Tele Vue’s 2021 Solar Gallery

Active Region 12866 (left) and 12868 (right) by flickr user Carlo Casoli. All rights reserved. Used by permission. This hydrogen-alpha solar chromosphere image was taken at 2021 09 07, 10h 32’00” CET. Imaged with filtered Tecnosky 80/480 APO (DayStar Quark Chromosphere Model H-Alpha Filter with 4.2X telecentric Barlow) using Tele Vue 2x Barlow (effective focal length = 4000 mm) with ZWO Electronic Filter Wheel and ZWO ASI174MM camera. All carried on Ioptron CEM70G & Ioptron TriPier. Software: FireCapture, AutoStakkert3, and Photoshop. From Casalecchio di Reno, Italy.

It’s time to revisit the Sun! This nearby yellow-dwarf star is entering middle-age and is showing some spots! Here we have a  selection of solar images, taken from around the world, made with Tele Vue Barlows and Powermate image amplifiers.

3 Big Flares in Active Region 12860 (movie) by flickr user Carlo Casoli. All rights reserved. Used by permission. “I was very lucky to film a series of flares lasting about 2 minutes. The energy released in this very short time is incredible; the largest of the flares has an extension equal to at least 3-4 times the Earth’s diameter”. For this Hydrogen-alpha animation, 10-second exposures were taken every 30 seconds for a total of 1 hour from 2021 08 29 11h 30′ – 12h 30′ CET. Imaged with filtered Tecnosky 80/480 APO (DayStar Quark Chromosphere Model H-Alpha Filter) using Tele Vue 2x Barlow (effective focal length = 4000 mm) with ZWO Electronic Filter Wheel and ZWO ASI174MM camera. All carried on Ioptron CEM70G & Ioptron TriPier. Software: FireCapture, AutoStakkert3, ImPPG, and Photoshop. From Casalecchio di Reno, Italy.

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On the left is a Tele Vue 4x Powermate as part of a speckle interferometry system (Figure 6, Genet et al., 2014). Light curve of eclipsing binary on right (Moschner et al., 2021) included data taken with Tele Vue-102.

In this installment, we travel to Kitt Peak in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert to “speckle” binary stars and finally learn what the impressive-sounding Bundesdeutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Veränderliche Sterne group does! (If you missed our prior Tele Vue Scientific installments, you can click to read Part 1 and Part 2).

4x Powermate and Speckle Imaging at Kitt Peak
Wide shot of the speckle interferometry system installed on the 2.1-meter scope at Kitt Peak. A Tele Vue 4x Powermate is the black vertical tube hanging off the bottom of the scope. (Figure 2, Genet et al., 2014).

Introduction Often practiced by amateur astronomers doing planetary work, “lucky”  imaging was invented by professional astronomers to try to “freeze” distortion of starlight passing through our planet’s turbulent atmosphere. This is done by taking many short exposures of a target, instead of one long one. Amateurs usually align and stack the best quality photos to create an image. Professionals use their data to perform speckle interferometry involving complex math. Speckle interferometry is useful in refining the orbits of close binary stars. The introduction to a 2014 paper, “Kitt Peak Speckle Interferometry of Close Visual Binary Stars,” explains how this works.

The resolutions of conventional visual binary observations were seeing limited until Labeyrie (1970) devised speckle interferometry as a way to circumvent seeing limitations and realize the full diffraction-limited resolution of a telescope. The light from a close binary passing through small cells in the atmosphere produces multiple binary star images which, if observed at high enough magnification with short exposures (typically 10 to 30 milliseconds), will “freeze” out the atmospheric turbulence and thus overcome seeing-limitations. Although the multiple double star images are randomly scattered throughout the image (often superimposed), their separation and position angle remains constant, allowing these two parameters to be extracted via Fourier analysis (autocorrelation).

The paper says that this technique, made practical with the introduction of the CCD camera, resulted in an order of magnitude improvement in binary star data measurement over visual observations. Speckle interferometry then became the preferred technique for characterizing close binary stars.

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Doing Science with Tele Vue Optics

Tele Vue Optics has been the key to unlocking the limits of magnification.

In the last installment, our scientific path went from “polar to solar.” (If you missed it, please go back and read Tele Vue Scientific Part 1.) In Part 2 of this multi-part blog post on the use of Tele Vue gear in science, we reveal Sneakey research with Tele Vue Powermates and how a compact Tele Vue-NP101is telescope proved once again that lights are “all askew in the heavens.” All this research was done using our standard gear with products bought off-the-shelf — the same as you would receive from Tele Vue.

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Doing Science with Tele Vue Optics”

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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Powermate Solar Imaging from Kent, UK!

Proms Mono by flickr user Paul Andrew. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Lunt LS152 Solar Telescope (obj: 152mm / fl: 900mm) with Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate and imaged with ZWO ASI290MM monochrome camera (1936px x 1096px, color added in post-processing). Taken 20th May 2020 from Kent, UK. Solar prominences dance along magnetic field lines on the limb of the active Sun while fibrils of super-heated plasma fill the foreground.
Paul Andrew has been an amateur astronomer since the age of 11. He is the founder and Honorable President of the South East Kent Astronomical Society in the UK. He’s had a number of his astrophotographs published  — in particular, his solar images  — in national newspapers and on websites as far afield as Russia. He’s been short-listed for the prestigious Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition four times now. We’ve noted his high-quality solar images and discovered that many were made with our Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate in the imaging train. So, we present a selection of his work in this week’s blog.

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Your 2019 Mercury Transit Images!

