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 60 mm 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 and 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 even 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 others.  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 my 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 was mesmerizing.  

During those early years, I didn’t 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 was 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 60 mm 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 reflector, a Palomar Jr. 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. And 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 observing, I was 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, and 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 and I can still feel that excitement.  I went to bed smiling that night, and in my mind, I was now a real amateur astronomer!    

Getting Serious:

There would be many other successes and failures in the years to follow, however, it wasn’t until 1992 that I became a serious observer. A new 10-inch, equatorially mounted reflector 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.  I began taking copious notes on all 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 really see what I was trying to observe.

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, organization of 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:  

Co-founder of the Las Vegas Astronomical Society Observer’s Challenge report.   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 observer’s challenge will begin 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.   http://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 140,000 lifetime miles, as of 2018.      

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M71 – Globular Cluster In Sagitta – Observer’s Challenge Object – September 2019

Posted October 15, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

SEPTEMBER 2019 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – M-071

6-inch reflector:  Pencil sketch, using a blank 5 x 8 notecard, with the colors inverted.  Roger Ivester

 

 

Sh2-114 “The Flying Dragon” Nebula in Cygnus by Guest Host, Mario Motta

Posted October 7, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Don’t try and see this one visually….way too faint.  

Last night was nice, took 4 hour total exposure of Sh2-114 in Cygnus.  (32-inch reflector) 9×9 arc minute multiple shock front of prior supernova explosions, interestingly though primarily hydrogen, some sulfur, practically no oxygen. (Ha, S2, O3 filters)

Called the “Flying Dragon” for its appearance. North is to the right in this image.     

Enjoy….Mario Motta 

 

A Nice Visit With Richard Nugent; Amateur Astronomer and Friend From Boston

Posted October 4, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

Photo:  Richard, Debbie and myself having lunch.  

Afterwards we enjoyed a nice drive around the community, with plenty of good conversation. 

Later in the evening, an observing session from my back deck.  We observed galaxy NGC 7448….the Observer’s Challenge object for October.  

What is the Observer’s Challenge report? https://rogerivester.com/category/observers-challenge-reports-complete/

Richard and I share a similar story as amateur astronomers.  Both of us became interested  in astronomy at about the same age, during the late 60’s.   

At that time, I was using my brothers 60 mm refractor.  Richard was fortunate to have an 8-inch reflector.  

We really enjoyed Richard’s visit!  

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Volcanic Activity In Yellowstone, And A Unique Nighttime Photo Of An Eruption of “Old Faithful” By Guest Host: Mario Motta

Posted October 2, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Nikon D80, 17 mm fixed lens on 3200 ASA setting, 30 second exposure, minimal processing

Perseus and Andromeda can be seen above the eruption!  Mario Motta 

It’s interesting that Mario should have sent and shared this entry at this time.  My wife Debbie and I were just talking about “Old Faithful” and how great it would be to visit Yellowstone.   

I remember finding out about the famous geyser in a science book, while in the 6th grade.  

Roger Ivester

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M11 – Open Cluster in Scutum – Observer’s Challenge Object – August 2019

Posted August 22, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

Complete report: AUGUST 2019 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – M-011-1

The following pencil sketch, with the colors inverted was made using a 6-inch f/6 Newtonian reflector telescope @ 83x.  

Rogers M-011 Inverted

Image by Mario Motta: 32-inch telescope 

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Image by Michael Brown using a Canon digital SLR camera, through an 8-inch Celestron SCT.  This photo is from 12 30-second exposures (6 minutes total) at ISO 3200.

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The following image was taken with a 10-inch f/6.9 Newtonian with the same camera. The exposure was 30 minutes. Most of the stars in the image belong to the cluster, perhaps 500-1000 visible here. The faintest stars in the image are magnitude 16!    James Dire

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Stock Canon 80D, 400mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 800, 35subs x 30sec = 17.5 min total
exposure, 1/2 scale (4 arcsec/pixel).  No filters.  By Doug Paul 

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SkyShed POD Personal Observatory: By Guest Host, James Dire

Posted August 19, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Hi All,

Had a productive day at the observatory yesterday. Got the Sky Shed POD anchored to the concrete and installed all of the equipment. After dark, did the polar alignment and a mount model.  All is ready to start imaging!

