Archive for October 2011

My First Telescope And Other Important Life Events

October 29, 2011

                           

My first serious telescope.  A 4 1/4-inch f/10 Edmund Scientific Reflector.  In 1977, I now owned a new scope, an extra 12 mm Kellner eyepiece, and an Edmund MAG 5 Star Atlas.  I thought, “what else could I possibly ever need to be an amateur astronomer?”

My first observations were made in the mid-60’s at twelve years old.  I used my brothers 60 mm f/15 Sears (Jason) refractor with an equatorial mount.  My brother Jimmy had purchased the scope from Sears at a cost of $100.  I thought this was all the money in the world at the time.  He sold the scope after a few years which left me without a telescope until I could purchase my own.  During this absence without a telescope, I somewhat lost interest in astronomy, until the mid-70’s. 

The following is a memorable night with my 4 1/4-inch reflector in the Spring of 1977. 

I remember one special night with my Edmund reflector when I was attempting to find M81 and M82, two of the most beautiful galaxies in the heavens.  During this time, I was living in an area packed with houses and street lights.  The light pollution was severe in my backyard and seeing even the brightest of deep-sky objects was very difficult.  I used my hands in an attempt to block the ambient light from entering my eyepiece, and then it happened: A small faint object entered my field-of-view, and then another.  I had finally found M81 and M82.  What a beautiful sight!  I savored the view for the longest time and went to bed smiling, and in my mind, I became a real amateur astronomer that night…

October 1963:  My brother purchased a Sears (Jason) 60 mm f/15 refractor telescope.  A very nice and good quality Japanese refractor, equatorial mount, several decent eyepieces with a sturdy wooden case to keep everything in. 

During the early fall, just after sunset, I would notice a small cluster of stars rising about the tree tops in the east.  It would take me a while, but I did learn that it was the “Pleiades” or M45.  

October 1967:  I did my very first astronomy presentation to my 8th grade science class.  The subject and title was “How To Use An Astronomical Telescope.”  I used my brothers 60 mm for use in the demonstration.  Yep, I was really something after that presentation, even if it did only last the rest of the day. 

March 1977:  I purchased my first telescope, a 4 1/4-inch f/10 Edmund Scientific reflector on an equatorial mount.  Life was good!

I could hardly wait to get to Science Hobbies, in Charlotte, North Carolina on that Spring day.  The price for this 4 1/4-inch telescope was $159.99, which at that time was quite a bit of money.  I had been looking at this scope in the Edmund Scientific catalog for almost a year.  Purchasing this “humble” little scope and having it for my very own after all this time was indeed a happy day for me.  I really wanted the Edmund Scientific 6-inch Super Space Conquerer, but just could not spring for the extra money.  It seems that the price of the 6-inch was only about $100 more, however, at this point in my life, almost $300 for a telescope was beyond my budget.  It didn’t take me long to realize that I needed a larger aperture scope, and soon sold my 4 1/4-inch reflector.  

February 1978:  I purchased a 6-inch Criterion RV-6 reflector, complete with an equatorial mount and a clock drive.  My astronomy program was about to take a big leap forward!   The RV-6 and Edmund 4-1/4 pictured with my oldest son, Roger Chadwick Ivester in 1978.

Favorite Telescopes From The Past

I really liked my new scope, however, life got really busy and my observing  had to take a back seat to a lot of other stuff.   I didn’t have much time to think about the stars, so I sold my 6-inch Dynascope….a big mistake, indeed.  

1985-86:  I become acquainted with some local amateur astronomers and became a founding member of the Cleveland County Astronomical Society along with my youngest son, who is now living in Nevada.

Getting ready to cut the perfect Christmas Tree.  A cold Thanksgiving Day in the North Carolina mountains.  The Christmas Season is our most favorite time of the year…

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A goal to meet:

I logged 100,000 miles on my bicycle a few years ago. This had been my goal for quite a few years and I was really excited about achieving this milestone.  It should be noted, I didn’t count my miles for the first year or so.  My current documented miles is about 120,000 as of March 2013.

