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.  

First, to make it easier to locate the latest Observer’s Challenge report, and all reports to-date, I’m including the following link: 

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

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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 a lot to learn, which continues to this day, more than 50 years later.      

     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 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 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 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, which helped make me 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 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, “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.  She 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.

     As of November 2019, Sue has agreed to help compile and edit the challenge report.  

 Mount Potosi Observing Complex in Southern Nevada: 

     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.

Mount Potosi, and the plane crash: 

     An infamous mountain due to the tragic 1942 TWA plane crash (DC-3 Luxury Liner) killing 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. 

The following are some very interesting links concerning Mount Potosi, and the Observing Complex:

https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/nevada/plane-crash-hike-nv/

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/

     Astronomy blogger since 2010.  

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Reiland 1: Obscure Cluster Plus Nebula in Cepheus

Posted October 18, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Earlier this year (Spring 2020) I was communicating with Tom Reiland of Pennsylvania. Tom was recently a recipient of the Astronomical League, Leslie Peltier award, and a lifelong amateur. He mentioned to me about a cluster in Cepheus which he discovered back in the 80’s, and was given the name, Reiland 1.

Right Ascension: 23h 04m.8″ Declination: +60º 05

The following image provided by Mario Motta from Massachusetts: 32-inch Reflector; 40 mins asi6200 camera

The following images Provided by James Dire of Illinois: 8-inch f/8 Ritchey-Chretien telescope with a 0.8x FR/FF and a SBIG ST-2000XCM camera. Exposure 60 minutes

An excellent report by Mike McCabe from Massachusetts: Click on the above link.

October 2020 New Moon In Jordan by Anas Sawallha: 19 Hours 36 Minutes

Posted October 18, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

I was happy to have received an email (September 17th) from my astronomy friend in Jordan, Ana Sawallha with this 19 hour 36 minute new moon photo. Thank you Anas.

NGC 7332/7339 Galaxy Pair in Pegasus: October 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report #141

Posted October 15, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina 

&

Sue French, New York

October 2020

Report #141

NGC 7332/39 Galaxy Pair in Pegasus

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.

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

Introduction:

This month’s target

NGC 7332 and its companion NGC 7339 form a relatively isolated binary pair, probably orbiting each other. We see the peculiar lenticular galaxy NGC 7332 edge-on to our line of sight. It has a brighter, boxy interior suggesting the existence of a bar. NGC 7339 is also nearly edge on, but shows traces of its spiral structure. The 2016 Cosmicflows-3 catalog gives the distance to NGC 7332 as 70 Mly. Its V (V_T) magnitude is 11.1, while that of its companion is 12.2.

William Herschel discovered these galaxies in 1784 and logged them on three occasions. The description in his 1786 Catalogue of One Thousand new Nebulae and Clusters of Stars reads: “Two. The preceding [western] pretty bright, a little extended nearly in the direction of the meridian. The following [eastern] faint, extended nearly in the direction of the parallel of declination. 1½′ long.”

Mario Motta: Observer from Massachusetts

I took this Friday night Sept 11, and tried for color, got 1 hour Lum, and 45 min each RGB, but…getting color on small galaxies is rarely very rewarding. Barely a reddish tint is all I see. Taken with ASI6200 camera though the 32-inch scope.

It’s a good thing I took this image last Friday! The past few days we have had a dense plume of smoke (Due to the California wildfires) up high at 25,000 feet dimming the sky, below 30 degrees you can very safely stare at the sun. Certainly we are much better off than the poor people out west with the fires, but that smoke and dust is now in the upper atmosphere and covering New England skies.

I estimated a 3 mag loss in the sky last night. Tonight I made visual estimates I normally have a 5.5 mag sky on a good moonless night from my observatory deck.

I will be quantitative now: straight up looking at cygnus, only the brightest stars are seen, Albeiro (mag 3) barely seen, so a loss of 2.5 mags. Don’t forget magnitude is logarithmic so this amounts to filtering of 80% of the starlight out.

