Virtual NEAF 2021: Your Questions Answered!

Due to the continuing COVID-19 crises, the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) — “the World’s Largest Astronomy & Space Expo” — will be a “virtual,” online-only affair for the second year in a row. However, that is not all bad: it allows people from around the world —  who might normally not travel to New York — to experience this special show. It’ll be FREE too!

Last time in this blog we asked for your Tele Vue product questions which would be answered on videos and played at the virtual NEAF on April 10th. The response was tremendous! Though time and slots were limited, we were able to produce seven videos for the show. Each video provides a “front-row” seat to the answer from David and Al Nagler. Below you can view a 1-minute “sneak peek” video of what to expect.  

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Virtual NEAF 2021: Send Us Your Questions!

Activity in the Tele Vue NEAF booth over the years.

For a second year, unfortunately there is no actual NEAF to attend. So once again stuck in the virtual world, we thought we might be able to create a bit of the sense of what goes on in our booth at a real NEAF. We hope to whet the appetite of those that have never been and let those experienced NEAF-goers do what they’ve done for us since the first NEAF in 1991… keep us talking about how Tele Vue products can satisfy their needs!

As our “home” show, we normally pack-up every Tele Vue product for display at NEAF. It’s a wonderful chance for people to get their hands on our equipment and really see and feel the care and quality we put into our products. While we’ll miss that personal interaction the most, the other valuable aspect of coming to visit us at NEAF is that you can ask us your questions and we can show you the answer.

With your help, we can do just that!  We thought rather than listen to Al or David ramble on about esoteric product details on a video, let’s do what we do best at NEAF. We answer hundreds of your questions from eyepiece recommendations to DIOPTRX™, Night Vision, our Imaging System, even product philosophy and manufacturing questions — you name it! This is your chance to ask us your questions and we’ll respond in the video just as we would at NEAF.

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This Weekend: Messier Marathon 2021!

By the 1970’s amateur astronomers had noticed that all 110 Messier objects (a list of notable objects in the northern skies visible in small scopes) could be observed at low northern latitudes over the course of a night in mid-to-late March. Hence, the phrase “Messier Marathon” was invented to describe the attempt at locating and verifying observance  of each object on the list over the course of a single night.

The first page of a typical Messier Marathon check sheet under red light. Messier objects in the background taken with Tele Vue-60is by James Burnell. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Sheltering in Space
Last year, on March 11, we published our “2020 Messier Marathon!” post on this blog. We noted the best dates to observe based on latitude and lunar phase, and discussed the type of gear to use for the event. We pointed out that the Saguaro Astronomy Club, in Arizona, was one of the oldest organized Marathons and they offered awards in various categories for completing the list. It turned out to be our last blog post during “normal” times that year: COVID-19 social-distancing and lock-down orders, which we had only heard about, suddenly swept through our region. The Saguaro Messier Marathon and many star parties were ultimately canceled that year and it continues into this year.

M33 The Photon Sucker (Triangulum Galaxy) by Astro Bin user Tom Peter. Copyright Tom Peter. Used by permission. Tele Vue-NP127is and Tele Vue-85 combined exposures. This is one of the first few objects in the traditional Messier Marathon list. Of course, in your scope, without the benefit of 15-hrs of exposure, this will look like a blurry little black & white smudge!

The Messier Marathon did and will go on again, “run” by solitary observers “sheltering in space.” In fact, due to COVID-19 there may be MORE Marathoners than ever as the hobby of amateur astronomy has taken off during these socially distant times. See this recent report from CBC Canada that features our dealer All-Star Telescope in Alberta: Amateur astronomy lifts off during the pandemic.

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2021 Tele Vue Product Anniversaries!

Clockwise from left (all crops except for comet): twin clusters of blue-white diamonds, with a smattering of glowing red-rubies, punctuate the black velvet background of the Double-Cluster ─ taken with Tele Vue-60is (R. Reeves). The ruby-red glow of ionized hydrogen gas backstops a dark, cold, horse-head-shaped concentration of gas to form the Horsehead nebula ─ taken with a Tele Vue Paracorr Type-2 and 10in, f/4 Newtonian (L. Marinelli). A pearl-pod of Baily Beads glisten on the lunar rim during the 2019 solar eclipse ─ taken through Tele Vue-76 with Tele Vue Powermate (W. Sukwanto). Emerald-green glow of ionized cyanogen and diatomic carbon from comet Lovejoy (C2014 Q2) taken through a Tele Vue-85 (M. Broussard).

