Tele Vue-85: Imaging Under New York City Light Dome!

Deep sky images and annotated map courtesy of Mauri Rosenthal. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Mauri Rosenthal’s Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate solar images appeared in our Here Comes the Sun! blog last December. Imaging from just 10-miles (16-km) from New York City, it was reasonable to expect that his flickr and Instagram walls featured images of the Sun, Moon, and Planets. To our surprise, we also saw some images of deep-sky objects (DSOs), taken with a Tele Vue-85, from the same light-polluted location. We were intrigued at how he was able to get such reasonable results from his poorly situated location and asked if he’d relate his experiences in this blog.

It turns out we’d found the right guy for the job. Mauri wasn’t a “typical” amateur astronomer/imager: he actually teaches Urban Astrophotography in New York City, under the auspices of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. His instructor’s biography, on a  recent class registration page, describes Mauri’s motivation as follows: 

Surprised by the image quality achievable with small telescopes from his yard in Westchester County, Mauri has been developing deep expertise in Ultraportable Urban Astrophotography and is on a mission to use new technology to extend the access of city-dwellers to the wonders of the night sky.

In this guest blog post, we asked Mauri about his overall experience and how Tele Vue Optics contributes to the enjoyment of his hobby.

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Imaging the Skies with the Tele Vue-NP127is

We’re quite impressed with Frank Wielgus’ exquisite collection of wide-field, deep-sky images on SmugMug. Photographed with a Tele Vue-NP127is APO refractor, the attention to image capture and software craftsmanship is evident in his collection of galaxies and nebulae. His images have often been selected as winners in the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh’s Kevin J. Brunelle Photography Contest.

In his guest blog Frank shows and tells us the story of his astrophotography.

Sh2-155 — Cave Nebula (crop) by SmugMug user Frank Wielgus. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Emission, reflection, and dark nebulosity delightfully combine with young stars in this area of Cepheus around the Cave Nebula. The ‘Cave’ is the dark area below the red nebulosity at the lower left of the image. Tele Vue-NP127is (127mm, f/5.2, Nagler-Petzval) APO Refractor with Atik 383L Camera on CGEM mount. Exposures were multiple 400 sec. through L, R, G, B filters. Maxim DL and Photoshop CS5 were used. Imaged from Cherry Springs, PA Dark Sky Park.

I started astrophotography in the early ’90s using film. It was a Pentax camera with screw mount lenses, piggybacked on an SCT using slide film. Boy, I’m glad those days are gone! I have recently started using those lenses again on a wide field DSLR set up. I then moved to imaging through the SCT. At some point, I wanted to up my game in quality, and for me, that meant a refractor.

M8 – Lagoon Nebula by SmugMug user Frank Wielgus. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-NP127is (127mm, f/5.2, Nagler-Petzval) APO Refractor with Atik 383L Camera on CGEM mount. Exposures were 300 sec. each through L (binned 1×1), R (binned 2×2), G (binned 2×2)  & B (binned 2×2) filters. Maxim DL and Photoshop CS5 were used. Imaged from Cherry Springs, PA, Dark Sky Park.

Ever since I first acquired Tele Vue Plössls in the early ’90s, I have always admired Tele Vue products. Quality, design, and locality of service were important considerations for me. For these reasons, the NP127is was a dreamed-for acquisition for a number of years. So when the opportunity arose and with the prompting of a good friend, I acquired one. I remember being blown away by the quality. Now stars look like stars and the sharpness with flat field are incredible things to see. Barring any unusual circumstances, this scope and I are in it together for the long haul.

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Tele Vue-76: Imaging New Mexico Skies!

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.” 

Bode’s Galaxy (M81), Cigar Galaxy (M82) by Instagram user Brian Paczkowski . All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-76 telescope with Tele Vue TRF-2008 0.8x Reducer/Flattener and QSI 683 CCD camera riding on 10Micron GM2000 HPS II mount. Exposure through Astrodon Lum+Ha+RGB filters at -20C (22 hours of LRGB data and 15 hours of Hydrogen-Alpha). Processed in PixInsight and Photoshop. Images acquired in December 2020.

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.

Bode’s Galaxy (M81), Cigar Galaxy (M82) (crop) by Instagram user Brian Paczkowski . All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue-76 telescope with Tele Vue TRF-2008 0.8x Reducer/Flattener and QSI 683 CCD camera riding on 10Micron GM2000 HPS II mount. Exposure through Astrodon Lum+Ha+RGB filters at -20C (22 hours of LRGB data and 15 hours of Hydrogen-Alpha). Processed in PixInsight and Photoshop. Images acquired in December 2020.

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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.

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Mars: Keep on Viewing & Imaging!

