Roger Ivester: Amateur Astronomer

Posted December 15, 2015 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

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


Roger and Debbie Ivester


Debbie pictured with a 6-inch f/6 reflector.  In the days of yesteryear, the 6-inch reflector was the workhorse of amateur astronomy, but in recent years has lost favor among the amateur astronomy community.  Not so fast!   Please consider:  The 6-inch reflector is reasonably easy for most anyone to handle, and has good light gathering capacity.  The venerable six, is an excellent all around portable telescope, especially with an f/6 focal ratio.   


Just had to include a photo of my other hobby….cycling.  I’ve been fortunate to be able to log 130,000 lifetime miles, to-date.    


After 19 years, my telescope observing partner passed away. Her name was CJ. Astronomy from my backyard will never be the same.

Posted March 14, 2017 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

I can still see our Persian Cat, CJ…waiting at the backdoor after setting up my telescope outside.  She would walk around, climb the deck, play like she was catching something….pouncing and clawing the ground.  However, after a short while, she would end up on my lap, either due to being cold, or to just feel safe.  

CJ was going to stay with me for only a couple weeks, and then moving to California, but that two weeks ended up being almost 20 years.  I’m really glad the move didn’t work out.   

Astronomy from my backyard will never be the same.  

Debbie and I held her in our arms from 11:30 AM till 8:15 PM.  I had my hand on her chest when her little heart beat the last time after almost 20 years.  CJ had a wonderful life…..we treated her like a Princess!   Roger 




Open Cluster M67 In Cancer: March 2017 Observer’s Challenge

Posted March 13, 2017 by rogerivester
Categories: Observer's Challenge Reports

While visiting my son and family in Las Vegas almost ten years ago, I became a member of the Las Vegas Astronomical Society.  Soon afterwards, I began an email correspondence with one of the members, Fred Rayworth.  We discussed the possibility of developing a monthly report, primarily designed to promote visual observing, while allowing amateurs the opportunity to share their observations and work.

Many years ago, as far back as the mid-70’s, I envisioned such a report, but this was in the days before the internet, emails, and blogs.

In February 2009, the first report was issued and the Observer’s Challenge was founded.  We celebrated our 96th consecutive monthly report with the February 2017 edition.  The report has inspired me to go outside even when I would much rather have stayed inside.

It’s always been my opinion that every amateur needs a goal.  It might be observing the entire Messier catalog, maybe the Herschels, or any of the other list of objects provided by the Astronomical League.  It could even be a serious scientific study, or maybe becoming an active AAVSO member, or perhaps as a participate of the Observer’s Challenge itself!

The list of potential projects is endless. Amateur astronomy does not have to be boring!   Roger Ivester

March Challenge Report:  Open cluster M67 in Cancer. 

Image provided by Mario Motta of Massachusetts using a 6-inch refractor:


The brightest star in open cluster, M67 (NE edge) and the color as noted by observer’s as following:   

I think all will agree that participated in the double star “Winter Albireo” color determination, had a great time.  The February report had the greatest number of  participants of any observer’s challenge since it’s inception.   

We all know that color perceptions of stars can be subjective.

It was James Mullaney and Tom English that inspired my interest in star colors, or red stars in particular, over 25 years ago.  Whenever I look at an open star cluster, the first thing I look for is yellow, orange or red star(s).  Of course this carries over to colorful double and multiple stars also.   Roger Ivester 

*Color listings of bright star in open cluster M67: 

I checked the star out last night with the 4.5 incher and I described the color as “topaz yellow”.  Can try it again with the 4 inch refractor.  The weather was fine as humidity was low and we had some strong winds during the night.  Also we only have few patches of snow left so less light pollution!  Only got a month left of darkness so I will try to do some observations tonight as well.   Jaakko Saloranta – Observer from Finland 

19 March 2003, 10-inch at 115×: Yellow. (Also: “brightest star well within group south of center looks orange.”)
24 March 2003, 10-inch at 115×: Yellowish
February 2008, 105mm at 17×: Yellow-orange
Earlier observations back to 1980 don’t mention a color. Later observations with binoculars don’t mention a color.   Sue French

March 2017: 6-inch Achromatic refractor @ 50x:  “The star appeared orange”   James Dire


February 2017: 6-inch f/6 reflector@ 76x “rust colored”

