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.

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My Story:

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 really interested in this telescope. It had an equatorial mount, several pretty decent eyepieces, a Barlow lens, and a host of other accessories. I would take this scope into a weedy field very close to 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 to this day.     

I grew up in the foothills of western North Carolina, completely devoid of light pollution. The sky was velvety black with the Milky Way extending almost to the horizon. My house was located near the end of a dirt road with only three others.  It was a wonderful place for a budding new amateur astronomer.

My progression was very slow at first, and found amateur astronomy to be difficult. I knew nothing about star hopping, polar alignment, or setting circles, however, I persevered.  It was, however, just fun 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 the color of rust, white, blue, bluish-white, or orange. 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.  It would be 1985, or about the time of Halley’s Comet, that a local astronomy club was formed and I became a member.   

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 rest 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 reflector.  I’ll never forget one special night with this scope.  I was 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, and the light pollution was severe in my back yard.

Attempting to find even the brightest deep-sky objects under these conditions proved to be difficult.  I had tried to find M81 and M82, only to be met by failure.  I wanted so badly to see these galaxies, which appeared so striking and beautiful in the magazines.

One night, while observing, time was running out.  It was already after 11:00 PM, and I needed to get up early the next morning.  I used my hands in an attempt to block the ambient light from entering my eyepiece, and then it happended:  A small, faint object entered my telescope view, and then another.  I had finally found 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.  In my mind, I became a real amateur astronomer that night.

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 objects that were impossible with my smaller scopes.  During this period, I also became good friends with an astronomy and physics professor at a local university.  We began observing together and he taught me a lot, both about observing and astronomy in general.

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 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 over 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.  In June 2017, the challenge will celebrate 100 consecutive monthly reports, and has readers in every state and over 100 foreign countries.  

Catalyst for the Mount Potosi Observing Complex in Southern Nevada, facilitating a $50,000 telescope donation by Dr. James Hermann, M.D. from North Carolina.    Roger Ivester

 

Roger and Debbie Ivester

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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 capability.  The venerable six, is an excellent all around portable telescope, especially with an f/6 focal ratio.   

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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.    

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The 2017 Southern Star Astronomy Convention Hosted by The Charlotte Amateur Astronomer’s Club.

Posted April 29, 2017 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

http://charlotteastronomers.org/southernstar/

The following is a brief review and a few photos of the 31st Annual Southern Star Astronomy Convention.  It was great catching up with old friends and also making a few new ones.  This was another great event in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains at Wildacres, a private retreat near Little Switzerland, North Carolina. 

Time passes so fast and life is both unpredictable and fleeting….however, lets try our best to meet again next year.  Roger Ivester 

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A picture of me (Roger Ivester) with Al Nagler, signing my copy of “1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing” by the late Tom Lorenzin.  Al Nagler and Tom Lorenzin were very good friends.  Lorenzin later developed an updated 2000+ digital software package.    

The Tele Vue Gibraltar Alt-Az Mount has the 2000+ database by Tom Lorenzin.  Lorenzin passed away unexpectedly in August 2015.  Tom was a friend and I learned a lot from him over the years.  I listened carefully….

Probably very few “1000+ Amateur Field Guides” with a personal note and autograph by both Tom Lorenzin and Al Nagler.  I’ll always cherish my 25 year old Atlas which Tom signed in a cow pasture back in 1993, and now Al Nagler, 2017 in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.   Roger 

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Al Nagler with his wife, Judi….genuine, good and kind people.     

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Charlotte Amateurs very own Jim Lamm presiding over the meeting, and also a photo with Nagler. 

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Al Nagler with longtime member of the Charlotte Amateur’s, Gayle Riggsbee, a multiple winner at Stellafane over several years.

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Featured Speaker:  Dr. John Mather NASA 

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Featured speaker and former observing partner, Tom English.  (Roger Ivester) 

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Speakers:  Drs. Jay Pasachoff and John Mather enjoying the event.  

