Black Forest 2019 & Observe the Moon Oct 5th!

Image by Jon Betancourt

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.

M27 (Dumbbell Nebula) Night Vision image from handheld iPhone (1/4″ ,ISO 3200) taken at the eyepiece of John Vogt’s 32″ reflector. Credit and copyright: Carl Lancaster.

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. 

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Solved: Mystery of how the Apollo 11 Landed in Central Park!

There’s been a minor buzz among some Internet forum inhabitants concerning the appearance of an Apollo 11 eyepiece in Central Park on the TODAY show. In this blog post, Al Nagler explains how it “landed” there.

Still frame from TODAY show (13 Aug 2019) segment “Between the Moon & New York City” © 2019 NBC UNIVERSAL

On June 4, 2019, Wylie Overstreet, a sidewalk astronomer who made a video showing Los Angeles pedestrians the Moon with his 12″ Dobsonian and 13mm Ethos eyepiece, called me.

“The TODAY Show found our short film A New View of the Moon and contacted me to do some Moon observing with the hosts of the show and the public for a segment on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landings,” he said. He then asked: “I’d really love to use some Tele Vue loaners! Would this be something you guys would be amenable to?” 

A New View of the Moon. On the sidewalks of Los Angeles: a 12″ collapsible Dobsonian reflector with Tele Vue 13mm Ethos and Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune.
 

Return to the Moon with Michel Deconinck

This year all eyes will turn to the Moon to mark the 50th Anniversary of the first Moon landing. The Moon is the natural first target for new amateur astronomers, yet all too often as observers become seasoned, the Moon becomes a nuisance that blots the stars from the sky. This week we explore the Moon through the eyes and talented hands of Michel Deconinck. As you will see, there is much to see in the monthly dance between shadow and light on the lunar surface.

The Crater Copernicus © Michel Deconinck. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue 10mm Delos eyepiece (100x) with 4” f/10 Bresser refractor. The 93 km Crater Copernicus was drawn on July 26, 2015, during a waxing gibbous Moon phase. “It is rather difficult to draw, many subtle details emerge such as the arc of small impact craters and its network of lighter lines that are visible over several hundred km. Some landslides are also visible, …”.

Michel Deconinck is an artist in the South of France with a passion for astronomical watercolors. He is very involved with the international astronomical community and his artistic works have been published in magazines, scientific journals, and displayed at conferences and school events. His artistry is augmented with a background in nuclear physics, engineering and astrophysics.

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2019: Solar and Lunar Phenomena Overview

From Tele Vue’s patio, the Mercury Transit of May 9, 2016 was imaged in white light with our FoneMate™ adapter using a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 attached to an 18.2mm DeLite eyepiece and Tele Vue-76 scope. Mercury is in the lower-right quadrant and forms a diagonal line with sunspot regions 2542 and 2543 as it passed nearest to the center of the solar disk. Mercury was 12-arcseconds in diameter then and will be just 10-arcseconds for the November 2019 transit. Photo by Jon Betancourt.
Mercury Transit
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 11th from 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.

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July 27th: MARS Opposition and Lunar Eclipse

Mars at 7820mm (2018Jun04) on fuzzy.photos, ©Frederick Steiling.  Tele Vue 2x Powermate™ on C14 with ZWO ASI174MM camera using IRRGB filters. Image from June 4, 2018 before dust storm overtook the whole planet.

Mars will exceed 24-arc-sec in diameter between July 23rd and August 9th, 2018. This is 97 percent of the maximum of 25.13-arc-sec diameter attained during the last of the ‘favorable’ apparitions, which occurred in 2003.Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers

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Observing the Moon

First quarter moon imaged with FoneMate and DeLite 7mm eyepiece. J. Betancourt.

Most amateur astronomers will ignore the full moon. The best telescopic observations can be had before and after the moon is full.  For instance, when the moon is half-illuminated, at first quarter, as it waxes toward full. Along the night and day terminator line bisecting the moon are the boldly cast shadows of mountains, craters, rilles, and basins. This is where your telescopic lunar observations should begin.

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June 9th: Night of the “Micromoon”

The “supermoon” — a full moon that occurs when the moon is nearest the earth — seems to garner a lot of media attention. Very little scrutiny is paid to the occurrences of “micromoon” — an appellation bestowed when the full moon occurs at the furthest reaches of its orbit. Just Google “supermoon” and you’ll get 10-million results vs. a paltry 45,000 for “micromoon”. But the micromoon offers an interesting contrast to the supermoon. Continue reading “June 9th: Night of the “Micromoon””