Mercury Transit 2019-11-11 Time 10-03-50-0631 by flickr user Photon_chaser. Copyright Frank Tornyai. Mercury is about to leave the face of our Sun. Hα image through Wollensak 153/1200 achromat using Quark Chromo with Tele Vue 4x Powermate™ using Lunt double stacked etalons, and ASI174 mono camera. Software used was Genika Astro capture, PIPP, AS!3 , Images Plus and Photoshop.

Images from the 2019 Mercury Transit made with Tele Vue gear have now been posted to social media. We present here the best (with permission) and note that Tele Vue Powermate™ amplifiers “shone” in the creation of most.  Not only does Powermate™ help fast, modern scopes achieve a focal length suitable for imaging the tiny planet, but some high-end, drawtube-side, narrow-band filters requires a Powermate’s telecentric operation to create parallel rays for best image contrast. (See Daystar application of Rear-Mounted Filter page).

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Uranus Opposition 2019

Uranus at Opposition
Uranus and moons. Celestron Edge 11 with 2.5x Tele Vue Powermate and ZWO ASI224MC color camera. Image credit and copyright by Anis Abdul.
Anis Abdul’s composite image of Uranus and moons is from the October 2017 opposition and was posted to his Facebook page. The imaging gear used was a Celestron Edge 11 telescope, riding on on AP900 mount, that was “amplified” with our Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate to achieve 7,000 mm focal length. Imaging was done with a ZWO ASI224MC color camera . The best 50% of frames from 20-minutes of video were processed for the image. Software used was Pixinsight and Registax.
“One of the closer moon (Miranda) is actually visible in my stacks but is lost in the planet glow ,” says Anis. 

The “ice  giant” planet Uranus was in opposition on October 28th. That means that the Sun, Earth, and Uranus all lined up together at an instant in time on that date. Uranus is on the same side of the Sun as the Earth, so the planet was closest to Earth and brightest for the year and in the sky all night long. If you missed it: don’t worry. The slow-moving planet will remain at least 3.7″ of arc in diameter and at magnitude 5.7 for the next month. 

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The Sun from Sunny Barcelona, Spain

protuberancias y superficie solares – 18/11/2017 by flickr user Jordi Sesé. All rights reserved. Used by permission. In this impressive image, a massive solar prominence erupts above the limb of the Sun. Furry spicules are visible along the entire edge of the disk. The roiling surface appearance of the Sun is caused by filaments and fibrils (prominence and spicules away from the limb — see blog text for details). All these solar features are usually invisible in ordinary white light. These phenomena are only revealed through narrow-band hydrogen-α light filters. Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate™ into ZWO ASI174MM monochrome camera using 100mm f/10 achromatic scope with modified Coronado PST Hα and BF10 blocking filter.

If you’re suffering from the cold northern winter like we are at Tele Vue headquarters in upstate New York, you’ll instantly be “warmed” by these “hot” solar images made by Jordi Sesé Puértolas from his balcony in Barcelona, Spain. These photos appear to show a blazing inferno on the “surface” of the Sun. However, science tells us this is not fire we are seeing but hot plasma (ionized gas) and gas in the wavelength of Hydrogen-α light.

Uranus Opposition October 23rd

Uranus by Instagram user astrobobo. Copyright astrobobo. Used by permission. Imaged with Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate™ on Celestron EdgeHD 8″ SCT (effective focal length = 5080-mm) and ZWO ASI290MC camera.

On the 23rd, the “ice  giant” Uranus will be visible all night, as it rises when the sun sets (hence it is opposite the sun). It will also be at its largest for the year: a diminutive 3.73″ of arc. Due to its distance and close-to-circular orbit, Uranus doesn’t vary that much in brightness over time.  It will reach magnitude 5.7 from mid-October through early November before slightly fading to magnitude 5.9 in late March 2019. This makes it a naked-eye target in dark skies and easy to locate in a binocular or finderscope.

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Imaging in the Stratosphere with Tele Vue!

Air China A332 crossing the Moon (crop) by Instagram user Kacper Lechwar. Copright Kacper Lechwar. Used by permission. Air China Airbus A330-243 is captured poking its nose into the Sea of Serenity as it crosses the face of the Moon. Imaged using 254mm / 1200mm Dobsonian telescope with Tele Vue 2x Powermate™ and Canon 1200D / EOS Rebel T5 (18.1-megapixel) camera. Shot at cruising altitude (30,000+ feet). With this Powermate™ setup, Kacper takes a series of images in quick succession of each plane. He then reviews them on a computer before processing the best ones. Click to see full image.

We’ve noticed a proliferation of close-up plane images on Instagram made using Tele Vue Powermate™ image amplifiers. What is amazing about these images? They are taken from the ground with the plane at jet-aircraft cruising altitude. This is the imaging side of the hobby of “plane spotting.” It is sort of like bird watching — but the “bird” is much bigger and potentially much further away: in the stratosphere!

While imaging a bird can be serendipitous, the modern plane spotter has the advantage of free online flight-tracking software, such as FlightRadar 24 and FlightAware, to predict what aircraft are approaching their location. Aircraft identification, route, speed, altitude, and heading are just a click away. This software has also made its way to the ubiquitous smartphone. Thus, unlike birding, plane spotters can anticipate targets to observe in advance. This gives the spotter time to prepare for encounters with common and rare aircraft — like the Antonov An-225.

Antonov An-225 Mriya GML-LEJ by Instagram user Krzysztof Migo. Copyright Krzysztof Migo. Used by permission. Antonov An-225 Mriya caught flying from Kiev to Leipzig. Imaged using a Skywatcher 200/1000 (f/5) scope with Tele Vue 2x Powermate™ and Canon 700D / Rebel T5i camera (18.0 megapixel) DSLR camera. . Shot at cruising altitude (30,000+ feet).

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