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 60mm refractor, and I soon became 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, 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 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 found amateur astronomy to be difficult at that time, due to my lack of knowledge on the subject.  However, it was fun just being outside with a 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 nights 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 to me.  

     During those early years, I did not 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 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 60mm 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 EQ reflector, 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 which was $159.50 in 1976, 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. By this time, the fabulous skies of my early years were gone. I’d moved to an area packed with houses and street lights.   

     One night, while 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.  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, I can still feel that excitement.  That night, I went to bed smiling, and in my mind, I was now a real amateur astronomer!    

Getting Serious:

     There would be many other nights of success and failure in the years to follow.  However, in 1992 I became a much more serious observer, making systematic observations of deep-sky objects.  In February of that year, I purchased a new 10-inch Meade model DS-10A, equatorially mounted reflector, which 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, so I began taking copious notes on all the 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 see more, and over time, I became a far better visual observer.  

     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, organizing the notes, sketches and astronomy articles.  

     My first recorded notes were very 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 either.  I suppose that sketchers and astrophotographers are very much alike in this regard…always striving for something better.   

Supplemental:  

     I am 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 12th year in 2020.    

     In October 2018, Sue French, former “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” article for twenty years.  

     As of November 2019, Sue has agreed to help compile and edit the report.  Sue is also the author of two deep-sky observing books:  “Celestial Sampler” and “Deep-Sky Wonders” which are great books, especially for the visual observer.  Both are available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  

 Mount Potosi Observing Complex in Southern Nevada: 

     An infamous mountain due to the tragic 1942 TWA plane crash (DC-3 Luxury Liner) which killed all 22 souls on-board.  Both the propellers were spinning when the plane hit the rock cliff of Mount Potosi at 185 mph.  

Propellers spinning:  

     This is important, as there was an FBI investigation to determine if the plane might have been sabotaged, and exploded before hitting the cliff.  The propellers operating during impact, discounted the sabotage theory.  It was a clear, but moonless night, and the cause was later attributed to pilot error. 

https://www.birdandhike.com/Hike/Other_Areas/Lombard/_Lombard.htm

https://knpr.org/knpr/2017-01/75-years-later-carole-lombard-and-crash-mt-potosi

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

     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.  

Astronomy blogger since 2010.   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 143,000 lifetime miles, as of 2019.      

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Our baby, who we love so much.  Just turned seven years old…long haired Dachshund.   

Sophie

 

Modern and Improved, Full Cut-Off Lighting Fixtures In Matthews, NC

Posted March 7, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Full Cut-Off Lighting Fixtures In Matthews, North Carolina

     Since late summer 2019, my wife Debbie and I, have had regular business (Animal Eye Clinic) in the city of Matthews, North Carolina, which is a town on the outskirts of Charlotte.  

     Matthews has some excellent and very attractive full cut-off lighting fixtures.  Lighting should be directed downward to avoid glare and excessive light pollution, as the following photos show.   I can’t be for sure if they are 3000k or less, hopefully not 4000k.  However, it appears to me that there is a single bulb inside each light, that would seem to that could be changed, for the optimum temperature and wattage.  

     Many of the lights have back-shields which eliminate unnecessary light shinning on buildings, houses and in windows.  This is a great feature.  Proper outdoor lighting should direct light where it’s needed only.  

     The lights I’m discussing in this section of Matthews are in a “seemingly” newer business and residential area, which is somewhat of an upscale community for sure.  

     I’ll find out more about these lights, as we will be going back to Matthews on a regular basis for the near and distant future. 

     Currently, the trend in many residential areas and for sidewalk lighting in some cities, are the short pole colonial whaling light with 360º of 100-200 watt, 4000k LED’s.  This type of lighting can make it almost impossible to drive and see in the fog and rain.  Making it very difficult to see a pedestrian walking on the side of the road, a cyclists or any road hazard.  

     The short poles direct the light directly into the eye when driving.  These lights are one of the worst lighting fixtures, as related to light pollution.  

     However, I would have to say, the 50 watt 4000k, LED array lights might just be the worst lighting fixture ever produced.  And unfortunately they are being installed in neighborhoods, cities and highways all across the state, and beyond.  

      You’ve seen them.  They are compact, very slim and thin, very modern in appearance and spews “white light” everywhere, turning night into day.   

     All high-intensity LED’s are damaging to wildlife, insects, and also increases the risk of hormonal cancer(s) in both men and women.  That would be prostate and breast cancers.  See the latest American Medical Association report by “AMA Trustee” Mario Motta, MD:

https://rogerivester.com/2019/04/16/ama-light-pollution-study-concerning-safety-and-the-heath-hazards-by-guest-host-mario-motta-md-facc/

      As I have mentioned earlier, a this is a good illustration:  Note the “apparent” optional back-shield on the following light, which is shielding light from being intrusive and from entering through the windows behind.  

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My wife Debbie and our puppy, with one of the lights on:

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Multiple fixtures have back-shields to eliminate unnecessary lighting. 

I also noted some interesting fully shielded box lights with “optional” shields? at a CVS Pharmacy, as pictured below.  