February 1996: “80 mm f/15 refractor “no color noted”

March 1995: 10-inch “brightest star in cluster on NE tip is yellow @ 71x

April 1994: 10-inch “one bright yellow star on the NE tip of the cluster @ 71x

April 1993: 10-inch “yellow star on NE tip”   Roger Ivester – Observer from North Carolina 


This cluster is barely visible to the naked eye as a nebulous patch in the same “field of view” with Praesepe under truly dark skies.  I was observing from Teide National Park, Canary Islands, Spain at an altitude of 7480 feet.  Switching to a pair of 8×30 binoculars the nebulosity stars showing signs of resolution.

With a 4.5 inch Orion SkyQuest XT this is truly a fine cluster even under average observing conditions.  I called M67 “A fine cluster of about 50 stars and many swirling chains of stars”.  At low power there is a faint glow visible in the background slightly concentrated towards the middle.  The core region of the cluster is roughly 12′ in size.  With low power several chains of stars can be seen running NW and SE increasing the cluster’s visual size to nearly 30′ with a bit of imagination.  Foreground 8th magnitude star NE from the cluster appears a “topaz yellow”.  The brightest actual member of M67 is probably magnitude 9.8 TYC 814-1515-1

Two small patches of nebulosity can be discerned within the cluster.  SW one resolved in to 4-5 stars between magnitudes 11-13 with high magnifications. NW one is slightly larger and with high magnification displays a fan-shaped grouping of ~8 stars.   NW section also shows a circular region without stars but this feature is best seen with a larger aperture reminding me of NGC 7789. I could not identify the nearby cluster candidates Chupina 1 or Chupina 2 with the 4.5 inch telescope.  Also I failed to see a specific form in M67 although I commonly see this cluster as an octopus.   Jaakko Saloranta

Jaakko Saloranta pencil sketch with inverted colors: 



Through my 105 mm refractor at 17x, Alpha Cancri and M67 share the field of view.  This stunning group of many barely resolved and densely packed stars is irregular in both concentration and outline.  A considerably brighter, yellow-orange star adorns its northeastern edge.  At 47x a heavily populated tree of stars dominates the group, its shining trunk and star-leafed branches overspread 11′. At 87x, I count 80 stars in this amazing cluster, which spans about 22′. Sue French Deep-Sky Wonders – Observer from New York


I attempted M67 with 15×70 binoculars from my front yard (LP Bortle
Scale 8). I was able to locate the open cluster, but I was unable to
identify any structure other than a slightly brighter patch with
averted vision. The brightest star of the cluster at the NE tip
resolved amidst the rest of the patch; however, it was not bright
enough to for me to determine a color.   Chris Elledge – Observer from Massachusetts


My 70th birthday was March 23. It was low-key – just dinner out with my wife. We’ll be getting together with immediate family for a more formal celebration on Thursday night.  After returning home, I decided to spend a few hours at the ATMoB clubhouse. Because an extended period of cloudy weather was predicted for the upcoming week, I had decided to work on the Double Star Marathon using my 4.5-inch Orion reflector. Steve Clougherty was there with his 18-inch Dob and he was busy with Rich Nugent working on the March and April LVAS Observer’s Challenges!

I spent just enough time to work on the double stars setting in the west (Andromeda, Triangulum, Aries, Eridanus, and Lepus), plus a batch in Orion, then I put things away and observed with Rich and Steve.

While I had been working on the Double Star Marathon, Steve had been busy observing interacting galaxies, NGC 3395-96 in Leo Minor. The pair was faintly visible under magnitude 5 and rapidly hazing up skies.

He then turned to M67. Rich has already sent you a report on what he saw that night. I took a peek and, like Rich, had difficulty noting any obvious coloring of the main stars. I did notice that the cluster seemed to be comprised of two distinct populations – a dozen or so relatively bright members accompanied by several dozen fainter ones.