I have two great hobbies!  Amateur astronomy and cycling

 

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Roger and Debbie Ivester - Boiling Springs, North Carolina

1987-1992:  I continued to observe, mostly using a small reflector.

October 2012:  A moment in time.  All of my grandkids together in Kershaw, SC  (from SC to Nevada)

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Driving my son’s tractor with granddaughter Zoe in Las Vegas.  December 2011

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Zoe and I love hiking in the desert

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My two sons, Rev. Roger Chadwick of South Carolina, and Bradley Jason of Nevada

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February 5th 1992:  I purchased a 10-inch f/4.5, equatorial reflector.  One of the first things I purchased after the telescope was an adjustable astro-chair, which I still use today.  It’s just not possible for me to observe, sketch and take notes while standing. 

February 20th 1992,  my first night of serious observing:  I was amazed when observing faint galaxies, after all, this was a much larger scope than I was used to using.  Objects that were on the threshold of seeing, were now bright, and structure was visible.  It was truly a revelation as compared to the much smaller 4-inch scopes that I had mostly used.   I could see dark lanes in the bright open cluster M35, and the faint cluster NGC 2158 was almost glowing.  My favorite galaxies, M81-82 looked nothing like what I had seen on that night in the 70’s when I first saw them using my, then new,  4 1/4-inch Edmund reflector.  I was smiling while observing the low-surface brightness galaxy, M101.  I knew that my observing would never be the same.

Wife Debbie pictured with a 102 mm refractor:

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Sunday, December 11th 2016 @ 12:05 PM:  Debbie and I stopping in Taco Bell for a quick Burrito, on a cold wintry day

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Downtown Boiling Springs, NC 

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A list of telescopes I have owned, or still own:  Edmund 4 1/4-inch reflector,  Celestron C-5 with wedge and tripod,  Meade 90 mm EQ refractor,  10-inch Meade DS-10a f/4.5 reflector, 4-inch Meade 2045-D, Schmidt-Cassegrain,  Meade ETX 90 mm, mounted on an 8-inch Meade wedge and tripod,  80 mm Orion classic f/15 refractor,  Orion/Vixen 102 mm refractor and GP mount,  and a Celestron 76 mm Dobsonian FirstScope. 

Roger Ivester 


Criterium Bike Race Brings Cyclings Best To Shelby, North Carolina

October 24, 2011

I found this picture of an annual cycling event that took place in Shelby, North Carolina from 1996 to about 2000.  It was called The Shelby Criterium, a closed looped course in the uptown area.  Mike Keeley served as director.  

The above picture is Pro Elite Cyclist, Eric Wohlberg who was riding for Saturn/Timex at the time, myself and my wife, Debbie. Eric finished second during the year pictured. His career spanned at least 20 years.  He is a three time Olympian, winner of the Tour of Gila, a stage race held in New Mexico, and seven time Canadian Time Trial Champion, (1997 – 2003 Gold) and (2004 – 2005 Silver).  Eric has too many accomplishments to list..

Eric became very good friends with both Mike and Rhonda Keeley of Shelby, and would stay at their house when racing in the Shelby Criterium.  Due to this friendship, I too, was able to become friends with Eric, and would share emails with him on occasion, for many years. 

While Eric was here, Mike Keeley and I were fortunate indeed to have been able to do some bicycle rides with this famous cyclist, and also share some good conversations at the Broad River Coffee Shop in Boiling Springs, NC.   Eric is really a great guy and it was very enjoyable to hear him talk about some of his many experiences as a Pro Elite Cyclist.

Roger

Beech Mountain, North Carolina: A Challenging Ride On a Bicycle

October 19, 2011

1990’s:  The Tour du Pont finshed two stages at the top of Beech Mountain, with Lance Armstrong winning one of them.  Lance would win the Tour du Pont on two occasions.  This was before his cancer diagnosis, while riding for Motorola.  

Beech is the highest incorporated town east of the Mississippi at 5500 feet, and not very far from Boone, North Carolina.

