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 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 eyepieces, a Barlow lens, and a host of other accessories. I would take this small telescope into a weedy field beside  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 even to this day.     

I grew up in the foothills of North Carolina, and my house was located near the end of a dirt road with only two others.  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. 

My progression was slow, and I found amateur astronomy to be difficult.  However, it was 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 rust, white, blue, bluish-white, or orange. And 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.  And finding that other person with an interest in astronomy would finally happen in 1985.  A local astronomy club was formed and I became a member with my youngest son, Brad.  

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 remainder 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 Newtonian reflector, a Palomar Jr. which was not my first choice, but the best my budget would allow at this time in my life. Using an inflation calculator, the cost of the Edmund reflector was $159.50 in 1976, which would be $744.45 in 2019.  

I’ll never forget one special night using that humble Edmund scope, while attempting to locate M81 and M82, two of the most beautiful galaxies in the heavens. And by this time, the fabulous skies of my early years were gone. I’d moved to an area packed with houses and street lights.  

Attempting to find even the brightest deep-sky objects under these conditions proved to be difficult. I had tried many times to locate M81 and M82, but without success.  

One night while observing, I was using my hands in an attempt to block the ambient light from entering my eyepiece, and then it happened:  A small and faint fuzzy object entered my telescope view, and then with a slight nudge, another…..finally M81 and M82.  What a beautiful sight!  I savored the view for the longest time and to this day and I can still feel that excitement.  I went to bed smiling that night, and in my mind, I was now a real amateur astronomer!    

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 faint deep-sky objects that were impossible with my previous smaller telescopes. 

After a period of time with my new 10-inch reflector, 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 pencil 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 more than 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.   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 observer’s challenge will begin its eleventh year in 2019.  

Observer’s Challenge mission statement: “Sharing observations and bringing amateur astronomers together” 

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/2016/12/04/mount-potosi-observing-complex-las-vegas-astronomical-society-an-aerial-photo-by-james-yeager-pilot-american-airlines/

Astronomy blogger since 2010.   http://www.rogerivester.com 

Roger and Debbie Ivester 

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Just had to include a photo of my other hobby….cycling.  I’ve been fortunate to have logged more than 140,000 lifetime miles, as of 2018.      

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International Dark-Sky Association: https://www.darksky.org/ Are You a Member?

Posted April 19, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

https://www.darksky.org/

Do you support dark-skies?  Are you a member of the IDA?   For the past ten or more years, I’ve not been a member either.  But next week (April 2019) I’m going to show my support for dark-skies and become a member again.  

You should consider doing the same.  

It is estimated, that only one (1) in a hundred (100) amateur astronomers are members.  One percent among the entire amateur astronomy community is not a good number.  Would you agree?    Roger Ivester  

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AMA Light Pollution Study Concerning Highway Safety and The Heath Hazards: By Guest Host, Mario Motta, MD, FACC

Posted April 16, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

     I have been a light pollution advocate for many years. Certainly 30 years ago I was most interested in the skyglow that affects our view of the starry sky, and though that remains a major concern, I have since learned of the many medical, safety, and environmental concerns that are paramount. On an energy committee on my town, I was able to show that poorly lit intersections with severe glare by unshielded lighting had the highest accident rate.  

      Further review of published studies has shown that as the eye ages, it becomes much more sensitive to disability glare, impairing safe driving. That led to my 2009 AMA resolution that suggested that all streetlights be properly shielded to prevent such glare to make streets safer, allowing elderly to drive in the evening safer. This resolution is still cited by lighting companies.

     In 2012 knowing the research activities of many scientists in the world on the effects of night time lighting on human physiology, I invited 4 prominent researchers to help me write a CSAPH report “Light Pollution: Adverse health effects of Nighttime lighting”.

     This 27 page report with 134 peer reviewed references highlighted the adverse health effects of circadian rhythm disturbance. Suppressing melatonin production by excessive night lighting, especially blue light, leads to myriad health deleterious health effects. 

      The most stunning is an increase in certain endocrine related carcinomas. It is now well known that circadian disturbance causes a 15-20% increase in breast cancer rates, and a similar increase in prostrate cancers. Indeed, this past year (2017) the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Young, Rosbach, and Hall, the groundbreaking research that elucidated the biochemical pathways that lead to increased illnesses by melatonin suppression. Cancer rates, obesity, diabetes, metabolism issues, and immune system are all affected by melatonin suppression. The World health organization has even listed shift workers, who have repeated melatonin suppression as a “known Carcinogen, level 2”. 