My first encounter with M67 was on the night of January 11, 1978, when I viewed it with a 3-inch f/10 reflector at 30X. I wrote in my log book, “Faint, ghostly, beautiful; Reminds me of M11. Contains three visible stars attended by a soft glow. Glow bursts into speckles of light with averted vision. General funnel shape.” More recently, I re-observed M67 with the same scope and a higher magnification of 60X. The cluster was better resolved; with a half dozen faint stars surrounded by another dozen or so averted vision stars.   Glenn Chaple – Observer from Massachusetts


M67 is an open star cluster in the constellation Cancer located 105 arc minutes west of the star Acubens (Alpha Cancri). The cluster is also cataloged as NGC2682. The cluster was first recorded by the German astronomer Johann Gottfried Koehler in 1779 and then by Charles Messier in 1780. The cluster is magnitude 6.1.

M67 has nearly 100 stars between 10th and 14th magnitude spread over a diameter of about 30 arcminutes. The cluster is 2960 light years away and approximately 25 light years across. It is one the closest open clusters and thus one of the most studied. The cluster is several billion (3.2-5) years old. Unlike most star clusters that reside in the plane of the Milky Way, M67 lies 1500 light years away from the plane.

Stellar interactions have flung most of the lighter stars to the outer regions of the cluster, leaving the more massive stars in the center. In possible 5 billion more years, the cluster will no longer exists as its stars will have spread out too far from one another to be gravitationally bound.

My image of M67 was taken with 190 mm f/5.3 Maksutov-Newtonian telescope with an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. The exposure was 20 minutes. North is up and east is to the left. The faintest star in the image is 15th magnitude. The exposure captures how the cluster looks in my 14 inch Dob Newtonian.

I viewed the cluster this month with a 6-inch f/6.5 acromatic refractor with a 20mm Nagler eyepiece (50x). The brightest star, shown with the red arrow on my second image, is magnitude 7.8. This star appeared orange to me, but my image does not show that color. That was probably due to my image processing. I captured this image in 2010 and no longer have the original file to check my color processing accuracy.

Three stars stood out at the center of the cluster forming an “L”. I have drawn the L in yellow on the second image. The brightest of the three is magnitude 9.6, while the other two are 10.2. With the 6-inch refractor, I could not visually resolve the half-dozen stars inside of the triangle formed by those three stars. However, the area inside the triangle did not appear as dark as the space between other stars. So my eyes were capturing some of the photons from those unresolved stars.   James Dire – Observer from Hawaii


Thursday, March 23, 2017:    I was observing with Steve Clougherty at the clubhouse. We were using his 18-inch reflector. The sky was fair (a Bortle Scale 6 or perhaps a little better) but conditions were worsening. By 11 p.m. clouds were overtaking the sky and we ended our observations for the evening.

We decided to take a look at M67. It’s a lovely little cluster but, truth be told, I’ve never found it particularly interesting and have seldom observed it. Thanks for including it in the challenge list because I’ve learned quite a bit about it over the last month! By the way, there’s a nice limiting magnitude chart of M67’s stars on page 69 of this year’s RASC Handbook. I was particularly interested in seeing if it was possible to see the color of some of the cluster’s K-type giant stars. The only color I could see through Steve’s scope was a slight yellow-orange color in HIP 43491 (Spectral type K3) at magnitude ~9.8.

I didn’t pay attention to the nearby, brighter (mag. ~7.9) K0 foreground star (HIP43519/SAO98178) but I will check for color when the skies eventually clear.

Steve and I discussed the value of having an adequate star chart and a capable finder scope when star-hopping to deep sky objects. (We had been searching for April’s challenge: NGC3395/6) I’ll bet when hunting for challenging objects the real challenge isn’t seeing the object as much as it is finding the object! You have to be looking in the right place, right? My favorite print star atlas to have near the telescope is Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas. This fine atlas shows stars to magnitude 9.5 which is perfect for the 80mm, RACI finders I use on my telescopes. (I use Project Pluto’s Guide v9.0 on my laptop when I need to go deeper.) As experienced star-hoppers well-know, we live and die by our finder system. I use a green laser pointer to roughly aim the scope then acquire the proper star field using the finder. If I can see the desired object in the finder…Bingo! I win. The next best thing to seeing the object itself is seeing the surrounding field stars visible in the atlas. Line the scope with those stars and…Bingo! I win. While I enjoy the chase, I don’t want it to take all night because I really enjoy the view!

As we all have seen, the finder scope that comes with many commercial telescopes is simply inadequate. I try to respectfully implore newbies with such telescopes to upgrade to a “pointer” (Telrad or green laser) and to buy a quality finder scope. It’s all about aperture, right? I decided to run a little test with M67.

