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.
It was March 19th of this year when we published a blog post, Shelter in Space, inspired by an image posted to flickr by Los Angeles based amateur Bill Allen. At the time we wrote:
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.
Toward the end of the blog we opined:
As a strategy to avoid “cabin fever,” one local New York City television station has urged people to get outside and connect with the natural world — while maintaining social distance. Not an easy task during the day, but an easy prescription to take for amateur astronomers doing their night-time viewing and imaging.
During the course of that week, New York State had been putting out proposals for limiting the number of employees working in non-essential businesses. The proposals first called to limiting staff to 75%, and as the week wore on it evolved to 50% and then a draconian sounding (for the time) 25%.
The next day, Friday, March 20th, the first full day of Spring — exactly 7-months ago — we found out that social distancing under the stars was not enough: New York State had ordered 100% closure of non-essential businesses statewide for the foreseeable future. So, we hastily announced on this blog that we would be Closed Due to Covid-19 Until Further Notice. The news headlines at the time and the uncertainty of the duration of the closing was a jarring development for our staff and some wondered how this would impact the hobby when and even if we re-opened our doors.
TeleVue Optics, Inc.
32 Elkay Dr.
Chester, NY 10918
Dear Astronomy Friends,
On the first full day of spring, March 20, when Tele Vue’s COVID-19 pandemic closing notice was put on our blog, we wrote: “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.” It has been a long journey, and while this crisis is by no means over, today we are all healthy and ready to fully serve our customers!
Thanks to all who supported us over the past seventy-three days! We read your kind words on our Facebook page and even got letters through the mail! Our blog newsletter saw an increase in subscriptions and a multitude of amateurs continued to @televue on social media as they found more time for their favorite hobby and “sheltered in space.”
We’re starting the process of restocking the shelves at our dealers, answering your questions, building scopes, doing our famous eyepiece quality control checks, and becoming more active on social media. While the pandemic continues to curtail events and Tele Vue’s appearances, we’ll update our website Tour Schedule, social media, and announce on the blog when and where we’ll be showing products in person.
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!
President, Tele Vue Optics, Inc.
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