious as a morning object for amateur astronomers in June, but, after transitioned to the evening sky in July, it has become better appreciated by the general public.

Continue reading “Comet NEOWISE in the Northern Skies!”

Tele Vue-76: Imaging the Skies over Washington!

Andrew Thomas has been posting beautiful wide-field sky images on his Flickr feed. He’s imaging with one of our smaller scopes, the highly portable and capable Tele Vue-76 APO refractor! Here’s an image made by Andrew with this scope during the Great American Eclipse in August 2017.

2017-08-21 Solar Eclipse HDR by flickr user Andrew Thomas. All rights reserved. Used by permission.  Andrew writes:
“In this photo, the detailed structure of the solar corona and reflected Earthshine illuminating the surface of the Moon is revealed in this HDR composite of images taken at different exposure lengths. Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, is visible to the far left …”.
Imaged with Tele Vue-76mm APO refractor with Nikon D7100 DSLR camera riding on an iOptron iEQ45 Pro mount. Capture software was Eclipse Orchestrator v3.7. 4 sets of exposures at 1/1600, 1/400, 1/100, 1/25, 1/6, 1/3, and 6/10 sec @ ISO 200, stacked to reduce noise and enhance detail. Location: Madras, Oregon.

Andrew gave us permission to re-post these photos on our blog.

I’m glad you enjoy the images I’ve been able to capture with the Tele Vue-76. It’s a wonderful scope for both visual use and imaging. I don’t think I’ll ever give it up

Continue reading “Tele Vue-76: Imaging the Skies over Washington!”

NP127is: Imaging the Skies Over Tampa, FL!

M13 Globular Cluster in Hercules (crop) by Instagram user Jun Luo (xchaos360). All rights reserved. Used by permission. (Click image for full-frame). Considered the finest globular cluster visible from the Northern Hemisphere, M13 contains 100s-of -thousands of stars in a compact “ball” only 145-light-years across. The age of the stars in the cluster date to the formation of the universe.
Imaged with a Tele Vue NP127is APO (Nagler-Petzval) refractor equipped with ZWO ASI2600MC (color, CMOS, APC-C format) camera on Paramount MyT mount from driveway. Exposure time was 48-min using 16×180 sec subframes. Diffraction spikes were added with StarSpikes Pro 4 software.

If you follow the Tele Vue re-post (#RPTVO) hashtag on Instagram you’ll find many stunning images made with Tele Vue gear.  That’s how we found Jun Luo (aka: xchaos360) and his Tele Vue-NP127is images. He’s relatively new to astrophotography and has produced some very nice images. We had a conversation with Jun about his use of Tele Vue gear for imaging and what follows is what he told us.

Continue reading “NP127is: Imaging the Skies Over Tampa, FL!”

Powermate Solar Imaging from Kent, UK!

Proms Mono by flickr user Paul Andrew. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Lunt LS152 Solar Telescope (obj: 152mm / fl: 900mm) with Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate and imaged with ZWO ASI290MM monochrome camera (1936px x 1096px, color added in post-processing). Taken 20th May 2020 from Kent, UK. Solar prominences dance along magnetic field lines on the limb of the active Sun while fibrils of super-heated plasma fill the foreground.
Paul Andrew has been an amateur astronomer since the age of 11. He is the founder and Honorable President of the South East Kent Astronomical Society in the UK. He’s had a number of his astrophotographs published  — in particular, his solar images  — in national newspapers and on websites as far afield as Russia. He’s been short-listed for the prestigious Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition four times now. We’ve noted his high-quality solar images and discovered that many were made with our Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate in the imaging train. So, we present a selection of his work in this week’s blog.
 

Continue reading “Powermate Solar Imaging from Kent, UK!”

New Product! 67mm Converter for 55mm Plössl Night Vision Enhancement

Until now we had recommended the Tele Vue 55mm Plössl for the largest field and brightest view when using the PVS-14 Night Vision monocular. The new field/brightness champ is STILL the 55mm Plössl but extended to a 67mm focal length using our Converter Lens (ECL-67.0).  The lens is sold separately for those already owning a Tele Vue 55mm Plössl.  For those who don’t yet own one, we’ve put together a package consisting of the eyepiece, the converter lens, and a 2” Extension Tube (ECP-5567 shown above).
This image of the North American and Pelican Nebulae approximates the naked-eye view seen through a PVS-14 night vision monocular when connected to a  Tele Vue-85 with Tele Vue 55mm Plössl. Taken through FoneMate smartphone adapter with Huawei P20 Pro phone. Exposure notes: 4mm lens at f/1.6, 30-sec exposure at ISO 125. North American and Pelican Nebulae by Gavin Orpin. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Night Vision astronomy continues to expand with more and more amateurs buying military-grade night vision gear. As Gavin Orpin told us in a guest blog post last year, night vision “has given me a completely new aspect of the hobby to explore.” He’s able to observe Deep Sky Objects through his portable Tele Vue-85 that would have been impossible to see otherwise from his home near central London.  

We’ve taken advantage of the full-field capability of our 55mm Plössl by introducing a night vision specific converter lens that extends its focal length to 67mm; thereby reducing the eyepiece’s apparent field of view from 50° to 40° to exactly match the field of view of the PVS-14 objective. That’s a 20% increase in true field-of-view seen with a simple screw-in accessory lens!

Continue reading “New Product! 67mm Converter for 55mm Plössl Night Vision Enhancement”

New! Quick Release Tele Vue Starbeam!

SRT-2010 Starbeam, with a quick release base allowing easy removal from scope without the need to touch the Starbeam alignment.
Starbeam has long been the highest quality, unit-power finder companion for the amateur astronomer. Looking through its 40mm glass lens you see an unamplified, natural sky background with a 10 arc-minute (1/3 Moon diameter) collimated “red-star” superimposed over it. Alignment adjustment is built in to Starbeam so no tools are required to align it with your scope.  For high-angle targets, the unique flip mirror feature saves your knees and neck by letting you look down into the mirror to see the reflection of the sky.  This elegantly designed finder comes in three mounting versions for Tele Vue rings, Newtonian scopes, and Schmidt–Cassegrain scopes.
 

Continue reading “New! Quick Release Tele Vue Starbeam!”