Roger Ivester: Amateur Astronomer

Posted December 15, 2015 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

Thank you for visiting my site. I’m hopeful that you’ll find it both interesting and possibly beneficial in your future observations.

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     I first became interested in astronomy in the mid-60’s at the age of twelve. One of my brothers, Jim had purchased a 60mm refractor, and I soon became interested in this telescope.

     It had an equatorial mount, several eyepieces, a Barlow lens, and a host of other accessories. I would take this small telescope into a weedy field beside  my house, where I hoped to view some of those fabulous spiral galaxies, nebulae and star clusters I’d seen in my science books. However, this was not yet to be, as I had quite a bit of learning to do, which continues to this day.     

     I grew up in the foothills of North Carolina, and my house was located near the end of a dirt road with only two other houses.    

     It was a fabulous place for a budding new amateur astronomer, completely devoid of light pollution. The sky was velvety black with the Milky Way extending almost to the southern horizon. 

     My progression was slow, and I found amateur astronomy to be difficult.  However, it was fun just being outside with a telescope in total solitude.

     When looking into the eyepiece, the colors of the stars became obvious. I perceived some as being rust, white, blue, bluish-white, or orange, and  sometimes while looking at those distant suns, I’d wonder if there was life beyond the Earth.

     I can still remember the frogs in the spring and summer, and occasionally a solitary great horned owl in the distance on those cold wintry nights.  

     Summer in western North Carolina had a sound all its own, with a million insects singing in perfect harmony.  Gazing at a dark sky, full of stars and listening to the sounds of nature mesmerized me.  

     During those early years, I did not know of another kid having an interest in telescopes and astronomy.  At least twenty years would pass before I would meet that other person with a similar interest.  And finding that other person with an interest in astronomy would finally happen in 1985.  A local astronomy club formed and I became a member with my youngest son, Brad.  

     I gave my first amateur astronomy presentation to my eighth grade science class in October 1967.  The title of my presentation was “How To Use An Astronomical Telescope.” I used my brothers 60mm Sears (Jason) refractor, and told the class all about it, and most importantly, how to use it.  I was a big hit…even if it only lasted for the remainder of the day.  

     It wasn’t until the mid-70’s that I acquired my very own telescope, a 4 1/4-inch Edmund Scientific Newtonian EQ reflector, which was not my first choice, but the best my budget would allow at this time in my life.

     Using an inflation calculator, the cost of the Edmund reflector which was $159.50 in 1976, would be $744.45 in 2019.  

     I’ll never forget one special night using that humble Edmund scope, while attempting to locate M81 and M82, two of the most beautiful galaxies in the heavens. By this time, the fabulous skies of my early years were gone. I’d moved to an area packed with houses and street lights.   

     One night, while using my hands in an attempt to block the ambient light from entering my eyepiece, and then it happened:  A small and faint fuzzy object entered my telescope view.  Then, with a slight nudge, another…finally M81 and M82.  What a beautiful sight!  I savored the view for the longest time, and to this day, I can still feel that excitement.  That night, I went to bed smiling, and in my mind, I was now a real amateur astronomer!    

Getting Serious:

     There would be many other nights of success and failure in the years to follow.  However, in 1992 I became a much more serious observer, making systematic observations of deep-sky objects.  In February of that year, I purchased a new 10-inch Meade model DS-10A, equatorially mounted reflector, which allowed me to see faint deep-sky objects that were impossible with my previous smaller telescopes. 

     After a period of time with my new 10-inch reflector, I soon realized that just going outside and observing was not enough.  I needed a purpose, something more lasting, so I began taking copious notes on all the objects observed, noting the minutest of details, or at least to the best of my abilities.  This also proved to be somewhat lacking, so I added to those notes by pencil sketching.  I soon realized that drawing deep-sky objects challenged me to see more, and over time, I became a far better visual observer.  

     Over the past years, I have observed and cataloged many deep-sky objects, accumulating more than a thousand pencil sketches. This has required many hours at the eyepiece, and a countless number of hours working on notes, organizing the notes, sketches and astronomy articles.  

     My first recorded notes were fairly brief, and my sketches were not as detailed as I would have liked.  Even today, I’m still working to improve both my notes and sketching, never being totally satisfied  with the results.  I suppose that sketchers and astrophotographers are very much alike in this regard…always striving for something better.   

Supplemental:  

     I am co-founder of the Observer’s Challenge report, along with Fred Rayworth of Las Vegas.  The Observer’s Challenge is an international deep-sky observing report, which allows any serious amateur the opportunity to share notes, sketches and images for a preselected deep-sky object on a monthly basis. The challenge report celebrated its eleventh year in 2019.  

