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



Mount Potosi Observing Complex – Las Vegas Astronomical Society – An Aerial Photo By James Yeager, Pilot-American Airlines

Posted December 4, 2016 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized


“When flying from Los Angeles into Las Vegas, air traffic control will usually give an arrival called KEPEC3, to set you up for a landing on 25L.  Yesterday morning, they vectored us off the arrival and gave us a heading to fly….that allowed me to get a view of a very cool piece of property on Mount Potosi.”  James Yeager, Pilot, American Airlines.

Some briefs from the Astronomy Magazine article, February 2016, pages 54-57, complete with photos of the telescope, domes, pictures of the building process, and other.  A fabulous article indeed!   By Raymond Shubinski 

The first couple paragraphs, and then selected :  

“BE PREPARED. The Boy Scout motto is familiar to everyone, and excellent advice for all. Being prepared requires planning and vision, and this observatory project on a Boy Scout camp southwest of Las Vegas, Nevada, shows both.” 

“A beautiful Officinal Stellare telescope now sits housed at an elevation of 5,680 feet on Mount Potosi, 25 miles from the world famous and incredibly bright…Las Vegas strip.”  

“Jim Gianoulakis is the prime mover behind the efforts to bring this level of astronomical experience to Southern Nevada.  He has been involved in the LVAS for more than 10 years.  His passion for amateur astronomy, coupled with that of the current president of the LVAS, Rob Lambert, has made this project bloom on a desert mountain.”

The flame is lit

“The catalyst of the project came in August 2012.  Gianoulakis, then president of the LVAS, received a message from Roger Ivester, an LVAS member living in Boiling Springs, North Carolina.  Ivester knew of an individual looking to gift a scope and mount to a group with a good use for it.”

“Gianoulakis and Lambert  collaborated on the proposal, which was accepted, and the project was off and running.  James Hermann, a North Carolina resident donated the scope, a 14-inch Officinal Stellare Pro RC-360.  The gift also included an Astro Systeme Austrian equatorial mount.  The value of this donation is $50,000.”  

Note:  James Hermann, MD is an emergency room physician.  Roger

Other facts:

“…members started looking for donations.  An initial gift of $2,500 came from the LVAS  membership.  Then the club raised an additional $10,000 from Las Vegas individuals and businesses.  

“Dan Johanneck at Explora-Dome in Litchfield Minnesota promised 11.5-foot dome and 8-foot domes for the Project.”

“Now where to put the observatory?  The Las Vegas Area (Scout) Reservation southwest of the city. Located on the reservation is Camp Potosi where scouts can camp and work on many of their merit badges.  With an elevation of more than a mile and shielded from the direct glare of the strip, Mount Potosi was an excellent candidate for a future observatory.  So, the LVAS entered into discussions with the council.  It was a win-win arrangement.  The LVAS gets the land on Mount Potosi within the scout camp.  In exchange, the LVAS will provide assistance with the merit badge program and organize viewing events.”  


“But the future already has arrived on Mount Potosi.  In June 2015, about 1,500 boy scouts had a chance to use the observatory and its site to work on and complete the astronomy merit badge.  To LVAS members, this is one of the most exciting aspects of the project.”   

Again, this is a four page article, and the above is just to kinda fill you in on what the Mount Potosi Observing Complex is all about.  If you don’t have your very own February 2016 Astronomy Magazine, please go to or just call and get a copy.  I’m sure they are still available.  

Roger Ivester





NGC 7479 – Galaxy In Pegasus

Posted October 28, 2016 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Observers Challenge link:  october-2016-observers-challenge-ngc-7479


NGC 7479 – Galaxy in Pegasus
Date: October 2016
Seeing: Fair Transparency: Poor
NELM: ~4.9 – 5.0
Telescope: 10-inch reflector
Sketch magnification: 114x
Eyepiece: 20 mm + 2.0 Barlow

Description: Very faint, elongated with a brightening and greater concentration in the central region, however, subtle. A mag. 13 star on the north tip in the halo, which required averted vision. A bright mag. 10 star about 5 arc minutes south of the southern tip. With extreme difficulty and using averted vision, I could see the southern tip curving toward the SW. This feature was fleeting and could not hold constantly.

Roger Ivester


James R Dire
NGC 7479 is a nearly face-on barred (SBc) spiral galaxy in the constellation Pegasus. It was discovered by William Herschel in the year 1784. The galaxy is approximately 3 degrees due south or the star Markab. The galaxy has visual magnitude 11 and is 3.6 by 2.7 arc minutes in size. Distance estimates place the galaxy 105 million light years away!

The galaxy has a very bright core and bright long bar structure. One major spiral arm starts at each end of the bar and appear to extend 180 degrees around the galaxy. Visually, in most amateur telescopes the central budge and bar structure are all that is seen as they are much brighter than the spiral arms.

NGC 7479 is classified as a Seyfert galaxy due to extensive starburst activity in the core and spiral arms. Radio studies indicate the galaxy may have recently (when the light left the galaxy) undergone a galactic merger.