Saturday, March 25.

The sky cleared during the early evening. Temperatures were dropping and surfaces were beginning to freeze over. Framingham enjoys (ahem!) Bortle Scale 7 skies most of the time. I could see Acubens (a cancri; magnitude 4.2) but not much fainter. I could just barely see M44 with my naked eyes but averted vision was necessary. I made a series of observations of M67 (60 degrees in altitude) using 10×21, 8.5×44, 10×50, and 20×80 binoculars. Here are my notes:

10×21: M67 was barely visible; easily missed! HIP43519/SAO98178 was not visible.

8.5×44: A whisper of light; averted vision necessary. HIP43519/SAO98178 was not visible.

10×50: Visible; faint, diffuse; averted vision was helpful. HIP43519/SAO98178 was visible but difficult

20×80: Easy; Obvious! HIP43519/SAO98178 was easily visible.   

Richard Nugent – Observer from Massachusetts


M67: ! A beautiful but often-overlooked cluster in the shadow of the Beehive. “Vivid rich type of it exhaulted class.” “Resembles a nebula in small instruments.” “Whorls of stars remind one of a whirlpool.” “Star hues are predominantly rust, orange gold & yellow.”   James Mullaney Celestial Harvest (Dover)  Observer from Delaware 



Help promote amateur astronomy….be a part of the Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted March 12, 2017 by rogerivester
Categories: Observer's Challenge Reports

March 11th 2017 


The observer’s challenge is the only report which allows the average amateur an opportunity to participate and share their observations in an organized monthly report with other amateurs all over the country and beyond. The loss of the observer’s challenge report…..after eight years would be a loss to amateur astronomy.

I must admit, during busy times, if not for the challenge report, I might not have taken my scope outside. It’s just too easy to stay in a warm house during the winter months, or a cool house during the heat and humidity of summer. Mosquito’s can be a problem also. I think we can all admit that amateur astronomy can be a difficult hobby at times. Miss one month, then two, and before you know it….a year or two has passed.

After more than 40 years as an amateur, I sometimes need some motivation. That motivation for most part is the observer’s challenge, sharing emails, and talking with amateurs….far from my own backyard.

Roger Ivester 

Winter Albireo – Double Star – Known As: h3945 and 145 G Canis Majoris February Observer’s Challenge Object

Posted February 8, 2017 by rogerivester
Categories: Observer's Challenge Reports

This is the 8th year anniversary edition of the Observer’s Challenge, which started out as a three month trial.  Thanks to all who have participated and made this….the 96th consecutive monthly report possible.  The following link is the anniversary report.  Enjoy!


February Observers Challenge: h3945/The Winter Albireo

Despite the fact that thousands of double and multiple stars lie within reach of even the smallest of telescopes, and are visible on all but the worst of nights even in light-polluted skies, they are the most neglected of all deep-sky objects. (Incidentally, these tinted jewels are deep-sky objects, lying as they do beyond the solar system.) Were I to pick one object that epitomizes an overlooked and neglected wonder of the skies, it would surely be this lovely combo. Its ruddy-orange and greenish-blue components, while over a magnitude fainter than its namesake’s, seem more intensely hued to some observers including myself. Indeed, the primary even appears a fiery-red at times (apparently depending on atmospheric conditions). This pair is striking even in a 2-inch glass at 25x and is absolutely superb in a 6-inch reflector at 50x. So why the neglect? Overshadowed by radiant Sirius to its northwest may be one reason. But I suspect that the real cause is its unusual designation. Having neither a Bayer Greek-letter or Flamsteed number on atlases — nor even a Struve or other obvious double star designation — causes most observers to ignore it. The “h” prefix indicates that it’s one of the discoveries of Sir John Herschel, William’s famous son. (Sir William himself discovered some 800 double and multiple stars in addition to the more than 2,000 clusters and nebulae for which he is best known.) In any case, this Albireo clone certainly deserves to be on every showpiece list!    

