Location, location, location. This maxim isn’t only reserved for real estate, but also holds true for vendors at star parties. This year, Astronomy holds another great position at the Winter Star Party (WSP). Best of all, right next door is Tele Vue’s booth, commanded by the company's founder, Al Nagler.
For amateur astronomers, the name “Nagler” is synonymous with “high- quality optics.” Nagler’s latest masterpiece, the Ethos, has been the rage among those who visited the Tele Vue tent.
An unexpected treat of attending this star party is to sit within 10 feet of Al Nagler during the daytime. Al holds court all day, as dozens of observers stop by and deliver accolades for products in the Tele Vue line. Occasionally, a customer visits the Tele Vue tent to ask questions. As the fly on the wall, I’m able to harvest gems of wisdom that Al has distributed to his loyal customers.
Yesterday afternoon, Al turned to me and said, “If you are interested, feel free to stop by and observe with me tonight.” Let’s see, observe with the man responsible for some of amateur astronomy's best eyepieces? "I’d like to show you some of my favorite objects.” Considering I’ve never shot clay pigeons with John Browning or traded guitar licks with Les Paul, this was an opportunity only a fool would decline.
During that night, Al navigated pockets in the semi-cloudy sky. This is the first time I’ve gazed through someone’s scope, never having to look at what brand eyepiece he or she used. Even in a steady wind, Al showed us his favorite spots in Orion, Taurus, Auriga, Corvus, and elsewhere.
So far, WSP 2008 has featured entertaining and enlightening lectures, helpful workshops, quality observing, and a collection of terrific people to mingle with. With two days left, I can safely say my highlight is the observing session personalized by Al Nagler.