Sky EventsTelescope

Your 8 April 2024 Solar Eclipse Images!

In the days before the April 8, 2024 North American Eclipse, eclipsophiles panicked when Texas skies were predicted to be cloudy while the extreme Northeast stayed clear. This was the opposite of the long-term forecast used by many to plan their eclipse trip. Choosing a new observing site also meant a change in totality duration, with those going east losing a minute compared to locations near the Texas/Mexican border.

April 8, 2024 Total Eclipse Path (credit: NASA).

This blog chronicles some Tele Vue telescope owner’s attempts at capturing totality, including the Corona, Bailey Beads, and Diamond Ring effect.

Tele Vue-NP101is in Northern Maine
Paul Cyr didn’t have to travel far to find this perfect place. From his farm in northern Maine, which had the best weather in the U.S. for this event, he was perfectly positioned for imaging. This set of images around and past totality were taken with a Tele Vue-NP101is (540mm at f/5.4) Nagler-Petzval APO refractor and Nikon Z8 full-frame mirrorless camera.

Total Solar Eclipse Around Totality by Facebook user Paul Cyr. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Top, (L/R): Sun in Totality with red prominence visible along the solar limb. Sun begins to emerge behind the Moon after 3rd contact. Bottom, (L/R): Double-diamond ring effect as sunlight streams through valleys on the Moon. In the final frame a big diamond ring begins to hide prominence. These images were taken with a Tele Vue-NP101is (540mm at f/5.4) Nagler-Petzval APO refractor with Nikon Z8 full-frame mirrorless camera at 1/5000s and ISO 1600.

Tele Vue-85 in Central Arkansas
Greg Mitchum setup the following photographs a few miles east of Atkins, Arkansas, at the south end of the Union Grove Church parking lot. “Apparently, about 50+ people had the same idea from all over the country including, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oregon , Alabama, Minnesota, and even Norway (I heard)”.

Solar Eclipse 2024 by Instagram user Greg Mitchum. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Imaged with Tele Vue-85 APO refractor using Canon 6D full-frame camera and all mounted on the portable Tele Vue Tele-Pod tripod. Top (L/R): First image was captured right before totality and the next just seconds before the end of totality. Bottom (L/R): The limb of the Sun emerges. In the next image Baily’s beads “explode” through the lunar valleys and are forming a diamond ring.

Tele Vue Ranger in Northern Vermont
The town of Newport, in the northeast corner of Vermont, is just a stones-throw from Canada. Over 10,000 people gathered along the shores of Lake Memphremagog to view the event. Among them was author Ruben Kier (“The 100 Best Astrophotography Targets”, a Monthly Guide, @StardoctorOrg on YouTube) who recorded the following through a Tele Vue Ranger telescope. It is a concise video showing phases, Diamond ring, Baily Beads, and Totality.

Meet the Tele Vue Refractors!

Heirloom Quality Build
What makes our scopes so uniquely “Tele Vue” is the hand-built nature of each instrument to achieve top-tier optical quality. Each scope is assembled from beginning to end by one person. There are no assembly lines or quotas in our manufacturing process. Optical and mechanical components are inspected, fitted, assembled, aligned, and scrutinized so the end result is a telescope that is as good as we can possibly make. This includes multi-coated objectives that are individually spaced and rotated into position within the telescope lens cell and hand-fitted focusers for silky-smooth, lash-free focusing that resists sagging. The finish includes hard powder-coated tubes and oxidation-resistant anodized aluminum. These finishing touches make our scopes rugged and easily transported to dark-sky locations. Tele Vue telescopes are engineered and built to be your life-long observing companions; and someday, your kids’ as well. All Tele Vue telescopes come with a 5-year Limited Warranty.

Rich Field
Every Tele Vue refractor, from the Tele Vue-60 to the 5″ Tele Vue-NP127is, can give at least a 4° field with our low power eyepieces. Wide enough to easily image the solar corona. This eliminates the need for magnifying finders. Instead, use our unit-power StarBeam (mobile site) with flip-mirror to comfortably aim the scope in the vicinity of the object you are searching for.

