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.  


      I became interested in astronomy in the mid-60’s at the age of twelve. One of my older brothers had purchased a 60mm EQ refractor.      

     I grew up in the foothills of North Carolina, in a very rural area.  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.     

     It wasn’t until the mid-70’s that I acquired my very own telescope, a 4 1/4-inch Edmund Newtonian EQ reflector.  This was not my first choice, as I really wanted the 6-inch Super Space Conquerer, but the 4 1/4-inch was the best my budget would allow at that time.    

     However, by this time the fabulous skies of my early years were gone.  I’d moved to an area packed with houses and street lights, but I made the best of the situation and continued to observe.     

     In 1985 a local astronomy club was formed and I became a member with my youngest son, Brad.  This got me back into astronomy after a five year hiatus.  It was Brad that wanted to join the astronomy club.  I’m glad he did.      

      In 1992 I became a much more serious observer, with a new 10-inch EQ Meade reflector.  And fortunately by this time, I was also living in a much darker area.  I began making pencil sketches, which really helped me to become a far better visual observer.  

     I am the 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 will celebrate its 13th year in 2021.   All of the reports to-date are included in the following link.

      In October 2018, Sue French, “Contributing Editor” for “Sky & Telescope Magazine” became the Observer’s Challenge special advisor, after many years as a participant.  Sue wrote the very popular monthly “Deep-Sky Wonders” column for twenty years.  As of November 2019, Sue has agreed to help compile and edit the challenge report.  

     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 (February 2016, Pages 54-57) and the Las Vegas Review Journal and other publications.  



Comet Leonard: Image by Guest Host Anas Sawallha from Jordan

Posted December 4, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Hello Roger, I wanted to share my rather humble image of Comet Leonard with globular cluster M3, taken using an alt-azimuth mount and a monochrome camera.

NGC 16; Galaxy in Pegasus: December 2021 Observer’s Challenge Report #155

Posted November 23, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Work-File: Used only for organization and editing. When all entries are received, a .pdf report will be issued by the 10th of January. And the link will be posted on this page.

James Dire: Observer from Illinois

Supporting notes and information to follow later…

Pencil sketch by Roger Ivester: 10-inch reflector @114x

Supporting notes and information to follow later…

Mario Motta: Observer from Massachusetts

See attached images for December observer’s challenge object. Small NGC 16 galaxy is centered, but I wanted to get the general field which was too large for my 32-inch reflector field-of-view, so I combined two sets of images into a mosaic, and labeled them.

To the right (west) is NGC 1 and NGC 2, then moving east is NGC 16 (the December object) and finally toward the left (East) and on the the extreme edge is NGC 22.  Taken with my 32- inch telescope in two sets, then combined. It was not the best night, but being November 3, and having had to be away the past few weeks, I thought it best to use and send in.

Uwe Glahn: Observer from Germany

NGC 1 and NGC 2: 27-inch reflector @ 293x

Glenn Chaple: Observer from Massachusetts

NGC 16 – Lenticular Galaxy in Pegasus  (Magnitude 12.0, Size 1.8’ by 1.0’)

Our December Observer’s Challenge takes us to the northeast corner of Pegasus and a lenticular galaxy some 123 million light years away (SIMBAD data). Discovered by William Herschel on September 8, 1784. its appearance (“A faint star with small chevelure [hazy luminescence] and 2 burs”) led Sir William to enter it into his Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars as a Class IV (Planetary Nebulae) object.

With a visual magnitude of 12.0, NGC 16 will challenge medium aperture scopes, especially if observed from an area beset by slight to moderate light pollution. I looked for it with a 10-inch f/5 reflecting telescope on an evening when the magnitude limit was around 5. At 140X, I was able to make out little more than a faint star (the galaxy’s nucleus). Visual observers in dark-sky locations or working with larger instruments may be able to make out a surrounding oval haze.

The 2000.0 celestial coordinates for NGC 16 are: RA 00h 09m 04.3s, DEC +27° 43’ 45”, a little over a degree south of the 2nd magnitude star Alpheratx (alpha [α] Andromedae). The accompanying finder chart should enable star-hoppers to find their way from Alpheratz to NGC 16.

Larry McHenry: Observer from Pittsburgh, PA.

