Is it just us or did it seem that 2020 was a longer than usual year? Yet while both the year and big Mars Opposition are waning, we can still look forward to some astronomical sights and surprises in the “20/20” sky. We list them in this week’s blog.
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”.
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.
This is an update on Dr. Don Bruns’s attempt to measure star-position deflection with our Tele Vue-NP101is telescope during this past August’s solar eclipse. His goal was not just to duplicate the famous 1919 experiment (by Sir Arthur Eddington that proved Dr. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity), but to demonstrate that portable, readily available amateur equipment can produce results that rival that of professional hardware from past decades. His experiment was to “determine Einstein’s deflection to an accuracy of 1%, the best optical measurement of the deflection ever demonstrated.” He points out that a professional attempt at the 1973 eclipse achieved an error of 11%. See our blog post “Tele Vue NP101is to Test Einstein’s General Relativity” for more background.
If ever there was an event that bound together every living thing on this planet, the disappearance of the Sun during broad daylight reminds us of just how reliant, fragile and connected we are. To be able to share the emotions of that special moment with others reminds us that all the moments we share are special.
Tele Vue telescopes spread out along the center-line of the Monday, August 21, 2017 North American Eclipse. Our employees and friends report on their eclipse experiences. Our first report is from Peter Carboni, our webmaster and social media blogger. He followed the weather trend before selecting his center-line observing location just 4-days before the event!
After driving 14-hrs Sunday, from the Hudson Valley of NY to a hotel outside of Knoxville, I awoke at 3 a.m. Monday morning for the final 90-min journey to my observing site. At 6 a.m. I arrived in Tellico Plains, Tennessee — population 941 — a farming community in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains that abutted the Cherokee National Forest. It was also near the center-line of the eclipse and promised about 2’ 37” of totality.
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!