Televue NP101

May 14, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I took pictures of our kids recently and had a white seamless background setup along with lighting, and figured heck, it's already setup - why not throw the telescope in the spotlight.  So I did:

 

101mm of goodness

 

It's a Televue NP101 - a refracting telescope with a 101mm objective lens.  (4 inch).  That massive thing on the right side that looks like a hand-grenade - that's the eyepiece.  Here's a closer view:

 

31mm plus 101mm equals a great view

 

The founder of Televue is Al Nagler, and you can see his name emblazoned on both the eyepiece and the telescope itself.  The eyepiece is the 31mm Nagler, and the "N" in the "NP101" stands for Nagler.  A part that makes me especially happy with this is what you see written on the scope's nameplate: "Made in USA."  Here's a view towards the business-end of the scope:

 

Here's looking at you kid

 

The wires you see dangling around are part of the system used to prevent dew build-up.  There is a DewBuster controller sitting on the tray, and Dew-Not heater straps placed at strategic locations.  The wire protruding out from the top of the scope is a temperature sensor.  The DewBuster is a neat system - it senses the outside air temperature, and sends just enough heat to the straps to keep the lens a set number of degrees above ambient temperature.  You set the number of degrees, and it takes care of the rest.  This setup ensures that you never get dew build-up!  The whole thing plugs into any 12-volt battery (like the cigarette lighter plug in your car), which I've setup with a simple 12-volt deep-cycle marine battery.  Works like a charm!

 

But that's all just gadgetry - the cool part is what you can actually see with this!  It's amazing how most people never bother to look up at night.  We are floating in space, orbiting a regular star which is one of hundreds of billions just within our galaxy (the Milky Way).  The Milky Way is one of at least hundreds of billions of other galaxies, each of which contains probably hundreds of billions of other stars like our sun.  What's incredible is that you can walk out on your back deck, take any simple telescope, and see with your own eyes things that are almost beyond comprehension.  A fuzzy patch in the eyepiece is actually an entire galaxy, 30 million light years away.  That tiny spot is so enormous, that if you could travel the speed of light, it would take you 100,000 years to travel from one side of it to the other.  That's if you could wait the 30 million years it would take to travel there from earth.  And no method of travel we humans have come up with so far can come anywhere close to the speed of light.  Not even one percent of it.  We are so tiny in the grand scheme of things.  Closer to home, in these telescopes you can clearly see the globular clusters orbiting the center of the Milky Way.  These are huge collections of stars that are bound together by their mutual gravity, which contain hundreds of thousands of individual stars.  In the eyepiece, it looks like a ball of fuzz, or maybe a ball of christmas tree lights.  You look at it and wonder, "what the heck are they all doing stuck together like that?!"  But the explanation is as simple (or complex) as the reason you and I are stuck to the ground - gravity.  Same reason the Milky Way is held together in this enormous dinner-plate-shaped structure.  Same reason our galaxy and other galaxies are tied together in colossal strings and finger-shaped groupings.  Gravity, on an enormous scale.  

 

Till next time - go outside and look up!


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