December:  NGC 16 – Galaxy – Pegasus; Mag. V = 12.0;  sfc. br. 12.5;  Size 1.8′ x 1.0′

RA:  00h  09m   Dec.  +27º  44′  

NGC 16 (galaxy): Located in the fall constellation of Pegasus, ‘The Winged Horse’, is the small oval-shaped +12th mag lenticular (S0) galaxy NGC 16. The little galaxy displays a bright, bar-shaped central core embedded in the center of an inclined oval, which itself is surrounded by a light haze of unresolved starlight. Using the camera’s maximum FOV, I could also pull in the nearby faint spirals NGC 1 and 2, along with PGC619. NGC 16 was first observed on September 8th 1784 by William Herschel and is about 146 Mly distant and around 81,00 Ly in diameter.


11/05/2021: from Calhoun Cty Park, WV. Using an 8-inch SCT optical tube @ f6.3 on a GEM mount with a CMOS color camera and broadband filter @ 60-second guided exposure, livestacked for 15 minutes. 

NGC 7662 Planetary Nebula in Andromeda: November 2021 Observer’s Challenge Report #154

Posted November 19, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

November 2021

Report #154

NGC 7662 Planetary Nebula in Andromeda

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

Work-File: Used only for organization and editing. When all entries are received, a .pdf report will be issued by the 10th of December. And the link will be posted on this page.


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.

This month’s target:

Commonly called the Blue Snowball, the planetary nebula NGC 7662 dwells in the northern reaches of Andromeda. Its nickname springs from an article by Leland S. Copeland in the February 1960 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine. Copeland describes the nebula as “looking like a light blue snowball.” 

William Herschel discovered this nebula on October 6, 1784, with this 18.7-inch reflector. His journal entry reads: A wonderful bright, round planetary pretty well defined disk, a little eliptical [sic]; perhaps 10 or 12″ diameter. Another entry from October 3, 1790, endearingly states: My planetary nebula. A very beautiful object, with a vS [very small] star following; giving one the idea of a large Planet with a vS satellite. In his impressive new book, William Herschel Discoverer of the Deep Sky, NGC/IC researcher Wolfgang Steinicke credits William Herschel with 10 observations of NGC 7662.

William Lassell made this sketch from the view through his 48-inch reflector. It was published in the Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1866, in which he also noted the nebula’s bluish color. 

Mario Motta: Observer from Massachusetts

Using NB filters through my 32-inch scope with SBIG STL 1001E camera, cropped and enlarged x 2 as it is a very small sized object, taken with 1 hour each of H alpha, S3, and O2 filters.

Rony De Laet: Observer from Belgium

NGC 7662 (Caldwell 22) is easily recognisable as a bright and slightly bluish planetary nebula in my lowest power eyepiece. But with increased power there is hardly any structure to be seen. Nor is the central star visible. The nebula appears bright but amorphous. I don’t see any improvement with an OIII filter. I move over to my 3mm eyepiece. But even at 600x there is no trace of the CS. Although the limiting magnitude is near 15.2 in that part of the sky, the seeing is not cooperating. Back at 400x things start to look a little better. There is a hint of an central ring or better two opposite arcs: one brighter to the north-east and one dimmer to the south-west. While the arcs seem to connect to the south-east, the north-west side remains open. The core of the nebula appears off-centre due to a slightly darker patch near the open end of the arcs. There is a variety of light intensities within the central part of the nebula. It takes a lot of time to tease out any detail. Now back to the edges of this planetary. They too seem to harbour subtle arcs of light. I switch to 200x and put in the OIII filter. The planetary is embedded a weak elliptical halo, which is twice the size of the planetary.

Site : Bekkevoort, Belgium (51° N)

Date : November 10, 2021
Time : around 20:30 UT

Telescope : Taurus 16”
EP: Morpheus 9mm 76°, 200x / 6.5mm 76°, 280x / 4.5mm 76°, 400x / Omegon 3mm 55°, 600x
Filter : OIII or none
Seeing : 2/5
Sky brightness : 19.7 magnitudes per square arc second near zenith (SQM reading).
Sketch Orientation: N up, W right.
Digital sketch made with Corel Paint Shop Pro X2, based on a raw pencil sketch.