For the amateur astronomer, “diamond,” “ruby,” “emerald,” and “pearl” evoke poetic descriptions of eclipses, stars, clusters, comets, and nebulae. They are also the traditional gemstones for the anniversary years of 10 (diamond), 15 & 40 (both ruby), 20 (emerald),  and 30 (pearl). With over 40-years of experience designing and building astronomical products —many in production for decades — we have a few “gems” of our own celebrating notable anniversaries this year. In this blog post, we take a look at current production products that are celebrating anniversaries. Among these products are five Sky & Telescope “Hot Product” awardees (those awards only started in 1998 🙂 ).

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Tele Vue-85: Imaging Under New York City Light Dome!

Deep sky images and annotated map courtesy of Mauri Rosenthal. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Mauri Rosenthal’s Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate solar images appeared in our Here Comes the Sun! blog last December. Imaging from just 10-miles (16-km) from New York City, it was reasonable to expect that his flickr and Instagram walls featured images of the Sun, Moon, and Planets. To our surprise, we also saw some images of deep-sky objects (DSOs), taken with a Tele Vue-85, from the same light-polluted location. We were intrigued at how he was able to get such reasonable results from his poorly situated location and asked if he’d relate his experiences in this blog.

It turns out we’d found the right guy for the job. Mauri wasn’t a “typical” amateur astronomer/imager: he actually teaches Urban Astrophotography in New York City, under the auspices of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. His instructor’s biography, on a  recent class registration page, describes Mauri’s motivation as follows: 

Surprised by the image quality achievable with small telescopes from his yard in Westchester County, Mauri has been developing deep expertise in Ultraportable Urban Astrophotography and is on a mission to use new technology to extend the access of city-dwellers to the wonders of the night sky.

In this guest blog post, we asked Mauri about his overall experience and how Tele Vue Optics contributes to the enjoyment of his hobby.

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Imaging the Skies with the Tele Vue-NP127is

We’re quite impressed with Frank Wielgus’ exquisite collection of wide-field, deep-sky images on SmugMug. Photographed with a Tele Vue-NP127is APO refractor, the attention to image capture and software craftsmanship is evident in his collection of galaxies and nebulae. His images have often been selected as winners in the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh’s Kevin J. Brunelle Photography Contest.

In his guest blog Frank shows and tells us the story of his astrophotography.

Sh2-155 — Cave Nebula (crop) by SmugMug user Frank Wielgus. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Emission, reflection, and dark nebulosity delightfully combine with young stars in this area of Cepheus around the Cave Nebula. The ‘Cave’ is the dark area below the red nebulosity at the lower left of the image. Tele Vue-NP127is (127mm, f/5.2, Nagler-Petzval) APO Refractor with Atik 383L Camera on CGEM mount. Exposures were multiple 400 sec. through L, R, G, B filters. Maxim DL and Photoshop CS5 were used. Imaged from Cherry Springs, PA Dark Sky Park.

I started astrophotography in the early ’90s using film. It was a Pentax camera with screw mount lenses, piggybacked on an SCT using slide film. Boy, I’m glad those days are gone! I have recently started using those lenses again on a wide field DSLR set up. I then moved to imaging through the SCT. At some point, I wanted to up my game in quality, and for me, that meant a refractor.

M8 – Lagoon Nebula by SmugMug user Frank Wielgus. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-NP127is (127mm, f/5.2, Nagler-Petzval) APO Refractor with Atik 383L Camera on CGEM mount. Exposures were 300 sec. each through L (binned 1×1), R (binned 2×2), G (binned 2×2)  & B (binned 2×2) filters. Maxim DL and Photoshop CS5 were used. Imaged from Cherry Springs, PA, Dark Sky Park.

Ever since I first acquired Tele Vue Plössls in the early ’90s, I have always admired Tele Vue products. Quality, design, and locality of service were important considerations for me. For these reasons, the NP127is was a dreamed-for acquisition for a number of years. So when the opportunity arose and with the prompting of a good friend, I acquired one. I remember being blown away by the quality. Now stars look like stars and the sharpness with flat field are incredible things to see. Barring any unusual circumstances, this scope and I are in it together for the long haul.

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Tele Vue-76: Imaging New Mexico Skies!