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Featured speaker Dr. Brad Barlow, enjoying a conversation with Southern Star Attendee, Megan Gialluca “Astronomical League Promising Young Astronomer 2016”

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Time to eat!  Wildacres retreat has incredible food!

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A photo of the surrounding mountains, looking toward Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi @ 6,684 feet.   (Debbie Ivester)

My wife Debbie with our Dachshund, Nova Sophia “Sophie” at Wildacres.  We had a great day!    

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More photos of beautiful Wildacres Retreat, as following:    

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During the event I was fortunate to meet and talk with Chris Waldrup from Tennessee who is interested in being a part of the Las Vegas Astronomical Society Observers Challenge report.  Chris had two full books of pencil sketches and notes.  My kind of amateur:  Visual observer, pencil sketches and notes!  

https://rogerivester.com/category/observers-challenge-reports-complete-all-reports-from-2009/

https://rogerivester.com/category/2017-2016-2015-2014-2013-2012-2011-2010-2009-observers-challenge-objects-list/

Roger Ivester 

 

Recommended Reading: June 2017 Edition of Sky & Telescope Magazine’s “Focal Point” by Science Editor, Camille Carlisle

Posted April 25, 2017 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Sky and Telescope’s science editor Camille Carlisle has written an excellent “Focal Point” in the June 2017 edition (page 84) of Sky & Telescope Magazine.  

Camille has beautifully articulated that both God and Science can coexist.

 I’ve included a few brief excerpts from that article as following:   

“It’s something too many of us forget, that reality has layers.  Occasionally people ask me how I can be Catholic and a science journalist.  The answer is simple:  Truth does not contradict truth.  Both science and religion are a pursuit of truth.  They’re after different aspects of truth, different layers of reality, but they’re still both fundamentally about truth.”

“Trying to prove or disprove God with science is like trying to screw in a flat-head nail with a screwdriver.” 

“So too, trying to “catch” God with science or concluding that He can’t be real because His beautiful universe is too much about drama and too little about perfect engineering…”  

“In my life I, too, have found that God can stand up to any question I throw at Him.  It might take years to find the answer, but it exists.”   Camille M. Carlisle 

Being a Christian, retired textile industrial engineer and having mechanical engineers, medical doctors, and yes….scientists as both friends and neighbors.  

None of the above, including myself, have ever had a problem with science and God.  It’s simple…..we believe in both science and God.  

“Such is eminently the right use of the telescope…a more extensive knowledge of the works of the Almighty…of the immediate relation between the wonderful and beautiful scenes which are opened to our gaze, and the great author of their existence.”    T.W. Webb

Roger Ivester

 

Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (ATMoB) Monthly Meeting #897: April 13, 2017 – Keynote Speaker: Kevin Collins Shares His Conversion of a 13.1-inch Coulter Dobsonian to an Ultra-Compact

Posted April 22, 2017 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Revised ATMoB Meeting Video by Christopher Elledge:    

Craig Sandler of Massachusetts Discovers the Fun and Satisfaction of Finding Deep-Sky Objects by Using Good Old Fashioned Star-hopping.

Posted April 15, 2017 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

After 15 years of being a slave to my GOTO systems, last night I located M44, M67 and M68, via good old fashioned “Star-hopping” using a totally manual EQ mount and a S&T Sky Atlas.    

It was a REVELATION!   I now understand the sky….maybe 30 percent better this week than two weeks ago, and I was not a beginner to start with.

My first scope was a Meade ETX 125 Maksutov-Cassegrain, so my observing or self-teaching was about looking up at the sky for awhile, then punching buttons, navigating menu stystems instead of the stars, and centering.  

As of my last two sessions with my manual equatorial mount, I now understand why the GoTo systems are set up the way they are.  More to my point, my relationship with the sky is now very intimate, familiar and satisfying.  It’s really hard to put into descriptive language or words. 