     Observer’s Challenge mission statement: “Sharing observations and bringing amateur astronomers together” 

     I was fortunate to be able to play a role in the Mount Potosi Observing Complex in Southern Nevada, facilitating a $50,000 telescope donation by Dr. James Hermann, M.D. from North Carolina. The facility has been featured in Astronomy Magazine, the Las Vegas Review Journal and other publications.  

https://rogerivester.com/2016/12/04/mount-potosi-observing-complex-las-vegas-astronomical-society-an-aerial-photo-by-james-yeager-pilot-american-airlines/

Astronomy blogger since 2010.   www.rogerivester.com 

Roger and Debbie Ivester 

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Just had to include a photo of my other hobby….cycling.  I’ve been fortunate to have logged more than 143,000 lifetime miles, as of 2019.      

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NGC 1931 – Bright Nebula and Cluster in Auriga: February 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted January 23, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

 

MONTHLY OBSERVER’S CHALLENGE

Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina

&

Sue French, New York

February 2020

Report #133

NGC 1931 Bright Nebula and Cluster in Auriga 

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

Introduction

     The purpose of the Observer’s Challenge is to encourage the pursuit of visual observing. It’s open to everyone who’s interested, and if you’re able to contribute notes, and/or drawings, we’ll be happy to include them in our monthly summary. Visual astronomy depends on what’s seen through the eyepiece. Not only does it satisfy an innate curiosity, but it allows the visual observer to discover the beauty and the wonderment of the night sky. Before photography, all observations depended on what astronomers saw in the eyepiece, and how they recorded their observations. This was done through notes and drawings, and that’s the tradition we’re stressing in the Observer’s Challenge. And for folks with an interest in astrophotography, your digital images and notes are just as welcome. The hope is that you’ll read through these reports and become inspired to take more time at the eyepiece, study each object, and look for those subtle details that you might never have noticed before.

 

February:  NGC 1931 – Bright  Nebula and Cluster – Auriga; Mag. V= 10.1;  Size 6′ 

RA:  05h  31m   Dec.  +34º  14′ 

 

The embedded Stars in NGC 1931 by Sue French:   

     Don’t be surprised about not seeing the stars in NGC 1931.  Folks get very mixed results.  Go to http://www.deepsky-archive.com/ and type NGC 1931 in the Designation box, then look at everyone’s sketches.  

     Here’s a long-ago Amastro post from Brian Skiff that gives the magnitudes of the trapezium system embedded in the brightest part of the nebula.  I see one of these stars, or a blend of them, in the 105mm scope.  The 10-inch at 213× gives me six stars in the brightest part of the nebulosity plus several mag 11-13½ stars scattered to the south.  I’ve pasted an image below Brian’s data and labeled the stars on it.  The image is in infrared so that the nebulosity doesn’t blot out the stars. Below the Aladin image is a WEBDA chart showing which stars I saw in the main group through the 10-inch..

     While cleaning up some star-lists, I collected data for stars in the nebulous open cluster NGC 1931 in Auriga.  The group contains a faint trapezium system, ADS 4112, that might be of interest to ‘amastro’ folks. The specs for the group are shown below.  The V magnitudes for the stars come from modern photoelectric or CCD studies.  The separations derive from positions in the 2MASS catalogue, which should be better than the 100-year-old visual micrometry, but which in any case match the old data to within a few tenths of an arcsecond. The brighter trio is straightforward in a small telescope; in 1989 I was able to make out the fourth ‘E’ component very faintly in my 6-inch refractor at 200x.  The very faint, close ‘D’ companion to star ‘B’ doubtless requires a very large aperture.  The data quoted for it is from S. W. Burnham’s work; the magnitude is possibly too bright.  The 2MASS coordinates are listed at the bottom.  Star ‘D’ does not appear in any astrometric catalogue.  The spectral types for the three brightest stars, by the way, are B0V, B0.5V, and B1V.  Thus the object should contain some emission, although there must be a substantial reflection component, since filters do not provide much contrast enhancement.

\Brian

 ————————————————

ADS 4112 = BD+34 1074:  5 31 27  +34 14.9 (2000)

 

     V mags      sep    pa

AB  11.5,12.3    8″.1  239

AC       13.0   10″.5  310

AE       14.0   14″.6   17

BD      (15.8)   2″.3  322

 

      RA   (2000)   Dec

A   5 31 27.08  +34 14 49.6

B   5 31 26.54  +34 14 45.0

C   5 31 26.43  +34 14 56.3

E   5 31 27.50  +34 15 03.2

 

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Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts 

See attached image of NGC 1931, for the February 2020 Observer’s Challenge report.  

