Monday, October 30, 2006

Among some giants

I went to Adorama on Sunday (29 Oct. 2006) to replace two eyepieces lost last year. I've bought most of my astronomy gear from them as they have earned my trust and favor over the years. When I went inside, there was Josef, the usual counter person sitting at a renovated counter. Where there had been astronomy stuff, like an eyepieces, binoculars, spotting scopes, tripods, etc had now been cleared. I asked, "What's up?"

Josef said that the Astronomy Dept. was now on the fifth floor and that Tele Vue was up there. "Okay, are there discounts today?", I asked with a smile. Maybe, check it out, they're all up there on five he told me again. I asked if Peter was there, and he said yes along with a bunch of other names I didn't quite catch.

Back in the early winter of 2003, when I first adopted astronomy as a hobby, I took an astrophotography class at The American Museum of Natural History/Hayden Planetarium which was taught by Peter Lipschutz. With the same technique and equipment I use today, I attended the class and got to show off my lunar photographs taken with a Digital Elph, Tele Vue Ranger, TV Plossl 20mm & 32mm, and rubber bands. Peter works at Adorama and I'm am glad that he was there as he was the only person I knew.

Al Nagler was there demonstrating his eyepieces in a few of his scopes to someone and I wanted to introduce myself. 95% of my eyepieces are Televue and with the exception of a Plossl 20mm and 32mm, the rest are Naglers. I also have a TV Ranger, no longer produced, that use occasionally for my grab-n-go pack. Also I'll use it for imaging or what has been recently termed, digiscoping. While waiting for a break to engage Al, I chatted with Peter and turned out to be for a good period.

I was floored by his photographic work. There were 3d glasses and lunar landscape pictures all about with that familiar red and blue offset color. Donning the glasses, I was immersed in these photos. They ranged from macroscopic work to urban landscapes to still lifes of acorns and dried leaves to lunar landscapes to a large wall sized mural of the interior of a Martian crater. in another corner of the room below one of the floor model telescopes there was one where you stand on the lip of the crater which had a crater in its wall. Equipped with the 3d glasses, I could reach down and insert my hand in the craters. "Insane!" In my moments of awe this is my utternace.

Peter wrote an article about the technique. If you're in NYC, make an effort to drop in at Adorama on the fifth floor to see this work. After looking pictures this way it makes one wonder why all photographs couldn't be produced and "consumed" like this.

Another gentleman who worked there, Mike Peoples, shared his work as well. He described how he and a number of other amateurs are discovering supernovae in other galaxies. He's got quite a few under his belt in addition to a cataclysmic variable he discovered. Wow! I'm not entirely certain but he seems to make his livelihood from amateur astronomy - and, maybe a little help from retail. I was totally impressed by his stories, his astrophotography, and his charitable involvement with the art & science of amateur astronomy.

Later I spoke with Al Nagler of Tele Vue fame. Absolutely a celebrity in my eyes and having the privilege to meet him was more of more treats. I can't imagine this man is not loved around the world. I was struck by the attention he gave to each of us that spoke with him. He gave sme tips on selecting eyepieces and showed off a few of the TV APO refractors. I told him how I lost my eyepieces last year, most were Naglers, and he shared his story of loss in Australia. Sort of took the edge off my grief. Thanks, Al.

At the end of it all, it wasn't the baseball cap they gave me or the door prize of a gorgeous 24" x 24" print of M42 & M43 or the new eyepieces I got that made this a special day, but the charity and encouragement these men shared and allowing my three years to participate with decades that these men have. Collectively, I would say there was a century and half plus three years of astronomical experience to contribute to the betterment of humankind.