I’d never seen the last object on my list and had to FIGHT for ~15-20 minutes to find it, but LOVED the challenge!  I KNEW I could do it, but it wouldn’t have happened without a wide-field of view.    

I recently purchased an Orion Astroview 120 mm f/5 refractor.  It has a straight through, 6×30 finder, not a 90º diagonal, with a mirror-image non-correct view…..which can be torture.  

The Orion Astroview is a high-quality refractor telescope, but with a very economical price.  Now is this possible?  Yes….apparently it is!  Maybe it does not perform like a designer or “big name” APO, but I find the views to be very acceptable….maybe even great!    

Again…..as I said earlier, I’m re-learning amateur astronomy, and many would say the right way.  I’m now using the finding methods of Messier, Herschel, and so many other great observer’s of the past.  

I must say…..it’s wonderful.   Craig Sandler  

The Doctor talks Books, Books and more Books. An Astronomy Book Review by Daniel Mounsey. Excellent and Enjoyable. Please Take The Time To Watch This YouTube Video.

Posted April 11, 2017 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

 

NGC 3395-96 – Interacting Galaxies in Leo Minor – Observer’s Challenge Report For April 2017 – Month # 98

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

Image by Mario Motta –  Observer from Massachusetts –  32-inch telescope – One hour:  6 exposures x 10 minutes stacked 

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Coordinates:  RA: 10h 49.8m   Dec. +33.0′ 

NGC 3395-96 – Interacting Galaxies – Leo Minor – Visual magnitudes: 12.1/12.2  Sfc. Br. 12.9/13.4   Size: 1.9′ x 1.2′ NGC 3396 2.8′ x 1.2′ – “NGC 3395 small but bright oblong;  NGC 3396 lies 1′ E; small oblong; tough but worthy pair!  don’t leave without seeing spiral galaxy NGC 3430 just 30′ to E.    Tom Lorenzin  1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing

 

NGC 3395 is another 12th-magnitude spiral, about 2′ in diameter.  Amateur telescopes will show it almost in contact with NGC 3396 at its northeast edge.  These are interacting galaxies, but the bridge of material between them does not show in small telescopes.  Has anyone viewed them with a 30-inch aperture?   Walter Scott Houston  Deep-Sky Wonders – selections and commentary by Stephen James O’Meara 

 

In my 130mm refractor at 48× NGC 3430 shares the field with the colliding galaxies NGC 3395 and NGC 3396. Their combined glow appears a little smaller and fainter than the lone galaxy. At 117× these entangled galaxies each harbor a brighter center, with NGC 3395 boasting the more obvious one. NGC 3396 is elongated approximately east-west, with NGC 3395 south of its western end, where their halos blend together. Seen through my 10-inch scope at 166×, NGC 3396 hosts an elongated core with a starlike nucleus.

NGC 3395 and NGC 3396 have undergone at least one close encounter in the past and are now thought to be in the early stages of a merger, a show we are watching from a distance of 85 million light-years.    Sue French – Observer from New York 

 

I also observed NGC 3395-6 under dark skies with a 10” reflector at 81x.  It was easily seen, appearing most like an asymmetric butterfly  with close interaction of the galaxy pair.   Joseph Rothchild – Observer from Massachusetts 
NGC 3395 and 3396 are a pair of interacting galaxies in the constellation Leo Minor. The galaxies are thought to be in the early stages of merging. The galaxies were discovered by William Herschel in 1785 using an 18.7-inch reflector.

NGC 3395, the brighter of the two galaxies, is magnitude 12 and is roughly 1.6 x0.9 arc minutes in size. Its core is south-west of NGC 3396. NGC 3395 is a Hubble type Sc spiral galaxies.

NGC 3396 is slightly dimmer and slightly larger than NGC 3395. It shines at magnitude 12.4 and is 3.1×1.3 arc minutes in size. NGC 3396 is a barred spiral galaxy.