Brian Paczkowski has been employed by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California since 1983. Some of his work includes the Galileo Mission to Jupiter and the Cassini Mission to Saturn.  He is currently the Europa Clipper Science Manager.

Every clear night he images with his Tele Vue-76 installed at a remote observatory located at Dark Sky New Mexico (DSNM). He dedicates his Instagram wall of astroimages, “to my love of astrophotography.” 

Bode’s Galaxy (M81), Cigar Galaxy (M82) by Instagram user Brian Paczkowski . All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-76 telescope with Tele Vue TRF-2008 0.8x Reducer/Flattener and QSI 683 CCD camera riding on 10Micron GM2000 HPS II mount. Exposure through Astrodon Lum+Ha+RGB filters at -20C (22 hours of LRGB data and 15 hours of Hydrogen-Alpha). Processed in PixInsight and Photoshop. Images acquired in December 2020.

Located in the northern regions of Ursa Major and 12-million light-years from Earth, the two prominent galaxies in Brian’s image are Bode’s Galaxy (M81) and The Cigar Galaxy (M82). They are joined by NGC 3077 (an elliptical galaxy slightly further away) in the upper-left corner.  All three are gravitationally interacting members of the M81 Group of Galaxies. This wide-field image shows foreground dust in our own galaxy covering the starscape.

In the close-up crop below, the intervening dust is not emphasized in processing. The yellowish core of M81 indicates an older population of stars while the red “spots” are from glowing hydrogen gas excited by ultraviolet light from newly formed young giant stars.

Bode’s Galaxy (M81), Cigar Galaxy (M82) (crop) by Instagram user Brian Paczkowski . All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-76 telescope with Tele Vue TRF-2008 0.8x Reducer/Flattener and QSI 683 CCD camera riding on 10Micron GM2000 HPS II mount. Exposure through Astrodon Lum+Ha+RGB filters at -20C (22 hours of LRGB data and 15 hours of Hydrogen-Alpha). Processed in PixInsight and Photoshop. Images acquired in December 2020.

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Your 2021 Sky Event Planner

All Ready to View by Twitter user Simon Brown. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-NP101is with Tele Vue 2x Powermate and 3-6mm Nagler Planetary Zoom attached to Gibraltar HD4 mount. Tilton on the Hill, Leicester, UK.
A New Year means a fresh opportunity for viewing new targets and old friends in the sky. Start marking up those new 2021 calendars with this year’s astronomical events listed in this week’s blog!

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The “Best” of 2020

Tele Vue Optics, Inc. started the year 2020 optimistically.

For Tele Vue, January 2020 began optimistically: our Apollo 11mm Commemorative eyepiece had started shipping in mid-December and we innocently opined on this blog that the year would be best remembered for “20/20 vision” puns. Our usual round of winter telescope shows and star parties began with David Nagler jetting off for the late-January European Astrofest in London and Al Nagler debuting a 67mm converter for our 55mm Plössl eyepiece at the Winter Star Party in February. David Nagler visited the studio at OPT Telescopes in Carlsbad, CA to discuss The Future of Visual Astronomy for an early-February Space Junk Podcast. In March we were looking forward to the “2020 Messier Marathon” and the arrival of Spring in the latter half of the month. Instead, COVID-19 precautions shut us down from March 20th — the first full day of spring — to May 26th. Thankfully, we all returned to work healthy, but the new concept of “social distancing” put an end to any chance of in-person appearances for the rest of the year.

With the strange year of 2020 behind us, we now choose to look back at the positive. In 2020 we managed to publish 34-postings covering a variety of topics. In this week’s blog we’ll examine our most popular stories for the year based on reader raw page views.

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Images: The Great Conjunction!

Jupiter and Saturn in conjunction on 12/20/2020. by Instagram user Rodrigo Carvajal. All rights reserved. Used by permission. The planets were 7.5-minutes-of-arc apart. Imaging was done with 11-inch, f/5 Newtonian Reflector using Tele Vue Paracorr Type-2 Coma Corrector onto a QHY5III 178C Camera. Two 60-second videos combined to correctly expose both planets. From Santiago, Chile. From there, the planets were 23.5-deg above the horizon at sunset.

The Jupiter and Saturn “Great Conjunction” was well-publicized and well-imaged. Even though the closest approach between the planets was Monday, they’re still in the vicinity and worth a look tonight! This gallery contains some of the best images of the event we found on-line, acquired with Tele Vue products.

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