At an altitude of 30 degrees up…nearly all stars are gone, Mars and Jupiter appear as a first or second magnitude star, which is a magnitude 4 loss, much dimmer than they should be. This smoke is really thick up there. And just at new moon with “clear” skies, very unfortunate. No more imaging until the skies clear…

Uwe Glahn: Observer from Germany

16-inch, 257x, NELM 6m5+, SQM 21.3, Seeing III “very nice pair; NGC 7332 1:5 spindle with very bright core, extensions to both sides with bright surface brightness and sharp appearance, long SW edge a little better defined, no central dust lane visible; NGC 7339 with totally different characteristics, much lower surface brightness but visible with direct vision, similar elongation with 1:4 but without a dominant core, diffuse extensions, core area clearly mottled but difficult to hold individual structures.


Venu Venugopal: Observer from Massachusetts:

NGC 7332 is an edge-on lenticular galaxy located at about 67 million light-years away, both NGC 7332 and 7339 were discovered by William Herschel in 1784.  NGC 7332 and NGC 7339 form a binary system in the constellation Pegasus and are likely orbiting each other. NGC 7332 is the brighter of the two galaxies. Receding from us at over eight hundred miles per second, they are orbiting each other at about sixty miles per second.

Telescope: 72mm ED f/5 refractor, GEM 45Camera: ZWO 533Exposure time: 57 minutes / 10 second subs / flats/ darksReal time stacked on SharpCapPost Processing software:  Adobe Photoshop

Glenn Chaple: Observer from Massachusetts

  NGC 7332/7339 – Galaxies in Pegasus (NGC 7332, Mag: 11.1, Size: 4.1’ X 1.1’  NGC 7339, Mag: 12.1, Size: 3.2’ X 1.0’)

The deep sky aficionado who has spent time exploring galaxies in the constellation Pegasus is familiar with NGC 7331 and the nearby galaxy group Stephan’s Quintet. For more Pegasus galaxies, look eleven degrees due south for the interesting edge-on galactic pair NGC 7332 and NGC 7339. Both were discovered by William Herschel on September 19, 1784 and entered in his Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars as Class II (Faint Nebulae) objects.

Far be it for me to question Sir William’s judgement, but I would humbly opine that NGC 7332 should have been catalogued as a Class I (Bright Nebulae) object. I had no trouble capturing the elongated form of this 11th magnitude edge-on lenticular galaxy with a 4.5-inch reflecting telescope and magnification of 100X. NGC 7339 wasn’t as accommodating. A magnitude fainter than NGC 7332 (and certainly deserving its Class II status), this edge-on spiral required a bigger scope (a 10-inch reflector), ample time to dark-adapt my eyes, and averted vision.

To find these galaxies with GoTo technology, use the coordinates for NGC 7332 (RA 22h 37.4m, dec. +23° 47.9’). If you’re a star-hopper, train your finderscope on the wide pair mu (μ) and lambda (λ) Pegasi (magnitudes 3.5 and 3.9, respectively). After centering lambda in a low-power eyepiece field, nudge your scope 2 degrees westward until a pair of 7th magnitude stars less than a degree apart and oriented N-S enters the field. Center the northernmost of the two in the eyepiece field and switch to a higher magnification. NGC 7332 should immediately be visible. NGC 7339, located 5 arc-minutes east of NGC 7332 will appear as a faint E-W-oriented streak.

NGC 7332 and NGC 7339 appear to form a gravitationally bound system. They lie some 67 million light years from earth.

Mike McCabe: Observer from Massachusetts

On October 14th, 2020 I got the chance to observe galaxies NGC 7332 and NGC 7339, which were the Observers Challenge objects for the month of October 2020. The night was comfortable with a temperature of 58*F and a calm wind. The sky quality was fair, with a transparency rating of 2/5 and a seeing rating of 2/5. My observing instrument was a 10” F/5 Newtonian on a dobsonian style mount. I observed the galaxies at a variety of powers, including 151x, 208x, and 312x. My sketch was done at 208x.