My image of NGC 3395 and 3396 was taken with a 10-inch f/6.9 Newtonian with a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. The exposure was 150 minutes. West is to the right and north is up. Several smaller fainter galaxies can be seen scattered throughout the image. The brightest star in the image, located near the left (east) edge, shines at magnitude 10.3. NGC 3396 is on the left, NGC 3395 on the right.

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Sometimes NGC 3395 is measured to be larger than the size I reported above. That is because the galaxy lies along the line of sight of a slightly larger and slightly dimmer background galaxy. This galaxy is PGC 4534783, a magnitude 13.2 galaxy. PGC 4534783 is 2.3 x 1 arc minutes in size and the position angle is nearly identical to NGC 3395.

The bright emission nebula IC 2605 lies in the southern edge of NGC 3395. The nebula can be seen in the accompanying image near the edge of the visible galaxy. This nebula was discovered April 11, 1899 by Guillaume Bigourdan. He estimated the magnitude to be 15 and size 0.4 x 0.2 arc minutes.

I viewed NGC3395 and 3396 with a 6-inch refractor under clear dark skies. The galaxies appeared as elongated glows close to one another, but the interacting portions of the galaxies were not bright enough to see.     Dr. James Dire from Hawaii

 

Observer:  Roger Ivester – Date: March 18, 2017  
Telescope: 10-Inch Reflector
Sketch Magnification: 135x
Eyepiece: 16 mm + 1.9x Barlow

Galaxy NGC 3395-96: Almost connecting. Both galaxies are elongated, brighter middles with NGC 3396 having a distinctive stellar nucleus when using averted vision, but could only be seen intermittently. I could glimpse the galaxies using a low magnification of 57x, but the best views came at 200x, and 135x, respectively, which would indicate that both galaxies are fairly well concentrated. Joseph Rothchild from Massachusetts, using a 10-inch reflector provided an excellent description of this beautiful interacting pair: “Easily seen, appearing most like an asymmetric butterfly….”

Another galaxy, NGC 3340, only 1/2º to the east of the NGC 3395-96 pair, has low surface brightness. Elongated NE-SW with an oval shape and a very subtle brightening or greater concentration in the central region. Despite the low surface brightness, I found that a higher magnification of 191x worked best.

Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina 

NGC 3395-96:  Pencil Sketch with colors inverted:

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NGC 3395-96:  Pencil sketch direct from the telescope eyepiece without colors inverted:

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NGC 3430:  Direct pencil sketch from the telescope eyepiece without colors inverted.  

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Glenn Chaple:  Observer from Massachusetts

“I observed and sketched these interacting galaxies with a 13.1-inch f/4.5 Coulter Odyssey I reflector and 9mm Nagler eyepiece (166X, 0.5 degree field). The galaxies were relatively easy to find by star-hopping from a trio of stars that included 46 LMi and 46 UMa to a wide double star a degree south and slightly west, then shifting one-half. I had previously viewed these galaxies with fellow ATMoB members Steve Clougherty and Rich Nugent, using Steve’s 18-inch Dob. They were barely perceptible, but skies were rapidly hazing up. These galaxies definitely need clear skies!”

You’ll like this. On the same night we viewed NGC 3395/6, Steve and Rich also turned the 18-inch on your Virgo Diamond. I’m not sure which of them had the finder chart, but they did this on their own – no prodding from me

 

Glenn Chaple 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona Sky Village Opportunity

Posted April 7, 2017 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

I talked to Jim Lamm today, a good friend of many years.  Jim has an offer to anyone tired of light pollution, blizzards, extreme cold, traffic and other annoyances.  This is truly an opportunity of a lifetime!  

Be a part-owner of an astronomy home at one of the premier astronomy communities in America — Arizona Sky Village.  Extremely dark skies, gorgeous mountains, astronomy friends as neighbors and the opportunity to live out your observing and astrophotography dreams — all at the fraction of the cost of a total home investment. See the attached link for more information:  

I have attached the one-page flyer that has been the main piece of literature supporting this effort. 

If interested, give me at call at 704-621-6309.
 
Jim Lamm