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 2859 – Galaxy in Leo Minor: March 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted February 27, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina

Date: February 21, 2020

Telescope:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector 

Magnification:  208x 

NELM:  4.9 

Very small, fairly bright, easy to locate and see at 57x.  When increasing the magnification to 208x, this galaxy is elongated, oriented NNW-SSE, however, very subtle.  The core is brighter and with greater concentration, as compared to the outer halo. 

Pencil sketch:  5 x 8 blank note card with inverted colors:  

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Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts

Hi Roger: See attached, March object NGC 2859 (always trying to stay a month ahead of you).  A very interesting galaxy!

Imaged with my 32 inch, total 1 hour imaging time, SBIG 1001E camera. 

This galaxy has a “ansae” type bar (which gets brighter at the tips of the bar), an inner ring, no defined spiral structure, and a detached outer ring. 83 million light years away, Leo Minor.

Fascinating object, you choose these objects very well, enjoy getting them

Mario

NGC2859

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

 

Sue French: Observer from New York

254/1494mm (10-inch f/5.8) Newtonian. Seeing: fair. Transparency: a little better than average.

43×: NGC 1931 is just a short hop westward from starfish-like M36. It presents a small hazy spot surrounding a star.

115×: The nebula spans about 3 arcminutes, and the star now appears triple. Several additional stars straggle south through west-southwest of the nebulous mass.

213×: Six stars are now buried in the nebulosity, three brightest members arranged in a little triangle.

The WEBDA cluster plot below marks the four trapezium-system stars viewed as well as two additional stars spotted within the nebula.

V-magnitudes of the trapezium stars according to WEBDA:

A=11.4, B=12.3, C=13.0, E=14.0. There is a component D in the trapezium system very close to B, but it’s thought to be magnitude 15.8 or dimmer and was not seen. The two arrowed stars were visible: the northern one shining at magnitude 14.1, and the southern one at magnitude 14.5.

After the star-plot is the sketch I made at 213× with the 10-inch scope on 17 February 2020 at 7pm EST. It was a pleasant night for February. The temperature was in the lower 20s and there was no wind. Unfortunately the seeing and transparency were both below average, and there was full snow cover on the ground. I couldn’t see the 14.5-magnitude star mentioned in the previous observation. I decided to sketch just the part of the nebula I could see and the four stars visible within it. My sketch looked pretty good to me, but a scanned image didn’t show the faintest parts, so I penciled over the original sketch to make it scan better, I hope without changing anything too much.

fullsizeoutput_1236Pencil Sketch:  Sue French:

North is up and west to the right

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Mario Motta: Observer from Massachusetts

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.

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Roger Ivester: Observer from North Carolina 

On the night of January 28, 2020, the transparency and seeing were very good.  Using my 10-inch, f/4.5 reflector, NGC 1931 was very easy to locate and see at 57×, appearing as a star with a mostly round halo of nebulosity. 

When increasing the magnification to 267×, using a 12mm eyepiece and a 2.8× Barlow, the bright nucleus revealed a tiny trio of faint stars, with a fourth, much fainter star, toward the WSW.  This fourth star was extremely difficult, and could not be held constantly, but intermittently at best.  The nebula was elongated, with a NE-SW orientation.  

The first time I observed NGC 1931 was with poor seeing, on January 8, 1994, and could not see the trio of stars.  My second attempt to see the trio of stars was in January, 2020, but again with poor seeing and transparency, and was unable to see any of the faint stars.   

Pencil sketch, with the colors inverted:   

 

image001

 

 

We welcome our newest participant, Uwe Glahn of Germany:  

Uwe Glahn is an accomplished German observer who’s sketches are a joy to behold. They appear in many publications, including my own articles. In the Interstellarum Deep Sky Guide alone, there 821 sketches penciled by Uwe and co-author Ronald Stoyan. You can view Uwe’s remarkable sketches on his website http://www.deepsky-visuell.de/ and learn more about his technique, telescopes, and achievements by putting that URL in Google translate https://translate.google.com/   –  Sue French

 

Uwe Glahn: Observer from Germany

Telescope: 27-inch f/4.2Newtonian @ 293×.

