2021: The Giants at Opposition!

(L-to-R) Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune will reach opposition at some point this summer and fall. The planets will be far apart in the sky but are shown together in this composite image scaled to their relative sizes on opposition date. Your actual view in the telescope will differ. Jupiter & Saturn © Chuck Pavlick (Celestron 9¼ Edge HD with 2.5x Powermate and ZWO ASI 224MC camera), and Uranus & Neptune © Dane Hankin (Celestron NexStar 6SE with 2.5x Powermate and ZWO ASI 224MC camera).
Opposition: Earth and outer planet line up on the same side with Sun (bottom of diagram). Conjunction: Earth and outer planet line up on opposite sides of the sun (top of diagram). Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

An “opposition” happens on the day that Earth and an outer planet line up on the same side of the Sun. For Earth observers, a planet in opposition will rise when the Sun sets and will be in the sky all night. Around the time of opposition, the planet is brightest, practically fully illuminated, and displays the largest angular diameter for the year. Right before, during, and after opposition are prime-time for viewing and imaging a planet!
 
Amateur and large observatory scopes can do best when imaging planets at opposition. It was just announced this summer that amateur astronomer Kai Ly discovered an unknown moon of Jupiter while examining opposition images taken with the 3.6-meter Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope at Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii. This news comes just in time to take some confirmation images as Jupiter opposition season is upon us now!
 

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Our Virtual NEAF 2021 Videos

Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) 2021 — “the World’s Largest Astronomy & Space Expo” — is in the history books after streaming 10-hours of material on April 10th.  Tele Vue provided seven unique videos for the event and we’d like to thank all who tuned in and showed their support in the chat!

Each of our videos answers a question from one of our blog readers. If you want to review them, they’re all linked below and cued up to the question being answered. 

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Virtual NEAF 2021: Your Questions Answered!

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.  

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Virtual NEAF 2021: Send Us Your Questions!

Activity in the Tele Vue NEAF booth over the years.

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.

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This Weekend: Messier Marathon 2021!

By the 1970s 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.

The first page of a typical Messier Marathon check sheet under red light. Messier objects in the background taken with Tele Vue-60is by James Burnell. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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.

M33 The Photon Sucker (Triangulum Galaxy) by Astro Bin user Tom Peter. Copyright Tom Peter. Used by permission. Tele Vue-NP127is and Tele Vue-85 combined exposures. This is one of the first few objects in the traditional Messier Marathon list. Of course, in your scope, without the benefit of 15-hrs of exposure, this will look like a blurry little black & white smudge!

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.

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Your 2021 Sky Event Planner

All Ready to View by Twitter user Simon Brown. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-NP101is with Tele Vue 2x Powermate and 3-6mm Nagler Planetary Zoom attached to Gibraltar HD4 mount. Tilton on the Hill, Leicester, UK.
A New Year means a fresh opportunity for viewing new targets and old friends in the sky. Start marking up those new 2021 calendars with this year’s astronomical events listed in this week’s blog!

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Images: The Great Conjunction!

Jupiter and Saturn in conjunction on 12/20/2020. by Instagram user Rodrigo Carvajal. All rights reserved. Used by permission. The planets were 7.5-minutes-of-arc apart. Imaging was done with 11-inch, f/5 Newtonian Reflector using Tele Vue Paracorr Type-2 Coma Corrector onto a QHY5III 178C Camera. Two 60-second videos combined to correctly expose both planets. From Santiago, Chile. From there, the planets were 23.5-deg above the horizon at sunset.

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.

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Have You Been Watching Jupiter & Saturn?

A simulated eyepiece view of the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction on 21 December 2020 with stars removed. The field of view is about ¼ degrees. The four Galilean moons will be easy to spot. Saturn’s moons are much dimmer and will blend in with the field stars. Your view may be rotated and inverted depending on the equipment used and location on the Earth.
Great Conjunction: Countdown to December 21st!
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!

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BREAKING NEWS: Apollo 11mm and Sky Events!

Al Nagler, Tele Vue Optics founder.
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!
 
Tele Vue Apollo 11mm eyepiece is an original design, with unique packaging, that included a serialized commemorative medallion matching the engraved number on the eyepiece.
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.

Stay well,

Al Nagler

 

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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Here Comes the Sun!

Sunspots 25 Nov 2020 by flickr user Antonio Agnesi. All rights reserved. Used by permission. The image was captured through a Tele Vue Ranger refractor with Celestron Ultima 2x Barlow and Lunt Herschel wedge with Baader Solar Continuum filter. The camera used was a ZWO ASI 120MM. All gear was carried on a Skywatcher AZ-EQ6 mount. Exposures 5ms and the best 120 frames were stacked. macOS software used was ASICap, Lynkeos, and Photoshop CC.

According to a recent Solar Activity Update by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center, “Solar activity picked up at the end of November into early December, 2020, as several sunspot groups emerged or rotated onto the visible disk”.  The update continues: “Solar activity is anticipated to slowly increase over the upcoming years towards the predicted solar maximum peak around July, 2025.” This is great news for observers of our nearest star! At times this year, there had been month-long sunspot “droughts” with no or few sunspots on the solar disk.

The return of Sun as a target of interest has led to a sudden uptick in Solar image postings to social media these past few weeks. 

A detailed look at sunspots 2785 and 2786 by Instagram user Michael Harriff. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken on 29 November 2020 in Hydrogen-alpha light ─ “This was the only clear shooting day in several weeks! 😩”. A Tele Vue 4x Powermate on a Lunt 80mm MT refractor allowed the system to reach 2,240mm effective focal length for this close-up shot. The camera used was the ZWO ASI174MM (mono).

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