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 😉 .
The Mars 2020 opposition will be the “best” this decade for mid- and high-northern hemisphere observers.
Let’s start out by stating that the Mars 2020 opposition will be the “best” one this decade for mid- and high-northern hemisphere observers. (Better even than all the ones in the 2010’s!) On opposition night, 13 October 2020, the “Red Planet” will be brilliant in the sky at magnitude -2.6 and 22.4″ in diameter at a Declination of 5.5° above the Celestial Equator. It will reach 44° in elevation above the horizon in the city of London, UK.
(Due to the non-circular orbits of Earth and Mars, the instant of opposition is not usually the same as the closest approach between the pair: there can be a two-weeks difference in time. So, we’ll talk in round numbers when discussing the size of Mars around the time of opposition.)
With regard to this year’s event: yes, there have been “bigger” oppositions. In 2018 Mars was 24” in diameter (ranking with the super-duper, 2003 opposition that had Mars at 25″). However, while Mars was bigger in 2018, it was at -25.4° Declination and barely cleared your neighbor’s fence in the northern hemisphere. This year it’ll be +30.9 degrees higher in the sky!
Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) has been intriguing northern sky watchers all summer and will continue to do so for a bit longer as it travels through the “paws” of Ursa Major. It became glorious as a morning object for amateur astronomers in June, but, after transitioned to the evening sky in July, it has become better appreciated by the general public.
Andrew Thomas has been posting beautiful wide-field sky images on his Flickr feed. He’s imaging with one of our smaller scopes, the highly portable and capable Tele Vue-76 APO refractor! Here’s an image made by Andrew with this scope during the Great American Eclipse in August 2017.
Andrew gave us permission to re-post these photos on our blog.
I’m glad you enjoy the images I’ve been able to capture with the Tele Vue-76. It’s a wonderful scope for both visual use and imaging. I don’t think I’ll ever give it up!
If you follow the Tele Vue re-post (#RPTVO) hashtag on Instagram you’ll find many stunning images made with Tele Vue gear. That’s how we found Jun Luo (aka: xchaos360) and his Tele Vue-NP127is images. He’s relatively new to astrophotography and has produced some very nice images. We had a conversation with Jun about his use of Tele Vue gear for imaging and what follows is what he told us.
Night Vision astronomy continues to expand with more and more amateurs buying military-grade night vision gear. As Gavin Orpin told us in a guest blog post last year, night vision “has given me a completely new aspect of the hobby to explore.” He’s able to observe Deep Sky Objects through his portable Tele Vue-85 that would have been impossible to see otherwise from his home near central London.
We’ve taken advantage of the full-field capability of our 55mm Plössl by introducing a night vision specific converter lens that extends its focal length to 67mm; thereby reducing the eyepiece’s apparent field of view from 50° to 40° to exactly match the field of view of the PVS-14 objective. That’s a 20% increase in true field-of-view seen with a simple screw-in accessory lens!
Starbeam has long been the highest quality, unit-power finder companion for the amateur astronomer. Looking through its 40mm glass lens you see an unamplified, natural sky background with a 10 arc-minute (1/3 Moon diameter) collimated “red-star” superimposed over it. Alignment adjustment is built in to Starbeam so no tools are required to align it with your scope. For high-angle targets, the unique flip mirror feature saves your knees and neck by letting you look down into the mirror to see the reflection of the sky. This elegantly designed finder comes in three mounting versions for Tele Vue rings, Newtonian scopes, and Schmidt–Cassegrain scopes.
TeleVue Optics, Inc.
32 Elkay Dr.
Chester, NY 10918
Dear Astronomy Friends,
On the first full day of spring, March 20, when Tele Vue’s COVID-19 pandemic closing notice was put on our blog, we wrote: “We are all living through a time of great uncertainty when we do not know exactly what will come in the weeks and months ahead.” It has been a long journey, and while this crisis is by no means over, today we are all healthy and ready to fully serve our customers!
