50 Years Ago: How Simulators Saved Apollo 13

While Tele Vue Optics Inc. is CLOSED due to Covid-19 we’ll post items of interest to our readers on the blog from time-to-time.
 
A Note from Al Nagler
I’d like to thank Susan Sherwood, director of TechWorks! (www.ctandi.org) for celebrating the 50th anniversary of the safe return of the Apollo 13 crew.
I’m honored to be a part of the team she assembled to help restore the Lem simulator optics, which I designed at Farrand Optical Company, a sub-contractor to Grumman, working with GP-Link.
The simulators were used to train all the Apollo mission astronauts for moon landing — and played an important role in saving the Apollo 13 astronauts — as told in the following narratives.
 
Apollo simulators image courtesy of NASA.

The greatest untold story of the Apollo 13 mission is that of the spacecraft simulators.Gerald Griffin, Apollo Mission Control Flight Director

Apollo 13 was the third attempt to land astronauts on the Moon. The landing site chosen was north of Fra Mauro crater, on the opposite shore of Mare Cognitum from where Apollo 12 had landed five months earlier. It may be hard to believe now, but no major television network covered the launch of the 363 ft (110.6 m) tall Saturn V rocket as it slowly lifted off Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970 at 2:13 p.m. EST. Trips to the Moon had quickly become blasé in the public imagination and only the Center staff, spectators, and people living on the Space Coast turned their heads to follow the crew as they began their journey into space on a tail of flame.

Apollo 13 mission patch image and description is courtesy of NASA. Apollo, the sun god of Greek mythology, was represented as the sun, with three horses driving his chariot across the surface of the Moon, symbolizing how the Apollo flights have extended the light of knowledge to all mankind. The Latin phrase “Ex Luna, Scientia” means “From the Moon, Knowledge.”

The initial part of the mission was indeed uneventful for Commander Jim Lovell, command module pilot Jack Swigert and lunar module pilot Fred Haise. But at about 55 hours, 55 minutes into the mission, Swigert calmly radioed flight control in Houston, Texas with the famous words: “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” The crew had felt a loud bang and were losing electrical power. His understated tone didn’t trigger any urgency until Commander Lovell looked out the window and told Houston the ominous news. “It looks to me, looking out the hatch, that we are venting something.” He repeated this for emphasis, stumbling over his words: “We are venting something out into the —  into space.” It was late in the evening of April 13, 1970 when the blasé faded and the news networks began to pay attention to the drama 210,000 miles (330,000 km) from Earth.

Continue reading “50 Years Ago: How Simulators Saved Apollo 13”

Tele Vue Optics is Closed Due to Covid-19 Until Further Notice

Dear Astronomy Friends,

We all find ourselves in an extraordinary circumstance, coming together to ensure the health and safety of our families, neighbors, and communities as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate. This unprecedented situation has no manual or guidebook; we are all in it together, figuring it out and making decisions on a day-by-day or even hour-by-hour basis. The health and safety of our employees and customers are our top priorities.

To support efforts under way to slow the spread of the virus, and to comply with the current Executive Orders handed down by New York State, Tele Vue will be CLOSED until such orders are lifted. The closure may lead to temporary shortages of Tele Vue products at your dealer. When it is safe to resume work, we will restart deliveries of the products that bring the wonders of nature closer and sharper than you’ve ever imagined.

Until then, our hearts go out to everyone impacted by COVID-19, including those diagnosed by the virus, all of the caregivers at home and in healthcare, and those whose job or school has been affected. We are all living through a time of great uncertainty when we do not know exactly what will come in the weeks and months ahead. There is no doubt that we are in uncharted territory, but of this we are certain: we will get through this, stronger and more resilient than ever. We thank you for your support and hope you stay well, stay safe and take care of one another.

Please watch this website or our social media feeds for updates on the situation.

Please Stay Safe and Clear Skies!

David Nagler

President, Tele Vue Optics, Inc.
 

 

 

Latest TVO News

Shelter in Space

Christmas Tree Nebula at Amboy Crater by flickr user William Allen. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Astronomy in the time of Covid-19: Getting out in the desert for astrophotography is definitely sheltering in space. Taken at Amboy Crater on March 16, 2020.

