Black Forest 2019 & Observe the Moon Oct 5th!

Image by Jon Betancourt

A late-summer / early-fall tradition, the Central Pennsylvania Observers’ (CPO) Black Forest Star Party was held at Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania last weekend. This is a special place for observers in the northeast: designated a Dark Sky Park by both the state and the International Dark Sky Association, it is one of the darkest areas in the state. It has a large designated Astronomy Observing Field 2,300 feet above sea level where the state has installed concrete observing pads, domes, electricity, and WiFi for observers.

M27 (Dumbbell Nebula) Night Vision image from handheld iPhone (1/4″ ,ISO 3200) taken at the eyepiece of John Vogt’s 32″ reflector. Credit and copyright: Carl Lancaster.

Al spent some time showing people the views through a TNVC PVS-14 Night Vision monocular connected to John Vogt’s amazing 32-inch scope. Al estimates that the views of the Helix Nebula through this setup were like those from a 90 inch scope! Carl Lancaster captured M17 and M27 through this setup by putting an iPhone up to the eyepiece and snapping off pictures. 

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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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I Thank My Lucky Stars!

Al Nagler’s presentation for the Central Park Starfest 2019.
I had a great time with hundreds of attendees at the Amateur Astronomers Association (AAA) of New York Starfest in the Sheep Meadow in Central Park on Saturnday, September 7th. The skies were mostly clear, and as we continue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, we had great views of the Moon to share using our  prototype Apollo 11mm eyepiece in our Tele Vue-85 scope.  Saturn and Jupiter also delighted the many visitors at this wonderful event that AAA hosts every fall. 
 
I was scheduled to show an annotated PowerPoint presentation about my life-long love of astronomy and how it led me along a path in which I had the opportunity to design the optical system for the Lunar Module Simulator in which every Apollo astronaut trained.  Its astronomical views inspired me to develop the “Nagler” eyepiece for my own observing and that of fellow amateur astronomers. 
 
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the equipment for the planned screening was not made available.  So, I’m taking this opportunity to share the PowerPoint with all AAA members and Central Park attendees along with enthusiasts worldwide.
 

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Solved: Mystery of how the Apollo 11 Landed in Central Park!

There’s been a minor buzz among some Internet forum inhabitants concerning the appearance of an Apollo 11 eyepiece in Central Park on the TODAY show. In this blog post, Al Nagler explains how it “landed” there.

Still frame from TODAY show (13 Aug 2019) segment “Between the Moon & New York City” © 2019 NBC UNIVERSAL

On June 4, 2019, Wylie Overstreet, a sidewalk astronomer who made a video showing Los Angeles pedestrians the Moon with his 12″ Dobsonian and 13mm Ethos eyepiece, called me.

“The TODAY Show found our short film A New View of the Moon and contacted me to do some Moon observing with the hosts of the show and the public for a segment on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landings,” he said. He then asked: “I’d really love to use some Tele Vue loaners! Would this be something you guys would be amenable to?” 

A New View of the Moon. On the sidewalks of Los Angeles: a 12″ collapsible Dobsonian reflector with Tele Vue 13mm Ethos and Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune.
 

Al’s Stellafane 2019

The annual Stellafane convention, organized by the Springfield Telescope Makers, took place August 1 –4 around their clubhouse on Breezy Hill in Springfield, Vermont. This year, Al brought the Apollo 11mm eyepiece and the TNV/PVS-14 Night Vision monocular to the field. He got great comments on both. Presented here is Al’s Stellafane in pictures.

*Here’s a painting I commissioned by Hulan Fleming of my family attending Stellafane in the early-1990s’.
“Most exciting and encouraging throughout my life has been my annual pilgrimage to Stellafane, where in 1958 my 8-inch received 3rd prize in mechanical excellence. Years later, I rebuilt the scope into a 12-inch f/5.3 and received 1st prize for Newtonians at the 1972 Stellafane.” – Al Nagler. From “Star People – Real People in Astronomy.” Amateur Astronomy #6
Alan Ward of Ontario bought his portable mirror coating equipment to Stellafane.

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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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“Stargazing” in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Top-Left: Brooklyn Bridge Park (image by David Deutsch). Top-Right: Statue of Liberty as seen through Tele Vue-85 with Apollo 11mm eyepiece (image by Al Nagler). Bottom: Al with TeleVue-85 and twilight skyline (image courtesy of Jupiter Joe’s Sidewalk Astronomy).
Each year, the World Science Festival features amazing talks and experiences in the New York City (NYC) area, such as stargazing in the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park, with stunning views of the lower Manhattan skyline and special sights like the Statue of Liberty.

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“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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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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