Thanks to all who supported us over the past seventy-three days! We read your kind words on our Facebook page and even got letters through the mail! Our blog newsletter saw an increase in subscriptions and a multitude of amateurs continued to @televue on social media as they found more time for their favorite hobby and “sheltered in space.”
We’re starting the process of restocking the shelves at our dealers, answering your questions, building scopes, doing our famous eyepiece quality control checks, and becoming more active on social media. While the pandemic continues to curtail events and Tele Vue’s appearances, we’ll update our website Tour Schedule, social media, and announce on the blog when and where we’ll be showing products in person.
While Tele Vue Optics Inc. is CLOSED due to Covid-19 we’ll post items of interest to our readers on the blog from time-to-time.
A Note from Al Nagler
I’d like to thank Susan Sherwood, director of TechWorks! (www.ctandi.org) for celebrating the 50th anniversary of the safe return of the Apollo 13 crew.
I’m honored to be a part of the team she assembled to help restore the Lem simulator optics, which I designed at Farrand Optical Company, a sub-contractor to Grumman, working with GP-Link.
The simulators were used to train all the Apollo mission astronauts for moon landing — and played an important role in saving the Apollo 13 astronauts — as told in the following narratives.
The greatest untold story of the Apollo 13 mission is that of the spacecraft simulators.Gerald Griffin, Apollo Mission Control Flight Director
Apollo 13 was the third attempt to land astronauts on the Moon. The landing site chosen was north of Fra Mauro crater, on the opposite shore of Mare Cognitum from where Apollo 12 had landed five months earlier. It may be hard to believe now, but no major television network covered the launch of the 363 ft (110.6 m) tall Saturn V rocket as it slowly lifted off Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970 at 2:13 p.m. EST. Trips to the Moon had quickly become blasé in the public imagination and only the Center staff, spectators, and people living on the Space Coast turned their heads to follow the crew as they began their journey into space on a tail of flame.
The initial part of the mission was indeed uneventful for Commander Jim Lovell, command module pilot Jack Swigert and lunar module pilot Fred Haise. But at about 55 hours, 55 minutes into the mission, Swigert calmly radioed flight control in Houston, Texas with the famous words: “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” The crew had felt a loud bang and were losing electrical power. His understated tone didn’t trigger any urgency until Commander Lovell looked out the window and told Houston the ominous news. “It looks to me, looking out the hatch, that we are venting something.” He repeated this for emphasis, stumbling over his words: “We are venting something out into the — into space.” It was late in the evening of April 13, 1970 when the blasé faded and the news networks began to pay attention to the drama 210,000 miles (330,000 km) from Earth.
We all find ourselves in an extraordinary circumstance, coming together to ensure the health and safety of our families, neighbors, and communities as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate. This unprecedented situation has no manual or guidebook; we are all in it together, figuring it out and making decisions on a day-by-day or even hour-by-hour basis. The health and safety of our employees and customers are our top priorities.
To support efforts under way to slow the spread of the virus, and to comply with the current Executive Orders handed down by New York State, Tele Vue will be CLOSED until such orders are lifted. The closure may lead to temporary shortages of Tele Vue products at your dealer. When it is safe to resume work, we will restart deliveries of the products that bring the wonders of nature closer and sharper than you’ve ever imagined.
Until then, our hearts go out to everyone impacted by COVID-19, including those diagnosed by the virus, all of the caregivers at home and in healthcare, and those whose job or school has been affected. We are all living through a time of great uncertainty when we do not know exactly what will come in the weeks and months ahead. There is no doubt that we are in uncharted territory, but of this we are certain: we will get through this, stronger and more resilient than ever. We thank you for your support and hope you stay well, stay safe and take care of one another.
Please watch this website or our social media feeds for updates on the situation.
Please Stay Safe and Clear Skies!
President, Tele Vue Optics, Inc.