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 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 it was the best my budget would allow.   

     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. 

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

      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, the Las Vegas Review Journal and other publications.

https://rogerivester.com/category/mount-potosi-observing-complex-in-southern-nevada/  

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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

This is our “work-file” report for the Observer’s Challenge, used for organization, review and edits only. When all report submissions are received, personal photos are added and a final .pdf report will be issued by the 10th of the following month. (The cutoff date to receive submissions for the September report is October 8th, and hopefully we can issue the report by the 10th.)

Mario Motta: Observer from Massachusetts

The following image was taken with my 32-inch f/6.5, with ZWO ASI6200 camera, using 2 hours Halpha, 1 hour each O-III and S2 NB filters, processed pixinsight. 

I love the field with young new open star cluster (NGC 6823) and the surrounding nebula (Sh 2-86) filled with “pillars” and bok globules, reminiscent of the Eagle Nebula nearby.

This region would benefit from a nice wide-field image of the full surrounding nebula, but I will leave that to the imagers with the abilities to take wider-field images. And I will “zoom” into the fine detail at the heart of this nebula.

For scale the open cluster is 50 LY across, and the nebula is 600 LY away…

Venu Venugopal: Observer from Massachusetts

The following image was taken from my Chelmsford, MA backyard on 9/8/21.
Telescope: 8-inch f/4 Newtonian reflector, GEM 45, ZWO ASI533MC

Optolong L-eNHance filter; 30 minutes total exposure and 30 second sub frames.

Anas Sawallha: Observer from Jordan

This month’s Observer’s Challenge object is open cluster NGC 6823, surrounded by nebula, Sh 2-86 in Vulpecula, located about 6,000 light years away.

The nebula was difficult to see through my 5-inch reflector, however with the aid of a UHC filter, it became more apparent.

I observed this object from a Bortle 2 location and could see a rhomboidal shaped nebulosity, but unfortunately I did not sketch.

At a later date, I revisited from a Bortle 3-4 location and not surprisingly, the nebula was much diminished from my first observation with the darker site, as to be expected.

Sketch follows:

Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina 

NGC 6823/Sh 2-86:  Cluster/Nebula in Vulpecula 

Date:  September 2, 2021 

Telescope:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector 

NELM:  4.9

Sketch Magnification:  160x

Eyepieces:  20mm Erfle + 2.8x Barlow

Field of View:  0.375º –  22.5 arc minutes 

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.

 

 

 

 

Extraordinary! Huge Solar Prominence on The Sun Today! Date: September 11, 2021: By Guest-Host: Mario Motta

Posted September 11, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Hello all!

Sue French alerted me to a huge prominence on the sun today, and I was fortunate to be able to make this image. Thank you Sue French!

Mario Motta

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

august-2021-observers-challenge-_m57Download


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. https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1999ApJ…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…

july-2021-observers-challenge-_ngc-6572-1

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

MONTHLY OBSERVER’S CHALLENGE

june-2021-observers-challenge-_ngc-5746Download

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). https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/#abs/2019ApJ…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

MONTHLY OBSERVER’S CHALLENGE

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

Introductio

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,

http://physwww.mcmaster.ca/~harris/mwgc.dat , 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.  

NGC 3226 and NGC 3227, Galaxies in Leo: April 2021 Observer’s Challenge Report #147

Posted April 16, 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

April 2021

Report #147

NGC 3226 & NGC 3227, Galaxies in Leo

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

This month’s target

William Herschel discovered this interacting galaxy pair on 15 February 1784 with his 18.7-inch speculum-metal reflector. His hand-written journal of the discovery reads: “Two nebulae almost close together. Perhaps 1½ or 2′ asunder, they are pretty considerable in size, and of a roundish form; but not cometic; they are very faint.” He also notes that on this night he first used: “A new, large object Speculum. It is very bright but not quite as distinct as my first, I shall however use it all the night.”

Together known as Arp 94, NGC 3226 and NGC 3227 are wedded in a gravitational dance 47.2 ± 0.2 million light-years away from us. Their complex dance has spawned a remarkable array of tidal tails as well as one tidal dwarf galaxy — a gravitationally bound condensation of gas and stars formed during the repeated encounters of the two parent galaxies.