 Jim Mullaney, Author:

Recent books by James Mullaney you might find interesting: Double & Multiple Stars & How To Observe Them (Springer)
Celebrating the Universe! (Hay House)

Supplemental information provided by Sue French:

“This double also carries the moniker 145 G Canis
Majoris, though the designation is often
incorrectly listed without the G, which
indicates it’s from the 1879 Uranometria
Argentina by Benjamin Apthrop Gould.”  Sue French 


The following photo of the Winter Albireo by Mario Motta of Massachusetts:



Observing notes by Sue French from New York:

The lovely double star h3945 lies about
halfway along and 38′ west of a line connecting
NGC 2367 and Tau. (This double
also carries the moniker 145 G Canis
Majoris, though the designation is often
incorrectly listed without the G, which
indicates it’s from the 1879 Uranometria
Argentina by Benjamin Apthrop Gould.)
It’s the brightest star in the area and
sports 5.0- and 5.8-magnitude components
26″ apart. Although striking in
appearance, this is only an optical pair
whose unrelated stars lie along the same
line of sight. Astronomy author James
Mullaney dubbed this duo the Winter
Albireo for its resemblance to the famous
gold and blue double in Cygnus. In a
small scope, they seem gold and white to
me.   Sue French


Observing notes by Debbie Ivester from North Carolina: 

Date: February 25, 2017
Observer: Debbie Ivester
Object: Double Star h3945; Winter Albireo
Date: February 25, 2017
Seeing: Excellent
Telescope: 6-inch f/6 reflector
Magnification: 73x

A beautiful double star, and definitely the most color I’ve ever seen through a telescope. I saw the primary as yellow and the companion as a vivid blue. My color perception was not arbitrary. I looked at this double several times over a thirty minute period, and each time, I saw the same colors. It was very enjoyable to see this most colorful pair.   Debbie Ivester


Observing notes by Roger Ivester from North Carolina:

Object: h3945 Double Star in Canis Major – 145 Canis Majoris

This wide and colorful double star is known as the “Winter Albireo” a name coined by author and astronomy lecturer, James Mullaney. The component magnitudes are 5.0 and 5.8 with a wide separation of 26 arcseconds. This double is easy to observe even in the smallest of telescopes. I was able to observe this beautiful double with a 76 mm f/4 reflector, but with subdued colors, as compared to larger telescopes. The following are my notes using three different telescopes:
Date: March 2016
Telescope: 102 mm refractor
Magnification: 82x
Colors: Yellow/blue

Date: February 25, 2017
Telescope: 6-inch f/6 reflector
Magnification: 73x
Primary: Deep Yellow/Aqua

Date: February 13, 2017
Telescope: 76 mm f/4 reflector
Eyepiece: 12.5 mm + 2.8x Barlow
Magnification: 67x
Colors: Yellowish/pale blue


Roger Ivester


Observing notes by Steve Clougherty from Massachusetts:

A few of us die hard observers finally got around to checking out h3945 last night using a 25 inch Dobsonian in the Ed Knight Observatory in Westford at the ATMoB clubhouse. Despite only fair seeing, the colors were striking!

Gold and pale Blue; best at low magnification using a 13 mm eyepiece for a magnification of 131x. As always, the colors are more pronounced when slightly defocusing the double.  Steve Clougherty


Notes from Peter Bealo from New Hampshire: 

As clouds were rolling in from the south at 7:20 PM EST on 2/26/2017 I took a few minutes to observe h3945 with my 80mm f6 apochromatic refractor.

It is indeed a pretty double. Easily split at even 20X, probably would have been no problem with 14 X 70 binoculars, but didn’t have them handy.

With a 9mm eyepiece, the primary appeared yellow with more intense color than the companion. The companion or secondary star was a bluish-aqua. When I switched to a 24mm, the companion color intensity was more blue. Possibly very subjective, but obvious to me!   Peter Bealo


Observing notes by Craig Sandler from Massachusetts: 

Telescope:  8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain 

Eyepiece:  24 mm 

Tallahassee, FL
Date:  Jan. 24, 2017
Seeing:  Good 
Transparency:  Good
NELM:  6.0

First, some nomenclature. I first found this beautiful object tooling around with my GoTo in the hand control’s “Constellation” menu item, which will bring up notable objects (NGC, IC, Messier and 2x stars) in a given constellation. Under “Double Stars” for CanMajor, the SE8 database gave the designation “CanMaj 145,” so I’ll always think of it that way. Many prefer the Herschel designation, h3945. And Sue French points out the definitive designation is Canis Majoris G 145, “which indicates it’s from the 1879 Uranometria Argentina by Benjamin Apthrop Gould.”

