Astro ImageHistoryRecollection

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.

Apollo 11mm eyepiece “Magic Moment” at Tele Vue headquarters with the development team (left-right): Paul Dellechiaie, Al Nagler, and David Nagler.

New product announcements did well on the blog. New! Quick Release Tele Vue Starbeam! and New Product! 67mm Converter for 55mm Plössl Night Vision Enhancement were in the top-10 for the year. Also proving popular was the melancholy notice from Al Nagler about the end-of-availability for our limited run of Apollo 11mm collectible eyepieces: “Yes, I’m sad they are gone, but happy to have spread more joy among our astronomical community.” BREAKING NEWS: Apollo 11mm and Sky Events! 

Jon at Cherry Springs Star Party (A. Martinez).

Our Meet the Amateur Astronomers at Tele Vue (#1 and #2) series drew a lot of interest as it offered a look at the activities of our employees inside and outside of work.

Al Nagler (left) standing a socially distant 6-feet from Mahendra Mahadeo (right) with Al’s 12-inch f/5.3 Newtonian that won first prize for Newtonians at the Stellafane Convention in 1972.
Al Nagler (“Dr. Dioptrx”) with his Tele Vue-85 and Questar 3.5″.

Interest in Tele Vue telescopes was evident in Rodger W. Gordon’s Thoughts on the Tele Vue-85 and Questar 3.5″ being the second most-read blog post published in 2020.

Vintage Tele Vue-140 (700mm, f/5,).

An article about restoring a rare TeleVue-140 rich-field refractor, Clyde Bone’s Tele Vue-140 Re-Built!, was the fourth most popular blog post. “To this day the Tele Vue-140 is the largest diameter, fastest focal ratio, Nagler-Petzval refractor we’ve ever made.” We show the scope disassembled and restored and note what has changed and what remains the same in Tele Vue telescope design.

The Orion Nebula by Instagram user Jun Luo (xchaos360). All rights reserved. Used by permission.

With no star parties to attend, we did a series of blogs featuring our telescope user community. Ranking high with readers were NP127is: Imaging the Skies Over Tampa, FL!, Tele Vue-76: Imaging the Skies over Washington!, Tele Vue-85: Imaging the Skies Over Queensland Australia!, and NP127is: Imaging the Skies Over Upstate New York!

Comet Neowise bursting through the clouds by Instagram user Jeff Husted. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Astronomical events did well on the blog. Images: The Great Conjunction! published in the waning days of December instantly ascended into the top-10 in page view popularity. It featured the best images of the Jupiter / Saturn Conjunction made with Tele Vue gear. Our blog Comet NEOWISE in the Northern Skies! was third most popular for the year. It had telescopic images of the comet from different parts of the world, including a few night-vision images from Al Nagler.

Mars 11 October 2020 (30-minutes apart) by flickr user Russell Smith. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

The Mars Opposition was the big astronomical story from late summer through the fall of last year. So, it was no surprise that four of our top-20 blog posts involved the planet. However, the September 11th post: Mars Opposition Season Images! topped all other posts on the list to become the number one most popular blog for the year. It featured Mars images contributed by amateur astronomers made from August through early September 2020 and included Anis Abdul’s planetary imaging advice for large SCT. We explained that the Mars Opposition was “more like a ‘season,’ where the planet grows in size each night over months, stays near peak size for a while, and then slowly fades away over the weeks. This gives us an observation window much longer than a single night!”

The other top Opposition posts were Last “Best” Mars Opposition for Northern Hemisphere! where we broke the news that future Mars apparitions into the 2030s will display a smaller disk and the next-best one in 2033 will be very low on the horizon for northern temperate zone viewers. Mars: Keep on Viewing & Imaging! contained a round-up of Mars images made around the time of October 13th Opposition. We also reminded people that Mars was still a large and intriguing target worth imaging after Opposition day. Mars Opposition: Visual Amplification and Imaging Tips contains planetary imaging advice using our Barlow and Powermates from amateur imagers Rodrigo Carvajal and Frederick Steiling.

2020-09-20 IR-RGB Processing by flickr user Peter Sculthorpe. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Night Vision view of the constellation Orion over the roof by Gavin Orpin. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

We thought it worth noting that several posts from 2019 garnered enough page views in 2020 that they would have qualified to be in the top-10 if published in 2020! The top-2 were: Night Vision in the UK: Seize the Night! about using Generation 3 image intensifiers for astronomy and Tele Vue APO Design and Build “Secrets” about our telescope building process and what Tele Vue considers to be the definition of APO telescope.

Hopefully, 2021 will see an end to the global pandemic and amateur astronomers will once again feel safe to chase eclipses, gather under dark skies, and attend astronomy shows. Tele Vue wishes you a happy and healthy New Year! 

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