NGC 3877 – Galaxy In Ursa Major: April 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted February 28, 2020 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 2020

Report #135

NGC 3877 Galaxy in Ursa Major  

“Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together”

 

 

James R. Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

NGC 3877 is an 11th magnitude spiral galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major. To find the galaxy start at the star Megrez, the star where the handle of the Big Dipper connects to the cup.  Follow an arcing line from Megrez through Phecda (bottom star in cup below Megrez) curving south to the third magnitude star El Kaphrah.  The three stars are close to equally spaced with El Kaphrah a tad dimmer than Megrez.  NGC 3877 is a mere 17 arc minutes directly south of El Kaphrah, making it one of the easiest 11th magnitude galaxies to find star hopping.

NGC3788 is a nearly edge on spiral galaxy 5.4 arc minutes long and 1.2 arc minutes wide. The galaxy is classified Sc, which means is has a very small core surrounded by whirling spiral arms. William Herschel discovered NGC 3877 in the year 1788 using his 18.7-inch Newtonian.

Through an 8-inch telescope the galaxy looks cigar shaped with a bright stellar-looking core. No detail can be seen in the spiral arms. 

I imaged NGC 3877 with an 8-inch f/8 Ritchey–Chrétien Cassegrain (with a Televue 0.8x focal reducer/field flattener yielding f/6.4) using an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera.  The exposure was 180 minutes.

To image this galaxy with a reflector is tricky because if you don’t get the star El Kaphrah out of the field, the required exposure to pick up the galaxy would cause the star to drown out the image.  In my image the bright star near the top of the image is 8th magnitude SAO43884.  El Kaphrah is outside of the field of view straight above (north) of the galaxy.  During my three-hour exposure, ghost reflections of El Kaphrah appeared on the image as well as two bright diffraction spikes from my secondary mirror spider.  I removed those from the final image.

About 5 arc minutes to the northwest of the core (upper right) lies a magnitude 9.9 star with four diffraction spikes. Just below this star is a magnitude 16.7 star that is very red in color.  Just at the edge of the lower right diffraction spike is an even very fainted red star shining at magnitude 17.7.  This is one of the faintest stars in the image

The image picks up the tightly wound spiral arms of the galaxy. In between the arms are several dark dust lanes.  The three stars that appear on the outskirts of the galaxy are Milky Way foreground stars.

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Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts

Taken last night (March 27-28) through 32-inch telescope.  Five min subs, total 60 minutes integration time. 

Camera is my new ZWO ASI6200.   Processed in PixInsight.   

NGC3877

 

Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina 

Telescope:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector:  Date: February 22, 2020  

NGC 3877.  Dim slash with very low surface brightness, oriented NE-SW with a subtle brightening in the central region along the highly elongated core.  The galaxy arms show some mottling and uneven texture.  

Pencil sketch:  5 x 8 blank note card with the colors inverted:  

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Glenn Chaple:  Observer from Massachusetts 

The best star-hops are those that require no hopping at all. Such is the case with this month’s Observer’s Challenge, the near edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 3877. Center the magnitude 3.7 star Chi (χ) Ursae Majoris in the field of your scope’s finder and then peer into the eyepiece. If your eye is properly dark-adapted, you should see an oval haze just ¼ degree to the south.

In March of 1998, a supernova appeared in NGC 3877, quickly reaching 12th magnitude. It was visible in my 4-inch f/4 rich-field reflector (Edmund Scientific’s Astroscan), as was the galaxy itself. To see NGC 3877 with such a small aperture demands dark-sky conditions. In Vol. 2 of The Night Sky Observer’s Guide, authors George Kepple and Glen Sanner note that an 8 to 10-inch scope will reveal the galaxy’s central condensation, while scopes with twice the aperture should bring out the mottled appearance of its outer regions.

NGC 3877 was discovered by William Herschel on the night of February 5, 1788. Along with M109, it belongs to the Ursa Major Galaxy Cluster. Its distance is variously recorded as 42 to 50 million light years. If at the latter distance, NGC 3877 would span some 80,000 light-years.

Finder charts for NGC 3877 below. Bright star in right-hand chart (from AAVSO Variable Star Plotter) is Chi (χ) UMa. Numbers refer to magnitudes of field stars. North is up in this 25′ by 30′ field.

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NGC 3877 and supernova 1998S, March 25, 1998. Magnification 74× FOV 20. North is to the right.  Sketch by Glenn Chaple (ATMoB)

 

Uwe Glahn:  Observer from Germany 

Objekt: NGC 3877

Teleskop: 27-inch  f/4.2 Newtonian 

Vergrößerung: 293x – 488x

Filter: /

Bedingungen: fst 6m5+

Seeing: III

Ort: Sudelfeld

Inverted Pencil Sketch: 

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NGC 2859 – Galaxy in Leo Minor: March 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted February 27, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

MONTHLY OBSERVER’S CHALLENGE

Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina

&

Sue French, New York

March 2020

Report #134

NGC 2859 Galaxy in Leo Minor

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

Introduction

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.

NGC 2859

NGC 2859 is a double-barred galaxy with an external ring that may be the remains of spiral arms that slowly detached themselves from the galaxy’s interior. Easier to observe, the central region is mostly spanned by a SSE to NNW bar with arcs capping each end, thus giving it a somewhat dumbbell-like appearance. NGC 2859 also hosts a small nuclear bar, nearly perpendicular to the first. The most current measurement places this galaxy at a distance of 93 ± 7 millon light-years.

William Herschel discovered NGC 2859 in 1786. His journal entry reads, “Very bright, much brighter in the middle, round, the brightness confined to a small place; the chevelure extending to about 3′ diameter.” 