In any event, I was stunned when it came into view in Petersham, MA right at the beginning of winter/end of fall. For my report, I’m using an observation in January from Florida – the first apparition was when the double star was so low it (and the Trapezium) was so low it was boiling in the atomosphere – quite beautifully, I must say. Anyhow, in January the object was high in the southern sky with a stable sky and was beautiful. I think of it as being the state colors of Massachusetts, plus some orange (for the primary) and some purple (for the secondary). I did my usual (sadly) ballpoint pen sketch, because that night I had limited time and a long agenda. Then on Cape Cod in February, I tried a color sketch just for fun. I was not too pleased with the result, but the process is interesting and pleasing. Once I have observed all the Messiers (two to go, saving M56 for Cherry Springs!) and the “Covington 200” (“Celestial Objects for Modern Telescopes”), I believe I’ll be ready to slooow dooown and give my sketches the practice they deserve. C.S. to all!    Craig Sandler 


Observing notes by Richard Nugent from Massachusetts:

I had never before observed h3945 so, thanks for the February challenge. What a beautiful double star! I have been observing it over the last month through telescopes ranging from my 10-inch,  Joe Henry’s 16-inch, Steve Clougherty’s 18-inch and my 20-inch scope.

I saw the stars as burnt orange and pale blue. The companion blue star’s color seemed muted through the 20-inch, but was more pronounced with the 9-inch aperture mask in place. My favorite view came last Sunday evening through the 10-inch at 50x and good seeing. The colors were quite dazzling! I’ll add this to my list of star party objects…h3945 offers the “Wow!” we always hope for. Thanks again!   Richard Nugent


Observing notes by Chris Elledge from Massachusetts: 

I was able to split h3945 with 15×70 binoculars tonight (February27th) after my difficulty yesterday with the stars low on the horizon and my not wearing contacts. With the stars higher in the sky and my astigmatism corrected, it wasn’t difficult thanks to their distinct colors. I would describe the primary to be orange and the companion pale blue.   Chris Elledge


Observing notes by Sharon Mullaney from Delaware: 

Date:  February 20, 2017
Observer:  Sharon Mullaney
Object:  Double Star h3945
Seeing:  Very Good
Telescope: 5-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain
Magnification:  50x

A stunning double star – brilliant in color. I saw the primary as bright yellow and the companion as lavender blue. The companion definitely had a purplish hue,
even after checking back in on this double a few times over the next hour. It was a great night to observe!   Sharon Mullaney


Observing notes by John Goss from Virginia:

The skies in southwest Virginia were near perfect last night. So, not wanting to waste such a rare opportunity, I tried my luck with a few objects, primarily h 3945. My equipment was an 8-inch reflector f/4 reflector and the eyepiece was a 24 mm, giving 32 x. It was easy to find as it is a straight shot from epsilon through delta Canis Majoris. The brighter component appeared orange-gold. The other one was what I would call a “Carolina Blue.” UNC fans know the shade well.

Yes, h 3945 should be on anyone’s top ten multiple star list. It is well worth any observer’s time, even if he or she doesn’t particularly fancy double stars.

John Jardine Goss
Astronomical League President


Observing notes by Glenn Chaple from Massachusetts:

I just returned inside after having made a few small-scope observations of h3945. I studied this beautiful pair with a 60mm f/11 refractor and a 114mm f/8 reflector. Finding h3945 was a simple matter of pointing each scope at an area defined by a line traced from omicron-1 CMa through omicron-2 CMa and extended an equal distance beyond. Experimenting with different eyepieces, I found that h3945 was best split (not too close, not too widely separated) by magnifications between 35X and 50X. The golden yellow color of the primary was obvious in the 60mm scope; the bluish hue of the companion wasn’t as apparent. The colors were more vivid in the reflector, with the primary sporting a rich golden-yellow color, the secondary a soft blue tint. This is definitely a showpiece double!   Glenn Chaple


Observing notes by Joseph Rothchild from Massachusetts:

I observed the Winter Albireo tonight with a 6″ f/5 reflector at 53x. The primary appeared copper and the secondary a pale blue.   Joseph Rothchild 


Observing notes by Sameer S. Bharadwaj from Massachusetts: 

I used my 60mm refractor at 30x and then barlowed it to 84x.

