NP127is: Imaging the Skies Over Upstate New York!

We noticed some great Tele Vue-NP127is images on Instagram tagged with our #RPTVO (repost hashtag). They were all taken by Greg Thompson in Tele Vue’s home region of the Hudson Valley, NY. Due to the weather, one has to be persistent to be an astro-imager in these parts. So, we contacted him and that resulted in this guest blog post in two parts. The first part describes his journey into astrophotography and experience imaging with the Tele Vue-NP127is and the second part is a step-by-step guide for image acquisition and processing.

 
Reprocess of The Pillars of Creation by Instagram user Gregory Thompson. All rights reserved. Used by permission. The Eagle Nebula (Messier 16 or NGC-6611) is a diffuse emission nebula and open cluster that is home to the finger-like “Pillars of Creation” star-forming region. Ultraviolet light emitted by the young, giant blue stars in the nebula causes the gasses in the nebula to glow. The “Pillars” are actually cold accumulations of dust and gas that are silhouetted by the background glow.
Exposures at ISO 800 and 1600, 174 x 60″/45″ because of wind and low elevation.
Tele Vue-NP127is APO refractor with Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR riding on iOptron CEM60EC mount. Software: BackyardEOS, DeepSkyStacker, StarTools, and Corel Photo-Paint X5.

When I saw the first image of the Orion Nebula on the camera’s LED screen ─ WOW, I was hooked!

As a child, I would always look up at the night sky in hopes of seeing a “shooting star.” I loved the night sky but was never interested in astronomy or cosmology as a young man. I began a photography business in 2011 and had to take early retirement from my day job of 25+ years. My photography led me down many roads, from portraiture and landscapes, birds and wildlife, and many other genres. I had heard of astrophotography but was not interested as I thought it was beyond my reach. Then the television series “How the Universe Works” came to my television in 2016 and could not get enough of it. Soon after, I was browsing a photography forum that I was a member of, and saw some photographs (Deep Sky Objects’s) that a well-known scientist and photometrist had posted using a camera that I already had, and a lens very similar to one of my lenses. That opened my eyes wide and I then began to research everything about astrophotography. Three months later I bought my first camera tracker (Fornax LighTrack II) and accessories to begin my new hobby. That was in the fall of 2016. When I saw the first image of the Orion Nebula on the camera’s LED screen ─ WOW, I was hooked!

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Rodger W. Gordon’s Thoughts on the Tele Vue-85 and Questar 3.5″

Al Nagler (“Dr. Dioptrx”) with his Tele Vue-85 and Questar 3.5″.

Rodger W. Gordon has been an amateur astronomer since 1952 and has written over 300 articles for various amateur astronomy publications. Having owned hundreds of eyepieces, he has been known as the “Eyepiece King” of the hobby. In his long career, he has worked for Edmund Scientific, Vernonscope, Optical Techniques, and has consulted for Questar.

At the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) in April 2007, we introduced the 13mm Ethos 100° eyepiece. The overwhelmingly positive response to it at ensuing star-parties led me to explain why the view elicited so many enthusiastic “WOW!” comments in an essay on our website “The Majesty Factor – The Nexus of Contrast, Power, Field” (also on our mobile site). As an example of the enthusiasm, I included the following:

Right after NEAF, Rodger Gordon, a well-known “eyepiece junkie,” wrote me: “Definitely the finest wide-angle eyepiece I’ve ever seen. If God is an astronomer, this is the wide-angle eyepiece he’d choose. You can quote me.” Thanks, Rodger.

Knowing Rodger’s long experience with astronomical equipment, and the fact that we both own Questar 3.5″ telescopes, he sent me the following letter, written July 17, 2020, about comparing his Questar 3.5″ to his son’s Tele Vue-85.  I like to call the Tele Vue-85 my “Goldilocks” telescope because it’s just the right aperture and size for everything from a quick “no excuse not to go out” observing session to a full night of enjoyment. However, if I judged telescopes by their sheer beauty and elegance, I guess I would rate my Questar as the “Majesty Factor” winner 😉 .

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NP101is: Imaging the Skies Over Northern California!

Flaming Star Nebula (Hubble Pallet) by Instagram user Michael Stark. All Rights Reserved. The bright star AE Aurigae, in the center of the image, is surrounded by flame-like nebulosity. Though there is no actual flame, the UV light from this star is responsible for ionizing the gas in the nebula and causing it to glow. The nebula is about 1,500 light years away in the constellation Auriga (the Charioteer). Tele Vue-NP101is photo/visual APO telescope with ZWO ASI1600MM monochrome camera and Starlight Xpress 2″ Filter Wheel carried on Losmandy GM8 mount. 4-hours of exposures through Hubble Pallet Baader filters: OIII, Hydrogen-α and SII.

We noticed a new and very active imager using a Tele Vue NP101is pop up on Instagram this year. We asked Michael Stark to tell us about his journey into astro-imaging.

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Clyde Bone and His Two Unusual Mersenne Telescopes!

In this guest blog post, Ted Hume describes two telescopes designed and built by Clyde Bone. At first they appear to be “big-Dobs.” However, look close and you’ll note they don’t require “shaky ladders” as the final focus is through Tele Vue telescopes near ground-level. They also serve as their own finders. Read on about these fascinating instruments and how they could be yours!