Complete Observer’s Challenge Report Link as following:

March 2020 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _ NGC 2859

 

Dale Holt: Observer from England, 30 miles north of London

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Dale introduces himself to challenge participants and readers:  

I use a 505mm f/3.74 Newtonian on a fork mount and an old analogue Watec 120N+ deep sky video camera with custom cooling. The camera is B&W and delivers its image in near real time, typically 15 sec exposure to a CRT monitor in my observatory office where I sketch from the screen. Most commonly I used graphite pencil on sketch paper although sometimes I use white on black hard pastels where the object is nebulous. Post drawing I scan the image and invert using paint. Limiting magnitude of my set up is around 19-20th mag.

I have given many talks over the past 15+ years in the UK on the amazing benefits of video astronomy, which is allowing successful observing in light polluted environments and also the relative increase in the punching power of your scope.

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Uwe Glahn:  Observer from Germany 

Telescope: 27-inch  f /4.2 Newtonian Reflector

Magnification: 172x and 293x

NELM 6.5 +

Seeing: IV

Location: Rossfeld

Pencil sketch as following:

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Michael Brown:  Observer from Massachusetts 

I photographed NGC 2859 on March 17, 2020.  The photo through my 8-inch SCT at f/6.3 had a total exposure of 16.5 minutes (33 images, each with 30-second exposure).  Given my modest astrophotography capabilities, the photo is imperfect and not spectacular.  Nevertheless, I am excited to have recorded an image of a galaxy that is over 80 million light-years distant and quite dim (magnitude 12.1 according to my Burnham’s Celestial Handbook).  Furthermore, several of the major features are visible, if only faintly in some cases.  This includes the bright core, the bar, the halo of stars that appears like a bubble around the bar and core, and finally, very faintly, the outer ring of stars (it’s definitely there!).  

On the night I took the images, I could see the galaxy visually, but did not spend much time on direct viewing.  I returned for more detailed visual observation on March 21.  

I found NGC 2859 easy to spot, forming a triangle with two stars in the same field, with the galaxy at a corner with an obtuse angle.  The galaxy appeared small with a stellar-like core.  There was clearly a hint of an extended halo or “nebulosity” surrounding the core.  I could not see the bar or the outer ring.

North is to the left, and west is up: 

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Sue French:  Observer From New York 

254/1494mm (10-inch f/5.8) Newtonian. Seeing: below average. Transparency: good. 

I logged this galaxy a couple times in the past, in 1983 and 2003. My only sketch of the galaxy was made for this Observer’s Challenge on 3-21-20.

At 43×, NGC 2859 was a faint, roundish glow near a yellow-orange, 7th-magnitude star. It was an easy star-hop 41 arcminutes E×N from orange Alpha (α) Lyncis.

A magnification of 115× showed a tiny, very bright nucleus; a small, bright core; and a faint halo.

The sketch was made from the view at 299×. To me, the core plus its bar looked somewhat like a spiral galaxy seen edge-on. This structure was enwrapped in a fainter halo spanning about 1½ arcminutes. There was no sign of the galaxy’s outer ring.

Alan and I took a look at C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) after I was done. It was a large, pretty bright, diffuse glow — maybe a little brighter in the center.

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Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts

A very interesting galaxy!   Imaged with my 32-inch, total 1 hour imaging time, SBIG 1001E camera.

This galaxy has a “ansae” type bar (which gets brighter at the tips of the bar) and an inner ring, no defined spiral structure, and a detached outer ring. 83 million light-years away, Leo Minor.

Fascinating object, you choose these objects very well, enjoy getting them.

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James Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

NGC 2859 is a rare barred lenticular galaxy located on the southwest edge of the constellation Leo Minor.  The closest bright star is Alpha Lyncis.  The galaxy can be found 40 arcminutes east and 7 arcminutes north of this 3rd magnitude star.  The galaxy shines at magnitude 10.89 and is face-on measuring 4.6 x 4.1 arcminutes in size.

Barred lenticular galaxies like NGC 2859 are disk galaxies with no spiral arms.  The bars in these types of galaxies tend to be brighter at their edges. The bar in NGC 2859 is close to being due north-south as it is tilted only a few degrees to the west on the north side and east on the south side.  The galaxy also has a very faint detached ring beyond the disk containing the bar.  The galaxy’s core is quite bright compared to the rest of the galaxy.  The bar should be visible in 10 to 12-inch telescopes. The faint outer ring is beyond amateur telescopes visually and not counted in the quoted angular size of the galaxy.

I only managed to get one two-hour exposure of NGC 2859 this month due to an unusually cloudy winter here in Central Illinois.  The image was taken with an 8-inch f/8 Ritchey–Chrétien Cassegrain (with an 0.8x focal reducer/field flattener yielding f/6.4) with a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. I stretched the pixels containing the galaxy’s outer, detached ring, more than the rest of the image to make it more apparent. The bright star to the right of the galaxy is magnitude 7.2 SAO61446.  The other bright star, near the bottom of the image, is SAO61457 shining at magnitude 7.7.  

The yellow arrows show three very small faint galaxies captured in the same field of view as NGC 2859.  The one near the top is PGC26663, a magnitude 15.6 galaxy. To its right is magnitude 16.6 PGC3529815.  The third faint galaxy is PGC2048993, which is magnitude 17.6. This third galaxy appears to be an edge on spiral galaxy which appears brighter than the other two because its light is concentrated on a much smaller area.