Not difficult to find using Sirius, Adhara and Wezen. About the same distance on the other side of Wezen as Adhara. Was at about 24 degrees altitude when I saw it between 7:30 and 8 pm local EST.

Could clearly see a warm orange and cyan blue well separated. The colors are indeed pretty and the contrast is good.   Sameer S. Bharadwaj 





NGC 1545 – Open Cluster in Perseus – Beautiful and Colorful Triple Star in the Central Region

Posted January 13, 2017 by rogerivester
Categories: Observer's Challenge Reports

January Observers Challenge Report:  january-2017-observers-challenge-ngc-1545-1

NGC 1545 – Open Cluster; Perseus; Mag. 6.2; Size 12′ – “Near the center of this cluster 6 cm shows a pretty 2′.5 triangle pointing SW, formed by blue, orange, and yellow stars (moving clockwise from the SW apex). In 30 cm about 35 stars are visible in an 18′ area.” Skiff & Luginbuhl  “Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects” 

Pencil sketch using an 5 x 8 notecard with colors inverted:


Image provided by Mario Motta from Massachusetts, using an 8-inch RC telescope.  


The following image by James Dire of Hawaii:

My first image here is of both NGC-1545 and NGC-1528 taken with a 70mm (2-3/4-inch) f/4.8 APO using an SBIG STF-8300C CCD camera. The field of view is approximately 1.5° from left to right. I have circled and labeled the two star clusters. The brightest star in the image is b Persei, a foreground star 318 light-years away.   James Dire 




M74 – NGC 628 – Galaxy in Pisces

Posted January 10, 2017 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized



Date: December 17, 1997  

Telescope: 10-inch f/4.5 reflector 

Magnification: 143x

Description: Faint mostly round glow, very low surface brightness. Brighter middle, fairly uniform halo, but with irregularities using averted vision. Two stars toward the east, and a line of stars ending with a brighter star north of the galaxy. I’ve always considered M74 to be the most difficult object in the Messier catalog. (See sketch)

Date: November 10, 1999
Telescope: 102 mm refractor f/9.8
Magnification: 63x
Description: Very faint with extremely low surface brightness halo that fades very gradually outwards. A brighter center, however, not well concentrated.

Date: November 1995
Telescope: 4-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain f/10
Magnification: 63x
Description: Brighter middle with a faint diffuse halo. Mostly round well concentrated nucleus.

Roger Ivester


NGC 206, Stellar Association or Star Cloud Located In The Spiral Arm of M31 – November 2016 Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted December 8, 2016 by rogerivester
Categories: Observer's Challenge Reports


The close-up image was taken with a 10-inch f/6.9 Newtonian with an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera 18 X 10 min. The wide-field image was taken with a 71mm f5.9 APO with an SBIG STF-8300C CCD camera, 6 X 10 min.  James Dire 



NGC-206 can be visually observed with a 10-inch reflector and I feel certain it can also be seen with an 8-incher, and probably a 6-inch.
Current observations: M31 star cloud, or NGC-206, without success on two nights last week (November 2016). The cloud was a bit too low in the east, and was involved with sky glow as I had mentioned earlier. I’m going to wait till the moon is out of the way this month, and allow it to be at its highest point, and hopefully with excellent transparency.
I was pleasantly pleased to find three sketches and numerous notes from years past of M31, which also included NGC-206. The following “rough” field sketch was made using my 10-inch reflector and a 32mm EP. The magnification was 36X with a 1.7º FOV.
November 3, 1996: Extra supplemental notes for this sketch describing NGC 206: Very faint, fuzzy patch with a NS elongation. Faint, small, with very low surface brightness. Averted vision required, very difficult, but easier when using 71X.
January 11, 1997: 10-inch reflector at 57X. Averted vision required to see both the NW dark lane and NGC-206, which was a very faint, nebulous spot, with an irregular shape.
A Sky-Glow filter seemed to improve the visibility of the M31 dark lane.
Note: NGC-206 is located in the SW section of the spiral arm. This is an older sketch and I was never able to get out to do a better one. Not my best work.  Roger Ivester