      After the 2012 report came out there was some pushback from the lighting industry, however, in 2014 General Electric wrote its own “white paper” on this subject, and not only agreed with the AMA report, by liberally quoted from my report, stating that corporate policy would change to take note of melatonin production in its lighting policies and products. Shortly after that Apple developed a blue reduction in its phones and computers for late night. Many other companies have since adopted this practice. Again, with the Nobel Prize, and over 1000 peer reviewed papers, this now settled science! The last section of the 2012 report also raised the alarm that excessive outdoor blue light was also causing environmental harm, as all living creatures have a circadian rhythm, even one celled organisms!

      In the ensuing years the lighting industry has developed LED lighting with plans to replace all outdoor lighting with LED’s over the next 10 years, but were poised to use excessive blue producing 4000K LEDs. Given my 2012 paper, and many reports of environmental damage by excessive blue, I was able to move the CSAPH to let me lead on one more report “Human and Environmental  Effects of Light Emitting Diode (LED) Community Lighting” adopted at the AMA annual 2016 meeting by the HOD. This particular report hit a nerve with the lighting industry. The report actually says however that we should indeed replace outdoor lighting with LED lights to save energy, but still shield all streetlights to prevent glare, that was widely accepted. The last resolve stating that blue light should be limited in outdoor lighting and streetlights should use low blue emitting 3000K or lower color temperature led to severe consternation in the lighting industry. 

     The issue was many companies were trying to sell 4000K lighting, as those were the first type of LED’s that were manufactured. They had inventory already made. LED lights use a blue LED and coat it to absorb the blue and re-emit at lower “warmer” color temperature, eg 3000K. 4000K lighting is 30-34% blue light. The 2012 paper and thousands of studies have already shown this is bad for humans and the environment in general.  The AMA report suggested no higher than 3000K. Nowadays, there is good 2700K lighting, and even 2400K lighting as well, and the trend is lower. There is evidence that high blue leads to severe insect, bird, and mammalian effects in nature. It has even been shown to affect salmon runs, and even plankton!

     When this AMA report came out it was hailed by researchers, and many cities paused to study it closely. They came to the same conclusion, and demanded warmer 3000k or even 2700K lighting. Many companies changed their products and are now thriving, others are still fighting.  

     To date most large cities now have adopted the AMA recommendation, and in fact some (like Toronto) state in their lighting that they are “AMA Compliant Lighting” !! To date, New York, Chicago, Tucson, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Georgia, Toronto, Montreal, and many others have changed their lighting plans and demand 3000K or lower. This is helped by the fact that wherever 4000K lighting was installed, citizens immediately complained about the harsh glare bluish light.

     Some cities such as Monterey and Davis in California even sued their cities, and demanded a switch to 3000K or lower. Just a few weeks ago (March 2019), the city of Seattle, an early user of 4000K lighting, announced that all 4000K lighting which was recently installed, will be removed and replaced by 3000K lighting due to multiple citizen complaints. 

     Any town contemplating installing LED lighting should take note of the fact that essentially everywhere 4000K and excessive lighting has been installed, they are universally detested and abhorred. Don’t make an expensive mistake and install this type of lighting.

      The 2016 report has in the words of many lighting engineers “revolutionized” the lighting industry. This would not have occurred without the AMA putting this report out there forcing lighting companies to address the human health and environmental effects of the lighting they produce. This would not have happened without our AMA report.

Mario Motta, MD, FACC  

https://www.mariomottamd.com/

 

 

Improving My Backyard Deck Into a Better Observatory, a Nice Comfortable Nook For Both My Wife, Debbie and Myself. It Also Shields Ambient Lighting When Using My Telescope.

Posted April 12, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

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Deck before renovation and modifications:

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The majority of my astronomical telescopic observing, for the past 35 years has been from my backyard deck.  It received a major renovation and enlargement about 15 years ago.  My NELM from this deck is normally about 5.0-5.2 on an excellent night.  On a cold and crisp winter night, on occasion, the NELM can reach 5.5 at the zenith.  

For at least the past five or more years, I’d thought about adding a bit of privacy for both my observing and when my wife, Debbie and I choose to just sit, relax, and talk.  

During the day, I can use my MacBook to write astronomy articles, emails to my many astronomy friends across the country and beyond. I can work on the Observer’s Challenge report, which just celebrated 121 consecutive months.  

The petition blocks the sun until late morning, and with Debbie’s new outdoor umbrella, we can enjoy for most of the day….should we choose.  The other day, it became a bit too warm, so we now have a fan that works extremely well.  So much breeze, that paper weights are necessary for books and related.  

On selected nights, when it’s clear and without a moon, I can use one of my many telescopes to observe deep-sky objects, galaxies, nebulae and star clusters.  

