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



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

M92 Globular Cluster in Hercules and “Trouvelot’s Hook”

Posted August 1, 2016 by rogerivester
Categories: Observer's Challenge Reports

The Observer’s Challenge complete report:  Click on the following link:  JULY 2016 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – M-092

The following write-up and sketch by Jaakko Saloranta of Finland, one of the most talented and gifted visual observer’s in the world today.  Roger Ivester 

Messier 92

The baby brother of Messier 13. Brightest star in the cluster is magnitude 12.1 so it is fairly easy object to resolve. However, it is a difficult naked eye object: barely visible with optimal averted vision at an altitude of 57 degrees. Easily visible with a 8×30 binoculars as a non-stellar smudge.

Forms a triangle with two 10th magnitude stars. Partial resolution is achieved – only a handful of stars visible – with a 3 inch refractor @ 133x (23′). With a 4.5 inch SkyQuest XT @ 152x (20′) M92 appears as fairly well resolved, with a few dozen stars visible. Bright core, might appear slightly elliptical but is probably just an illusion caused by unresolved stars NW of the nucleus.

Messier 92 contains a little known small feature nicknamed “Trouvelot’s Hook” (named after 19th century French astronomer Étienne Léopold Trouvelot) . It is a hook-shaped chain of stars with dark bays at both sides. The feature is visible in two separate sketches made by Trouvelot. The first one is from 1874 and the second from 1877. Both sketches of M92 are made from Harvard College Observatory.

Having seen Roger Ivester’s notes on M92, it is obvious that Roger has noted – at least a part of – “Trouvelot’s hook”. He described it as “a faint chain of four stars follows the flattened edge”. This is part of the very same chain sketched by Trouvelot! I personally could not make out the dark lane sketched by Roger. I only saw a couple of bright stars just E of the cluster’s core.

Pencil Sketch By Jaakko Saloranta of Finland:


The following sketches by French Astronomer, Trouvel0t. The first one was made in 1874 and the second 1877, both from the Harvard College Observatory.


Below:  Sketch by Trouvelot in 1877



The following information and pencil sketch by the writer.  RI 

M92 – NGC 6341 – Globular Cluster in Hercules:  Date: May 27, 2016

Telescope: 10-inch f/4.5 Equatorial Reflector

Eyepiece: 11 mm – Also Other Observations With The Employ Of a 2.0x Barlow
Magnifications: 104x and 208x intermittently

Bright with an intense round core and a granular texture at 104x. When increasing the magnification to 208x, excellent resolution of stars in the outer regions and in the halo, with many outliers.

The overall shape has a subtle N-S elongation. The NNE-WSW edge is flat, which is one of the more noticeable and recognizable features of the cluster. When using averted vision a faint chain of four stars follows the flattened edge. These stars were not visible on two of the three nights of observations, and appeared intermittent or not constant.

The following is a pencil sketch using a 5 x 8 blank notecard, with the colors inverted using a scanner.  Please note the faint star chain on the eastern side of the cluster, on both my sketch and Jim Dire’s image.  It was extremely difficult for me, requiring averted vision, and could only see intermittently on the third night of observations.

Roger Ivester 

Scanned Image 162110000

M92:  The following image and text by James Dire of Hawaii


James Dire, Ph.D.

M92 is the middle in size and brightness of three globular cluster located in the constellation Hercules. The brightest and largest is M13 while the smallest in our sky is NGC6229. All three globular clusters can be spied with an 8-inch or larger telescope.

Globular clusters are highly compact groupings of tens of thousands to millions of stars. There are approximately 150 of these clusters forming a spherical halo around our Milky Way galaxy. Globular clusters are also known to exist in other galaxies. The Andromeda galaxy probably has 2-3 times as many as the Milky Way.

M13 is the brightest globular cluster visible in the northern hemisphere and the third brightest visible from Earth. At magnitude 5.8, has a diameter of 25 arc minutes, nearly as large as the Moon. In comparison, at magnitude 6.4 M92 is roughly half as bright. It spans 15 arc minutes. Although both appear in Charles Messier’s famous catalog, he did not discover either of them. Edmond Halley discovered M13 in the year 1715 and Johann Bode discovered M92 in 1777.

M92 is found six and one-third degrees north of Pi Herculis, the northeastern-most star in the Keystone. Like M13, M92 can easily be spied in 50mm binoculars or finder scopes. Many stars can be resolved in both clusters using telescopes. Larger apertures will reveal more individual stars. I recommend eyepieces that yield 100x, or higher if the seeing is steady.

At magnitude 9.4, NGC6229 is quite a bit more challenging to find than M92. NGC6229 is located just north of the center of Hercules’ club, or 11 degrees north of M13. The easiest way to find it is to center the 5th magnitude star 42 Herculis in the eyepiece and hop two degrees to the southeast. William Herschel discovered NGC6229 in 1787. He was also the first to resolve stars in M92 six years later.

My image of M92 was taken with a 10-inch f/6 Newtonian with a Paracorr II coma corrector yielding a 1753mm focal length. The scope was atop a Paramount ME German equatorial mount and the image was taken with an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. The exposure was 20 minutes. The brightest star in the field of view, left (east) of the cluster, is HD156821 shining at magnitude 9.76. The faint star to the left of this is a 16.1 magnitude star. The yellow orange star on the northeast side of the cluster is HD156873, magnitude 9.98. The third brightest star in the field, to the lower right of the cluster shines at magnitude 10.9. None of these stars are members of M92.   James Dire 

Moon Day by James Mullaney

Posted July 23, 2016 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Something I wanted to share by my good friend of many years, James Mullaney.  James is an astronomy writer, author, lecturer, former associate editor at both Astronomy and Sky & Telescope Magazines.  I sent James (Jim) a hand written letter almost twenty five years ago, praising him for his reference book “The Finest Deep-Sky Objects” and we’ve corresponded and been friends every since.  I’m really glad that I wrote that letter….sent via USPS with a stamp.   Roger Ivester 

Happy Moon Day! by James Mullaney  arcturussj <>: Jul 19 03:15PM -0400

Hi Everyone,

As I do just about every year at this time, I’m pushing for a national or international holiday to celebrate this momentous historic event. If there’s a Columbus Day on the calendar, surely there should be a Moon Day every July 20th. Still amazes me how many people have no clue what that date is (or October 4th, the beginning of the Space Age). Take a poll of your typical planetarium audience to see for yourself. But then just as shocking is how many people don’t know who Carl Sagan was. How very sad and shameful on all accounts.

Jim Mullaney, FRAS