Get Ready NOW for November’s Mercury Transit!

Now is the time to prepare for the premier astronomical event of 2019!

From Tele Vue’s patio, Jon Betancourt and David Nagler view the May 2016 Mercury Transit in Hydrogen Alpha light. They’re using a big-screen Samsung Galaxy Note 4 supported by a FoneMate™ smartphone adapter attached to our 18.2mm DeLite eyepiece and Tele Vue-76 APO scope. Staff photo.

While there are at least 20 solar eclipses in a decade, there will be only 13 transits of Mercury each century!  The next one, on November 11th is less than 8 weeks away. You should  be checking your gear and doing dry runs on the Sun now (hopefully with sunspots) to prepare for this rare event: the one after this will be a long way off in the year 2032. 

The Transit of Mercury in May 2016: the planet here is 12-arcseconds across — while 20% larger than the upcoming November 2019 event — it was still a very small target. Note the size of the planet versus the sunspots in the Active Regions. White light filter on Tele Vue-76 APO scope with 18.2 DeLite eyepiece (26.4x) connected to FoneMate™ smartphone adapter holding Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Image by Jon Betancourt.

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Tele Vue APO Design and Build “Secrets”

Over the years, we’ve seen conversational topics in online amateur circles that repeatedly crop up concerning the definition of apochromatic refractor, triplet vs. doublet design, and how glass designation might define performance.  We expect these questions to continue to appear as new amateurs discover the hobby. So bookmark this blog post because here you’ll find notes on Tele Vue’s philosophy and build practices concerning our telescope line of 100% APO refractors.

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TNVC Night Vision Direct from Tele Vue

(TNV-1400) TNV/PVS-14 L3 Gen3 Un-Filmed White Phosphor

Tele Vue has taken its collaboration with Tactical Night Vision Company one step further! We are happy to announce that we now offer their TNV/PVS-14 L3 Gen3 Un-Filmed White Phosphor night vision monocular plus accessories direct from Tele Vue.

Al Nagler Goes “Full Circle” on Night Vision
Back in 1971, while an employee of Farrand Optical Company, Al Nagler was given the task of designing an eyepiece for a spiffy-new, high-tech gadget designed by ITT Corporation: a night vision device. He designed an eyepiece to view the 40° field of view created by the image intensifier tube. Now, after almost 40-years of evolution, the latest generation night vision  monocular that Tele Vue is selling uses an eyepiece at least inspired by Al’s Design — if not exactly the same!
 

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50-Years After Apollo: One of Al Nagler’s Designs is Scheduled for Launch! – P.U.N.C.H.

Apollo 11 made a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean 50-years ago today after an 8-day mission.  Thus ended the mission that made the historic first manned landing on the Moon with the Lunar Module named Eagle
The iconic image of the Earth rising over the Moon was made 1968 when Apollo 8 became the first manned craft to orbit the Moon. The mission’s impact is explained in this New York Times article.
Over the past 8-days, we’ve been reminded of the audacious journey, made 50-years ago, to set foot on Earth’s nearest neighbor: the Moon. A constant in our sky, this orb has been gazed upon by countless generations of people who thought it beyond reach. The Apollo moon landings changed all that and left a mark on our human psych. The phrase “Moonshot project,” for a large-scale, ground-breaking endeavor has been in the public lexicon ever since. Images looking back at Earth from the Apollo missions put our planet in a new perspective and prompted American poet Archibald MacLeish to write: “To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold — brothers who know now they are truly brothers.”
 

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02 July 2019 Total Solar Eclipse Images

Sunset during the end of the eclipse by Instagram user Wijaya Sukwanto. All rights reserved. Imaged through filtered Tele Vue-76 APO scope with Powermate image amplifier.

This past July’s Total Solar Eclipse was a southern hemisphere event with most of the path over the open waters of the Pacific. Starting east of New Zealand, the eclipse path made continental landfall in Chile and crossed over some major astronomical facilities in the Elqui Valley before entering Argentina. With the Sun setting and close to the horizon the shadow path crossed Argentina in just 3-minutes. The centerline just missed the capital city of Buenos Aires.  

Solar Eclipse maps and data courtesy of Fred Espenak and Jean Meeus, “Five Millennium Catalog of Solar Eclipses: -1999 to +3000” (NASA/TP-2008-214170). Green lines denote limits of visibility. Key to Solar Eclipse Figures

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Jupiter Opposition June 2019!

