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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.

Apollo 11mm eyepiece with included 2″ adapter.

I replied, a 2.5x Powermate with my 600mm focal length Tele Vue-85, will give about the same image size as your scope with the 13mm Ethos — about 0.8 degrees at 115x. However, our prototype Apollo 11 eyepiece with a 2x barlow yields 109x with more eye relief for eyeglass wearers, which I think gives the most comfortable sharp view ever 🙂 . I suggested he call me later that day to discuss other things, for example, will the location have nearby parking? Will it have a good southwest horizon?

After several email correspondences, Wylie advised me: “We’ll be setting up in Central Park at 8 p.m. on Monday, July 8th. I should have the exact location soon. We’ll be shooting with Harry Smith and the general public. We’ll probably conduct an interview before the light fully fades, and then capture extra shots of the public gawking from through the telescope for a little while after sunset, 9 / 9:30 p.m. I informed them about your history with Apollo and astronomy so they may want to interview you, but I can’t guarantee it.”

I told him the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York I belong to hosts “Starfests” at the Sheep Meadow , near the Tavern on the Green restaurant in Central Park, which would be ideal.

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Although they passed on interviewing me, getting the public, especially kids, excited about astronomy remains one of my primary aspirations. See this article I prepared for a magazine some years ago. It never got published because a similar article was already scheduled 🙁 . You can view the TODAY show segment here: Meet the astronomer bringing wonders of the moon to complete strangers.

Al Nagler and the Apollo 11 eyepiece will “land” again in Central Park on September 7, 2019 for Starfest, presented by the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. Al will also give a short talk.

About the Tele Vue-85
Available in ivory or green OTA (above shown with optional accessories). The OTA includes: sliding metal dew shield, screw-on metal lens cover, Focusmate dual-speed 10:1 focuser, and soft carry case. Optional accessory package (TVP-3373) includes  tube ring-mount with mounting threads, 2″ Everbrite (99%, 1/10-wave) mirror diagonal with brass clamp ring, a 1¼” ‘Hi-Hat’ eyepiece adapter with brass clamp ring, and 18.2 DeLite eyepiece  with 20-mm eye-relief that  yields 1.8° true field of view at 33x in this scope. See more info on the Tele Vue-85 page.

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