Mars at opposition, 13th October 2020 (center image) by flickr user Roger Hutchinson. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Hubble’s Closest View of Mars — August 27, 2003 (left image), credit: NASA, J. Bell (Cornell U.) and M. Wolff (SSI). BAA Mars Mapper image (right image) is © The British Astronomical Association 2020. Roger’s image is rotated 180° from the original to match BAA Mars Mapper orientation for locating features. Mars is centered at about 160° west latitude in his image with Olympus Mons super volcano (on top of the Tharsis bulge volcanic plateau) at lower-left. This is one of the best Olympus Mons / Tharsis renditions we’ve seen this Opposition: compare it with the scaled-down and rotated Hubble image on left. Roger’s image was made with a Celestron Edge HD11 with Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate and ASI174MM camera.

Even though we’re past the point of closest approach and opposition, Mars continues to loom large in the sky and is higher each night at the same time. In the northern hemisphere, the nights are coming sooner and lasting longer. Until mid-November, Mars will appear bigger than at any opposition until 2033!

You can use the excellent Mars Mapper 2020-2021  web app (mobile version) on the British Astronomical Association website to identify features on the planet when you observe or image it.

If you’d like to try your hand at imaging the planet, study the next sections carefully as they contain image processing tips from top Martian imagers on the Internet.

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NP127is Imaging the Skies Over Sydney!

We were struck by the neon-like colors produced by Murray Parkinson’s imaging through our Tele Vue-NP127is APO Refractor using different combinations of Hydrogen-alpha (Hα), doubly ionized oxygen (OIII), and ionized sulfur (SII) filters. His Porpoise Nebula image below looks like it is leaping out of the page! Others agree: he provided the cover and inside cover spread images for Nightfall October 2017 (a journal of astronomy in South Africa). He tells us “I love my two Tele Vue refractors. Only wish you made a 12-inch refractor … .” This week’s guest blog post is a gallery of his work from suburban Sydney, Australia.

“When I became interested in astrophotography, I quickly learned that the quality of the optics was crucial to achieving high-quality results. Only the very finest telescope designs can deliver round, pinpoint stars across the entire frame. I chose the Tele Vue-NP127is partly because of the reputation of Al Nagler and partly because of trust in products made in the USA. I also had a lot of trust in the salesperson who looked after me at BINTEL in Sydney. He always gave excellent advice on what to buy.

“Without a doubt, the versatility of the Tele Vue-NP127is stands out in my mind. The telescope delivers true astrograph performance when imaging at multiple focal lengths. It also delivers brilliant views when used visually and is light enough to transport to a dark sky location on a car camping trip. I still love visual observing and appreciate a telescope that can deliver on all accounts.

The Porpoise Nebula in Canis Major
2019_03_03_EZ_Canis_Major_HaOIII by flickr user Murray Parkinson. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Imaged with Tele Vue-NP127is APO Refractor at f/5.2 with QSI 683wsg camera on EQ8 mount. Exposures through filters with 2 x 2 binning as follows: Astrodon 3-nm Hα for 10-hours total and Astrodon 3-nm OIII for 18-hours total.  Acquisition and processing software used: Nebulosity 4, PHD2, PixInsight, Lightroom and Photoshop. Imaged from suburban Sydney.

“This faint Oxygen III nebula is catalogued as Sharpless 308 in the constellation of Canis Major and is commonly called the Gourd Nebula, but I am one of those people who see a Porpoise first, or I am fonder of porpoises than gourds anyway. The nebula is classified as a Wolf-Rayet bubble and originates from the star located close to the centre of the frame.

“When I was a young boy in the early 1970s, my stepfather took me to see a movie at a drive-in theater in the country. At the end of the movie, I stepped outside the car and looked up to behold the summer Milky Way overhead. This was the first time I had seen the Milky Way from a dark location and I was overwhelmed with awe. To this day, I still experience awe, swooning at the beauty of a starry night when I am lucky enough to camp somewhere truly dark.

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NP127is: Imaging the Skies Over Upstate New York!

We noticed some great Tele Vue-NP127is images on Instagram tagged with our #RPTVO (repost hashtag). They were all taken by Greg Thompson in Tele Vue’s home region of the Hudson Valley, NY. Due to the weather, one has to be persistent to be an astro-imager in these parts. So, we contacted him and that resulted in this guest blog post in two parts. The first part describes his journey into astrophotography and experience imaging with the Tele Vue-NP127is and the second part is a step-by-step guide for image acquisition and processing.

 
Reprocess of The Pillars of Creation by Instagram user Gregory Thompson. All rights reserved. Used by permission. The Eagle Nebula (Messier 16 or NGC-6611) is a diffuse emission nebula and open cluster that is home to the finger-like “Pillars of Creation” star-forming region. Ultraviolet light emitted by the young, giant blue stars in the nebula causes the gasses in the nebula to glow. The “Pillars” are actually cold accumulations of dust and gas that are silhouetted by the background glow.
Exposures at ISO 800 and 1600, 174 x 60″/45″ because of wind and low elevation.
Tele Vue-NP127is APO refractor with Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR riding on iOptron CEM60EC mount. Software: BackyardEOS, DeepSkyStacker, StarTools, and Corel Photo-Paint X5.

When I saw the first image of the Orion Nebula on the camera’s LED screen ─ WOW, I was hooked!

