Uranus Opposition October 23rd

Uranus by Instagram user astrobobo. Copyright astrobobo. Used by permission. Imaged with Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate™ on Celestron EdgeHD 8″ SCT (effective focal length = 5080-mm) and ZWO ASI290MC camera.

On the 23rd, the “ice  giant” Uranus will be visible all night, as it rises when the sun sets (hence it is opposite the sun). It will also be at its largest for the year: a diminutive 3.73″ of arc. Due to its distance and close-to-circular orbit, Uranus doesn’t vary that much in brightness over time.  It will reach magnitude 5.7 from mid-October through early November before slightly fading to magnitude 5.9 in late March 2019. This makes it a naked-eye target in dark skies and easy to locate in a binocular or finderscope.

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Imaging in the Stratosphere with Tele Vue!

Air China A332 crossing the Moon (crop) by Instagram user Kacper Lechwar. Copright Kacper Lechwar. Used by permission. Air China Airbus A330-243 is captured poking its nose into the Sea of Serenity as it crosses the face of the Moon. Imaged using 254mm / 1200mm Dobsonian telescope with Tele Vue 2x Powermate™ and Canon 1200D / EOS Rebel T5 (18.1-megapixel) camera. Shot at cruising altitude (30,000+ feet). With this Powermate™ setup, Kacper takes a series of images in quick succession of each plane. He then reviews them on a computer before processing the best ones. Click to see full image.

We’ve noticed a proliferation of close-up plane images on Instagram made using Tele Vue Powermate™ image amplifiers. What is amazing about these images? They are taken from the ground with the plane at jet-aircraft cruising altitude. This is the imaging side of the hobby of “plane spotting.” It is sort of like bird watching — but the “bird” is much bigger and potentially much further away: in the stratosphere!

While imaging a bird can be serendipitous, the modern plane spotter has the advantage of free online flight-tracking software, such as FlightRadar 24 and FlightAware, to predict what aircraft are approaching their location. Aircraft identification, route, speed, altitude, and heading are just a click away. This software has also made its way to the ubiquitous smartphone. Thus, unlike birding, plane spotters can anticipate targets to observe in advance. This gives the spotter time to prepare for encounters with common and rare aircraft — like the Antonov An-225.

Antonov An-225 Mriya GML-LEJ by Instagram user Krzysztof Migo. Copyright Krzysztof Migo. Used by permission. Antonov An-225 Mriya caught flying from Kiev to Leipzig. Imaged using a Skywatcher 200/1000 (f/5) scope with Tele Vue 2x Powermate™ and Canon 700D / Rebel T5i camera (18.0 megapixel) DSLR camera. . Shot at cruising altitude (30,000+ feet).

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Report: Texas Star Party with Night Vision Monocular

We received a nice account from Fred Miller of Portland, TX, relating his experience at this year’s Texas Star Party with a Tactical Night Vision Company (TNVC) night-vision monocular outfitted with our astronomy adapters. We called him on the phone to discuss putting his report on our blog . He agreed and added that the feel of sweeping the sky with night-vision setup was that of the proverbial “kid in a candy store”.

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Jupiter Opposition & Mercury Tangles with Uranus!

Jupiter with Ganymede just before opposition by flickr user Szabolcs Nagy. All rights reserved. Used by permission. “I’ve used 10 videos, stacked them and derotated them in WinJupos. About 15 mins worth of imaging squeezed into one photo. The GRS looks majestic as always :)”
Jupiter will rise at sunset on May 9th. At magnitude -2.5 it will be an unmistakable sight: the brightest celestial object on the eastern horizon. It will also be closest to the Earth for the year.
 
A few days later, Mercury and Uranus draw nearer before sunrise. Mercury will be brilliant on the horizon, but northern observers will be challenged in finding Uranus in the gathering twilight. 

