On June 10th, Jupiter was closest to the Earth and rose at sunset — placing it in the sky all night long. The timing makes it well placed for observation throughout much of the summer. Currently, the planet is at its best for the year, at magnitude -2.6 with an angular diameter of 46-arc-seconds. It will “fade” slightly to a still very bright magnitude -2.1 and shrink to 36-arcseconds by the start of fall, where it will be in the west at sunset, setting just a few hours later. So, now is prime-time to view and image this gas giant planet, its famous Great Red Spot (GRS), and attendant giant moons.
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.
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.
We got a call into the office a while back from the “Philly Moon Men.” The caller identified himself as one of “Moon Men.” He told us of their astronomy outreach project in the city of Philadelphia and would we like to be part of it in any way? Al has been a sidewalk astronomer since a teenager and David was more than happy to listen to their ideas and help guide them towards their goal. They’ve setup scopes on street corners and vacant lots in the inner-city to show people that they live in a Universe. Because every human being that has ever lived has looked at the same Moon, all humanity is connected by the sight of this celestial object.
We were intrigued by their youthful enthusiasm and dedication to using telescopes as a means of bridging socioeconomic gaps. We invited them to meet us at the Northeast Astronomy Forum at the beginning of April to make connections with other outreach groups and see how other ideas meshed with their own. Two smartly dressed Moon Men showed up and told us more about their adventure with astronomy and how the NEAF experience was invaluable to furthering their understanding of what’s going on in the outreach community. Frankly, they were quite surprised at how much was already going on!
Last week we heard of the sudden passing of our friend Tom Trusock. The numbing disbelief still comes in waves. We can only imagine the terrible grief his wife, daughters, and the rest of the family are feeling. We hope they are in some way consoled knowing how much Tom meant to so many as they move on from this tragedy.
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.
Just two weeks ago and a day ago we were scrambling to get the banner and handout literature ready for the Tele Vue Apollo 11mm eyepiece reveal at the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) show. At the same time, our imaging equipment was being gathered, transported, and setup for the Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference (NEAIC) that would begin the next day. Additionally, products not being shown at NEAIC were cleaned and collected for the NEAF show commencing that weekend. Plus, we’d inspected and boxed hundreds of eyepieces, Barlows, Powermates, and Paracorrs for our Cosmetic Sale at NEAF. All NEAF items had to be transported and setup on Friday afternoon at Rockland Community College, along with the NEAIC gear brought over when that show ended. We had our work cut out for us that week!
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!
The Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference (NEAIC) kicks off today and Tele Vue is there. NEAIC runs April 4 & 5, 2019 and is located at the Crowne Plaza Conference Center, Suffern, New York — only 30 miles north of Manhattan.