The most recent journal paper on this captivating system can be perused here: https://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/full_html/2021/01/aa38955-20/aa38955-20.html

Observer’s Challenge Complete Report:

April 2021 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _NGC 3226_NGC 3227

NGC 3226-3227: Interacting galaxy pair in Leo 

Date: March 2021

Telescope: 10-inch f/4.5 reflector 

Sketch Magnification: 114x

Field of View: 0.52º 

NGC 3227: Fairly bright, and easy to locate and see even at low magnification.  At 114x, elongated, oriented NW-SE, brighter central region, but subtle.  I first observed this galaxy pair and made my first sketch on April 14th 1993.   

NGC 3226: Much smaller and a fainter than NGC 3227, mostly round, but with a very slight elongation, NNE-WSW.  At 190x, and with averted vision, a stellar nucleus is visible.  Roger Ivester

Sue French: Observer from New York

Through my 130-mm refractor at 23×, I see a moderately faint glow at the position of the interacting pair NGC 3226 and NGC 3227. At 63× it becomes evident that two galaxies dwell here. Although their halos blend together, each harbors a small, distinct, brighter center. NGC 3227 is the brighter and larger galaxy of the pair, its oval façade leans east-southeast. Precariously perched on NGC 3227’s north-northeastern tip, NGC 3226 is wrapped in a halo that tips northeast.

NGC 3222 makes an appearance in the field of view 117×, 13′ west of the interacting duo. This little galaxy appears very dim and holds a weakly glowing, starlike nucleus. A 14th-magnitude star winks in and out of view near the galaxy’s SW×W edge. At this magnification, NGC 3226 grows brighter toward the center, while NGC 3227 displays an oval core with a prominent stellar nucleus. I estimate combined length of the pair to be about 41⁄2′.S

The Southern Cross by Commercial Airlines Pilot: James Yeager

Posted March 29, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Jim Yeager has always allowed me to use any of his aerial photos, which over the years have included, a beautiful photo of the Barringer Crater in New Mexico, covered with snow, and the Mount Potosi Observing Complex in SW Nevada. Both of which I’ve used in previous blog articles and other.

I really like the following image, as I’ve never seen the Southern Cross.

Jim’s notes and photo:

Here is somewhat of clear picture taken with an iPhone using a 3 second exposure on a descent out of 41,000 feet about 100 miles north of Lima, Peru.

You can see Alpha and Beta Centauri pointing to the Southern Cross.

The residual cockpit lights, moonlight behind us, and the haze of high altitude cirrus kept us from seeing the Magellanic Clouds.

Other aerial photos by Jim Yeager:

https://rogerivester.com/category/mount-potosi-observing-complex-in-southern-nevada/

https://rogerivester.com/2016/12/06/aerial-view-of-meteor-crater-compliments-of-james-yeager-pilot-american-airlines/

Incredible and Remote Private Observatory in Landrum, South Carolina

Posted March 23, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

I have seen many private observatories over the past 40 years (plus) as an amateur astronomer, but nothing to the level of this one. It has bedrooms, a darkroom (for the days of film) kitchen, living room, bathrooms, without stairs, but with a “handicap” ramp to the observing room on the second floor. Even some stained glass windows.

It is so hidden on top of a mountain that “seemingly” few living near the facility were aware of its existence. Debbie and I found this amazing.

It’s only about an hours drive from our house.

Deb and I were invited to come for this visit by the owner. When leaving, we were told to come back at any time, but for some reason, we’ve not been able to find our way back. Maybe this year?

When we drove around the last curve going up the mountain and saw the observatory, we both thought it looked like a small castle which might be found in Scotland or England. You decide…

The following photos were made on April 25, 1993. Roger Ivester

In the following picture:

Note the photo propped against the wall behind Debbie, which was a very renowned and famous photo of one section of the Veil Nebula which (at that time, and in the days of film astrophotography) was considered extraordinary. The Veil Nebula is a supernova remnant.

September 2020 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _Veil Nebula

A highly viewed and studied deep-sky object by both amateur and professional astronomers alike.

The supernova photo was taken using a 6.3-inch Takahashi reflector. The primary telescope in the dome is a 7-inch Astro-Physics refractor, as pictured below.