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Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina 

Date: February 21, 2020

Telescope:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector

NELM:  4.9 

Very small, fairly bright, easy to locate and see at 57×.  When increasing the magnification to 208×, this galaxy is elongated, oriented NNW-SSE, however very subtle.  The core is much brighter than the outer round halo, which I could not see.

Pencil sketch:  5 × 8 blank note card with inverted colors.

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Mike McCabe:  Observer from Massachusetts

On Saturday evening, March 21st, 2020 I was able to view NGC 2859, a barred lenticular galaxy located 83 million light-years away in the constellation Leo Minor. The conditions on this evening were quite good for these parts, with the air temperature hovering around 30ºF, the transparency being at least 3/5, and the seeing around 2/5. I used a 10″ f/5 Newtonian telescope on a dob-style mount for this observation.

Finding the galaxy was a very straightforward process, as it fit into the 42× low power view with the naked-eye bright star Alpha Lyncis. The galaxy was clearly non-stellar at low power with a very bright core, but the nebulosity was not very evident.

Boosting up the magnification to 104× brought out a lot more nebulosity around the core, and that’s where I stopped to make my sketch. The galaxy itself was small and unremarkable, and I wasn’t able to get any sense of the orientation of it with regards to any elongation or direction of the bar.

Additionally, the star field took on an attractive aspect in the sense that it distinctly resembled an oversized version of Messier 29, the ‘cooling tower’ cluster in the constellation Cygnus.

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Joseph Rothchild:  Observer from Massachusetts

I observed galaxy NGC 2859 twice from dark skies in Cape Cod.  It was easy to locate with my 10-inch reflector near alpha Lynxis and 2 stars HD 80966 and HD 81057.  It was small faint, round, and with a stellar core.  There was no visible structure other than the core.

I observed it the same night as Comet Atlas C/2019 Y4.  NGC 2859 had a similar appearance to the comet, but the galaxy was fainter and much smaller.

 

Richard Nugent:  Observer from Massachusetts

NGC 2859 is a nearly 11th magnitude galaxy in Leo Minor. The galaxy is relatively easy to find. I moved  just 2/3 of a degree East of Alpha Lyncis to a pair of orange, 7th magnitude stars, HD80966 and HD81057.  

This galaxy lies just six arcminutes, a little south of East from HD80966.  NGC 2859 is fairly small, being 3 x 3 arcminutes and has a surface brightness of 14.0.  

I observed this month’s object from Framingham, MA (NELM is typically magnitude 4.8) using my 10 and 20-inch reflectors. Also, from the ATMoB site in Westford, MA (NELM overhead is around magnitude 5.1) using the club’s 25-inch telescope.  

The 10-inch scope showed the galaxy at medium and high magnifications.  At low power (50x) the galaxy was very difficult.  With the higher magnifications, it appeared as a small, round, diffuse glow that was brighter in the middle.  I couldn’t see any structure in the galaxy nor the outer ring, as seen in images.

The 20 and 25-inch scopes showed the galaxy better and of course, brighter but I still could not see any of the details visible in images.

All-in-all this is an easy galaxy to find and observe. While not particularly an impressive galaxy, you may still want to put on your yearly, March observing list.

 

Gary Shaw:  Observer from Massachusetts

Well my humble scope and I were both challenged by NGC 2859. We expected to see the galactic central as a blur – perhaps with highlights at opposing ends indicating the ansae brightening. But instead, we saw a stronger brightening at the ends than expected and saw no ‘bar’ to speak of. When I zoomed way in on the image, I could barely make out a faint bar shape crossing the “gaps” seen between the galactic center and the brightened NW and SE ends of the bar. 

Since capturing the attached image, I’ve had “first light” with a 200mm f/4 Newtonian and will give ole NGC 2859 another try. 

I’ve attached a wide field view and a little watercolor sketch which needs more work than the original observation did. I’m still in awe of everyone’s lovely pencil/charcoal sketches but I’m determined that by the end of 2020, I’ll have found a way to better capture the subtlety of these incredible objects in watercolor. 

I look forward to the April object. 

NGC 2859 Zoom

NGC 2859

 

John Bishop:  Observer from Massachusetts

Here is a summary of my efforts to see galaxy NGC 2859….

This month was a good news-bad news experience. The good news was that two clear nights would emerge for observing during the new moon period. The bad news was that, for entirely different reasons, I didn’t see NGC 2859 on either night.

On 3/21/20, I attempted to observe NGC 2859 from the ATMoB Clubhouse in Westford, MA.  The sky was clear; transparency and seeing were decent.  Instead of using my usual 8.25 inch reflector, but for a change of pace I decided to observe with my 5-inch f/8.1 apochromatic refractor.  It has a big heavy mount and tripod.  Perhaps you can guess why I don’t take it out much anymore.

Well, I got a reminder that aperture matters.  As hard as I tried, I could not see NGC 2859 through the 5-inch at any magnification…34x, 57x, 83x, and 138x. 

I understood the object to be somewhat stellar in appearance, but I could not tease out nebulosity around any of the objects in the field. The Apo’s optics are sharp, but that wasn’t enough. The reported surface brightness (Luginbuhl) is beyond the magnitude limit of the 5-inch.  However, the visual brightness is listed as mag. 10.7, so I thought I should be able to see it.  Frustrating!  

In consolation, I did see Comet PanSTARRS.  It was faint and nebulous. It looked like a classic Messier object. To locate the comet, I used a very interesting triple star, Iota Cassiopeia, as a reference point.  One of the components is much dimmer and  smaller than the others.  At least the Apo refractor had no trouble separating the trio.

