The year 2020 holds some big product anniversaries for our company. Tele Vue was founded in 1977 by Al Nagler, originally to sell his television projection lenses (hence the name “Tele Vue” to match the abbreviation “TV” — read “Tele Vue: What’s in a Name?” blog post). In 1980 Al introduced Tele Vue to the amateur astronomy market with its inaugural range of four Plössl eyepieces (26mm, 17mm, 10.4mm, and 7.4mm). Additional models followed over the years until the final five focal lengths were released 25-years ago (1995).
Nagler – 40 years
With the positive reception of the Plössl eyepieces (hailed as “the sharpest I’ve ever used” by Astronomy editor Richard Berry) Al Nagler had the confidence to then bring to market his ground-breaking 82° Nagler eyepiece. This eyepiece used principles from Al’s work a decade earlier on an optical probe for an aircraft landing simulator. So began the era of “spacewalk” viewing forty years ago. (See slide show in “I Thank My Lucky Stars!” blog post.)
“40 Hours of Terror” is how a Washington Post correspondent described Hurricane Dorian’s impact on the Bahamas this past September. The category 5 storm lashed at the islands with 185-mph (295-km/h) winds (tying a record) and relentlessly drove water and debris over land to cause loss of life and $7-billion in property damage. So thorough was the devastation, that recovery efforts are expected to take many years.
Over the years, we’ve seen conversational topics in online amateur circles that repeatedly crop up concerning the definition of apochromatic refractor, triplet vs. doublet design, and how glass designation might define performance. We expect these questions to continue to appear as new amateurs discover the hobby. So bookmark this blog post because here you’ll find notes on Tele Vue’s philosophy and build practices concerning our telescope line of 100% APO refractors.
Apollo 11 made a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean 50-years ago today after an 8-day mission. Thus ended the mission that made the historic first manned landing on the Moon with the Lunar Module named Eagle.
Over the past 8-days, we’ve been reminded of the audacious journey, made 50-years ago, to set foot on Earth’s nearest neighbor: the Moon. A constant in our sky, this orb has been gazed upon by countless generations of people who thought it beyond reach. The Apollo moon landings changed all that and left a mark on our human psych. The phrase “Moonshot project,” for a large-scale, ground-breaking endeavor has been in the public lexicon ever since. Images looking back at Earth from the Apollo missions put our planet in a new perspective and prompted American poet Archibald MacLeish to write: “To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold — brothers who know now they are truly brothers.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
A package arrived at Tele Vue’s door on the Monday before the 2019 Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF). It was quickly ushered into the corner office where a small group gathered around the parcel. When opened, three black boxes were withdrawn. For the first time, after many months of development in secret, each black box was opened by a member of the design team. At Tele Vue, we call these internal product reveals a “magic moment” — when fresh prototypes are unboxed in the office for “first light.” This was a “magic moment” unlike any other; one 50-years in the making. The Apollo 11mm commemorative eyepiece had landed!
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!