Tele Vue-85: Imaging the Skies Over Queensland Australia!

Vesselin Petkov’s imaging setup consists of the Tele Vue-85 APO refractor with Tele Vue 0.8x Reducer/Flattener (TRF-2008) and ZWO ASI533MC Pro color CMOS camera. Orion Mini 50mm Guide Scope with ZWO ASI120MC-S color CMOS camera provides guiding. Tele Vue Starbeam finder allows for swift target area acquisition. All gear is mounted on Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5 mount. Image by Vesselin Petkov. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
The combination of Tele Vue-85 APO refractor and Tele Vue 0.8x Reducer/Flattener (TRF-2008) create a potent, highly portable, flat/wide-field (480mm @ f/5.6) astro-imaging system. The following gallery of Southern Hemisphere nebulae, by Vesselin Petkov, is a great example of the exquisite results possible with the Tele Vue-85.

Imaging was done from his driveway in Queensland Australia in Bortle class 5 (suburban) skies. We’re impressed that the images presented here are composed of color sub-frames without the use of filters or calibration frames.

 
The Trifid Nebula by flickr user Vesselin Petkov. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Hardware: Tele Vue-85 with Tele Vue 0.8x Reducer/Flattener (TRF-2008) into ZWO ASI533MC Pro color CMOS camera using AstroImager for Mac software. Guided using Orion Mini 50mm Guide Scope with ZWO ASI120MC-S color CMOS using PHD2 software. All mounted on Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5.
Imaging: 32 x 300” lights (Temperature -5C; offset 5; gain 10) and no calibration frames from Cairns, Australia in Bortle Scale (1 best, 9 worst) 5 skies. Processing with PixInsight and Photoshop.

“Trifid Nebula” (M20 or NGC-6514) was named by John Hershel (1792-1871) who dubbed it the “Trifid” — from Latin for three parts or lobes — based on his telescopic observations of the divisions in the central part of the object. A single giant star in the center of the nebula powers the red glow of hydrogen gas surrounding it. The outer blue zone is starlight reflecting off of dust. The stars around the nebula are an open cluster.

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Rodger W. Gordon’s Thoughts on the Tele Vue-85 and Questar 3.5″

Al Nagler (“Dr. Dioptrx”) with his Tele Vue-85 and Questar 3.5″.

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 😉 .

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Shelter in Space

Christmas Tree Nebula at Amboy Crater by flickr user William Allen. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Astronomy in the time of Covid-19: Getting out in the desert for astrophotography is definitely sheltering in space. Taken at Amboy Crater on March 16, 2020.

Imaging details: Tele Vue-85 APO refractor with Tele Vue TRF-2008 0.8x Reducer/Flattener (converts TV-85 to 480mm f/5.6) imaging into ZWO ASI071 MC Pro Camera. Accessories: Tele Vue Starbeam Finder with Apertura illuminator, ZWO 30F4 Guides Scope with Starlight XPress Lodestar X2 Guide Camera. Mount: Celestron CGX EQ. Software: Celestron PWI, PHD2 Guiding, Astro Photography Tool 3.82.

Getting out in the desert for astrophotography is definitely sheltering in space.
We encountered the above phrase, this week, in the caption of an image of the Christmas Tree Nebula, made with our Tele Vue-85 APO refractor. We felt it apropos for our hobby as it succinctly conjures the connection between amateur astronomy and our current moment in world history. 
 
The image was posted to Flickr by Los Angeles based amateur Bill Allen. So we decided to ask Bill about his journey into astronomy and astrophotography and showcase some of his images in this week’s blog.  

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Astro Sketching the Universe!

Sunspots Active Region 2403 by Instagram user Pekka Rautajoki. All rights reserved. Active Region 2403 from 2015 on August 23rd (13:00 UT), August 24th (12:15 UT), and August 28th (13:40 UT). Sketched through Tele Vue-85 refractor @85x; white light filter, no tracking. Pencils on white paper, East-West mirror images. “What a wonderfully complex sunspot group! “
We posted some Instagram sketches of the July 2019 Total Solar Eclipse from Chile last month made by Pekka Rautajoki — who traveled all the way from his native Finland to be there. We found a trove of blog-worthy images, he posted on Instagram, made with Tele Vue eyepieces and  Tele Vue-85 APO refractor. They encompass a broad range of objects from the northern and southern hemispheres. So, it was only inevitable that we invited him to write a guest blog post based on his exquisite work! 

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Tele Vue APO Design and Build “Secrets”

Over the years, we’ve seen conversational topics in online amateur circles that repeatedly crop up concerning the definition of apochromatic refractor, triplet vs. doublet design, and how glass designation might define performance.  We expect these questions to continue to appear as new amateurs discover the hobby. So bookmark this blog post because here you’ll find notes on Tele Vue’s philosophy and build practices concerning our telescope line of 100% APO refractors.

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Night Vision in the UK: Seize the Night!

This week’s guest blog post is written by Gavin Orpin. The blog came about as a result of a discussion between Gavin and Tele Vue President David Nagler at the recent AstroFest 2019 show held at the Kensington Conference and Events Centre in London.