Slightly mortified by my failure to locate NGC 2859, I made plans to go to the Clubhouse on 3/27/20 with my 8.25-inch reflector and find the object.  It was a clear, steady night.  Ideal, except more terrestrial concerns intervened. 

MIT, which owns the ATMoB Clubhouse, issued a directive prohibiting use of the Clubhouse and observing field until further notice, due to concerns over the coronavirus epidemic.  Especially frustrating, because at the moment I do not have another deep-sky observing site. 

This object may get away until next year.

 

Derek Lowe:  Observer from Massachusetts

We had a couple of clear nights, so I made sure to get out with the 18-inch Dob. The local police came by the field that I had set up in, and agreed with me that you can’t get much more socially distanced, and wished me a good evening.

So to galaxy, NGC 2859. 

I had logged this galaxy several years ago with my 11-inch Dob, and at the time noted that it was easily visible and appeared perfectly round like an unfocused star. I noted a concentrated core and coma, but no particular structure.  

This time around, I could see that the core took up some angular diameter of its own, and that the coma around it extended out further than was first apparent. This took a number of averted-vision passes – direct vision still gave just a fuzzball.  I certainly didn’t see any darkness separating the coma from the core, since the outermost part was quite faint.  What looked like the entire core in a quicker observation back with the 11-inch turned out out to be a brighter point in a round brightness of its own. 

Spending more time on the core itself, I could just barely make out the bar as a sort of brighter vertical streak the exact size of the “inner coma”.  This wasn’t easy to pick out, but every few tries it came into view.  A good example of an object that has a lot to see, once you know that it’s worth spending the time to dig them out!

 

 

NGC 1931 – Bright Nebula and Cluster in Auriga: February 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted January 23, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

 

MONTHLY OBSERVER’S CHALLENGE

Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina

&

Sue French, New York

February 2020

Report #133

NGC 1931 Bright Nebula and Cluster in Auriga 

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

Introduction

   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.

NGC 1931 

NGC 1931 is a small emission and reflection nebula with an involved cluster. The brightest part of the nebula has a trapezium system at its heart. Somewhat at odds with their name, trapezium systems can consist of more than four stars, and they don’t have to be arrayed in a trapezoidal shape. The term was initially coined to mean “a multiple star system whose pairwise separations are of the same order.” Some later researchers include groups whose stars may not be gravitationally bound. NGC 1931 is roughly 7500 light-years away from us.

William Herschel discovered this NGC 1931 in 1793. His journal entry reads, “Very bright, irregularly round, about 4 or 5′ diameter. Seems to have one or two stars in the middle or an irregular nucleus. The chevelure diminishes very gradually

 

February Observer’s Challenge Final:  Click on the Following link: 

February 2020 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _ NGC 1931

February:  NGC 1931 – Bright  Nebula and Cluster – Auriga; Mag. V= 10.1;  Size 6′ 

RA:  05h  31m   Dec.  +34º  14′ 

 

The embedded Stars in NGC 1931:  by Sue French   

     Don’t be surprised about not seeing the stars in NGC 1931.  Folks get very mixed results.  Go to http://www.deepsky-archive.com/ and type NGC 1931 in the Designation box, then look at everyone’s sketches.  

     Here’s a long-ago Amastro post from Brian Skiff that gives the magnitudes of the trapezium system embedded in the brightest part of the nebula.  I see one of these stars, or a blend of them, in the 105mm scope.  The 10-inch at 213× gives me six stars in the brightest part of the nebulosity plus several mag 11-13½ stars scattered to the south.  I’ve pasted an image below Brian’s data and labeled the stars on it.  The image is in infrared so that the nebulosity doesn’t blot out the stars. Below the Aladin image is a WEBDA chart showing which stars I saw in the main group through the 10-inch..

     While cleaning up some star-lists, I collected data for stars in the nebulous open cluster NGC 1931 in Auriga.  The group contains a faint trapezium system, ADS 4112, that might be of interest to ‘amastro’ folks. The specs for the group are shown below.  The V magnitudes for the stars come from modern photoelectric or CCD studies.  The separations derive from positions in the 2MASS catalogue, which should be better than the 100-year-old visual micrometry, but which in any case match the old data to within a few tenths of an arcsecond. The brighter trio is straightforward in a small telescope; in 1989 I was able to make out the fourth ‘E’ component very faintly in my 6-inch refractor at 200x.  The very faint, close ‘D’ companion to star ‘B’ doubtless requires a very large aperture.  The data quoted for it is from S. W. Burnham’s work; the magnitude is possibly too bright.  The 2MASS coordinates are listed at the bottom.  Star ‘D’ does not appear in any astrometric catalogue.  The spectral types for the three brightest stars, by the way, are B0V, B0.5V, and B1V.  Thus the object should contain some emission, although there must be a substantial reflection component, since filters do not provide much contrast enhancement.   

\Brian

 ————————————————

ADS 4112 = BD+34 1074:  5 31 27  +34 14.9 (2000)

V mags      sep    pa

AB  11.5,12.3    8″.1  239

AC       13.0   10″.5  310

AE       14.0   14″.6   17

BD      (15.8)   2″.3  322

   

RA   (2000)   Dec

A   5 31 27.08  +34 14 49.6

B   5 31 26.54  +34 14 45.0

C   5 31 26.43  +34 14 56.3

E   5 31 27.50  +34 15 03.2

 

Sue French: Observer from New York

254/1494mm (10-inch f/5.8) Newtonian. Seeing: fair. Transparency: a little better than average.