And to make my pencil sketches: A couple eyepiece/telescope examples below of faint galaxies.   

Rogers NGC-2300 Inverted

Rogers NGC-2964 Invereted

Rogers NGC-4236 Inverted b

More than a month ago,  I purchased a 6 x 8 privacy fence from Lowe’s Home Improvement, two 12 foot, treated 4 x 4’s and lots of bolts, 6-inch lag screws, and braces.  

And also extra footing post underneath.  The two 4 x 4’s are deep in the ground, with ~100 pounds of concrete in each hole.  The privacy fence is completely held up by the the 4 x 4’s, as not to put any stress on the deck railing.  However, large bolts were used to “pull the post” up against the deck, before the concrete dried.  

I then spent a couple days, improving the underside of the deck, installing  bolts, lag screws, extra supports, etc.  This will improve the stability of the deck and especially while using my telescope.     

Roger Ivester

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NGC 2964/2968/2970 – Galaxies in Leo – April 2019 Observer’s Challenge Objects

Posted March 28, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

Pencil sketch with colors inverted:
Rogers NGC-2964 Invereted

NGC 2964-68-70

Image by Mario Motta from Massachusetts, 32-inch telescope:

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NGC 2300 and NGC 2276 – Galaxy Pair in Cepheus – March 2019 Observer’s Challenge Objects

Posted March 7, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

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

MARCH 2019 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – NGC-2300

 

Pencil sketch 10-inch reflector @ 183x: 

NGC 2300 and 2276

Inverted color pencil sketch:  

Rogers NGC-2300 Inverted

NGC 2300 and NGC 2276 – Galaxies in Cepheus –  Date:  Wednesday, March 6th 2019 Telescope:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector – Sketch magnification:  183x – Eyepiece:  12.5 mm + 2x Barlow – FOV:  0.33º – 20 arc minutes – Conditions:  NELM ~5.0-5.2 

NGC 2300:  Bright, high surface brightness, brighter very concentrated nucleus, mostly round, but with a very subtle E-W elongation.  

NGC 2276:  Extremely difficult, mostly round, very low surface brightness, appearing only as a brightening in the sky.  Very even without concentration.  The glare from a magnitude 8.5 star located two arc minutes WSW of the galaxy, hinders the view.  Averted vision required.  The eyepiece view of this galaxy was far more illusive than my pencil sketch projection.  Roger Ivester 

 

Image and information by Mario Motta – 32-inch f/6 telescope 

NGC2300-2276

I fought some clouds late, and had to drop some subs, but got about 65 minutes total for this image.  

SBIG STL 1001B camera, five minute subs to keep the bright mag. 8.5 star, only a couple arc minutes away from blooming too much, with the 32-inch f/6 telescope, and then processed in PixInsight.  

NGC 2300 is mostly featureless as an elliptical, but I find NGC 2276 very interesting.  It has sharp arms that are chock full of H alpha knots it would appear.  

I wonder if NGC 2276 is a starburst galaxy?  Possibly by a close approach to 2300?  Such an interesting galaxy and image.  

Mario Motta from Massachusetts  

Supplemental Post: 

I  did a search and was right, concerning NGC 2276!  It is a starburst galaxy, see below:  A short abstract from Chandra observations.  Mario  

Abstract: 

The starbusting, nearby (D = 32.9 Mpc) spiral (Sc) galaxy NGC 2276 belongs to the sparse group dominated by the elliptical galaxy NGC 2300. NGC 2276 is a remarkable galaxy, as it displays a disturbed morphology at many wavelengths. This is possibly due to gravitational interaction with the central elliptical galaxy of the group. Previous ROSAT and XMM–Newton observations resulted in the detection of extended hot gas emission and of a single very bright (∼1041 erg s−1) ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX) candidate. Here, we report on a study of the X-ray sources of NGC 2276 based on Chandra data taken in 2004. Chandra was able to resolve 16 sources, 8 of which are ULXs, and to reveal that the previous ULX candidate is actually composed of a few distinct objects. We construct the luminosity function of NGC 2276, which can be interpreted as dominated by high-mass X-ray binaries, and estimate the star formation rate (SFR) to be ∼5–15 M yr−1, consistent with the values derived from optical and infrared observations. By means of numerical simulations, we show that both ram pressure and viscous transfer effects are necessary to produce the distorted morphology and the high SFR observed in NGC 2276, while tidal interaction have a marginal effect.