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Tele Vue NEW for 2018: NP101is, NP127is OTA Accessory Packages, SCT Rich Field Kits, & Diagonal Packages

All Tele Vue  telescopes now come standard as optical tube assemblies (OTA) that can be turned into “complete” units with optional, customized accessory packages.  The package costs can be substantially less  than pricing each component individually. In a prior installment we discussed the packages for the Tele Vue-60, Tele Vue-76, and Tele Vue-85 scopes. Here we’ll take up the multi-purpose Imaging System, or “is,” scopes and their associated accessory packages.

Tele Vue NP127is and NP101is scopes and accessories we’ve turned into packages for visual observing.

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Tele Vue NEW for 2018: TV-60, TV-76, TV-85 OTAs & Accessory Packages

All Tele Vue telescopes now come standard as optical tube assemblies (OTA) that can be turned into “complete” units with optional, customized accessory packages.  The package costs can be substantially less  than pricing each component individually. This blog takes you through the changes for the Tele Vue-60, Tele Vue-76, and Tele Vue-85 models. Accessory packages for the larger scopes will be covered in a future blog.

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Szabolcs Nagy: Powermate™ User Profile

For most people an overhead pass of the International Space Station (ISS) looks somewhat like a bright airliner crossing the sky.  Not for Szabolcs Nagy: with his 1,200mm Dobsonian scope and 2.5x Tele Vue Powermate™ he can get up-close video of this bright streak that resolves into individual solar panels, modules, and even docked capsules!

ISS with Some Details” (crop) by flickr.com user Szabolcs Nagy. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Sky-Watcher 250/1200 FlexTube Dobsonian with Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate™ and imaged with ZWO ASI120MM monochrome camera with ZWO red filter from London in May 2017. “Summer is full on in London, which means amazing sky with no clouds at all. We had four passes during the night, two directly over head. But couldn’t stay up longer than the first one, which climbed ‘only’ about 64° of elevation.”

Observing the Moon

First quarter moon imaged with FoneMate and DeLite 7mm eyepiece. J. Betancourt.

Most amateur astronomers will ignore the full moon. The best telescopic observations can be had before and after the moon is full.  For instance, when the moon is half-illuminated, at first quarter, as it waxes toward full. Along the night and day terminator line bisecting the moon are the boldly cast shadows of mountains, craters, rilles, and basins. This is where your telescopic lunar observations should begin.

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Technote: Using Bino Vue with Paracorr

Bino Vue with 24mm Panoptic eyepieces on Paracorr Type-2.

You may know that Tele Vue’s Paracorr Type-2 accessory is the color-free cure for coma (star elongation) in fast Newtonians. But did you know that Paracorr™ users can enjoy their coma corrected Dob/Newts with two eyes using Bino Vue? Continue reading “Technote: Using Bino Vue with Paracorr”

Roger Hutchinson: Powermate™ User Profile

A powerful solar prominence explodes from the limb of the  solar disk in “Sunspot AR2665 & Prominence” by flickr.com user Roger Hutchinson. All rights reserved. Used by permission.  Composite of two images: one exposed for prominence and the other for sunspot group. Lunt LS60 Hydrogen-∝ scope, Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate™ & ZWO ASI174MM  monochrome camera. False colour added.

Roger Hutchinson is a noted amateur astrophotographer who produces much of his planetary, solar, and even comet work from what he admits are the “light polluted skies of southwest London”. His imaging work is showcased on his aptly named The London Astronomer website as well as on flickr, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Roger’s Venus Phase Evolution image splashed onto the planetarium dome of the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. All rights reserved.

Roger’s interest in imaging the sky runs back to the age of 11 and has culminated as the recent recipient of the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year award in the Planets, Comets & Asteroids category for 6-month-long effort to capture the evolution of the phases of Venus. Some of Roger’s social media profiles include a picture of the “Captain” standing with “Bleep” and “Booster” from the BBC animated series “Bleep and Booster”.  He says “I have two kids myself so thought the image was kind of appropriate. Suitably space related and brings back some happy childhood memories.”