43×: NGC 1931 is just a short hop westward from starfish-like M36. It presents a small hazy spot surrounding a star.

115×: The nebula spans about 3 arcminutes, and the star now appears triple. Several additional stars straggle south through west-southwest of the nebulous mass.

213×: Six stars are now buried in the nebulosity, three brightest members arranged in a little triangle.

The WEBDA cluster plot below marks the four trapezium-system stars viewed as well as two additional stars spotted within the nebula.

V-magnitudes of the trapezium stars according to WEBDA:

A=11.4, B=12.3, C=13.0, E=14.0. There is a component D in the trapezium system very close to B, but it’s thought to be magnitude 15.8 or dimmer and was not seen. The two arrowed stars were visible: the northern one shining at magnitude 14.1, and the southern one at magnitude 14.5.

After the star-plot is the sketch I made at 213× with the 10-inch scope on 17 February 2020 at 7pm EST. It was a pleasant night for February. The temperature was in the lower 20s and there was no wind. Unfortunately the seeing and transparency were both below average, and there was full snow cover on the ground. I couldn’t see the 14.5-magnitude star mentioned in the previous observation. I decided to sketch just the part of the nebula I could see and the four stars visible within it. My sketch looked pretty good to me, but a scanned image didn’t show the faintest parts, so I penciled over the original sketch to make it scan better, I hope without changing anything too much.

fullsizeoutput_1236Pencil Sketch:  Sue French:

North is up and west to the right

image002

 

 

Mario Motta: Observer from Massachusetts

Taken with my 32-inch telescope, and SBIG STL 1001E camera.  One hour of H-alpha, one hour of Sulfur S2 filters, and only 20 minutes of O3 filter as there was essentially no Oxygen signal.

Processed in PixInsight.

NGC1931

 

Roger Ivester: Observer from North Carolina 

On the night of January 28, 2020, the transparency and seeing were very good.  Using my 10-inch, f/4.5 reflector, NGC 1931 was very easy to locate and see at 57×, appearing as a star with a mostly round halo of nebulosity. 

When increasing the magnification to 267×, using a 12mm eyepiece and a 2.8× Barlow, the bright nucleus revealed a tiny trio of faint stars, with a fourth, much fainter star, toward the WSW.  This fourth star was extremely difficult, and could not be held constantly, but intermittently at best.  The nebula was elongated, with a NE-SW orientation.  

The first time I observed NGC 1931 was with poor seeing, on January 8, 1994, and could not see the trio of stars.  My second attempt to see the trio of stars was in January, 2020, but again with poor seeing and transparency, and was unable to see any of the faint stars.   

Pencil sketch, with the colors inverted:   

 

image001

 

 

We welcome our newest participant, Uwe Glahn of Germany:  

Uwe Glahn is an accomplished German observer whose sketches are a joy to behold. They appear in many publications, including my own articles. In the Interstellarum Deep Sky Guide alone, there 821 sketches penciled by Uwe and co-author Ronald Stoyan. You can view Uwe’s remarkable sketches on his website http://www.deepsky-visuell.de/ and learn more about his technique, telescopes, and achievements by putting that URL in Google translate https://translate.google.com/   –  Sue French

 

Uwe Glahn: Observer from Germany

Telescope: 27-inch f/4.2 Newtonian @ 293×.

Seeing: IV, NELM 7.0+

NGC 1931 and Parsamian 1 (a cometary nebula in southern part of NGC 1931)

 

http://www.deepsky-visuell.de/Zeichnungen/NGC1931.htm

 

NGC1931

 

 

Gus Johnson: Observer from Maryland

Could not see NGC 1931 on a clear night with a 5-inch at 24×. I also attempted with an H-beta filter at 30× and a UHC filter, however to no avail.  On another night in February 1985, I saw it with an 8-inch reflector @ 40×. Small, fairly bright mostly round nebulosity. Could not see the small trapezium of stars.

 

Joseph Rothchild:  Observer from Massachusetts

I observed NGC 1931 in Auriga on February 21, 2020.  I observed with my 10-inch reflector under dark skies on Cape Cod.  It was best seen with a 14mm eyepiece at 88×. 

The cluster was found near Phi Aurigae, between M36 and M38. I saw a loose collection of approximately 10 stars (probably background stars) with one brighter star surrounded by a small area of nebulosity. I did not see multiple stars in the cluster itself, but in retrospect may not have used high enough magnification.  Overall, it was much less impressive than its nearby Messier clusters in Auriga, but still interesting to see for the first time.

 

James Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

NGC 1931 is a mixed emission and reflection nebula with an embedded star cluster found in the constellation Auriga. The nebula is an active star forming region. The complex is located about one degree west and a tad north of the star cluster M36. NGC 1931 also lies 5.75 degrees north and one degree east of the star Elnath. NGC 1931 measures roughly 3 arcminutes in size and lies 10,000 light years away. The nebula is estimated to be magnitude 10.

NGC 1931 contains myriad young, hot O and B stars whose radiation is responsible for the blue hues of the reflection nebula. Four stars in the center of the nebula form a trapezium similar to that in the Orion Nebula. Sometimes NGC 1931 is considered a mini version of the Orion Nebula. A much larger vast region of nebulosity known as IC 417 surrounds NGC 1931. The emissions from IC 417 are the characteristic red colors from H II ions.