Taken with my 32-inch telescope, and SBIG STL 1001E camera.  One hour of H alpha, one hour of Sulfur S2 filters, and only 20 minutes of O3 filter as there was essentially no Oxygen signal.

Processed in PixInsight.

NGC1931

NGC 1999 – Reflection Nebula With Hole: January 2020 – Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted January 23, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

rogerivester

MONTHLY OBSERVER’S CHALLENGE

Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina

&

Sue French, New York

January 2020

Report #132

NGC 1999 Reflection Nebula in Orion

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

Introduction

The purpose of the Observer’s Challenge is to encourage the pursuit of visual observing. It’s open to everyone who’s interested, and if you’re able to contribute notes, and/or drawings, we’ll be happy to include them in our monthly summary. Visual astronomy depends on what’s seen through the eyepiece. Not only does it satisfy an innate curiosity, but it allows the visual observer to discover the beauty and the wonderment of the night sky. Before photography, all observations depended on what astronomers saw in the eyepiece, and how they recorded their observations. This was done through notes and drawings, and that’s the tradition we’re stressing in the Observer’s Challenge. And for folks with an interest in astrophotography, your digital…

View original post 1,117 more words

Building a Hot Rod in November 1964: The Beatles Came to America in February of That Year, Cassius Clay Wins the Heavy-Weight Boxing Championship Over Sonny Liston. And I was Eleven Years Old…

Posted January 15, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

Date:  November 1964  

     My five older brothers built something similar or akin to what might be called a Rat Rod today.  The origin was a 1951 Studebaker…using the frame (which had been shortened by three feet), engine, and other parts. 

       In the following photos are my brother Jimmy, who was driving, I’m in the middle with the “cool” cowboy hat, and my brother, Phillip.

     My older brothers, Richard, Jimmy, Ronny, Donnie and Phillip, worked on fabricating “The Bug” as it was called.   I was a bit too young, and mostly just enjoyed watching.  Sometimes I would assist by handing them wrenches or anything else they might need.   

     Improvements were made over the next year with the installation of a mid-50’s Chrysler Hemi engine, which had much more horsepower than the Studebaker.     

     The sad looking tires, especially the front white-walls would eventually be changed out with some better looking wheels.  Additions would also be made to the body, however, still constructed of wood panels.  With a larger budget, many improvements could have been made, but….

     My brother, Donnie, being in high school drove the school bus in the background, which was an early 1950’s model Chevrolet.  

An astronomical telescope purchase in 1963:    

     It was my brother Jimmy, who had already purchased (at the time of the photo) a 60mm f/15 equatorially mounted refractor from Sears, at a cost of $100.  This would be the equivalent of $835 in 2019.  An expensive telescope for sure.

     Two years later, I would begin using this telescope to observe deep-sky objects (galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters) and a lifelong interest in astronomy would follow, even to this day.

Roger Ivester   

The Beginning of a Hot Rod

The Beginning of a Hot Rod - 2

  Now going to the future and current:     

     As time progressed, and with an improved budget, greater skills and abilities, my brother Phillip would become a race car and engine builder.  He would also go on to win an incredible 164 drag racing events, over a thirty year period.  

The following photo was made in September 2019:     

Race Car Wheeley

 

     Phillip still has two race cars, and continues to race this car, as well as his second “almost” identical car, and will race again in 2020.      

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The Three Types of Astronomical Deep-Sky Sketches Identified and Explained

Posted January 5, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

rogerivester

     Recently it occurred to me, there is not a definitive identification of the various types of deep-sky sketching techniques.  It’s my opinion, there are basically three types of sketches, but as of current, have never been identified or named.    

     I would like to recommend or propose to the amateur astronomy community, that this identification of deep-sky sketches be considered as a standard for all future discussions and for proper identification, concerning deep-sky drawings.      

     Detailed visual telescope sketching:  Observing an object through a telescope via an eyepiece. Drawing the object on paper or a sketch card “as verbatim” as possible using a pencil, or pencils of various hardness or other.   