Fabulous Death Valley Photo Capturing a Dust Devil by Kerri Adams of North Carolina – February 2019

Posted February 25, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

My cousin, Kerri Adams visited Death Valley California, and Red Rock Canyon, Nevada just last week, February 2019.  I picked one of her many photos to share.   

The following is my favorite, as it represents a rare moment in time for this camera shot to come together.  
 
Now we all know what a dust devil but….https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_devil
 

Roger Ivester    

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Famous Astronomer Quotes: By Guest Host James Mullaney; Astronomy Writer, Author, and Lecturer

Posted February 18, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

“The study of the heavens from a purely aesthetic point of view is scorned in this technological age.”- James Muriden

“The serene art of visual observing.” – Lee Cain

“I would rather freeze and fight off mosquitoes than play astronomy on a computer.” – Ben Funk

“The high-tech devices pervading the market are ruining the spirit of the real meaning of recreational astronomy.” – Jorge Cerritos

“Whatever happened to what amateur astronomers really care about – simply enjoying the beauty of the night sky?” – Mark Hladik

“To me, astronomy means learning about the universe by looking at it.” – Daniel Weedman

“Nobody sits out in the cold dome any more – we’re getting further and further away from the sky all the time.  You just sit in the control room and watch monitors.” Charles Kowal (Palomar Obs.)

“All galaxies deserve to be stared at for a full 15 minutes.” – Michael Covington

“Every tint that blooms in the flowers of Summer flames out in the stars at night.” J.D. Steele (ref. especially to double stars)

“But let’s forget the astrophysics and simply enjoy the spectacle. ” Scotty Houston

“I became an astronomer not to access the facts about the sky but to see and feel its majesty.” – David Levy

“The feeling of being alone in the universe on a starlit night, cruising on wings of polished glass, flitting in seconds from a point millions of miles away to one billions of lightyears distant is euphoric.” Tom Lorenzin

“…the fun of sight-seeing, the sheer joy of firsthand acquaintance with incredibly wonderful and beautiful things.” – Robert Burnham

“One gentle dose of starlight to be taken each night just before retiring.” – Leslie Peltier

“To me, telescope viewing is primarily an aesthetic experience.” Terry Dickinson

“Spend your nights getting intoxicated with photons!” – Telescope Advertisement

“Time spent with 2-billion-year-old photons is potent stuff.” – Peter Lord

“I am because I observe. ” Thaddeus Banachiewicz

“The views are so incredibly fantastic!” – Jack Newton

“When you’re in the observer’s cage of the 200-inch…it’s romantic, beautiful, marvelous.” – Jesse Greenstein (Palomar Observatory)

“Observing all seems so natural, so real, so obvious.  How could it possibly be any other way?” Jerry Spevak

“A night under the stars rewards the bug bites, the cloudy skies, the next-day fuzzies, and the thousands of frustrations with priceless moments of sublime beauty.” – Richard Berry

“And there’s always that special pleasure  in knowing that, when you look upon that distant light,
it has traveled all those lightyears – such an incredible journey – just for you.” – Ken Fulton

“Gazing into the beginning of everything, we are young once again. ” Ron Evans

“But it is to be hoped that [someone] will carry out the author’s idea and study the whole visible heavens from what might be termed a picturesque point of view.” – T.W. Webb

“This book is an effort to rescue the ancient love of simple stargazing from the avalanche of mathematics and physics under which modern astronomy threatens to bury it.” – Henry Neely

“But are silent worship and contemplation the very essence of stargazing?” – David Levy

“To gaze into space is to embark upon a spiritual quest, an experience of awe and wonder.” – Roger Ressmeyer

“How can a person ever forget the scene, the glory of a thousand stars in a thousand hues….” – Scotty Houston

“Delightful planetary nebulae – ephemeral spheres that shine in pale hues of blue and green and float amid the golden and pearly star currents of our Galaxy on the foam of the Milky Way like the balloons of our childhood dreams.  If you want to stop the world and get off, the lovely planetaries sail by to welcome you.” – Scotty Houston

“The celestial actors are in place, a serene majesty washes over the stage, and I can almost hear the music of galactic trumpets in their opening bar.” – Scotty Houston (anticipating his death that happened shortly after he wrote this??)

The following is by a contemporary amateur, who has always claimed to be nothing more than a humble backyard observer, and a good friend of mine for many years.  The co-founder of the Observer’s Challenge report, which has gained a following all across the country and beyond.  The Challenge will celebrate its 120th consecutive monthly report, February 2019.  An amazing contribution to amateur astronomy community for sure!  

“Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together” – Roger Ivester  (Observer’s Challenge) https://rogerivester.com/category/observers-challenge-reports-complete-all-reports-from-2009/