Imaging details: Tele Vue-85 APO refractor with Tele Vue TRF-2008 0.8x Reducer/Flattener (converts TV-85 to 480mm f/5.6) imaging into ZWO ASI071 MC Pro Camera. Accessories: Tele Vue Starbeam Finder with Apertura illuminator, ZWO 30F4 Guides Scope with Starlight XPress Lodestar X2 Guide Camera. Mount: Celestron CGX EQ. Software: Celestron PWI, PHD2 Guiding, Astro Photography Tool 3.82.

Getting out in the desert for astrophotography is definitely sheltering in space.
We encountered the above phrase, this week, in the caption of an image of the Christmas Tree Nebula, made with our Tele Vue-85 APO refractor. We felt it apropos for our hobby as it succinctly conjures the connection between amateur astronomy and our current moment in world history. 
 
The image was posted to Flickr by Los Angeles based amateur Bill Allen. So we decided to ask Bill about his journey into astronomy and astrophotography and showcase some of his images in this week’s blog.  

Continue reading “Shelter in Space”

2020 Messier Marathon!

Lovely Messier objects clockwise from top left:
•M45 (Pleiades Star Cluster) with TeleVue-NP127fli + FLI ProLine 16803 CCD camera © Gordon Haynes. • M31 (Andromeda galaxy) & M32 (dwarf galaxy is left of center) with Tele Vue TV-NP127is + Apogee U9000 camera © Adam Block and Tim Puckett (more). • M42 (Orion Nebula) & M43 (De Mairan’s Nebula) with Tele Vue-85 + Tele Vue 0.8x Reducer/ Flattener + Canon T3 camera © Mike Broussard (more). • M13 (Hercules Globular) with Tele Vue-NP127fli + FLI MicroLine 694 camera © Wolfgang Promper (more).
The Messier Marathon is a northern latitude event that takes place on a night in March or early-April. This is a time when all 110 Messier objects are visible from the northern hemisphere. (See our 2018 blog post on how this list came about). Singularly and in groups, amateur astronomers stay up all night in a “marathon” session to try to view them all! To be a successful “marathoner,” you need to pick the right evening, have clear weather, good site selection, and a manually driven observing setup capable of wide fields of view. 

Looking Back & Ahead with Tele Vue

Tele Vue Optics, Inc. at 20:20 hours.

This week we look back at the most popular blog posts of 2019 and give you a peek at one of the new products we’ll debut in 2020. 

2019: Blog in Review
Our blog keeps rolling along! Published continuously since January 2017, our subscribed audience continues to grow, and increased by 50% last year. Thanks, everyone! The following are highlights from some of the 49 blog posts that we published last year. All these were in the top-10 by pageviews.

Tele Vue President David Nagler grinning over the Apollo 11 eyepiece.

By far our most popular posting was “Tele Vue’s Secret Launch: Apollo 11mm Eyepiece!” that chronicled the behind-the-scenes development of the Apollo 11mm eyepiece and its last-minute introduction at the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) 2019. We explain what makes this eyepiece special to us, the “magic moment” reveal, and the reaction at NEAF.  There are still a few of these limited edition eyepieces available for collecting, gifting, or just viewing through. Contact your dealer if interested.

The constellation Orion over the roof by Gavin Orpin. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Taken through a night vision moncular with a smart phone using the Tele Vue / TNVC FoneMate adapter. An astounding view of Barnard’s Loop (the 10-degree wide nebula arc from above the belt of orion to the feet) — that normally requires long-exposure imaging to view. Huawei P20 Pro phone took the image. Exposure notes: 4mm lens at f/1.6, 20-sec exposure at ISO 100.

A must-read article for anyone considering night vision astronomy, “Night Vision in the UK: Seize the Night!“, by guest blogger Gavin Orpin, was high on the top-10 list. Gavin says that night vision “has given me a completely new aspect of the hobby to explore.” He explains his use of night vision gear for hand-held and telescopic observing. This includes the use of 6nm Hα (for nebulae) and 685nm infrared (for galaxies and cluster) filters and adapters for simple imaging through the night vision monocular on and off the scope. We also delve into how the PVS-14 night vision monocular got its name. The blog came about as a result of a discussion between Gavin and Tele Vue President David Nagler at the AstroFest 2019 show in London.

