You’ve heard of the four seasons of the year but, did you know about Galaxy Season? From early March to mid-May, the band of our Milky Way home galaxy is low in the sky, leaving a large, dark, contrasty zone high above the horizon. The galaxies that inhabit this area are in prime view at this time.
Spring Galaxy Season
In the northern hemisphere, Galaxy Season is far enough from the short nights of summer that many galaxies pass through your nighttime sky. In particular, this is the time to view and image the “Realm of Galaxies” that run through the constellations Virgo and Coma Berenices.
Taking advantage of the wide-field imaging offered by the Tele Vue-76 APO refractor, Brian Paczkowski captured the most prominent members of the M81 Group (in constellations Ursa Major and Camelopardalis) and the gas in the surrounding space. The Group is close to the zenith at sunset and well placed for imaging in the spring Galaxy Season.
Imaging is not the only way to enjoy M81 in the night sky. Belgian observer Tom Corstjens employed a Tele Vue Paracorr coma corrector and Tele Vue 17.3mm Delos eyepieces in his Alkaid 16″ f/4.2 Dobsonian to sketch the galaxy. In fact, drawing the object can be an immersive experience that leads to a finer understanding of the structure of the galaxy in a way that taking a photograph just can’t. Tom explains what he learned about M81 in the quote below the image.
The central, elongated core zone is bright. Averted vision detects the start of a spiral arm on the northern side and careful observation detects this arch continuing to spin along the west; near a close binary star pair the spiral arm looks a bit brighter and then fades into the background, between this first arm and the core zone there is a clear dark zone and on the other side there is also a similar dark cove; it is caused by the second spiral arm. This arm is best recognizable near two foreground stars in the central part: there is a beautiful, patchy arc that connects the weak outer spur with the inner region. Looking carefully, the broad core zone seems to contain two less dark curves that accentuate the position of the spiral.
Another galactic use of the Tele Vue-76 APO’s wide-field is found in Brian’s Markarian’s Chain image. While the brighter members of the group were sighted by Charles Messier and William Herschel, the name comes from Benjamin Markarian, who first noted that many members of this galaxy chain in the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies had a common motion.
The following is an amazing pan and zoom through the above image. Every fuzzy object, labeled or not, is a galaxy!
Meet the Tele Vue Eyepieces!
With Tele Vue’s wide range of focal lengths and designs, you’re sure to find the right eyepieces for your scope and target object.
Note on Eyepiece Inspection
Even with on-going supply-chain slowdowns, our eyepiece inspectors continue to be very busy! The inspection process is more involved than just checking to see if it comes to focus. For every eyepiece, inspection begins with the cosmetic appearance of the lenses and metalwork. Uniformity of anodizing, chrome plating, and paint applications on the barrels is assessed. The eyepiece is then checked for any naked-eye visible coating or glass defects. The next step is the optical evaluation. Each eyepiece is placed in our patented 5″ f/4 flat-field Multi-Purpose Telescope (MPT) test refractor. The variable iris on the MPT is used to inspect for internal cleanliness at f/16 and for any optical abnormalities at f/4. Only after the inspector is satisfied that the product meets our cosmetic and optical standards are eyepieces packaged for shipping.
And what happens to eyepieces that don’t pass inspection? They can be disassembled and combined to make passable units, set aside and used for parts to repair customer eyepieces, or sometimes marked and sold as “NEAF” cosmetic blems. The point of all of this is that we want you to be happy with your newly purchased Tele Vue eyepiece!
Space Walk Eyepieces
For observing with undriven scopes, we highly recommend wide apparent field of view eyepieces such as 82° Nagler and 100° Ethos / 110° Ethos-SX due to the larger true fields they deliver over narrower apparent field eyepieces of the same focal length. Their extreme field sharpness allows you to place a celestial object at one edge of the field and let it drift across to the other before having to reposition your scope! While this is a particular advantage at higher magnifications, having a large true field combined with the darker sky background produced by a smaller exit pupil size (The Majesty Factor) makes this eyepiece class ideal for galaxy hunting!