Seeing: IV, NELM 7.0+

NGC 1931 and Parsamian 1 (a cometary nebula in southern part of NGC 1931)

 

http://www.deepsky-visuell.de/Zeichnungen/NGC1931.htm

 

NGC1931

 

Gus Johnson: Observer from Maryland

Could not see NGC 1931 on a clear night with a 5-inch at 24×. I also attempted with an H-beta filter at 30× and a UHC filter, however to no avail.  On another night in February 1985, I saw it with an 8-inch reflector @ 40×. Small, fairly bright mostly round nebulosity. Could not see the small trapezium of stars.

 

James Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

NGC 1931 is a mixed emission and reflection nebula with an embedded star cluster found in the constellation Auriga. The nebula is an active star forming region. The complex is located about one degree west and a tad north of the star cluster M36. NGC 1931 also lies 5.75 degrees north and one degree east of the star Elnath. NGC 1931 measures roughly 3 arcminutes in size and lies 10,000 light years away. The nebula is estimated to be magnitude 10.

NGC 1931 contains myriad young, hot O and B stars whose radiation is responsible for the blue hues of the reflection nebula. Four stars in the center of the nebula form a trapezium similar to that in the Orion Nebula. Sometimes NGC 1931 is considered a mini version of the Orion Nebula. A much larger vast region of nebulosity known as IC 417 surrounds NGC 1931. The emissions from IC 417 are the characteristic red colors from H II ions.

My image of NGC 1931 was taken with an 8-inch Ritchey–Chrétien telescope operating at f/6.4 with the use of a focal reducer/field flattener. The camera used was an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD cooled to -20°C. The exposure was 100 minutes. The bright white area in the center contains the trapezium. The exposure was not long enough to bright out the red emissions of IC 417, which would have filled most of the region captured in this image.

 

NGC1931

 

Mike McCabe:  Observer from Massachusetts  

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in the observer’s challenge as I’ve been busy with other projects, so it felt good this past Saturday to prepare my charts and do a little research on the object at hand. 

I conducted this observation from Nike Field which is located in Rehoboth, MA. The conditions were pretty good for these parts – maybe a Bortle 5 sky with transparency starting at 3/5 and dropping off to 2/5, and the seeing fluctuated between 2/5 and 3/5 throughout the evening. 

I made my observation using a 10-inch f/5 Newtonian reflector. NGC 1931 is a tiny emission and reflection nebula that is said to be a miniature version of the Orion Nebula, replete with a trapezium of stars and all. 

The target was easy enough to find and showed up right away as a small fuzzy at medium powers, but all my research suggested cranking it up, so I bumped up the magnification to 250× and set down to make my sketch. If there is indeed a trapezium at the center of the nebulosity it was lost on me – the best I could do was what appeared to be three stars, and the nebulosity was there with direct vision but bloomed up nicely with averted vision. The brightest star of the bunch in the .25º TFOV was about magnitude 11 with all others coming in dimmer than that. The size of the object itself spanned no more than about 4′ on the sky, so really quite small.

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Viadislav Mich:  Observer from Massachusetts

Date: Jan 20, 2020

Location: White Mountains National forest, New Hampshire

Conditions: Bortle 2, average seeing

Using: 22-inch f/3.3 DOB with a 21mm eyepiece (~88×, FOV~65′), 10mm (~185×, FOV~33′), NV intensifier (~92×, FOV~26′)

Filter:  5nm Ha filter used with NV intensifier

Notes: Stars in the open cluster seems to be forming line and arch patterns (or is it my brain forming them?).  Only the core of the nebula could be seen in 21mm and 10mm eyepieces. It looks like elliptical galaxy. When switching to NV intensifier with 5nm Ha filter, I was able to see extended nebulosity around the core, forming U-shaped halo.

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

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

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.    

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 good 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 

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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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Below:  Sophie (our Dachshund) is a bit jealous of me feeding Albert an apple, on another afternoon in (January).  Albert is always excited to see us, knowing we have him a treat!

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Below:  A day in February 2020

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