As a child, I would always look up at the night sky in hopes of seeing a “shooting star.” I loved the night sky but was never interested in astronomy or cosmology as a young man. I began a photography business in 2011 and had to take early retirement from my day job of 25+ years. My photography led me down many roads, from portraiture and landscapes, birds and wildlife, and many other genres. I had heard of astrophotography but was not interested as I thought it was beyond my reach. Then the television series “How the Universe Works” came to my television in 2016 and could not get enough of it. Soon after, I was browsing a photography forum that I was a member of, and saw some photographs (Deep Sky Objects’s) that a well-known scientist and photometrist had posted using a camera that I already had, and a lens very similar to one of my lenses. That opened my eyes wide and I then began to research everything about astrophotography. Three months later I bought my first camera tracker (Fornax LighTrack II) and accessories to begin my new hobby. That was in the fall of 2016. When I saw the first image of the Orion Nebula on the camera’s LED screen ─ WOW, I was hooked!

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Tele Vue-85: Imaging the Skies Over Queensland Australia!

Vesselin Petkov’s imaging setup consists of the Tele Vue-85 APO refractor with Tele Vue 0.8x Reducer/Flattener (TRF-2008) and ZWO ASI533MC Pro color CMOS camera. Orion Mini 50mm Guide Scope with ZWO ASI120MC-S color CMOS camera provides guiding. Tele Vue Starbeam finder allows for swift target area acquisition. All gear is mounted on Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5 mount. Image by Vesselin Petkov. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
The combination of Tele Vue-85 APO refractor and Tele Vue 0.8x Reducer/Flattener (TRF-2008) create a potent, highly portable, flat/wide-field (480mm @ f/5.6) astro-imaging system. The following gallery of Southern Hemisphere nebulae, by Vesselin Petkov, is a great example of the exquisite results possible with the Tele Vue-85.

Imaging was done from his driveway in Queensland Australia in Bortle class 5 (suburban) skies. We’re impressed that the images presented here are composed of color sub-frames without the use of filters or calibration frames.

 
The Trifid Nebula by flickr user Vesselin Petkov. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Hardware: Tele Vue-85 with Tele Vue 0.8x Reducer/Flattener (TRF-2008) into ZWO ASI533MC Pro color CMOS camera using AstroImager for Mac software. Guided using Orion Mini 50mm Guide Scope with ZWO ASI120MC-S color CMOS using PHD2 software. All mounted on Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5.
Imaging: 32 x 300” lights (Temperature -5C; offset 5; gain 10) and no calibration frames from Cairns, Australia in Bortle Scale (1 best, 9 worst) 5 skies. Processing with PixInsight and Photoshop.

“Trifid Nebula” (M20 or NGC-6514) was named by John Hershel (1792-1871) who dubbed it the “Trifid” — from Latin for three parts or lobes — based on his telescopic observations of the divisions in the central part of the object. A single giant star in the center of the nebula powers the red glow of hydrogen gas surrounding it. The outer blue zone is starlight reflecting off of dust. The stars around the nebula are an open cluster.

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Comet NEOWISE in the Northern Skies!

Comet Neowise 12 JULY 2020 by Instagram user Marcella Botti. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken from Ca’ del Monte in northern Italy on 12 July 2020. Tele Vue Genesis APO refractor  (The Perfect Telescope …) with Canon 77D on iOptron GEM45 mount. Exposure was 70 seconds at ISO 800.

Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) has been intriguing northern sky watchers all summer and will continue to do so for a bit longer as it travels through the “paws” of Ursa Major. It became glorious as a morning object for amateur astronomers in June, but, after transitioned to the evening sky in July, it has become better appreciated by the general public.

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Tele Vue-76: Imaging the Skies over Washington!

Andrew Thomas has been posting beautiful wide-field sky images on his Flickr feed. He’s imaging with one of our smaller scopes, the highly portable and capable Tele Vue-76 APO refractor! Here’s an image made by Andrew with this scope during the Great American Eclipse in August 2017.

2017-08-21 Solar Eclipse HDR by flickr user Andrew Thomas. All rights reserved. Used by permission.  Andrew writes:
“In this photo, the detailed structure of the solar corona and reflected Earthshine illuminating the surface of the Moon is revealed in this HDR composite of images taken at different exposure lengths. Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, is visible to the far left …”.
Imaged with Tele Vue-76mm APO refractor with Nikon D7100 DSLR camera riding on an iOptron iEQ45 Pro mount. Capture software was Eclipse Orchestrator v3.7. 4 sets of exposures at 1/1600, 1/400, 1/100, 1/25, 1/6, 1/3, and 6/10 sec @ ISO 200, stacked to reduce noise and enhance detail. Location: Madras, Oregon.

Andrew gave us permission to re-post these photos on our blog.

I’m glad you enjoy the images I’ve been able to capture with the Tele Vue-76. It’s a wonderful scope for both visual use and imaging. I don’t think I’ll ever give it up

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