My image of NGC 1931 was taken with an 8-inch Ritchey–Chrétien telescope operating at f/6.4 with the use of a focal reducer/field flattener. The camera used was an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD cooled to -20°C. The exposure was 100 minutes. The bright white area in the center contains the trapezium. The exposure was not long enough to bright out the red emissions of IC 417, which would have filled most of the region captured in this image.

NGC1931

 

Mike McCabe:  Observer from Massachusetts  

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in the observer’s challenge as I’ve been busy with other projects, so it felt good this past Saturday to prepare my charts and do a little research on the object at hand. 

I conducted this observation from Nike Field which is located in Rehoboth, MA. The conditions were pretty good for these parts – maybe a Bortle 5 sky with transparency starting at 3/5 and dropping off to 2/5, and the seeing fluctuated between 2/5 and 3/5 throughout the evening. 

I made my observation using a 10-inch f/5 Newtonian reflector. NGC 1931 is a tiny emission and reflection nebula that is said to be a miniature version of the Orion Nebula, replete with a trapezium of stars and all. 

The target was easy enough to find and showed up right away as a small fuzzy at medium powers, but all my research suggested cranking it up, so I bumped up the magnification to 250× and set down to make my sketch. If there is indeed a trapezium at the center of the nebulosity it was lost on me – the best I could do was what appeared to be three stars, and the nebulosity was there with direct vision but bloomed up nicely with averted vision. The brightest star of the bunch in the .25º TFOV was about magnitude 11 with all others coming in dimmer than that. The size of the object itself spanned no more than about 4′ on the sky, so really quite small.

fullsizeoutput_123b

 

Viadislav Mich:  Observer from Massachusetts

Date: Jan 20, 2020

Location: White Mountains National forest, New Hampshire

Conditions: Bortle 2, average seeing

Using: 22-inch f/3.3 DOB with a 21mm eyepiece (~88×, FOV~65′), 10mm (~185×, FOV~33′), NV intensifier (~92×, FOV~26′)

Filter:  5nm Ha filter used with NV intensifier

Notes: Stars in the open cluster seems to be forming line and arch patterns (or is it my brain forming them?).  Only the core of the nebula could be seen in 21mm and 10mm eyepieces. It looks like elliptical galaxy. When switching to NV intensifier with 5nm Ha filter, I was able to see extended nebulosity around the core, forming U-shaped halo.

image001

 

Glenn Chaple:  Observer from Massachusetts 

Sketch:  NGC 1931, as seen with 4.5-inch f/8 reflector at 150×. Field diameter is 0.4 degrees.

fullsizeoutput_123c

On an evening with a magnitude limit of 5 and so-so seeing conditions, I viewed NGC 1931 by star-hopping from 5th magnitude phi (φ) Aurigae. With my 4.5-inch f/8 reflector and a magnifying power of 150×, I could make out what appeared to be a 10th magnitude nebulous “star.” A switch to a 10-inch f/5 scope and 208× brightened the nebula and split the star 

(HJ 367), magnitudes 11 and 12, separation 8 arc-seconds), but atmospheric turbulence prevented me from seeing any other embedded stars.  Glenn  

 

Corey Mooney:  Observer from Massachusetts

I live stacked NGC 1931 with my EAA rig on January 29th. I set up at a nearby athletic field in Sudbury MA for better horizons. Once setup, my system could be operated remotely, so I placed my control tablet on the folded-down passenger seat of my car and I was able to comfortably sit, view and control from the back seat while being shielded from most of the elements (still bundled up for the cold). 

When I slewed to NGC 1931 using short, 2-second exposures, I was able to detect a little bit of nebulosity around the central stars. I zoomed into the live view to look at the stars. I decreased the rolling exposure to 1s, 0.5s then to 0.25s to try and split the SW “trapezium” star. But no luck. It was definitely elongated, but no separation. Maybe a bigger image scale would do it.

After examining the central stars I set the exposure to 8s and began live stacking. As it stacked the red/pink emission nebulosity surrounding the central stars became much more visible. After playing with the histogram stretch the structure of the surrounding gas and dust started to show up. There were darker, opaque areas just to the north and SE of the cluster and there was a faintly rim-lit area farther out to the SW. The faint blue reflection nebula around the mag 11.1 star 3.5′ south of the cluster was also visible; it was much fainter than the emission nebula around the cluster. 

fullsizeoutput_123d

 

Chris Elledge:  Observer from Massachusetts

On January 26th @ 7:28pm EST, I used a 10-inch f/5 refractor to observe NGC 1931 from the ATMoB Clubhouse. Sky conditions were: Bortle Scale 6; NELM 5.0; Transparency: Fair; Seeing: Average.

With Auriga approaching zenith, I was able to detect the approximate location of Phi Aurigae and its associated cluster with naked-eye averted vision. Centering this area in a 35mm 1.9º FoV, the NGC 1931 cluster was visible at the Eastern edge of the view.

At 115× (11mm 0.71º FoV) there is a group of mag. 11 stars forming a square with corners in the NE, SE, SW, & NW directions (TYC 2411-1002-1, TYC 2411-2115-1, TYC 2411-2320-1, & BD+34 1074A). The NW star of the square has visible nebulosity around it. A close pair of mag. 11 stars (TYC 2411-2086-2 & TYC 2411-0996-1) are located to the East of the SE star of the square. Two more mag. 11 stars sit to the West of the square. One West of the SW corner (TYC 2411-2209-1), and one West of the NW corner (TYC 2411-2224-1).