I imaged NGC7479 a month ago with a 10-inch f/6.9 Newtonian and an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. The exposure was 210 minutes. The clumps visible in the spiral arms are the regions of starburst activity.  JD





Planetary Nebula – NGC 7009 In Aquarius – Also Known As The Saturn Nebula

Posted September 25, 2016 by rogerivester
Categories: Observer's Challenge Reports


The following are some individual contributions, however all are posted in the preceding Las Vegas Astronomical Society, Observer’s Challenge link….just click on!  

By Roger and Brad Ivester


A wonderful visit by my son, Brad.


Our last picture of the visit.  Debbie and I will miss our son for sure!  


By Roger and Brad Ivester

My interest in amateur astronomy began at about thirteen years of age, during the late 60’s. However, after observing for many years, life got busy and I took a hiatus from amateur astronomy for about five or more years.

In the late 80’s, at the age of twelve, my youngest son, Brad became interested in astronomy, and I was back in business. If not for Brad, I might not have gotten back into the hobby. I’m very thankful to my son.

Twenty or so years ago, Brad on occasion would go outside with me, but as a teenager, he had other interest. I was, however, very grateful when he would accompany me for an hour or so in the backyard.  Brad left North Carolina almost twenty years and now resides in Las Vegas. 

This weekend, Brad came for a visit, and I thought it would be great if we could observe together once again. Last night, Friday, September 30th, was like going back in time. It was a surreal feeling for sure. The both of us were able to observe the planetary nebula, NGC 7009.

We do not get to visit each other that often due to the distance between us. Last night, however, we were able to compare our thoughts at the eyepiece, make notes, with Brad agreeing, assisting and approving the sketch.

NGC 7009 (Saturn Nebula) in Aquarius:

Date: September 30, 2016
Seeing: Good Transparency: Good
Telescope: 10-inch Newtonian/FL 1143
Sketch magnification: 256x
Eyepiece: 12.5 mm and with the employ of a 2.8x Barlow

At 44x, the planetary appears as a small oval bluish disc, and very small. The seeing was good, so we increased the magnification to 256x. The nebula became elongated, but fairly subtle, with an orientation of WSW – ENE. The surface brightness was very high, and the texture was very smooth and even. The edges were well defined and sharp. No central star could be seen, and there was no center brightness. As hard as we tried, we could not see the ansae or extensions on the ends as seen in photographs. However, an annoying unshielded streetlight in close proximity could have been the cause for this. The contrast was a bit lacking, despite the 5.2 NELM at the zenith. 

Roger Ivester


September 2016 Observer’s Challenge is NGC 7009, better known as the Saturn Nebula. The following are observations by Jaakko Saloranta of Finland, Dr. James Dire of Hawaii, Glenn Chaple of Massachusetts, and Sue French of New York 

The complete Observer’s Challenge will be posted when all reports are received, compiled and edited.  Roger Ivester  

By Jaakko Saloranta 

4.7-inch Sky-Watcher @ 228x

Very bright, E-W elongated blue disk visible even with a pair of 8×30 binoculars. Fairly obvious ring structure with two faint extensions visible on both sides of the disk. Central star is buried inside the high surface brightness halo and remains invisible.
4.7-Inch Sky-Watcher @ 228x

Very bright, E-W elongated blue disk visible even with a pair of 8×30 binoculars. Fairly obvious ring structure with two faint extensions visible on both sides of the disk. Central star is buried inside the high surface brightness halo and remains invisible.
22-Inch Capella @ 1058x (observing from California.) 

A breathtaking view. Central star is surrounded by a complex, mottled elliptical ring with knots (W bigger) at both ends. Outer halo is more round, with a brightening in the NW edge.

A breathtaking view. Central star is surrounded by a complex, mottled elliptical ring with knots (W bigger) at both ends. Outer halo is more round, with a brightening in the NW edge.

Pencil sketch by Jaakko with the colors inverted: 



NGC 7009 – The Saturn Nebula
By Dr. James R. Dire

The Saturn Nebula, a.k.a NGC7009, is located in Aquarius, just north of the constellation Capricornus. The nebula lies approximately six degrees due north of the star Theta Capricorni (mag 4.1), and one and one-third degree due west of the star Nu Aquarii (mag. 4.5). The nebula also resides within a couple of degrees of both M72 and M73!

NGC7009 is a planetary nebula. The nebula was formed when its host star shed a good amount of its gas when is evolved into a red giant star. The star then evolved into a white dwarf that now resides inside the planetary nebula. Planetary nebulae got their name because at the eyepiece so many of them have the blue color and disk appearance of the planets Uranus and Neptune. In the case of NGC7009, it received its common name, the Saturn Nebula, due to a bar-like feature that resembles Saturn’s rings. However, NGC7009 and all other planetary are not really planets.

