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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂 ).
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.”
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.
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.
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.
On December 16th, Jupiter and Saturn will be a full-Moon’s width apart at dusk as they sink into the south-western horizon. Watch this pair each evening as they draw ever-closer together until they pass within 1/10 of a degree on December 21st. This is the great Jupiter / Saturn Conjunction of 2020! This is the closest they’ve been together since 1623 and most sources say that conjunction was not observed due to the planet’s vicinity to the Sun. The last time the pair was definitely visible this close together was in 1226 in the morning sky. This is a rare “must-see” event indeed!
Tele Vue Sells Out of Limited Edition Apollo 11 Eyepiece!
Last year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, and in recognition of Al Nagler’s contribution to the greater effort that made the mission possible, we “launched” a limited run of 300 commemorative Apollo 11mm eyepieces.
While we have shipped our last Apollo 11mm eyepiece recently, dealers may still have some in stock. Act now if interested!
The following note is from Al Nagler.
Dear Tele Vue Aficionado,
Thank you for your continued enthusiasm for our products. We’re sorry for some product delays due to an unexpected increase in demand during this pandemic time.
Here’s an announcement I’m making today that’s unique in my lifetime, leaving me conflicted between happy and sad:
We’ve sold out of our limited edition special production run of the Apollo 11 eyepiece celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing.
Yes, I’m sad they are gone, but happy to have spread more joy among our astronomical community. Little did I know in the 1960s that my design for the LEM Simulator optics, showing a 110° star field to the astronauts would change my life, inspiring me to eventually share wide-field views with fellow amateur astronomers by founding Tele Vue Optics, Inc.
I’d appreciate your taking a few minutes to see my PowerPoint presentation, I Thank My Lucky Stars on the Tele Vue blog to share my life path with you.
Our readers followed the story of the development, arrival, packaging, and distribution of the Apollo 11mm eyepiece on our blog. See the following links:
Images below: (top) Apollo 11mm eyepiece “Magic Moment” at Tele Vue headquarters with the development team (left-right): Paul Dellechiaie, Al Nagler, and David Nagler. (Bottom left) Tele Vue CEO Al Nagler with Apollo 11mm eyepiece and his Alan Bean, (4th Man to Walk on the Moon) autographed print. (Bottom right) 2019 NEAF Show tease.
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