At 270× (4.7mm 0.3º FoV) the NW star (BD +34 1074A) of the square has a small concentration of nebulosity around it. It makes a cone from the East side of the star and spreads out a short distance arcing between the North and West. Three stars of the tight trapezium cluster containing BD +34 1074 A and B are easily split and visible. A 4th star, mag. 14, was sporadically visible when the seeing settled.

 

Michael Brown:  Observer from Massachusetts 

I observed NGC 1931 in my 8-inch SCT and 9mm eyepiece, on January 29 and February 23, 2020. The object appeared to me as a small, sparse, open cluster with a surrounding area of nebulosity, with the brightest part of the nebula apparently south of the main cluster. In the center of the nebula is a pair of relatively bright stars, which I was able to see with direct vision (as opposed to averted vision) after studying the object for a few minutes. With averted vision, I was able to see a third star northwest of the pair.

While not the “object of the month,” I decided to check out nearby NGC 1893. This is also a cluster and nebula, but much brighter, with an elongated, curved shape.

 

Richard Nugent:  Observer from Massachusetts

The nebula is visible through the 10-inch as a small, faint, amorphous glow surrounding a small, nearly equilateral triangle with stars of 11th, 12th, and 13th magnitude. On 28 February 2020, skies were very stable with the 5th and 6th stars of M42’s Trapezium visible through the 10-inch scope at 250×. NGC 1931 showed the nebulosity even at 50×; however, the 13th magnitude star of the triangle was only visible at 250× with averted vision.

Earlier in the month, the 20-inch telescope showed the three stars easily, with two 14th magnitude stars straddling the triangle and a slight hint of a nearby 15th magnitude star.

With Steve Clougherty’s 18-inch telescope, the 15th magnitude star was visible with averted vision. Through the club’s 25-inch scope, that star could be viewed with direct vision. The skies in Westford have about a 0.5-magnitude advantage over those in Framingham.

NGC 1931 With Magnitudes - Mar 5 2020 - 10-34 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

NGC 1999 – Reflection Nebula With Hole: January 2020 – Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted January 23, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

rogerivester

MONTHLY OBSERVER’S CHALLENGE

Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina

&

Sue French, New York

January 2020

Report #132

NGC 1999 Reflection Nebula in Orion

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

Introduction

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…

View original post 1,117 more words

Building a Hot Rod in November 1964: The Beatles Came to America in February of That Year, Cassius Clay Wins the Heavy-Weight Boxing Championship Over Sonny Liston. And I was Eleven Years Old…

Posted January 15, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

Date:  November 1964  

     My five older brothers built something similar or akin to what might be called a Rat Rod today.  The origin was a 1951 Studebaker…using the frame (which had been shortened by three feet), engine, and other parts. 

       In the following photos are my brother Jimmy, who was driving, I’m in the middle with the “cool” cowboy hat, and my brother, Phillip.

     My older brothers, Richard, Jimmy, Ronny, Donnie and Phillip, worked on fabricating “The Bug” as it was called.   I was a bit too young, and mostly just enjoyed watching.  Sometimes I would assist by handing them wrenches or anything else they might need.   

     Improvements were made over the next year with the installation of a mid-50’s Chrysler Hemi engine, which had much more horsepower than the Studebaker.     

     The sad looking tires, especially the front white-walls would eventually be changed out with some better looking wheels.  Additions would also be made to the body, however, still constructed of wood panels.  With a larger budget, many improvements could have been made, but….

     My brother, Donnie, being in high school drove the school bus in the background, which was an early 1950’s model Chevrolet.  

An astronomical telescope purchase in 1963:    

     It was my brother Jimmy, who had already purchased (at the time of the photo) a 60mm f/15 equatorially mounted refractor from Sears, at a cost of $100.  This would be the equivalent of $835 in 2019.  An expensive telescope for sure.

     Two years later, I would begin using this telescope to observe deep-sky objects (galaxies, nebulae and star clusters) and a lifelong interest in astronomy would follow, even to this day.

Roger Ivester   

The Beginning of a Hot Rod

The Beginning of a Hot Rod - 2

  Now going to the future and current:     

     As time progressed, and with an improved budget, greater skills and abilities, my brother Phillip would become a race car and engine builder.  He would also go on to win an incredible 164 drag racing events.    

The following photo was made in September 2019:     

Race Car Wheeley

 

     Phillip still has two race cars, and continues to race this car, as well as his second “almost” identical car, and will race again in 2020.      

IMG_0031

 

IMG_3871

 

 

 

The Three Types of Astronomical Deep-Sky Sketches Identified and Explained

Posted January 5, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

rogerivester

     Recently it occurred to me, there is not a definitive identification of the various types of deep-sky sketching techniques.  It’s my opinion, there are basically three types of sketches, but as of current, have never been identified or named.    

     I would like to recommend or propose to the amateur astronomy community, that this identification of deep-sky sketches be considered as a standard for all future discussions and for proper identification, concerning deep-sky drawings.      

     Detailed visual telescope sketching:  Observing an object through a telescope via an eyepiece. Drawing the object on paper or a sketch card “as verbatim” as possible using a pencil, or pencils of various hardness or other.   

     I’m a visual back yard observer with more than forty years of experience.  All of my sketches are made using a pencil and a 5 x 8…

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