November 11th Mercury Transit Countdown!

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.
It was Johannes Kepler (of “Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion” fame) that first predicted transits of Mercury over the face of the Sun. He predicted the May 1607 event and November 1631 event. However, nobody knew how big (or small) Mercury would appear against the Sun, leading Kepler to misidentify a sunspot as the planet when he observed the the first prediction. Kepler was deceased by the time of the second event, but a French astronomer confirmed the transit took place.
 
The next Mercury Transit is set for 4-days from now: November 11, 2019. This blog will tell you all you need to know to view and image this rare sight!
 

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The Sun from Sunny Barcelona, Spain

protuberancias y superficie solares – 18/11/2017 by flickr user Jordi Sesé. All rights reserved. Used by permission. In this impressive image, a massive solar prominence erupts above the limb of the Sun. Furry spicules are visible along the entire edge of the disk. The roiling surface appearance of the Sun is caused by filaments and fibrils (prominence and spicules away from the limb — see blog text for details). All these solar features are usually invisible in ordinary white light. These phenomena are only revealed through narrow-band hydrogen-α light filters. Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate™ into ZWO ASI174MM monochrome camera using 100mm f/10 achromatic scope with modified Coronado PST Hα and BF10 blocking filter.

If you’re suffering from the cold northern winter like we are at Tele Vue headquarters in upstate New York, you’ll instantly be “warmed” by these “hot” solar images made by Jordi Sesé Puértolas from his balcony in Barcelona, Spain. These photos appear to show a blazing inferno on the “surface” of the Sun. However, science tells us this is not fire we are seeing but hot plasma (ionized gas) and gas in the wavelength of Hydrogen-α light.

Flashback: Great American Eclipse Aug. 21, 2017

Has it really been a year already?  A year since people from all-over converged on a 70-mile-wide ribbon of land, that spanned the continental United States, coast-to-coast , to gaze in awe at the Great American Eclipse. This was the first total solar eclipse to land in the contiguous United States since 1979 and the first coast-to-coast one since 1918. So, for many people, this was their first.

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Tele Vue TV-NP101is Relativity Experiment: Data Update

Artwork inspired by images and data from Dr. Bruns’  eclipse experiment website.

This is an update on Dr. Don Bruns’s attempt to measure star-position deflection with our Tele Vue-NP101is telescope during this past August’s solar eclipse. His goal was not just to duplicate the famous 1919 experiment (by Sir Arthur Eddington that proved Dr. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity), but to demonstrate that portable, readily available amateur equipment can produce results that rival that of professional hardware from past decades. His experiment was to “determine Einstein’s deflection to an accuracy of 1%, the best optical measurement of the deflection ever demonstrated.” He points out that a professional attempt at the 1973 eclipse achieved an error of 11%. See our blog post “Tele Vue NP101is to Test Einstein’s General Relativity” for more background.

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2017 Eclipse: Naglers in Nashville, TN!

Observers point at first contact in front of the Tele Vue tent. David Nagler is third from left in green.

If ever there was an event that bound together every living thing on this planet, the disappearance of the Sun during broad daylight reminds us of just how reliant, fragile and connected we are. To be able to share the emotions of that special moment with others reminds us that all the moments we share are special.

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Totality in Tellico Plains, TN with Tele Vue TV-85

Tele Vue TV-85 image from Tellico Plains, TN 21 Aug 2017. Yellow Sun emerges after 3rd contact. Red prominences dance along the solar limb — something you’d normally need a hydrogen-alpha filter to view. Image by Peter Carboni.

Tele Vue telescopes spread out along the center-line of the Monday, August 21, 2017 North American Eclipse. Our employees and friends report on their eclipse experiences. Our first report is from Peter Carboni, our webmaster and social media blogger. He followed the weather trend before selecting his center-line observing location just 4-days before the event!

After driving 14-hrs Sunday, from the Hudson Valley of NY to a hotel outside of Knoxville, I awoke at 3 a.m. Monday morning for the final 90-min journey to my observing site. At 6 a.m. I arrived in Tellico Plains, Tennessee — population 941 — a farming community in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains that abutted the Cherokee National Forest. It was also near the center-line of the eclipse and promised about 2’ 37” of totality.

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August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse: Inside the SOLAR LAB

Hydrogen-α image of sun and scopes inside the Solar Lab. Copyright Stephen Pizzo.

We recently received an interesting letter from Stephen Pizzo, discussing his solar imaging work with Tele Vue Powermate™ amplifiers. Most of the time (90%), he uses our 4x Powermate™ on a Hydrogen-α scope — either a LS152THA (900mm focal length) or LS230THa (1,600mm focal length). This extends the effective focal length of these dedicated solar scopes to 3,600mm or 6,400mm for breathtaking, close-up images of the activity on the Sun’s chromosphere. The choice of scope depends on the seeing conditions. If conditions won’t support the 4x, Stephen employs our 2x Powermate™ with the LS230THa for an effective focal length of 3,200mm. Stephen also notes that he normally uses 3″ to 4″ of extension between the 4x Powermate™ and the imager to get another 0.5x of magnification. The imager itself is very unique: a RED Dragon Epic monochrome 18-megapixel camera — a camera usually associated with the world of professional digital cinema.

He shared the images created with the bigger scope and 4x Powermate™ with us. As you can see below, they are spectacular!

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