In the book by Armstrong  “It’s Not About The Bike: My Return to Life”  Lance tells a very interesting story: 

After his cancer treatments,  he came back to the mountains of North Carolina in 1998 to train, in an attempt to revive his cycling career.  He was riding with Bob Roll,  (former pro, and now a commentator of the Tour de France) on a cold wintry day, climbing Beech Mountain. They were being followed in a car, by his trainer, Chris Carmichael. While doing the climb, Lance could still see writings on the road “Go Armstrong” from a previous Tour.

There was snow on the sides of the road, and he started feeling good while riding toward the summit.  At the top he was greeted by Carmichael, who said “I’ll put your bike on top of the car.” Lance said “no. “Give me my rain jacket, I’m riding back.” “I was a bike racer again.”  He was indeed a bike racer again, and would later win the Tour de France seven times. 

Information and quotes from “It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life” and also an internet article.  A great book indeed and very inspirational.  

I have ridden my bike to the top of Beech at least fifteen or more times over the years.  The last time was in 2010 with my good friend and cycling partner Mike Keeley.  It was on an October day, and the weather changed suddenly before reaching the top.  It became very cloudy, cold and windy, however, we were fortunate to get to the top and back down without encountering rain.

I was disappointed that my other good friend, Mike Ribadeneyra and also cycling partner was unable to go. There will be other opportunities, however, selecting a day to climb Beech Mountain can be difficult, especially this late in the year.  It can become cloudy within minutes, and rain or snow can begin fall just as fast.   (Supplemental: October 20th 2011 @ 7:41 PM – It snowed today on Beech, and the forecast is for snow showers tonight).  It can be tough indeed….in many ways.

If you are a cyclist, and in the area, be sure to climb Beech Mountain, especially if you enjoy a good cycling challenge, and a bit of pain…  roger

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The Observers Challenge

October 17, 2011

What is the Observers Challenge?   In brief, it’s an international observing program that allows amateur astronomers to compare observations, sketches and images each and every month. 

The first edition of the Observers Challenge was February 2009.

At current there are particpates from all across the country, including one member from Hawaii, and now Finland. It’s open to anyone with an interest in astronomy.

Zoe Ivester taking a break after several miles of hiking near Red Rock Canyon. 

A New Astronomy Club Is Founded: The Cleveland County Astronomical Society, Boiling Springs, NC

October 14, 2011

This picture was made on a weekday afternoon in the summer of 1987 at the Polkville Airport, located in Polkville, North Carolina. The grass landing strip provided the first dark-site for club observing.

 

The youngest guy in the picture, is my son, Brad.  He is now almost 40 years old and living in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wow!  Does time ever fly?  

Roger

The First “Regional Meeting Of Amateur Astronomers”

October 13, 2011

The first event was held on January 23rd 1993 in the Ritch Banquet Hall, on campus of Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. There was approximately 75 amateurs attending, from local, to as far away as Tennessee, South Carolina, and Virginia. The following is a brief description of how the event got started:  

The Carolina Skygazers of Rock Hill, South Carolina held an annual astronomy event.  The purpose of this event was to allow anyone who had received a new telescope, or other astronomy equipment for Christmas, the opportunity to “show and tell.” 

Due to conflicting events, the normal meeting room at the York County Museum would not allow the regular scheduled astronomy program to take place and had to be cancelled.  

The telephone call that started it all:  

After finishing the CCAS monthly newsletter together one night, Tom English received a call from Bob Eskridge, who would inform him that the Rock Hill event was being cancelled.  There was a discussion between Tom and Bob about the possibility of the Cleveland County Astronomical Society taking over this event.  It was agreed by all concerned that the CCAS, would host a new event, titled “The Regional Meeting of Amateur Astronomers,”  also to be known as, “BoBfest.”  The meeting would include, astronomy speakers, vendors, solar observing, a swap table, and most importantly the opportunity for amateurs in the region to just get together and have a good time. 

