This year we are blessed by not one, not two, not three, but four penumbral lunar eclipses! (At most there can be five lunar eclipses in a year.) However, none will be dramatic: a penumbral eclipse has the Moon passing through the edges of Earth’s shadow and darkening only slightly. Most people won’t even notice the darkening taking place. There will be no dramatic “bite” taken out of the Moon and it won’t turn the color of “blood”.
The year 2020 holds some big product anniversaries for our company. Tele Vue was founded in 1977 by Al Nagler, originally to sell his television projection lenses (hence the name “Tele Vue” to match the abbreviation “TV” — read “Tele Vue: What’s in a Name?” blog post). In 1980 Al introduced Tele Vue to the amateur astronomy market with its inaugural range of four Plössl eyepieces (26mm, 17mm, 10.4mm, and 7.4mm). Additional models followed over the years until the final five focal lengths were released 25-years ago (1995).
Nagler – 40 years
With the positive reception of the Plössl eyepieces (hailed as “the sharpest I’ve ever used” by Astronomy editor Richard Berry) Al Nagler had the confidence to then bring to market his ground-breaking 82° Nagler eyepiece. This eyepiece used principles from Al’s work a decade earlier on an optical probe for an aircraft landing simulator. So began the era of “spacewalk” viewing forty years ago. (See slide show in “I Thank My Lucky Stars!” blog post.)
Saturn is in opposition tonight: it glides above the horizon around sunset and will be over 18-arc-seconds in diameter for a few weeks. At about magnitude 0.0, it will pair well with the full moon that accompanies it across the sky this evening.
The media frenzy is growing as the first total solar eclipse to cross the North American continent in decades is closing in on us.
Our Tele Vue President David Nagler likes to travel light. So he built his eclipse observing kit around the Tele Vue TV-60 and Tele Vue Tele-Pod mount. In fact, he’s shown in the image here with not one but two complete telescope setups with a selection of eyepieces and solar viewers. Here’s a complete list of what he is carrying:
Saturn will be visible all night in the sky on the 15th as it rises when the sun sets (hence it is opposite the sun). Now is a good time to revisit an essay I wrote a while back about this visually appealing planet.
I’ve found that first-time views of Saturn through a telescope typically elicit gasps of delight followed by inquisitive questioning.
Saturn’s startling beauty can open the door to wonders and knowledge about the universe that can inspire a love and appreciation of all the arts, sciences, and history.
Understanding something of the vastness and nature of the universe and our unique position as the only species possessing such knowledge suggests we commit to fostering the best in us: love, kindness, respect for learning and for all the amazing life-forms we’re so fortunate to share on this wonderful planet.
So let’s use Saturn as a means to enrich our future and help preserve our earthly paradise.
Spread the word to change Saturday to Saturnday through all media and contacts, in every social venue, to start dialogues that can open the minds and hearts of our earthling friends. Caring for our precious planet and it’s lucky inhabitants, will make future generations proud of our time here.
Tonight Jupiter is closest to the earth and rises as the sun sets — the planet is in opposition. This will place it in the sky all night long. As the nights warm up into the spring, you’ll enjoy great views of this gas giant planet. Some of the best planetary images are made at opportunities like this. Continue reading “Jupiter Opposition: April 7, 2017”
What a pleasure to have long-time customers come over to our booth to say “hello” to “Uncle Al”. Tim and Spencer Vent came to WSP from Helena, AR. A special thanks to my friend Mal Speer who helps me set-up and demonstrate our products. Kermitis was parked on Tim Peters’ (DiscMount) van to greet visitors looking through our scopes. Continue reading “2017 WSP with Prototype Image Intensifier!”
After the penumbral eclipse of the new moon on February 11th, we have an Annular Solar Eclipse just a half-lunar-cycle later. Unlike the lunar eclipse, this one will need proper filtering to observe naked eye or through scopes. The eclipse is annular because only the central part of the sun is obscured, leaving a thin ring (annulus) of light around the edge. This happens because the moon’s orbit brings it closer and further from the earth — so its angular size from earth can vary from 29.4-arc-minutes to 33.5-arc-minutes. The size of the sun hardly varies from 32-arc-minutes due to the small eccentricity of the earth’s orbit. Thus, the moon can appear to be bigger or smaller than the sun according to the circumstances. Continue reading “Countdown: Annular Solar Eclipse Feb. 26, 2017”
Some phase of this lunar eclipse is visible from most of the planet. All phases are visible in the region from the eastern parts of North and South America to Europe, Africa, and western Asia. The eclipse is “penumbral” because the moon misses the deepest part of the Earth’s shadows — the “umbra”. This also means it’s easy to miss the initial and later stages as the darkening is not as dramatic and it will lack the color-cast of an eclipse that includes passage through the umbra.