Al Nagler calls the Tele Vue-85 a “Goldilocks” telescope. With an 85mm diameter, 600mm focal length, f/7, APO objective and 2″ capability, its combination of optical performance and airline portability is “just right.”

Tele Vue Small Doublet APO Refractors
For the Tele Vue-60, -76, and -85mm scopes, we met our goal to achieve apochromatic performance in as compact a package as possible. Since we could achieve the desired optical performance using a doublet design, including two more air-to-glass surfaces to create a triplet would have added additional weight in the wrong place, plus assembly and material costs with little performance benefit to the end-user.

This 101mm diameter objective, 540mm focal length, f/5.4, APO (4-elements in 2-groups, Nagler-Petzval) refractor has an OTA length of 25.5″ without diagonal.

Tele Vue Large Nagler-Petzval APO Refractors
The 4-element objective designs of the NP101is and NP127is consist of two widely spaced, air-spaced doublets. It is a misnomer to think of these designs as a “doublet objective with a built-in field flattener” as the rear group of the objective is in considerable power-space and corrects the uncorrected aberrations of the front group. This configuration, along with the chosen glasses, was necessary to achieve the desired aberration control at the exceedingly fast f/5.4 and f/5.2 focal ratios. Why so fast? In order to obtain as wide a true field both visually and for imaging, we chose as short a focal length as possible for which we could meet the desired correction of axial and lateral color, spherochromatism, astigmatism, coma, and field flatness. No triplet design regardless of configuration can meet all these criteria.

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Tele Vue-85 on Lake Champlain
Crown Point State Historic site on the New York side of Lake Champlain is known for the preserved remains of “His Majesty’s Fort at Crown Point”. Throughout the 1700s, control over this point, overlooking a 2,000-foot narrows to Chimney Point, Vermont, was contested by the British, French, and American Revolutionaries.

Lake Champlain from Crown Point Historic Site by Pietro Carboni. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Crown Point State Historic site, early on eclipse day. Photographed from the top of the earthworks. In the background is the new Lake Champlain Bridge that connects Crown Point, NY with Vermont – visible across the water.
Earthworks and barracks at Crown Point Historic Site. by Pietro Carboni. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Earthworks surround the stone barracks and parade field. The tallest features standing are the chimneys.

For the April 8, 2024 eclipse, it was an officially designated observing area inside the band of totality. As you can see in the above photos, the sky was clear with thin clouds not bothersome enough to ruin the show. This turned out to be a much better location than the long-term forecasts had predicted. Early-birds were able to park in the small asphalt parking spaces while the vast majority of people were directed to park on designated grassy areas. With the partial phase not commencing until 2:13 PM that day, there was plenty of time for visitors to walk through history and visit the museum on site. Many choose to take a walk to Vermont over the modern Lake Champlain Bridge.

Totality at Crown Point, NY by Pietro Carboni. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Totality at Crown Point, NY by Pietro Carboni. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-85 APO refractor telescope with Tele Vue TRF-2008 0.8x Reducer/Flattener and Sony Alpha II mirrorless full frame camera was used with the solar filter removed to take a series of exposures at totality. Images where then flat and bias corrected in Deep Sky Stacker before stacking and finishing in Photoshop.

The heart of the image setup at Crown Point, NY, was the Tele Vue-85 APO refractor telescope (600mm @ f/7). Equipped with the Tele Vue TRF-2008 0.8x Reducer/Flattener, this scope became a 480mm f/5.6 flat-field lens. The attached camera was a Sony Alpha II mirrorless with full-frame sensor. A Tele Vue Sol-Searcher Sun-finder assisted in tracking the Sun using the slow-motion controls on the Alt-Az mount. Over the scope’s dew shield, a DIY filter box with Baader AstroSolar Filter Film was used to attenuate the Sun’s rays so that eclipse progressive could be tracked by the camera.

Tele Vue-85 for Visual Solar Imaging by user Pietro Carboni.All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-85 APO refractor telescope with Tele Vue TRF-2008 0.8x RedAll rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-85 APO refractor telescope with Tele Vue TRF-2008 0.8x Reducer/Flattener and Sony Alpha II mirrorless full frame camera. Baader AstroSolar Filter Film and Tele Vue Sol-Searcher Sun-Finder complete this portable solar setup.
SolSearcher on Tele Vue-85 by Pietro Carboni. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Showing Tele Vue Sol-Searcher spotting the Sun.