Shortly thereafter, plans were already being made to host the “Regional Meeting  of Amateur Astronomers” at the Ritch Banquet Hall, on campus of GWU. The date was set, Saturday, January 23rd 1993, and the rest is history.  

Why “BoBfest?” (we always use an extra capital B)  Was it called “BoBfest” to honor BoB Eskridge?  (then and now, known as “The Ambassador of Astronomy” of the Southeast)…. or was it  just because Tom English and Chris Glaves liked the sound?  The truth is that they thought BoBfest sounded a bit more relaxed and fun than “The Regional Meeting.” 

Tom English did not feel like he should serve as president, but was the catalyst of the club in many ways, for a lot of years. However, Tom did become the newsletter editor.  If not for Tom, who was Professor of Astronomy and Physics at GWU at the time, we would not have had access to the Williams Observatory for our home and meetings. This allowed for stability of the club, which was critical for it’s survival in the early years.

I found this nice photo of former presidents and officers of the CCAS, also Tomm Lorenzin, author of 1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing.  The picture was made in January of 2003 outside the Ritch Banquet Hall.

Back row, left to right: Brett Clapper, Tom English, Paul Webb

Front row, left to right: Bob Eskridge, Ken Vassey, Roger Ivester, Tom Lorenzin, and Steve Davis 

Enjoying The Night Sky As A Visual Observer

October 11, 2011

 

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Amateur astronomy is rapidly changing. With the advancement of digital cameras and CCD imagers, both in technology and affordability, many amateur’s are finding astrophotography to be very exciting.  From my unofficial surveys as of recent, visual observing is still the most popular form of amateur astronomy.  However, digital imaging seems to be very popular and growing at a very fast pace.  It makes me wonder if visual observing will become less popular within the next decade?   Will anyone be taking notes and making pencil sketches?  

I hope this article will make some of you think back to a simpler time.  Remember the day you received your first telescope, the first time you saw Saturn, the craters on the Moon, or the sense of wonderment you felt when looking at the Orion Nebula. You can recapture these moments by simply looking through your telescope, and using nothing more than an eyepiece.   

I also find that recording  my observations with careful notes and sketches adds much to my enjoyment.  It’s always interesting to compare my sketches to photo’s  and also sharing with others.  If you’ve never attempted to document what you see, or make a sketch, you might just find that you can add inches to your current telescope. Becoming a serious and skilled observer is an acquired skill, and requires much practice and patience.  

My Early Years:

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 pretty decent eyepieces, a Barlow lens, and a host of other accessories. I would take this scope into a weedy field very close to 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 to this day.     

I grew up in the foothills of western North Carolina, completely devoid of light pollution. The sky was velvety black with the Milky Way extending almost to the horizon. My house was located near the end of a dirt road with only three others.  It was a wonderful place for a budding new amateur astronomer.

My progression was very slow at first, and found amateur astronomy to be difficult.  I knew nothing about star hopping, polar alignment, setting circles, however, I persevered.  It was,however, 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 the color of rust, white, blue, bluish-white, or orange. 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 another person with a similar interest.  It would be 1985, or about the time of Halley’s Comet, that a local astronomy club was formed and I became a member.   

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 rest 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 reflector.  I’ll never forget one special night with this scope.  I was attempted 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, and the light pollution was severe in my back yard.

Attempting to find even the brightest deep-sky objects under these conditions proved to be difficult.  I had tried to find M81 and M82, only to be met by failure.  I wanted so badly to see these galaxies, which appeared so striking and beautiful in the magazines.

One night, while observing, time was running out.  It was already after 11:00 PM, and I needed to get up early the next morning.  I used my hands in an attempt to block the ambient light from entering my eyepiece, and then it happended: A small, faint object entered my telescope view, and then another.  I had finally found 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.  In my mind, I became a real amateur astronomer that night.

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 objects that were impossible with my smaller scopes.  During this period, I also became good friends with an astronomy and physics professor at a local university.  We began observing together and he taught me a lot, both about observing and astronomy in general.

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 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 over 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 digital imagers are very much alike in this regard…always striving for something better.  

Roger Ivester