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.
Imaging a rare celestial event requires advanced planning, the right equipment, and often a lot of post-processing. Tony Cook traveled from the UK to Paphos on the southwest of coast of Cyprus (we suppose for the over 300 sunny days a year) to image the 2004 Transit of Venus with his Tele Vue-85, Coronado SM60 hydrogen alpha filter, Canon 10D camera, and Losmandy GM-8 mount. The 85’s optical capabilities and airline portability often makes it a favorite for amateur astronomers chasing down rare events like this.
We found unique takes on familiar deep-sky objects on David Augros’ AstroBin account. They were taken with our Tele Vue-NP101is refractor (photo/visual, 101mm, f/5.4 APO) using our Large Field Corrector (LCL-1069) and modified Canon EOS 6D DSLR.
We asked David how he got involved in astro-imaging and why he choose this scope. He told us in his own words.
This year we received a phone call from Jeff Bennett with some questions about his new TV-NP127is scope. He’d only been using it since the fall of 2017 but was very enthusiastic and told us he’d tried other scopes, but the NP127is was the best he’d ever used. We viewed his astrobin.com page and we were impressed with his initial results. So, we asked him to tell us why he chose the NP127is for astro imaging and he told us in his own words.
We’ve been following the great work of astro-imager Patrick Winkler from Austria through his Instagram account @cel_objects. Among the varied camera lenses and scopes used for these images was our own Tele Vue-NP127fli astrograph. The strength of this scope is wide-field imaging and his work in this area is exemplary.
For instance, with the NP127fli he was able to perfectly frame and capture the spirit of the NGC 869 and NGC 884 in Perseus as twin clusters of sparkling blue-white diamonds, with a smattering of glowing red-rubies, punctuating the black velvet sky background. The Double Cluster never looked so good!
The changing face of the moon has long been documented by artists. In the early 1600’s, the introduction of the telescope allowed for detailed sketching of lunar features at the eyepiece. The most celebrated early telescope sketcher was Galileo Galilei. His artistic training allowed him to understand that the jagged appearance of the lunar terminator (day/night line) seen in the eyepiece was due to the topography of craters, mountain, and ridges on the moon. These irregular shadows on the moon had puzzled earlier observers that considered the moon to be a flat disk with markings on it.