Uwe Glahn: Observer from Germany

Item: NGC 7662 – “Blue Snowball”

Telescope: 20 “f / 4.3 Newton

Magnification: 620x

Filter: /

Conditions: fst 6m5 +

Seeing: II-III

Roger Ivester: Observer from North Carolina

NGC 7662: Planetary Nebula in Andromeda 

Date:  December 25, 1997

Telescope:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector and equatorially mounted

Sketch Magnification:  200x

Field-of-View:  0.25º

Small and bright blue disc, with a brighter more concentrated interior, and with a very faint outer halo.  Very soft edges.  No central star or void could be seen.  This description is very consistent with ten other observations, using the same scope and location, over the past 30 years. No filter was used.  

James Dire: Observer from Illinois

NGC 7662, also known as Caldwell 22 and the Blue Snowball Nebula, is a magnitude 8.2 planetary nebula in the constellation Andromeda.  The nebula lies 14.3 degrees west of the famous Andromeda Galaxy, M31.  The nebula also lies 4.3 degrees east of the star Omicron Andromedae (mag. 3.64) and 2.3 degrees west-southwest of the star Iota Andromedae (mag. 4.28).  The nebula is about 32 x 28 arcseconds in size, making it a challenge to image in small telescopes. But its great surface brightness is splendid for visual observation.

Like most planetary nebula, NGC 7662 formed when the central star began throwing off its outer layers as the star reached the end of its life on the main sequence.  The nebula’s distance is estimated to be around 1800 light years away. Making the nebula about 1.6 light years in diameter.

In small telescopes the nebula may appear star-like at low powers with a slight blue color. Larger apertures at high magnification bring out its planetary nebula nature and its blue color is more striking.  The largest amateur telescopes are able to resolve the central star.

My image of NGC 7662 was taken with a 132mm f/7 apo using an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. The exposure was 20 minutes. In the image, north is up and east to the left. The brightest star in the image, lying left of the nebula is SAO53026, a magnitude 8.21, yellow-white F star. The next brightest star, to the upper left of the nebula is SAO53017, a magnitude 8.81 red dwarf.  The red dwarf appears brighter than the F star because the CCD camera is more sensitive to red light.  The faintest stars in the image are magnitude 15.

The inset on the upper right of the image is a zoomed in view of the nebula from the original image. This view shows some of the lobe structure within the nebula. I was unable to resolve the central star with this small telescope.

NGC 6857: Emission Nebula – Cygnus: October 2021 Observer’s Challenge Report #153

Posted October 13, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

October 2021

Report #153

Click on the following link, for the complete report:


This month’s target:

William Herschel discovered NGC 6857 on 6 September 1784. His handwritten journal for that date reads: A patch containing some nebulosity…irregularly long.

Heinrich d’Arrest writes of this object and his observation of it in his 1867 Siderum Nebulosorum Observationes Havnienses. My very loosely paraphrased English for the Latin text: Minute, faint; it is most probably a cluster. A 12th-magnitude star precedes it. – Rechecked shortly after: it was not so small; not all of the nebula is resolved, there is at least some cloudiness. I’m not surprised that this was missed by Rosse.

NGC 6857 is the brightest part of the larger, star-forming emission region Sharpless 2-100, which is a much more difficult visual target than NGC 6857. 

A 2010 paper by Manash Samal and colleagues in the Astrophysical Journal indicates that the main ionizing source at the center of NGC 6857 is the bright, massive star at its heart. This compact nebula is estimated to be approximately 28 thousand light-years away from us, and the star is thought to have a spectral type of about OIII. The most likely age of the nebula is in the vicinity of 1 to 2 million years. (Intro and object information by Sue French)

Pencil sketch as following by Roger Ivester:

My image of NGC 6857 was taken with a WO 132mm f/7 apochromatic refractor using a 0.8x focal reducer/field fattener to yield f/5.6.  The exposure was 110 minutes using an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera.  On the image north is up and east to the left.  The star in the center of the nebula is magnitude 13.2

By James Dire

NGC 6823/Sh 2-86: Open Cluster/Emission Nebula in Vulpecula: September Observer’s Challenge Report #152

Posted September 13, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

September 2021

Report #152

NGC 6823 & Sh 2-86, Open Cluster & Emission Nebula in Vulpecula

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

Observer’s Challenge Report: Final

September 2021 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _NGC 6823 & Sh 2-86

This month’s target:

The nebula surrounding the open cluster NGC 6823 suffers an identity crisis. It’s not NGC 6820, as many sources claim, but rather a small knot of nebulosity 16 arcminutes in position angle 218 degrees (southwest by south) from the bright quadruple star at the cluster’s heart. 