The anchor bolt in the photo goes 3 inches into the concrete.  The telescope is an 8-inch Ritchey-Chretien. I’m using an 0.8x Focal Reducer/Field Flattner with the CCD camera which yields an f/6.4 system with a 1300mm focal length.

The camera is an SBIG ST-2000XCM. Controlling everything with The SkyX Pro and imaging with MaximDL.

I’ll probably swap cameras occasional with an SBOIG STF-8300c and swap telescopes with my 5.2-inch f/7 refractor.

Jim

 

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Stellafane 2019 by Guest Host: Mario Motta

Posted August 5, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

https://stellafane.org/

Entering Stellafane:  I always feel like I am going home. 

I have been attending Stellafane since 1967. This was my 46th (I missed 5 years due to medical school and internship, and 1999 when I went to an eclipse in Hungary), so…I have been attending for a 52 year span. 

My Children have been gong with me since birth, and still attend nearly every year, and this year my 4 year old granddaughter joined as well!, In fact also had a niece and her three kids, and “extended family event”.

There are many star parties these days across the country, all done very nicely….but there is one and only one Stellafane, whose focus remains telescope making, and which has a rich history. 

Stellafane was founded in 1926 by Russell Porter with the Springfield Telescope Makers and with help from the Boston ATMoB. 

Its purpose was to teach how to make telescopes for the common man.  And prior to that, if an American wanted a telescope, it had to be shipped from Europe at a huge expense. By teaching all how to make them, costs became less of a issue. 

Scientific American took notice and published a string of articles about this back then, launching American Amateur Astronomy (and to some extent professional astronomy!) With this success, Russell Porter was noticed, and hired to work on the famed 200-inch Mount Palomar Telescope in California. 

Stellafane is a registered historical landmark.

I learned how to make telescopes from this group, and was encouraged to excel at every turn, build them bigger and better. We still give out awards for homemade telescopes to this day.  (I am in fact one of the mechanical judges, as well as the camp physician, which is my way of giving back)

I plan on attending for the rest of my life, and will never willingly miss a year.  This year, there was over a thousand attendees, and 35 telescope entries for judging.

Photos: 

1. Stellafane: Entry

2. Next generation being enticed, my Josephine (note her t-shirt says: “Forget princess, I want to be a rocket scientist”

3. Pink Clubhouse, historical registered landmark “The heavens declare the glory of God” on the roof trim.

4. Inside the Pink, oozes with history:  Images from Mt Palomar construction, images from Mt Wilson, and much more…)

5. The porter Turret telescope, was built by Russell Porter for cold Vermont winters.  The mirror sits on the boom and the focus is Inside the building

6. Bert Willard inside the porter scope (In 1979 I bought my first large mirror blank at Stellafane from him, a 16-inch blank, spent 4 years as a resident grinding and building a portable 16-inch scope. I had built an 8-inch as a teenager, but this one cemented my love of astronomy

7. Flanders Paviliion:  Talks are held here. 

8. McGreggor Observatory with roll-off roof. 

9. Shupman Telescope: This is the largest Shupman in the world…a 13-inch marvel.  Nothing on this planet, I have ever viewed through equals this scope. It was designed and built by Scott Milligan, the same lens designer who designed my 32-inch telescope. You need to see Jupiter Mars and Saturn through this one. Voyager like viewing!

10 Simoni Observatory: Newest at Stellafane, a solar heliostat, you sit in the building and observe in H-alpha.

11. Many scopes observing field.

12. McGreggor, the field, and the relatively new dome for handicapped individuals. 

stellafane

next generation- (josephine and me)

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inside the Pink

the porter

 

bert willard in the porter

Flanders Pavillion

McGreggor

shupman

simoni observatory

observing field

scopes and mcgregor.jpg

Mario Motta