In the eyepiece at low power, NGC7009 appear blue and round, almost star-like. A magnification of 100 is required to resolve it into a disk and even higher power is required to see its ring-like bar. The nebula is around 30 arc-sec in size and is magnitude 7.8

My image of NGC7009 was taken earlier this month (Sept. 2016) with a Discovery 10-inch f/6 Newtonian with a Televue Paracorr II coma corrector mounted on a Paramount ME German equatorial ( I used an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera and the exposure was one hour. The hour-long exposure was necessary to bring out the bar-like feature in the nebula. The brightest star in the image is magnitude 10.   JD 




Orion Telescopes and Binoculars Deep-Sky Challenge: Galaxy NGC 891 Andromeda: November

Posted September 17, 2016 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

By Roger Ivester

Celebrating The Universe – The Latest Book By James Mullaney

Posted September 17, 2016 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized


The very first work of its kind, Celebrating the Universe: The Spirituality & Science of Stargazing by James Mullaney is a guide to the wonders of the heavens visible to the unaided eye, binoculars and small telescopes with a focus on the “soul” of the night sky! This travel guide to the stars is written from a metaphysical and spiritual perspective in addition to a scientific one. The unique unifying theme throughout is the personal benefits of communing with celestial wonders firsthand—the joy and heady excitement of participating in the great cosmic drama unfolding nightly overhead. This involves such little-known aspects of stargazing as therapeutic relaxation, celestial meditation, expansion of consciousness, and spiritual upliftment. Based on his more than 60 years’ experience as an astronomy writer, speaker and stargazer, it’s available from or   By James Mullaney  

I just ordered and received my copy from only this week.  Once I started reading it was difficult to put down.  It took me back to a simpler time when I was thirteen years old, observing from a weedy field beside my childhood home, using my brother’s 60 mm refractor.  I especially remember those frosty nights of fall after a hot and humid summer.  What a relief!  It was a wonderful feeling being out all by myself….gazing at a beautiful velvety black sky, devoid of light pollution.  Being so new to the hobby it was difficult for me to find deep-sky objects, but that didn’t matter, as I could always study the moon.  I’m just glad that I persevered, as it did get easier.  On some nights I would forget the telescope and just enjoy looking at the different star colors or try to identify the constellations.  I especially remember thinking…. are we all alone or was there life on other planets?  What an exciting time!  Celebrating the Universe took me back to those days.  Roger Ivester

An excerpt from the book:

“Staring up at the sky, we’re looking into the beginning of everything.  We feel young once again, and the child within us is set free.  Our minds are opened to receiving, beyond preconceived notions, the most profound insights about creation and the mysteries of the universe.”   

Chapel’s Arc and The Cygnus Fairy Ring – Asterism In Cygnus

Posted September 10, 2016 by rogerivester
Categories: Observer's Challenge Reports

The following pencil sketch by the writer using a 10-inch reflector @ 57x with a 1.1º true field of view, a blank 5 x 8 notecard with the colors inverted using via a scanner.  Only a No. 2 pencil and an eraser were used.  RI 

To read the complete Observer’s Challenge report.  Click on the following link.


Scanned Image 160890002

I observed Chaple’s Arc from the foothills of North Carolina with a 10-inch f/4.5 reflector on August 13, 2015.  Transparency was poor due to very high humidity but seeing was excellent.
I located and recognized immediately the asterism known as Chaple’s Arc and the Cygnus Fairy Ring using a 32 mm eyepiece @ 36X with a 1.8º FOV.  The first star I noticed was double star H1470 with the primary being a ruddy or rust color.  When increasing the magnification, using a 20 mm eyepiece @ 57X with a 1.1º FOV, I could see at least eight or more separate pairs of double stars making a circle. This beautiful ring of double stars was framed very nicely within the 1.1º field.   

Stargazing Simplified: The following is a brief excerpt from a Sky & Telescope Magazine article by James Mullaney. Something for contemplation!

Posted August 25, 2016 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized


Stargazing Simplified!
James Mullaney, F.R.A.S.

Stargazing Simplified! Of the more than 1,000 articles on observing I’ve published over the past 60 years, this is the title of the one I consider to be the most important of them all. It appeared in the April, 2014, issue of Sky & Telescope magazine. The opening paragraph appears below. If this speaks to you and you have access to back issues of the magazine, hopefully you will take time to check out the entire article! –Jim Mullaney

Today’s hectic lifestyle, obsession with computers and high-tech electronic gadgets and mantra that “bigger is better” (in TV screens at least) has carried over into amateur astronomy. Witness the Messier and other observing “marathons,” computer-controlled remote CCD-imaging telescopes, and observatory-sized trailer-mounted Dobsonian reflectors. Casual, relaxing stargazing seems to be largely a thing of the past — something practiced by only a few of us purists. To me, stargazing should provide a relaxing interlude from the pressures and worries of everyday living rather than contribute to them.
This little glass has yet another virtue over big ones: it has a relatively limited number of targets! Now most readers probably would not consider this an advantage — but it is! I’m not tempted to find large numbers of objects when I go out — eliminating the malady I refer to as “saturated stargazing.” Michael Covington tells us that “All galaxies deserve to be stared at for a full 15 minutes.” I would extend this advice to every celestial object. I prefer to view at most a dozen of the sky’s wonders (including the Moon and planets) during the course of an evening in a relaxed and contemplative manner. To me, glancing at an object, then rushing on to another and another is like reading the Cliff’s Notes of the world’s great novels.   James Mullaney