     I’m a visual back yard observer with more than forty years of experience.  All of my sketches are made using a pencil and a 5 x 8…

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Cline Observatory Double Star List – Compiled By Tom English; Consisting of 25 Doubles and 5 Triples

Posted January 3, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

rogerivester

Cline Observatory Double Star List – 25double-5triple

Tom English has put together an excellent list of twenty five doubles and five  multiple stars, which at first glance would seem to be compiled for only those new to this facet of amateur astronomy.  However, for those of us who have enjoyed double star observing for decades, we know there is no such thing as a beginners list.

Double star lists can be comprised of the most difficult pairs due to their close separations and sometimes with unequal magnitudes, or those with wide separations and beautiful contrasting colors.  It was the latter which coined the name: “The jewels of the night sky.”

This list contains some beautiful and interesting doubles, all of which can be observed with a small telescope.  

The famous double star, Epsilon Bootis is probably the most difficult double on the list, which has always required a 4-inch aperture…

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Christmas Day Bicycle Ride – What a Great Day To Get Outside…

Posted December 26, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

     Cloudy skies and rain have prevailed for the past few days, but what a nice day it was on Christmas Day to get outside.  While relaxing, shortly after lunch I received a message from Mike Ribadeneyra, wanting to take a bicycle ride.  I was actually thinking about a nap, but as a cyclist, when someone offers an opportunity to ride…the guilt can be a bit overwhelming should you decline, especially for no real reason. 

     So I got my cycling stuff on, and as always, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment when you are riding back in your driveway.  

     When coming home, we were able to stop and visit with “Albert” the donkey who loves to see us from behind his pasture fence.   It’s always great to hear him coming to us with his bell jingling, to see who might be there.   

     Albert loves for me to bring him an apple, but Debbie has to quarter it, and he will chew each piece very thoroughly.   If a piece falls on the ground, he’ll not eat it until I pick it up and offer it to him again. 

     He’s a bit finicky for sure, but is a very kind, gentle guy and seems to love attention.  Roger 

Albert is glad to see Mike Ribadeneyra:   

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Supplemental photo:  Saturday, December 28th, after a ride, changing out of cycling stuff and taking Albert an apple.  He was very disappointed I didn’t have or offer him an apple, when we were riding home.  So….Debbie, and I took him one later.  

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NGC 1999 – Reflection Nebula With Hole: January 2020 – Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted December 12, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

MONTHLY OBSERVER’S CHALLENGE

Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina

&

Sue French, New York

January 2020

Report #132

NGC 1999 Reflection Nebula in Orion

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

Introduction

The purpose of the Observer’s Challenge is to encourage the pursuit of visual observing. It’s open to everyone who’s interested, and if you’re able to contribute notes, and/or drawings, we’ll be happy to include them in our monthly summary. Visual astronomy depends on what’s seen through the eyepiece. Not only does it satisfy an innate curiosity, but it allows the visual observer to discover the beauty and the wonderment of the night sky. Before photography, all observations depended on what astronomers saw in the eyepiece, and how they recorded their observations. This was done through notes and drawings, and that’s the tradition we’re stressing in the Observer’s Challenge. And for folks with an interest in astrophotography, your digital images and notes are just as welcome. The hope is that you’ll read through these reports and become inspired to take more time at the eyepiece, study each object, and look for those subtle details that you might never have noticed before.

NGC 1999 Reflection Nebula in Orion

NGC 1999 is a bright, 2′ reflection nebula embedded in the southeastern reaches of the more diffuse, 10′ reflection/emission region IC 427. Clasped near its heart, the variable star V380 Ori provides the nebula’s illumination, its visual magnitude varying from magnitude 9.5 to 11 during the past decade. A dark patch shaped somewhat like a chess pawn trends west-southwest from the star. It was long thought to be a type of dark nebula known as a Bok globule, but recent studies show that this inky spot is most likely a dark cavity within the reflection nebula.

Sir William Herschel discovered NGC 1999 on October 5, 1785.His journal entry from that date reads: “A star with a very strong burr all around.”

 

January:  NGC 1999 – Refection Nebula with hole – Orion; Mag. V=9.5;  Size 2′ 

RA:  05h  36m   Dec.  -06º  43′  

 

Reports to-date:

Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts 

Processed NGC 1999 (Keyhole Nebula) which is the January Observer’s Challenge object.   I did not realize how much dust and gas surrounding area, when imaged. 

This is a total of 166 minutes of H alpha, Sulfur, and O3 filters.  Not much O3 in the final.  Mostly hydrogen with some sulfur.

