The Art of Sketching the Moon at the Eyepiece

Galileo’s telescopic sketches of the moon from “Sidereus Nuncius” published in March 1610. Animation created from public domain images obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

The changing face of the moon has long been documented by artists. In the early 1600s, the introduction of the telescope allowed for detailed sketching of lunar features at the eyepiece. The most celebrated early telescope sketcher was Galileo Galilei. His artistic training allowed him to understand that the jagged appearance of the lunar terminator (day/night line) seen in the eyepiece was due to the topography of craters, mountain, and ridges on the moon. These irregular shadows on the moon had puzzled earlier observers that considered the moon to be a flat disk with markings on it.

Copernicus Crater by AstroBin user Tanglebones. Copyright by the artist. Used by permission. Tele Vue Panoptic 35mm eyepice with Tele Vue 2x Powermate using Sky-Watcher Mak 180 Pro scope.

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Szabolcs Nagy: Powermate™ User Profile

For most people an overhead pass of the International Space Station (ISS) looks somewhat like a bright airliner crossing the sky.  Not for Szabolcs Nagy: with his 1,200mm Dobsonian scope and 2.5x Tele Vue Powermate™ he can get up-close video of this bright streak that resolves into individual solar panels, modules, and even docked capsules!

ISS with Some Details” (crop) by flickr.com user Szabolcs Nagy. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Sky-Watcher 250/1200 FlexTube Dobsonian with Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate™ and imaged with ZWO ASI120MM monochrome camera with ZWO red filter from London in May 2017. “Summer is full on in London, which means amazing sky with no clouds at all. We had four passes during the night, two directly over head. But couldn’t stay up longer than the first one, which climbed ‘only’ about 64° of elevation.”

Mars Opposition 2018 Preview

Mars with Tele Vue 4x Powermate™. ©Russell Croman

About every 26-months,  Earth and Mars get a good look at each other as their orbits cause them to line up together on the same side of the Sun.  At the instant that Earth is between Mars and the Sun we have “Mars Opposition” — Mars is opposite the Sun in Earth’s sky. Mars is closest to Earth around this time and amateur astronomers make a point of observing it.

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Roger Hutchinson: Powermate™ User Profile

A powerful solar prominence explodes from the limb of the  solar disk in “Sunspot AR2665 & Prominence” by flickr.com user Roger Hutchinson. All rights reserved. Used by permission.  Composite of two images: one exposed for prominence and the other for sunspot group. Lunt LS60 Hydrogen-∝ scope, Tele Vue 2.5x Powermate™ & ZWO ASI174MM  monochrome camera. False colour added.

Roger Hutchinson is a noted amateur astrophotographer who produces much of his planetary, solar, and even comet work from what he admits are the “light polluted skies of southwest London”. His imaging work is showcased on his aptly named The London Astronomer website as well as on flickr, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Roger’s Venus Phase Evolution image splashed onto the planetarium dome of the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
© National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. All rights reserved.

Roger’s interest in imaging the sky runs back to the age of 11 and has culminated as the recent recipient of the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year award in the Planets, Comets & Asteroids category for 6-month-long effort to capture the evolution of the phases of Venus. Some of Roger’s social media profiles include a picture of the “Captain” standing with “Bleep” and “Booster” from the BBC animated series “Bleep and Booster”.  He says “I have two kids myself so thought the image was kind of appropriate. Suitably space related and brings back some happy childhood memories.”

August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse: Inside the SOLAR LAB

Hydrogen-α image of sun and scopes inside the Solar Lab. Copyright Stephen Pizzo.

We recently received an interesting letter from Stephen Pizzo, discussing his solar imaging work with Tele Vue Powermate™ amplifiers. Most of the time (90%), he uses our 4x Powermate™ on a Hydrogen-α scope — either a LS152THA (900mm focal length) or LS230THa (1,600mm focal length). This extends the effective focal length of these dedicated solar scopes to 3,600mm or 6,400mm for breathtaking, close-up images of the activity on the Sun’s chromosphere. The choice of scope depends on the seeing conditions. If conditions won’t support the 4x, Stephen employs our 2x Powermate™ with the LS230THa for an effective focal length of 3,200mm. Stephen also notes that he normally uses 3″ to 4″ of extension between the 4x Powermate™ and the imager to get another 0.5x of magnification. The imager itself is very unique: a RED Dragon Epic monochrome 18-megapixel camera — a camera usually associated with the world of professional digital cinema.

He shared the images created with the bigger scope and 4x Powermate™ with us. As you can see below, they are spectacular!

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Saturn Opposition: June 15, 2017

Saturn with 2.5x Powermate™
Moons Enceladus & Tethys visible on original.
©Ed Grafton

Saturn will be visible all night in the sky on the 15th as it rises when the sun sets (hence it is opposite the sun). Now is a good time to revisit an essay I wrote a while back about this visually appealing planet.

It’s Saturnday

I’ve found that first-time views of Saturn through a telescope typically elicit gasps of delight followed by inquisitive questioning.

Saturn’s startling beauty can open the door to wonders and knowledge about the universe that can inspire a love and appreciation of all the arts, sciences, and history.

Understanding something of the vastness and nature of the universe and our unique position as the only species possessing such knowledge suggests we commit to fostering the best in us: love, kindness, respect for learning and for all the amazing life-forms we’re so fortunate to share on this wonderful planet.

So let’s use Saturn as a means to enrich our future and help preserve our earthly paradise.

Spread the word to change Saturday to Saturnday through all media and contacts, in every social venue, to start dialogues that can open the minds and hearts of our earthling friends.  Caring for our precious planet and it’s lucky inhabitants, will make future generations proud of our time here.

Saturnday can change the world with your help !

– Al (10715) Nagler

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Jupiter Opposition: April 7, 2017

Jupiter with 2x Powermate™
Full-size image includes Io and Callisto.
©Russell Croman

Tonight Jupiter is closest to the earth and rises as the sun sets — the planet is in opposition. This will place it in the sky all night long. As the nights warm up into the spring, you’ll enjoy great views of this gas giant planet. Some of the best planetary images are made at opportunities like this. Continue reading “Jupiter Opposition: April 7, 2017”