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.
This week’s AstroFest 2019 show, at the Kensington Conference and Events Centre in London, inaugurates Tele Vue’s exhibition season. I’ll once again be guest of The Widescreen Centre. Want to talk about Tele Vue eyepieces? Have questions on DIOPTRX? Need advice on imaging with Tele Vue telescopes? Please find me at The Widescreen Centre stand in the Exhibition hall, open 9am to 6pm, on February 8th and 9th. You can find complete details on the Exhibition Hall on the AstroFest website.
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.
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.
Sky watchers are in for a double-treat with lunar and planetary events on the schedule in the next few days. Brilliant Jupiter and Venus dazzle in the morning as the planets approach conjunction. Sunday night in the Americas will be dominated by the total lunar eclipse.
The premier event of 2019 awaits the end of the year when Mercury appears to pass over the face of the sun (as seen from Earth) on November 11thfrom 12:35 to 18:04 UT. Due to its diminutive size — only 10-arc-seconds in diameter — eclipse glasses over your eyes will not do: you’ll need a properly solar filtered telescope, binocular, or telephoto lens to view it (see Viewing/Imaging Resources at bottom). Don’t miss it as the next transit of Mercury won’t be until 2032.
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!
Vic Bradford has owned a brass Renaissance telescope since 2006, about 20 years after he first saw Al Nagler show one at a Riverside Star Party. He regrets not owning one sooner as “the scope uniquely merges the beauty of form and function”. We’ve reprinted some excerpts below from a treatise he sent us on caring for the brass on his Renaissance telescope and brass fittings on his matching Tele Vue Gibraltar mount. He offers a caveat to the reader: “you may find these suggestions overkill and much can be said for simply leaving brass alone so it can develop a nice patina. Like any other fine equipment, though, it benefits from good care and research.”
These instructions are for cleaning and polishing brass lacking a clear-coating. Following these instructions will ruin your coating.
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.