At totality, the filter box was removed in order to image the faint Corona —or Sun’s atmosphere. Images from 1/500s to 1/8000s were taken at two ISOs. These images were calibrated with flats and bias frames before stacking and processing created the final image.

Portion of “Champ Sightings” sign in Port Henry, NY (credit:

Lake Champlain is also known for “Champ” the local “Lake Monster” that has been sighted on the 107-mile long freshwater body of water. With everyone in the area gazing up at the Sun, it would have been a good chance for Champ to surface and view totality without being noticed.

The corona is a highly charged plasma that is much hotter than the surface of the Sun. How it gets it’s energy and the impact of the corona on the solar wind will be the subject of study by the PUNCH mission (Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere) of four microsats that will launch in 2025. Three satellites will carry camera lenses designed and built by Tele Vue to image the solar wind as it leaves the corona. This will “provide the first global images of how the solar corona infuses the solar wind with mass and energy” according to Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, CO. which is running the mission. You can read more about the mission on our TELE VUE SCIENTIFIC PART 1 blog post.

Tele Vue-NP101 from Harrisburg, IL
William “Dr. Billy” Teets, the Director of the Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory in Brentwood, TN, relocated to the town of Harrisburg in southern Illinois to video the entire Total Eclipse in Hydrogen-alpha light. The result was over 2hr 36min of footage. Here is an explanation of the setup and how imaging was done.

The Tele Vue-NP101 was fitted with a SolarScope SF-100 etalon (and corresponding blocking filter). We used a ZWO ASI533MC Pro color camera for imaging, and the entire setup was mounted to a Vixen Sphinx equatorial mount. It is the instrument to the farthest right in the attached image of the setup, and we use this same setup for regular solar viewing at Dyer Observatory. Since we arrived at the site in Harrisburg, IL, mid-morning, I didn’t have an opportunity to get the mount really well polar aligned. But, as it would happen, the final placement gave a pretty good alignment, and I only had to make small adjustments over the duration of the eclipse to keep the Sun reasonably centered in the field of view. We had a similar setup but with a Hershel wedge to do white-light imaging, and two other telescopes provided similar views and were used for eyepiece viewing.

Telescopes in Harrisburg, IL. Tele Vue-NP101 on Sphinx mount is the scope in front on the right. (credit: William Kenneth Teets)

Sky conditions started out very cloudy with a very low ceiling. I figured the clouds would burn away once the Sun started warming everything; thankfully, they did. Seeing was pretty good. We had a few passing cirrus clouds every now and then, which is why some of the frames of the video change contrast dramatically despite my efforts to compensate for that. Temps were in the mid-70s, close to 80 by noon. Once we had reached about 50% coverage, it was a weird sensation to step out into the relatively bright sunlight but feel very little heat on your face – it felt more like stepping out under a really bright streetlight. By about 75% coverage, you couldn’t feel any heat on your skin from the direct sunlight. One other interesting aspect: The site we were at had a purple martin nest box, and the martins were flying around and singing quite a bit that morning. Once we started getting near totality, they began making their way back to the box. Once we were out of totality, they had returned to the sky after only a few minutes to resume their usual daily activity.

Sun in Hydrogen-Alpha by William Kenneth Teets. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue NP101is with SolarScope SF-100 etalon (and corresponding blocking filter) using ZWO ASI533MC Pro color camera and all carried on a Vixen Sphinx mount.

The video in the post was made from composite frames. Just as the eclipse began, the camera took a 15-second video at a longer exposure to pick up the prominences. It then took another 15-second video immediately after at a shorter exposure to get the details of the chromosphere. Once that was completed, there was a 30-second delay before the sequence was begun again and repeated for the duration of the eclipse. I think there were around 320 15-second videos total. Frames of the videos were stacked to get final images, which were then aligned to create short- and long-exposure videos. I then overlaid the videos in Adobe After Effects to create a composite video to show the chromosphere and prominences.

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