I’ve sent a B&W composite, and also color.  All taken with my 32-inch f/6 telescope, with STL 1001E SBIG camera. 15×15 arc minute view for scale, the actual keyhole is small, but very bright, the surrounding dust/gas is faint

Processed in PixInsight.    Mario Motta 

NGC1999

NGC1999-C

 

Vladislav Mlch:  Observer from Massachusetts

January 2020 Observer’s Challenge report:

Object: NGC 1999

Date: Dec 28, 2019

Location: White Mountains National forest, New Hampshire

Conditions: Bortle 2, average seeing

Telescope:  22-inch f/3.3 DOB with 21mm eyepiece  (~88x, FOV~65 arcminutes, and a 6mm (~300x, FOV~18 arcminutes)

Filter:  No filter used

Notes: Nebula looks like a “blue snowball” in the 21mm eyepiece and it looks like a “big snowball” in 6mm eyepiece. At 300x one can see dark nebula in the middle of the snowball, shaped like Texas. There is a bright core next to the dark nebula.

Pencil sketch below:

ngc1999

 

Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina 

Reflection nebula, NGC 1999 is easy to locate and see at all magnifications, with a 10-inch reflector.  The nebula has a fairly high surface brightness.   

At a magnification of 104x, the reflection nebula appears as a bright circular haze, with a much brighter concentrated center.  When increasing the magnification to 256x, the illumination star V380 which is variable (mag. 9.5 to 11.0) can be easily seen, appearing a little east of the center.  

The offset of this star brightens the eastern section of the nebulous halo, causing the appearance of greater concentration and being brighter.  

After spending two hours, I could not see the dark void or hole just to the west of the variable illumination star.  However, I believe with better seeing this “noted” feature would have been possible, using the 256x magnification, but on this night, stars were very soft and bloated.   Pencil sketch as following:

NGC 1999 Roger

 

Joseph  Rothchild:  Observer from Massachusetts  

I observed NGC 1999 on January 15, 2019 on Cape Cod.  I again used my 10-inch  reflector under dark but hazy skies. 

The object was easily found by star hopping from Iota Orionis.  There was an asterism appearing like a reverse 3 or a question mark that pointed to the nebula. 

When using a low magnification of 45x, it appeared like a fuzzy star.  At higher power of 153x, there was a compact nebulosity around a star, seen best with averted vision, while with direct vision it appeared almost stellar.  With averted vision I was able to see the hole with difficulty just adjacent to the central star.     

 

James R. Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

NGC 1999 is a bright reflection nebula containing a very dark nebula, all part of a vast region of molecular clouds located in Orion. NGC 1999 can be found by following Orion’s Sword south one and one-third degrees past the Trapezium. The brightest part of NGC 1999 glows colorless or white over a region 16 x 12 arcminutes in size. Imbedded within this region is a dense dark nebula, triangular shaped, a few arcminutes on each side.

Finding NGC 1999 in January 2020 from Peoria, Illinois proved difficult due to the weather. The month only offered up one clear night with no interfering moon. On that night, I ventured out to my observatory 20 miles northwest of downtown Peoria, located in a state park. I arrived at sunset. The temperature was 18°F and there was several inches of snow that fell two nights earlier, followed by freezing rain making everything icy and crusty.

I cleared the snow off of my Sky Shed Pod and opened the roof. Orion was still fairly low in the southwest, so I spent a couple of hours imaging the NGC 708 galaxy cluster http://astrojim.net/Galaxies/NGC708.html before turning my attention to NGC 1999.

The seeing was terrible, around 4 arcseconds, but the transparency was quite good. I imaged NGC 1999 using an 8-inch f/6.4 Ritchey–Chrétien reflector with a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. 

I combined nine 10-mininute exposures to create the accompanying image of NGC 1999. During he exposure, Orion was embedded in the light pollution over Peoria. I normally only photograph objects to the north or west where the light pollution is minimal. But the only way to capture this image was towards the city, were the sky glow is at its worst. Thank along with the poor seeing made for an image that left a lot to be desired.

Our observatory complex does not have a warm room. So I put a space heater plugged into shore power under the hatch in the back of my Subaru and folded down one back seat to use as a desk while I sat in the other back seat. With my laptop in the car plugged into a power strip along with a WIFI router, I connected remotely to the computer in the dome to control the telescope and camera. The space heater kept the temperature in the car warm enough so I could remove my hat and gloves and unzip my winter coat. By the time I left at 11:15 p.m., the outside temperature was 14° F. As you might guess, it was much too cold outside to set up a telescope and view NGC 1999 through an eyepiece. But I believe my image captured similar detail that I would have seen in my 14-inch, f/6 Dobsonian.

NGC1999