Solar System (Jupiter) by flickr user Eugene Beygin. All rights reserved. Here Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is facing Earth with the four Galilean satellites (labeled) on either side of the giant planet. Taken through Celestron C6-N Newtonian (6″, f/5) with Tele Vue 3x Barlow through QHY5III224 color CMOS planetary camera and tracked by Celestron AVX mount.
On June 10th, Jupiter was closest to the Earth and rose at sunset — placing it in the sky all night long. The timing makes it well placed for observation throughout much of the summer. Currently, the planet is at its best for the year, at magnitude -2.6 with an angular diameter of 46-arc-seconds. It will “fade” slightly to a still very bright magnitude -2.1  and shrink to 36-arcseconds by the start of fall, where it will be in the west at sunset, setting just a few hours later. So, now is prime-time to view and image this gas giant planet, its famous Great Red Spot (GRS), and attendant giant moons.

“Lights All Askew in the Heavens”

Eclipse image from May 1919. Newspapers from the end of that year.

The May 29, 1919 eclipse, that happened 100-years ago this past week, will always be remembered as a key “turning point” in the history of physics.  “Lights All Askew in the Heavens” exclaimed a New York Times headline while The Pittsburgh Gazette Times declared that the “Elusive ‘Fourth Dimension’ Finally Proven to Exist == Newton Theory Refuted.” Newspaper editors in 1919 were grasping at straws to explain the result of an experiment that crazily proved that star light was bent by the gravity of the Sun. Their articles on the subject introduced the names of  English astronomer, Arthur Eddington, and the German scientist Albert Einstein to the public. It was Eddington that announced to the world the results of an  experiment he organized to test a theory put forth by the then obscure German physicist. What made Eddington’s announcement unusual was that he was an English scientist propping up a theory from a German scientist in the acrimonious aftermath of the First World War. This was just a few months after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. 

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NP101is: Imaging the Skies Over Louisiana

Lagoon (Ha,OIII,SII) emission nebula by flickr user Phil Wollenberg. All rights reserved. Tele Vue NP-101is APO refractor with SBIG STF-8300M camera using Baader filters and tracked with Losmandy G-11 using QHY 5L-IIM guider. Ha (8x300s & 1x600s), OIII (2x600s), and SII (2x600s). From White Horse Camp, Sandy Hook, MS.

The Lagoon Nebula (also M8, and NGC 6523) in the constellation Sagittarius is well-known to amateur astronomers. It is a giant star forming region with an open cluster of stars embedded within (visible on the right side of the image). A giant O-type star pumps out massive amounts of ultraviolet light that energizes the gasses in the nebula and cause them to emit light in their distinctive characteristic colors. By taking images through emission line filters, astronomers can see what elements are contained in the nebula. In this image made with Hydrogen-alpha, Sulfur II, and Oxygen III filters, the bluish glow of ionized Oxygen predominates in the center of the nebula.

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Tele Vue and the Moon Men from Philly!

Philly Moon Men in Rome! Telescope is TV-76 on Tele-Pod mount. Credit: Philly Moon Men

We got a call into the office a while back from the “Philly Moon Men.” The caller identified himself as one of “Moon Men.” He told us of their astronomy outreach project in the city of Philadelphia and would we like to be part of it in any way? Al has been a sidewalk astronomer since a teenager and David was more than happy to listen to their ideas and help guide them towards their goal.  They’ve setup scopes on street corners and vacant lots in the inner-city to show people that they live in a Universe. Because every human being that has ever lived has looked at the same Moon, all humanity is connected by the sight of this celestial object.

We were intrigued by their youthful enthusiasm and dedication to using telescopes as a means of bridging socioeconomic gaps.  We invited them to meet us at the Northeast Astronomy Forum at the beginning of April to make connections with other outreach groups and see how other ideas meshed with their own. Two smartly dressed Moon Men showed up and told us more about their adventure with astronomy and how the NEAF experience was invaluable to furthering their understanding of what’s going on in the outreach community.  Frankly, they were quite surprised at how much was already going on!

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Tele Vue’s NP127fli in the Land Down Under!

Large Magellanic Cloud/Tarantula Nebula Widefield by AstroBin user Jarrett Trezzo. All rights reserved. This field shows the Tarantula Nebula (bottom-half reddish nebulae) and a section of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). TeleVue NP127fli with FLI ProLine 16803 camera and Astrodon LRGB filters exposed for 6×300″ (bin 1×1) for luminance and 12×150″ (bin 2×2: Red, Green, & Blue: 4 x 150 each) for color. Total integration time was 1.0 hour. All riding on 10Micron 2000 HPS equatorial mount. From Siding Spring, NSW, Australia.

Our blog often profiles an imager employing one of our scopes.  But this week we have a twist: we profile a single Tele Vue scope used by many imagers!  It all began when we started spotting deep space images, posted on-line, created with our  Tele Vue-NP127fli  dedicated astrograph. All the images were made from Australia by different people. It turns out this scope is part of iTelescope.net’s collection of robotic scopes at Siding Spring Observatory. Labeled as the “T9” scope, it does wide-field imaging with the FLI ProLine PL16803 (52mm diagonal CCD) camera. 

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