A late-summer / early-fall tradition, the Central Pennsylvania Observers’ (CPO) Black Forest Star Party was held at Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania last weekend. This is a special place for observers in the northeast: designated a Dark Sky Park by both the state and the International Dark Sky Association, it is one of the darkest areas in the state. It has a large designated Astronomy Observing Field 2,300 feet above sea level where the state has installed concrete observing pads, domes, electricity, and WiFi for observers.
Al spent some time showing people the views through a TNVC PVS-14 Night Vision monocular connected to John Vogt’s amazing 32-inch scope. Al estimates that the views of the Helix Nebula through this setup were like those from a 90 inch scope! Carl Lancaster captured M17 and M27 through this setup by putting an iPhone up to the eyepiece and snapping off pictures.
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.”
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!
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.
This interview of Al Nagler by Brian Ventrudo was published in The Equinox newsletter of AstronomyConnect.com on October 31, 2017. Reprinted with permission
A Q&A with Al Nagler
Looking Back (and Ahead)
with Tele Vue’s Co-Founder
When Al Nagler talks, amateur astronomers listen.
Nagler, of course, is a legend in the amateur astronomy community, the founder of Tele Vue Optics along with wife Judi, and inventor of the Nagler eyepiece. For two generations he’s been a fixture at star parties and astronomy expos where he dispenses wisdom and demonstrates his latest optical creations, all while establishing bonds and friendships with hundreds of stargazers over the years with his combination of razor-sharp technical acumen and boundless enthusiasm.
Al was beguiled by astronomy and stargazing after a visit to Hayden Planetarium with his father in the late 1940s. He grew up in the Bronx and had the talent and good fortune to attend the famous Bronx High School of Science, the alma mater of thousands of renowned engineers and scientists, including eight Nobel Prize winners. As part of a class project, Nagler used the school’s facilities to design and build an 8-inch f/6.5 Newtonian reflector that weighed 350 lbs! In time, Al put his talents to work at the nearby Farrand Optical Company from 1957-1973, where he helped develop the large and complex optical systems for NASA’s Gemini docking and Apollo lunar landing simulators. Not a bad way to make a living! Continue reading “Q&A with Tele Vue’s Al Nagler”