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.
Great report Jeremy. I was fortunate enough to experience a night with Al Nagler myself. Last night (Feb 13th), Mr. Nagler was at Sun City Hilton Head, and pet on a presentation for the Sun City Astronomers. I was invited to the event, and made sure that everything else on my calendar was arranged to leave that night open. After the presentation, Al set up his Tele-Vue 85 and we spent several hours observing the moon, M42, and Saturn. We used several Tele-Vue eyepieces including the Ethos, a standard plossl, and a Nagler Zoom.
After the observing session, I spent another hour with Al discussing Tele-Vue's telescope and eyepiece designs, comparisons to other name brand telescopes, and even which telescope he personally uses. Of all the telescopes we talked about, the one I would most like to crowd the eyepiece of is Al's personal telescope. A 140mm Televue refractor. As you know, there were only a limited number of those manufactured and aren't in production any longer. The only way to get one now would be to buy it used. Good luck on finding one for sale, however.
The highlight of my evening was the "after the session" talk I had with Al. I was amazed at how much information I could gather in our discussion, and just how much I actually knew about telescopes in general. I guess being around knowledgeable people, brings out retained knowledge that we may forget we have. Or at least, it did in my case; which thrilled me to no end. At least I didn't come across as a babbling fool.
Great story, Kevin. Funny how people have a stranglehold on quality equipment
Looks like the Orlando skies will be clear of clouds and noise from moisture for the eclipse this Wednesday night, hope the southern part of our state is as forgiving to y'all!