Here is NGC/IC maven Harold Corwin’s explanation:

NGC 6820 is a small knot of nebulosity, roughly 1′ × 1′, perhaps a reflection nebula around a few young stars or pre-stellar objects. It is specifically NOT the much larger HII region Sharpless 2-86 as has been many times been claimed, nor is it the cluster Collinder 404 = OCl 122, though that may 

represent the stars involved with the nebula. Marth’s original observation with Lassell’s 48-inch reflector mentions only the nebulosity: “F, S, R, bM”. [Faint, small, round, brighter in the middle] 

The position of NGC 6820 is 19h 42m 27.9s  +23° 05′ 15″. Consider this a bonus object if you’d like.

Information above compiled by Sue French

Sparse cluster with ~ 20 stars counted @ 160x, with a central concentration of several brighter members.  With careful and patient observing, despite the less than optimum transparency, and moving the cluster in-and-out of the view, from east to west, I could see some faint, but very large nebulosity ENE of the cluster.  No filter was used.  

To be able see the faint nebula after more than an hour was well worth the time, but once seen, it was surprisingly easy. RI

Pencil sketch as following, using a 10-inch reflector: Roger Ivester

Jaakko Saloranta: Observer from Finland (Pencil Sketch)

Sue French: Observer from New York (Pencil Sketch) 10-inch Reflector

Stargazing Simplified: An Original Article From Sky & Telescope Magazine: Submitted by Guest Host and Author: James Mullaney

Posted September 6, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

M57, Planetary Nebula in Lyra: August 2021 Observer’s Challenge Report #151

Posted August 17, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports


Roger Ivester: Observer from North Carolina

10-inch reflector, fairly bright with well defined edges, gray in color, oval shape with a center void.  Both the NW and SW sides are brighter with greater concentration.  The ring is much lighter, or thiner on the NW, and also on the SE, but more subtle.  A 12th magnitude star lies, so very close to the east of the ring.

3.5-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope at a magnification of 146x, the ring nebula is presented as very dim, round but mostly featureless. The central void can be seen, but fairly difficult.  

102mm refractor at 175x, shows the ring as surprisingly bright on this night of exceptional viewing with sharp and well defined edges.  The center void can be seen, but only as a lighter round gray spot, within the ring. Bright star just to the east.

Pencil sketch below:  

NGC 6572, Planetary Nebula in Ophiuchus: July 2021 Observer’s Challenge Report #150

Posted July 19, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

July 2021

Report #150

NGC 6572, Planetary Nebula in Ophiuchus

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

This month’s target

Our object for the 150th monthly edition of the Observer’s Challenge is the tiny, but bright, planetary nebula NGC 6572, variously nicknamed the Emerald Nebula, the Blue Racquetball, and the Turquoise Orb. These names highlight the range of hues perceived by different observers. The nebula is young, perhaps only a few thousand years old. Its diminutive size led to its inclusion in some early star catalogs. NGC 6572 has a visual magnitude of 7.3, as determined by Stephen O’Meara, while its central star dimly shines at 13th magnitude. As with many planetary nebulae, published distances vary wildly. Values in the vicinity of 5000 light-years seem most likely. This pretty little gem was discovered in1825 by Wilhelm Struve.

NGC 6572 displays bipolar outflows in deep images. There’s evidence of interaction between the collimated outflows and the nebula’s elliptical shell. The interaction has broken up the elliptical shell such that parts of the shell have been accelerated, while the outflow has been slowed down and/or deflected. This supports the idea that such outflows are common in planetary nebulae and may play an important role in shaping nebular shells.…520..714M/abstract 

Mario Motta: Observer from Massachusetts

NGC6572 is a very tiny object (16×12 arc seconds). Got this last week, poor night with some turbulence, with an H alpha, O3 , and S2 filters. Very short exposures as it is very bright. Visually a small “blue spot”.

Image attached, about 20 minutes each filter, O3 dominated…thus very blue. No detail that I can see. Only good image on line I found is by the Hubble, but can’t match that one! However, a nice object.

Complete Observer’s Challenge Report: Click on the following link…


Roger Ivester: Observer from North Carolina

NGC 6572 – Planetary Nebula in Ophiuchus 

Date:  May 2021 

Telescope:  6-inch f/6 Newtonian Reflector 

Eyepiece:  20mm + 2.8x BarlowSketch Magnification:  128x

NELM:  ~4.9 Magnitude

I knew that fine detail of this planetary would not be possible from my back yard, using a 10-inch reflector.  So, I chose to use a 6-inch f/6 reflector, mostly for convenience, but not really expecting much difference from the 10-inch.