Continue reading “Looking Back & Ahead with Tele Vue”

Gene’s Tele Vue Baseball Cap

Dave Skitt (left) and Al Nagler (right) with Gene’s cap at September 2019 NJAA Open House in High Bridge, New Jersey. Photo provided by Dave Skitt.

Travel far among the stars, Gene. We’ve got your cap.

Dear Al Nagler:

You may recall, I met you in September 2019 at the New Jersey Astronomical Association (NJAA) Open House in High Bridge, New Jersey. There, I had you sign a Tele Vue baseball cap for me. That was a very special moment for me, and for the cap’s former owner, who would have been thrilled to meet you. You see, the cap has a particularly interesting history.

The cap belonged to my dear friend and astronomy mentor, Gene Ramsey, who had passed away just three years before. Gene loved astronomy, acquiring his first telescope as a young man. He continued the hobby through his years in the Air Force, where he served until 1962. Upon retiring in the 1990’s, Gene joined the Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton (AAAP). It is there where my wife, Jennifer, and I meet Gene in 2012.

Continue reading “Gene’s Tele Vue Baseball Cap”

Clyde Bone’s Tele Vue-140 Re-Built!

Yes, the above scope *is* a Tele Vue: this 700mm, f/5, “TeleVue-140″ scope debuted in 1996 and incorporated our patented 4-element Nagler-Petzval layout in a 5.5”-class Rich Field refractor. To this day the Tele Vue-140 is the largest diameter, fastest focal ratio, Nagler-Petzval refractor we’ve ever made.

Continue reading “Clyde Bone’s Tele Vue-140 Re-Built!

2020: Solar & Lunar Phenomena Overview + Space Junk Podcast

Our FoneMate is excellent for capturing lunar and solar (with a filter) phenomena.

Lunar Eclipses
This year we are blessed by not one, not two, not three, but four penumbral lunar eclipses! (At most there can be five lunar eclipses in a year.) However, none will be dramatic: a penumbral eclipse has the Moon passing through the edges of Earth’s shadow and darkening only slightly. Most people won’t even notice the darkening taking place. There will be no dramatic “bite” taken out of the Moon and it won’t turn the color of “blood”.

Continue reading “2020: Solar & Lunar Phenomena Overview + Space Junk Podcast”

Meet Me in London for AstroFest!

Simon Bennett, David Nagler, Richard Day, and Sasha Kostyaev at European AstroFest.
Sandy and I are “chuffed” to again be guests of Tele Vue dealer The Widescreen Centre at the UK’s premier public space and astronomy event: European AstroFest. Frequent attendees of the show know I’ve returned there for many years and it is always a pleasure to get together with Simon, Elena and their staff to answer your questions regarding Tele Vue products. 
 

2020 Product Anniversaries

1977: Introducing Tele Vue!
Plössls – 40 years

The year 2020 holds some big product anniversaries for our company. Tele Vue was founded in 1977 by Al Nagler, originally to sell his television projection lenses (hence the name “Tele Vue” to match the abbreviation “TV” — read “Tele Vue: What’s in a Name?” blog post). In 1980 Al introduced Tele Vue to the amateur astronomy market with its inaugural range of four Plössl eyepieces (26mm, 17mm, 10.4mm, and 7.4mm). Additional models followed over the years until the final five focal lengths were released 25-years ago (1995).

Richard Berry published the first review of Tele Vue Plössls in the August 1981 issue of Astronomy magazine. Tele Vue printed the complete review in our ad in the October 1981 issue of Sky & Telescope!
The original Plossl line was expanded and Nagler eyepieces took top billing at the time this advert was published in the Feb. 1982 issue of Sky & Telescope.

Nagler – 40 years

With the positive reception of the Plössl eyepieces (hailed as “the sharpest I’ve ever used” by Astronomy editor Richard Berry) Al Nagler had the confidence to then bring to market his ground-breaking 82° Nagler eyepiece. This eyepiece used principles from Al’s work a decade earlier on an optical probe for an aircraft landing simulator. So began the era of “spacewalk” viewing forty years ago. (See slide show in “I Thank My Lucky Stars!” blog post.)

Continue reading “2020 Product Anniversaries”