Steering to this close pair is a simple matter, with the naked-eye stars Scheat , Sadalbari and Lambda Pegasus guiding the way. The galaxies themselves are nearly centered between two magnitude 7 stars located just a short distance from Lambda Peg. Once I was on the area, the 12th magnitude NGC 7332 became readily apparent in the eyepiece, while 13.1 magnitude NGC 7339 did not. In fact it took a strong averted-vision effort to pry out 7339 from the background sky in the .29* true field of view.

An interesting effect took place during the observation wherein the dimmer of these two galaxies eventually came to appear significantly larger to me, even though from a specifications perspective 7339 is only 0.2’ larger in both length and width than its brighter neighbor, 7332. I eventually chalked this illusion up to the fact that the core of 7332 is so bright that it tends to overwhelm some of the extended nebulosity of its spiral arms when viewed with the human eye.

Applying the conventional theory of adding more magnification to make dimmer subjects easier to see didn’t necessarily work with NGC 7339. I started observing this pair at a power of 208x and was able to discern 7339 with averted vision. I tried to improve 7339’s visibility by stepping up to 312x, but it didn’t help. What the higher power did do, though, was make 7332’s core brightness become accentuated. Dropping down to 151x served to improve 7339’s visibility in the eyepiece. This was one of those cases where more background sky had a tendency to improve the contrast and make dim nebulosity stand out a little better.


In doing a little research about our target galaxies, I found some interesting information on them in the professional realm. As it turns out this, pair was a subject of part of the AGES (Arecibo Galaxy Environment Survey) study wherein professional astronomers used the 1,000ft Arecibo radio dish to study the area of NGC 7332 and NGC 7339 for the existence of dwarf companions and interacting elements. The Arecibo telescope is a 1,000 foot diameter spherical radio dish located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The dish is stationary and the telescope is ‘steered’ by moving the secondary component. Built in the early 1960’s, the observatory has seen its share of ups and downs throughout the years, the latest of which happened on August 10, 2020 when a platform cable snapped, gouging a 100’ long gash in the dish.


Roger Ivester: Observer from North Carolina

NGC 7332 was very easy to locate and see with my 10-inch f/4.5 reflector at 57x. When increasing the magnification to 135x, a stellar nucleus becomes obvious with direct vision. Elongated with a lens shape, oriented NNW-SSE. The NELM while observing this galaxy was poor at ~4.9 due to high humidity, and reflecting ambient lighting. A very interesting star chain crosses the southern part of galaxy, extends toward the west and then curving south to bright star, HD 214350. 

NGC 7339 at 135x was extremely faint and could only be seen intermittently with averted vision. A very thin spindle shape, with very low surface brightness. An extremely difficult galaxy from my back yard. 

James Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

NGC7332 and NGC7339 comprise a pair of nearly edge-on spiral galaxies in the constellation Pegasus.  The pair lies two degrees west of the 4th magnitude star Lambda Pegasi.  William Herschel discovered both in 1784 using his 18.7-inch Newtonian telescope.

At magnitude 11, NGC7332 is the brighter of the pair.  It has a bright central bulge and a fainter, flatter disk.  The galaxy measures 3.0 x 0.7 arc minutes in size.  Although many have cataloged NGC7332 as a spiral galaxy, it appears more like a lenticular galaxy in photographs.  The major axis of the galaxy is at a position angle of 154°.

NGC7339 is a magnitude fainter than its companion. The galaxy measures 3.2 x 0.9 arc minutes in size and is oriented east-west.  Being slightly larger, but fainter, NGC7339 is more difficult to see than NGC7332.  In my 190mm Mak-Newt, I could see NGC7332 readily, but had to concentrate more to see NGC7339.

NGC7339 is classified as a SABc galaxy.  This means it’s part way between a regular spiral galaxy and a barred spiral galaxy, with a very small core.  It is tilted just enough away from being perfectly edge on that some spiral arm structure can be seen in photographs. 

Both NGC7332 and NGC7339 are located 67 million light years away.  The two galaxies are gravitationally bound.  They have a slight red shift, which means they are slowly receding away from the Local Group. The cores of the two galaxies are separated by 5 arc minutes.

My image of the pair was taken with a 132mm f/5.6 apochromatic refractor with an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera.  The exposure was 50 minutes.  In the image, north is up and east to the left. Even with this small telescope, the NGC7339 shows some spiral structure in the image and the lenticular nature of NGC 7332 is apparent.

The two bright stars in the image are both 7th magnitude and are separated by one-half degree. Centering them in a finder scope of a 6-8 inch telescope guarantees you’ll have the two galaxies in the eyepiece.

Sue French:  Observer from New York 

Through my 105mm refractor at 87×, NGC 7332 appears as a highly elongated spindle tilted north-northwest. It harbors a brighter, elongated core and a starlike nucleus. An 11th-magnitude star sits off the galaxy’s southern end. A faint star lies between the southern tip of NGC 7332 and its neighbor NGC 7339. At this magnification, NGC 7339 is just an east-west glow captured with averted vision. 

At 122 NGC 7339 is visible with direct vision, has uniform surface brightness, and spans about 2¼′. NGC 7332 bridges 2¾′ and seems to extend farther south than north of its nucleus.

The following sketch was made with a 10-inch reflector at 147×.

Joseph Rothchild: Observer from Massachusetts

I observed NGC 7332/7339 on Cape Cod, October 14 with my 10-inch reflector.  Transparency was fair.

The galaxies were fairly easily found near lambda Pegasi.  NGC was initially seen with a 14mm ep (88x), but not at lower power with a 27 mm. The galaxies are at near right angles to each other, reminiscent of M81/82. 

NGC 7332 was relatively bright, elongated, with a central condensation.  NGC 7339 was faint and barely visible, though better with averted vision.  It was uniform in brightness and wider and slightly longer than its companion galaxy.

The Deer lick Galaxy Group and Deerlick Gap Overlook, Little Switzerland, North Carolina

Posted October 6, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

We had an incredibly beautiful day yesterday (October 5th, 2020) so Deb and I (and Sophie too) decided on a trip to Mount Mitchell (North Carolina) which is the highest peak, east of the Mississippi…@ 6,684 ft. 

When coming back down the mountain to eat dinner with friends (Mike & Rhonda and their Dachshund, Peta) in Little Switzerland, we stopped at the Deerlick Gap Overlook.  

I have always considered this a “very famous” location for amateur astronomers, and professionals alike.

The “Deer Lick Galaxy Cluster” in Pegasus:

Finally the “definitive” story of how the name came about:

It has nothing to do with the appearance of the galaxies, but from the location where they were observed from…on one special night, in the early 80’s by the late Tom Lorenzin.

So here is the story:

Friend and amateur astronomer (author of 1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing) the late Tom Lorenzin was observing from this overlook, with a few others from the Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club.  

Tom was observing galaxy NGC 7331 in Pegasus, and on that night of  exceptional seeing and transparency, he made the following notes, taken from 1000+ of a very faint galaxy cluster, to the east of NGC 7331. 

NGC 7331: 10.4M; 10′ x 2.5′ extent; bright and much elongated edge-on spiral with stellar nucleus; axis oriented NNW-SSE; the Deer Lick group, a very faint triangle of 14+M GALs (N7335,6,40) is a few minutes E and a little N; “STEPHAN’S QUINTET” (soft glow of five very faint and distant GAL’s) is 30′ due S; good supernova prospect

http://www.1000plus.com/

From this extraordinary night this galaxy cluster, observed from the “Deerlick Gap Overlook” and Tom coined the name “The Deer Lick group” which stuck, and is known by both professional and amateur astronomers throughout the country and the world, as such.

A wide-field snapshot (below) from wikisky.org of the “Deer Lick galaxy group” and Stephan’s Quintet (compact galaxy cluster) to the south, at the bottom.

The large galaxy is NGC 7331, and the “Deer Lick Group” of galaxies are the small and very faint, mostly round galaxies to the east, or to the left of NGC 7331. A difficult group, best suited for larger amateur telescopes.

On excellent nights (NELM 5.2) using my 10-inch reflector from my moderately light polluted back yard, I can see the brightest member of the group, NGC 7335, requiring averted vision, but cannot hold constantly.

Stephan’s Quintet, the compact galaxy cluster is shown in the opening of the 1946 Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” so be looking for it this year.

