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.
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 11thfrom 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.
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.
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!
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.
At only 30-lunar distances from Earth, Comet 46P/Wirtanen brightened to magnitude 3.6 as it brushed by our planet on December 16th — just 4-days after perihelion (closest to sun). The anticipation of this close pass-by engaged the attention of many amateurs that observed and imaged this “dirty-snowball” in the weeks leading up to the fly-by. But the most iconic image of this comet’s apparition was made two-weeks before its closest approach to Earth.
It’s hard to believe that our blog has been posting articles for two solid years already. We didn’t note it at the time, but our post “odometer” rolled past 100 this October. Our 101st post was Tele Vue-NP101is Imaging the Skies of Rhode Island! It featured David Augros’ images from a dark-site on Rhode Island with a Tele Vue-NP101is using our Large Field Corrector and modified Canon EOS 6D DSLR. He chose that scope because it offered “a nice balance between a generous wide field and fine details in my final images.”
Our very portable Tele Vue-76 APO refractor has been popular with eclipse-chasers as well as with users that cross over into spotting and birding. With the popularity of small and powerful dedicated imaging cameras, the performance of the Tele Vue-76 is getting noticed by deep-sky imagers on the go. Case in point, Diego Cartes Saavedra is producing outstanding deep-space images from various locations in the southern-hemisphere with this scope. All his images in this blog post were taken from July through November 2018.
Diego’s study of the Tarantula Nebula and surrounding region in the Large Magellanic Cloud examines the area imaged through different filters. The first image is a monochrome version taken in Hydrogen-α light.
Surfing through the AstroBin site’s collection of user generated astrophotos we were struck at this vivid example of M16 “The Eagle Nebula.” The image has a depth and contrast we’ve never seen before. Created using “Hubble Pallet” filters, the rich blue (Oxygen III) surrounding the “Pillars of Creation” structure is highlighted by the ruddy bland of reds (Sulfur) and greens (Hydrogen-alpha and Nitrogen) in the “folds” of the surrounding dust clouds. The blackness of space at the edge of the dust and gas cloud is preserved against all the colors.