Long Eye Relief
If you’re more comfortable with long eye relief while lingering at the eyepiece, the 31mm Nagler and 22mm Nagler have a generous 19mm of eye relief and provide wide true-field views of the heavens. Great eye relief at a more economical price is found in the long focal length members of the 68° Panoptic series (27mm, 35mm and 41mm Panoptic). Our Tele Vue Plössls have long eye relief in the longer focal lengths (25mm, 32mm, 40mm and 55mm Plössl). Our widest field eyepieces, the Ethos and Ethos SX, have a comfortable 15mm of eye relief in all focal lengths.
Both our 72° Delos or 62° DeLite eyepiece series are the eyeglass champs with a generous 20 mm of eye relief in all focal lengths. In addition to producing razor-sharp images in even the fastest telescopes, both series feature adjustable height and locking eye-guards to keep surrounding light from degrading the naturally high contrast these eyepieces produce.
Widest Possible True Field
The Tele Vue 32mm & 40mm Plössls and 24mm Panoptic eyepieces allow you to experience the largest true field in 1¼” visual backs and the 55mm Plössl and 41mm Panoptic do the same for 2″ focusers. The 31mm Nagler and 21mm Ethos eyepieces can be used to view at higher powers in 2″ visual backs, yielding darker sky backgrounds, but with only slightly smaller true fields of view than the 2″ Plössl or Panoptic eyepieces mentioned above.
Generally not thought of as a “galaxy” eyepiece, the 3-6 mm Nagler Zoom can find uses for this type of observing specifically with shorter focal length scopes. Its advantage being its ability to balance field size and background sky brightness. It was designed for full-field sharpness for any speed telescope, high contrast and transmission for natural color rendition, low scatter, and comfortable eye relief. It is parfocal through the zoom range and has both a constant 10mm of eye-relief and 50° apparent field of view.
Luca Marinelli’s Pinwheel Galaxy (M101) portrait is a detailed look at this beautiful face-on spiral — created by using a Tele Vue Paracorr Type 2 coma corrector in a 10″ f/4 Newtonian telescope. Located off the “tail” of Ursa Major (also known as the “handle” of the Big Dipper), pink star-forming regions of ionized hydrogen gas dot the spiral arms where giant blue and white stars are forming. During spring Galaxy Season, this object is high above the pole in the sky.
Located at just under 42° North Latitude this galaxy is smack at the zenith at midnight for mid-northern latitude observers. The following image, taken through a Tele Vue-NP127is flat-field, APO refractor was made by Jerry Macon. Image processing resulted in a unique color shot of the galaxy with an iridescent glow that highlights the young, giant blue stars in the spiral arms along with the pink, ionized hydrogen-gas star-forming regions.
Fall Galaxy Season
Galaxy Season actually repeats when the Milky Way again leaves the zenith in northern hemisphere fall. However, there just aren’t as many galaxies to view as in the spring edition.
The most prominent denizen of the fall Galaxy Season can be seen in Frank Wielgus’ classic Andromeda Galaxy (M31) image, taken through the Tele Vue-NP127is. A favorite of imagers, M31 reveals prominent dust lanes against the old stars of its central yellow bulge that contrasts with the younger blue stars in the outer spiral arms.
Another fall Galaxy Season favorite for northern hemisphere observers is the Triangulum Galaxy (M33), depicted here by Niels V. Christensen with his Tele Vue-NP127is. Among the spiral arms of this face-on galaxy are blue star clusters and pink star-forming regions. A member of our local group of galaxies, it is visible to the naked eye in dark skies.
Did you observe, sketch, or image with Tele Vue gear? We’ll like your social media post on that if you tag it #televue and the gear used. Example:
televue #tv85 #ethos #jupiter
Do you want your Tele Vue images re-posted on Tele Vue Optics’ Social Media accounts? Use this hashtag for consideration: