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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
This guest blog post is by Tele Vue-85 owner Chris Owen. Chris is a physician in Orange County California, where he lives with his wife and 3-year old son. You can see more of his images on AstroBin.
I got started in astronomy in the 1990s while I was still in High School. I spent cold clear winter nights in Northern New York learning the basics together with my father on an 8″ Schmidt Cassegrain. I remember trying to manually guide my first prime focus images of M42 with the 2,000mm focal length SCT, shooting 35mm film in 10°F temperatures. The results were predictably flawed and after I went off to college the scope and gear were put away. I went west after finishing school and my astronomy interest faded away under the light polluted sky of Southern California.
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.
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.
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.