With the 6-inch, this planetary is very small, mostly round and featureless, but with a pale bluish color.  

This is definitely a large telescope object for the visual observer.  

Peter Vercauteren: Observer from Italy

Telescope: 18-inch f/5 Otte BinoDobsonian

Magnification: 4.5mm @ 507x

NGC 5746, Galaxy in Virgo: June 2021 Observer’s Galaxy Report #149

Posted June 14, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

Monthly Observer’s Challenge

Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

June 2021

NGC 5746, Galaxy in Virgo

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomer’s Together



This month’s target

William Herschel discovered NGC 5746 on 24 February 1786 with his 18.7-inch reflector. His handwritten journal reads:” Extremely bright, much extended in the parallel, 8 or 9 arcminutes long, bright nucleus.”

A recent study by John Kormendy and Ralf Bender in the Astrophysical Journal presents NGC 5746 as a structural analog of our own galaxy. Both are “are giant, SBb–SBbc galaxies with two pseudobulges, i.e., a compact, disky, star-forming pseudobulge embedded in a vertically thick, ‘red and dead,’ boxy pseudobulge that really is a bar seen almost end-on.” According to the authors, the lives of these galaxies have been dominated by minor mergers and bar-driven evolution for most of the history of the universe. They place NGC 5746 at a distance of 26.7 Mpc (87 million light-years).…872..106K/abstract

NGC 5746’s V(V_T) visual magnitude is 10.32 ± 0.13, and its surface brightness is 12.6. The galaxy’s visible extent through medium-size amateur telescopes under dark skies is in the vicinity of 7.4′ × 1.3′.

Roger Ivester: Observer from North Carolina

NGC 5746 – Galaxy in Virgo 

Date:  May 30, 2021

Telescope:  6-inch f/6 Newtonian 

Sketch Eyepieces:  16mm + 1.9x Barlow 

Magnification:  109x

Field of View:  0.60º

Very easy to locate and see using 46x, mostly in-part being only 20 arc minutes West of bright star,  3.7 magnitude 109 Virginis.  

My best view came at 109x, and presenting the galaxy as highly elongated, oriented almost perfectly N-S.  The core is fairly bright and elongated with faint extensions, coming to a point at both the N and S tips.  

For my sketch, I moved 109 Virginis out of the field of view, to reduce the extreme glare.  

Globular Cluster, M3, NGC 5272 in Canes Venatici: May 2021 Observer’s Challenge Report #148

Posted May 19, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

May 2021

Report #148

Messier 3 (NGC 5272), Globular Cluster in Canes Venatici

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together


This month’s target

Charles Messier discovered M3 on 3 May 1764 with a 3.5-inch refractor. The French text of Messier’s catalog in the Connaissance des Temps translates into English as: “Nebula discovered between the Herdsman and one of the Hunting Dogs of Hevelius; it does not contain a star, the center is brilliant & its light imperceptibly fades, it is round; when the sky is good, one can see it with a refractor of one foot [at the time, telescopes were generally described by their length]; it is reported on the Chart of the Comet observed in 1779. Mémoires de l’Académie of the same year. Reexamined 29 March 1781, still very beautiful.”

According to William H. Harris’ Catalog Of Parameters For Milky Way Globular Clusters, , M3 resides 10.2 kiloparsecs (~33,000 light-years) away from us and 12.0 kiloparsecs (~39,000 light-years) from the galactic center. It shines with an integrated V-magnitude of 6.19, and the spectral type of the integrated cluster light is F6. Does its color look slightly yellow to you?

May 2021 Observer’s Challenge Complete Report: may-2021-observers-challenge-_m3-2

Roger Ivester: Observer from North Carolina

M3 (NGC 5272) globular cluster in Canes Venatici 

Date: March 2021 

Telescope:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector

Eyepiece:  20mm + 2.8x Barlow 

Sketch magnification 160x

Field of View:  0.38º 

80mm refractor:  Little or no resolution, appearing mostly round with an intense core, and a fainter enveloping halo.  

10-inch reflector at 160x:  Excellent resolve of stars, mostly round, and with a large number of outlier stars beyond the halo.  A very interesting dark lane was noted in the SE-NE of the cluster.