The constellation Orion over the roof, image by Gavin Orpin. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken through a night vision monocular with a smartphone using the Tele Vue / TNVC FoneMate adapter. An astounding view of Barnard’s Loop (the 10-degree wide nebula arc from above the belt of Orion to the feet) — that normally requires long-exposure imaging to record. Gavin tells us that his images simulate the naked-eye view through the night vision monocular. Huawei P20 Pro phone took the image. Exposure notes: 4mm lens at f/1.6, 20-sec exposure at ISO 100.
March 1, 2019 Update: Filter Magic Coming Soon!

Coming from the U.K., using night vision for astronomy is very rare due to the cost and difficulty of getting the night vision equipment. I estimate there are only around 6 night vision astro users in the whole of the U.K..  However, I was fortunate in that one of my local astronomy club members is the leading U.K. proponent of night vision astronomy, so I was able to see first-hand this technology in action.

[Night Vision] has given me a completely new aspect of the hobby to explore.

Given the significant light pollution, living near central London does create some big issues for visual astronomy. However, night vision has given me the ability to observe DSOs (Deep Sky Objects) with my Tele Vue-85 APO telescope that I would have no chance with normal glass eyepieces. It has given me a completely new aspect of the hobby to explore — for that I am very grateful to my astro club friend and Tele Vue for making it possible for a U.K. based astronomer. In addition, when I do get the chance to visit a dark site, the night vision works even better and I can see things I never dreamed of when I began observing the stars.

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Chris Owen: Tele Vue-85 Narrowband Imager

Jellyfish Nebula, Narrowband by AstroBin user Chris Owen. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-85 APO refractor with TRF-2008 0.8x Reducer/Flattener (480mm f/5.6) with ZWO ASI1600MM Pro camera on iOptron iEQ30 Pro mount. Taken through Astrodon Hα, OIII, and SII filters for a total integration time of 16-hours. This is a striking narrowband filter image of the Jellyfish Nebula (IC 443) and IC 444 reflection nebula in the constellation Gemini. The Jellyfish (lower-right) seems to “pop out “of the screen, apparently “held back” by a tenuous connection to ICC 444 to the upper-left. The bright star Eta Geminorum (one of Gemini’s “toes”) is on the right and to the left is Mu Geminorum (one of Gemini’s “ankles”).

This guest blog post is by Tele Vue-85 owner Chris Owen. Chris is a physician in Orange County California, where he lives with his wife and 3-year old son. You can see more of his images on AstroBin.

I got started in astronomy in the 1990s while I was still in High School. I spent cold clear winter nights in Northern New York learning the basics together with my father on an 8″ Schmidt Cassegrain. I remember trying to manually guide my first prime focus images of M42 with the 2,000mm focal length SCT, shooting 35mm film in 10°F temperatures. The results were predictably flawed and after I went off to college the scope and gear were put away. I went west after finishing school and my astronomy interest faded away under the light polluted sky of Southern California.

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Happy Holidays from Comet 46P/Wirtanen

At only 30-lunar distances from Earth, Comet 46P/Wirtanen brightened to magnitude 3.6 as it brushed by our planet on December 16th — just 4-days after perihelion (closest to sun). The anticipation of this close pass-by engaged the attention of many amateurs that observed and imaged this “dirty-snowball” in the weeks leading up to the fly-by.  But the most iconic image of this comet’s apparition was made two-weeks before its closest approach to Earth.

46P/Wirtanen, Moon Size Comparison by flickr user Mike Broussard. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Imaged with Tele Vue-85 APO and Tele Vue TRF-2008 0.8x Reducer/Flattener for f/5.6. Camera used was Canon T3 with IDAS-LPS (Light Pollution) filter. Exposure at ISO 3200 for 40×120 sec. Image taken Dec 2, 2018 at 03:05 UT.

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Tele Vue-85: Portable, Powerful, Photo-Visual APO

Imaging a rare celestial event requires advanced planning, the right equipment, and often a lot of post-processing.  Tony Cook traveled from the UK to Paphos on the southwest of  coast of Cyprus (we suppose for the over 300 sunny days a year) to image the 2004 Transit of Venus with his Tele Vue-85, Coronado SM60 hydrogen alpha filter, Canon 10D camera, and Losmandy GM-8 mount.  The 85’s optical capabilities and airline portability often makes it a favorite for amateur astronomers chasing down rare events like this.
 
Transit of Venus – 8th June 2004 by AstroBin user Tony Cook. License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons. Used by permission. Tele Vue-85 APO refractor with Coronado SM60 hydrogen alpha filter and Canon 10D camera. This is actually a synthetic color image created from the luminosity of the green channel of the photos.  Click image link to read how post-processing was carried out to create this detailed composite image.

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From Tom’s Driveway: Tele Vue-NP127is & Tele Vue-85 Simultaneous Imaging!

Cygnus Wall LRGBSHO (crop of NGC 7000) by Astro Bin user Tom Peter. Copyright Tom Peter. Used by permission. NP127is and TV-85 combined exposures of 22.2-hours. Click for details.

We noticed some unique images on AstroBin.com employing our Tele Vue-NP127is and Tele Vue-85 scopes to simultaneously image the same target. The  images from the two scopes were combined to create the final image — with fantastic results! All the image locations are given as “Tom’s Driveway” in Terre Haute, IN.  Intrigued, we contacted the imager (“Astrovetteman”) to learn how he settled on this technique for many of his images.  So we turn over our blog this week to astrophotographer Tom Peter and his dual-scope driveway setup.

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