Blue 20-inch, f/5 Mersenne telescope uses a Tele Vue Genesis refractor for its “eyepiece” and red 30-inch, f/5 big-brother (image shown reversed) uses Tele Vue-140 refractor. No need to climb ladders to view through these! Both scopes built by Clyde Bone. Ted Hume is at the eyepiece. Images by the author with all rights reserved.

Clyde M. Bone, Jr. (1928 − 2012) of San Angelo, Texas designed and built two Mersenne telescopes, first a 20-inch and then a 30-inch.

His career included working for the Texas Border Commission in the Big Bend area of Texas, geologist for an oil company ─ who flew a light plane to drilling sites and landed on dirt roads, science teacher at a Texas high school and in the Texas prison system. When he decided to build a Mersenne telescope, he was retired and spent a year studying optics. Then he was ready.

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Downsizing to the Perfect Small Scope and Mount

Barry Kawa’s “big toys” archive photos from his years in Ohio. On the left is his 6″, f/10 achromatic refractor with equatorial mount on a tall, roll-out mount (looks like you can sleep on the tray!). The light bucket on the right (also on wheels) is a Coulter 17.5″ Dobsonian, nicknamed “The Other Woman.” Image © Barry Kawa with all rights reserved.
Barry Kawa,  a U.S. journalist now living in Japan, wrote a prior blog for us (Does it spark joy?) about the joy of collecting scopes and the task of paring down the collection to what gives him joy. You can read this post as a “part 2” for the phase of life when it’s time to go with just one scope and mount.

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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’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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Does it spark joy?

Barry’s Tele Vue collection with Tele Vue eyepieces and mounts (L-to-R): Brass Ranger with 10.5mm Plössl on Executive Mount, Pronto with 21m Plössl on Telepod mount, Oracle with 19mm Wide Field eyepiece on Panoramic mount, Tele Vue-85 with 20mm Plössl on non-Tele Vue equatorial mount, and Brass Renaissance with 55mm Plössl on a Gibraltar Mount. Image © Barry Kawa with all rights reserved.

Tidying means taking each item in your hand, asking yourself whether it sparks joy, and deciding on this basis whether or not to keep it. Marie Kondō, Japanese organising consultant and author

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Night Vision in the UK: Seize the Night!

This week’s guest blog post is written by Gavin Orpin. The blog came about as a result of a discussion between Gavin and Tele Vue President David Nagler at the recent AstroFest 2019 show held at the Kensington Conference and Events Centre in London.

The constellation Orion over the roof, image by Gavin Orpin. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken through a night vision monocular with a smartphone using the Tele Vue / TNVC FoneMate adapter. An astounding view of Barnard’s Loop (the 10-degree wide nebula arc from above the belt of Orion to the feet) — that normally requires long-exposure imaging to record. Gavin tells us that his images simulate the naked-eye view through the night vision monocular. Huawei P20 Pro phone took the image. Exposure notes: 4mm lens at f/1.6, 20-sec exposure at ISO 100.
March 1, 2019 Update: Filter Magic Coming Soon!

Coming from the U.K., using night vision for astronomy is very rare due to the cost and difficulty of getting the night vision equipment. I estimate there are only around 6 night vision astro users in the whole of the U.K..  However, I was fortunate in that one of my local astronomy club members is the leading U.K. proponent of night vision astronomy, so I was able to see first-hand this technology in action.

[Night Vision] has given me a completely new aspect of the hobby to explore.

Given the significant light pollution, living near central London does create some big issues for visual astronomy. However, night vision has given me the ability to observe DSOs (Deep Sky Objects) with my Tele Vue-85 APO telescope that I would have no chance with normal glass eyepieces. It has given me a completely new aspect of the hobby to explore — for that I am very grateful to my astro club friend and Tele Vue for making it possible for a U.K. based astronomer. In addition, when I do get the chance to visit a dark site, the night vision works even better and I can see things I never dreamed of when I began observing the stars.

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Tack Sharp Stars: Overcoming Eyesight Astigmatism

Simulated image of DIOPTRX™ astigmatism correction. Your experience may vary.

This guest blog post is written by Phil Ressler, a longtime amateur astronomer who lives in Los Angeles, though his observing life began on the east coast. Phil is a veteran software industry executive, currently CEO of Sixgill, LLC.

I had never seen pinpoint or round stars — apart from observing our round Sun.

I’m old enough to remember when “pinhole” eyepieces with “soda straw” views defined what a telescope offered to the average amateur astronomer. More than anyone, Al Nagler, and more than any company, Tele Vue, changed that by opening up the sky and making it easier to explore through wider field viewing. Mr. Nagler and his company also showed us that a relatively rich field refractor could not only capably serve as an amateur’s sole telescope: it is the best telescope to own if you’re only having one. We can thank Al Nagler and Tele Vue for laying the foundation for the way visual astronomy is pursued today. Yet despite all that, until I tried a DIOPTRX™ on my 22mm Panoptic last year, I had never seen pinpoint or round stars — apart from observing our round Sun. I’ve been observing the sky through scope optics since 1961, my astigmatism never absent. For people like me, DIOPTRX™ is arguably Tele Vue’s most essential product, because it makes all of Al Nagler’s original work in eyepieces and refractors unmistakably worthwhile to the astigmatic viewer.

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