The following image provided by Mario Motta from Massachusetts using a 32-inch telescope of NGC 7331 and the very faint “Deer Lick Galaxy Cluster” to the E. North is up in this photo and W is to the right.

Mount Mitchell, not too far from Deerlick Gap Overlook

Grave of Elisha Mitchell (1793-1857) Scientist and professor. Died in an attempt to prove this mountain was the highest in the eastern United States

https://www.ncdcr.gov/blog/2014/06/27/the-death-of-elisha-mitchell/

The Veil Nebula In Cygnus – September 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report #140

Posted September 13, 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

September 2020

Report #140 

The Veil Nebula In Cygnus  

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.

This month’s target

The Veil Nebula has long been modeled as the remnant of a supernova explosion that occurred within an interstellar cavity created by the progenitor star. However, a recent study by Fesen, Weil, and Cisneros (2018MNRAS.481.1786F ) using multi-wavelength emission maps indicates that the large-scale structure of the Veil Nebula is due to interaction of the remnant with local interstellar clouds. Employing Gaia DR2 data, the team determined an distance of 735±25 pc. 

This beautiful nebula bears several NGC designations. Its western arc, NGC 6960, runs through the naked-eye star 52 Cygni and is commonly called the Witch’s Broom. The tantalizingly intricate western arc is called NGC 6992 in the north, while the tattered southern reaches comprise NGC 6995. The brightest part of Pickering’s Triangular Wisp, which claims no NGC number, lies between the northern tips of the two great arcs. The discoverers of NGC 6974 (Lord Rosse) and NGC 6979 (William Herschel) gave these pieces positions that don’t correspond to anything obvious, but the names have been popularly tagged onto the northern and southern parts of the nebulosity just east of Pickering’s Triangular Wisp. As good a guess as any.

September 2020 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _Veil Nebula

Messier 20: Bright Nebula and Cluster in Sagittarius – August 2020 Observer’s Challenge #139

Posted August 15, 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

August 2020

Report #139

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

Messier 20, Nebula and Cluster in Sagittarius

Complete Observer’s Challenge Report:  

August 2020 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _M20

The “Great Lensnapping” By Guest Host: James Mullaney

Posted June 17, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Roger, I don’t know how many of your readers have heard of the “Great Lensnapping” that happened at the original Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh in the late 1800s.  

My beloved 13-inch Fitz-Clark had it’s objective lens stolen and held for ransom.  At the time, it was the third largest in the world!  (Now it’s the third largest in the current Observatory.)   

Samuel Pierpont Langley was director at the time and refused to pay anything, as no telescope in the country would then be safe from theft.  He finally met the thief at a hotel in a Pittsburgh suburb – the thief agreed to return it if Langley didn’t prosecute.  He subsequently found it in a waste basket at that very hotel.  

The lens was pretty well scratched up and Langley sent it to Alvin Clark for refinishing.  Thus the dual name Fitz-Clark.  As I’ve stated before, it is without question the finest visual telescope I’ve ever seen or used bar none!

Messier 8: Nebula and Cluster in Sagittarius – July 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report #138

Posted June 11, 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

July 2020

Report #138

Messier 8, Nebula and Cluster in Sagittarius

Complete Observer’s Challenge Report 

July 2020 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _M8 

Modern and Improved, Full Cut-Off Lighting Fixtures In Matthews, NC: Also an Example of Very Poor Lighting In Shelby, NC

Posted May 31, 2020 by rogerivester
Categories: Light Pollution Issues

rogerivester

     Since late summer 2019, my wife 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 “fully-shielded” and 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, but hopefully not 4000k.  

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

     The lights I’m discussing in Matthews are in a “seemingly” newer business and residential area.   

IMG_1418      Currently, the trend in many residential areas and city sidewalk lighting in cities “are…

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NGC 5689 and Optional Galaxy NGC 5676 In Bootes – June 2020 Observer’s Challenge Report #137

Posted May 20, 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

June 2020

Report #137

Galaxy NGC 5689 in Boötes

Complete Report 

June 2020 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _NGC 5689