Archive for August 2012

M22 – Globular Cluster In Sagittarius – Observer’s Challenge – Updated: September 21st 2012

August 29, 2012

Image by Dr. James Dire From KEASA Observatory, Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii.  Camera:  SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD Camera.  Scope: 102 mm f/7.9 APO refractor.  Note the many star chains extending outward from the cluster.   

One of the most observed objects in Sagattarius by amateurs would have to be globular cluster, M22.  When viewed at 191x with my 10-inch reflector the cluster comes alive with many resolved stars.  The cluster has a brighter middle with two strings of stars leading off the SW edge.  A small concentrated patch could be seen on the northern tip, and another, however, smaller was noted toward the east.

The following pencil sketch was made using a 10-inch f/4.5 reflector at 191x from my moderately light polluted backyard in the foothills of  North Carolina.  


After careful observing for the longest time, I would suggest that this cluster appears looking like a strange alien creature.  The star chains in the SW edge would be the legs, and the concentrated spots in the N and E would be the eyes.  It is very interesting to note that after many observing sessions over the years, I have never noticed this most interesting comparison.  

Please check out this globular for yourself and see if you too can see the alien. 

My small 76 mm f/4 reflector at 25x presents M22 as a fairly dim ball of unresolved stars.    Roger Ivester

Read the full Las Vegas Astronomical Society report, please click on the following link.


NGC 2419 – Globular Cluster – Lynx – “The Intergalactic Wonderer” Observer’s Challenge For March 2011 – Posted: August 24th 2012

August 24, 2012

See the full report:  click on the following link. 


NGC 2903, M105, NGC 3384 and NGC 3389 – Galaxies in Leo – Observer’s Challenge – February 2010 – Posted: August 24th 2012

August 24, 2012

Click on the following link for the full report…


NGC 2264 – Christmas Tree Cluster/Cone Nebula – Observer’s Challenge – January 2010 – Posted August 19th 2012

August 19, 2012

10-inch reflector:

Open cluster NGC 2264 appeared mostly sparse and course with a triangular shape.  The associated and irregular faint nebula was fairly easy to see at low magnification.  It is this observers opinion that the Cone Nebula is best seen with a much larger telescope under darker skies than my backyard.  R. Ivester

To see the the entire report, please click on the following link:


NGC 2261 – “Hubble’s Variable Nebula” – Monoceros – Observer’s Challenge – January 2011 – Posted August 18th 2012

August 18, 2012

Telescope:  10-inch reflector

The illuminating star, R Monocerotis is at the southern tip of the nebula.  The comet shape or fan-tail extends toward the N-W.  Some structure was noted in the nebula when increasing the magnification to 267x.   RI

To read the entire report, click on the following link:


NGC 1502 – Open Cluster – And Kemble’s Cascade 3º Star Chain – Camelopardalis – Observer’s Challenge – January 2012 – Posted August 18th 2012

August 18, 2012

Using a 76mm (3-inch reflector) at 13x with a 5 degree field of view:  

I could see both NGC 1502 and most of Kemble’s Cascade, a bright chain of stars cascading from the NW toward the cluster.   At this low power, NGC 1502 appears as a faint patch with several bright stars noted with a triangular shape. 

When increasing the magnification to 70x, I could count 8-10 stars, and double star Struve 485 was very easy.  The central region of the cluster appears a bit hazy due to faint stars in the background, too faint to be resolved with the small scope.   RI

NGC 1502 & Kemble's Cascade-1

To read the entire report, please click on the following link.


NGC 1333 – Reflection Nebula – Perseus – Observer’s Challenge – January 2011 – Posted August 14th 2012

August 14, 2012

NGC 1333, a reflection nebula in the constellation Perseus.  This object is very faint and associated with a 10.5 magnitude star.  At first glance, using a 10-inch reflector it appears mostly round, but with averted vision and careful viewing it becomes elongated with a NE-SW orientation.  The brightest part of the nebula is SW of the 10.5 mag. star with the NE section being much more faint with some mottling or unevenness being noted.  The overall surface brightness is fairly low, so this object is best observed using low to medium magnification.    RI


M17 – NGC 6618 – The Omega/Swan/Horseshoe And Most Recently “The Winn-Dixie Nebula” – Sagittarius – Observer’s Challenge – July 2012 – Updated: October 6th 2012

August 12, 2012

M17 would have to rate as one of the finest and most interesting objects of the entire Messier list.  It is bright with the checkmark shape easily seen with the smallest of scopes under good skies.  The first time I observed M17 was during the mid-70’s with my 4 1/4-inch Edmund reflector under terrible conditions. I was living in a rented house with seemingly hundreds of streetlights in close proximity.  I used a corner of my house to help shield the worst of the lights, however, I was still able to find and see the M17, but only the main bar, and not the hook.  

An amateur from North Carolina that I have known for many years has always said that M17 looked like the famous “Winn-Dixie” checkmark.  Can you see this with the main bar and hook? 

Please click on the following link for the complete report…


All of the Observer’s Challenge Reports are also posted on the  LVAS website, and the “Worlds of Fred Rayworth” and both links are listed to the right on my website under “blog roll.”  

Thanks again, and enjoy….Roger Ivester

NGC 891 – Galaxy In Andromeda – Observer’s Challenge – November 2009 – Posted August 11th 2012

August 11, 2012

A beautiful edge-on galaxy which is highly elongated. The visual magnitude of 10.0 can be very deceiving due to the low surface brightness.  If conditions are not good, I have difficulty getting a good look using my 10-inch reflector, from my moderately light polluted backyard.  A dark sky is essential for effectively observing NGC 891.  RI


Emission nebula NGC 281 – Cassiopeia, known as the “Pacman Nebula”

August 10, 2012

Located about 2.5 degrees east of bright star, Alpha Cassiopeiae, is emission nebula, NGC 281.  This is a very large and faint nebula, with very low surface brightness.  It was discovered in 1883, by E.E. Barnard.  

This nebula is often called the “Pacman Nebula” due to its similarity to the video game character, however, an O-III filter is required to see this unique shape and feature.  This object is in perfect position for both early to late fall observing.

What is an emission nebula?  An emission nebula is an ionized-hydrogen region whose spectrum consists of emission lines by a glowing gas under low pressure.  An emission nebula differs from a reflection nebula in that it produces it’s own light.  A reflection nebula is a cloud of interstellar gas which is illuminated by a nearby star.

I found NGC 281 to be very challenging when using a 10-inch reflector from my moderately light polluted backyard, in the foothills of Western North Carolina.  I was very surprised that it could be seen, however, very dimly, with an 8 x 50 finder.  At 57x, this object appears mostly round with very little detail.  When increasing the magnification to 104x, and adding an O-III filter, this nebula really came to life.  The northern part is rounded, resembling that of a helmet.  Just below the rounded area is an area, devoid of any nebulosity, and to the east is a section which curves toward the southeast.  The nebula is much more concentrated and a bit brighter in the northeast.  The southeastern curving tail is fairly difficult, even with the use of the O-lll filter, mostly due in-part to several unshielded streetlights being in relative close proximity.

In the central region is a faint triangle of four stars, however, I could only see three.  This multiple star is Burnham 1, named after S.W. Burnham.  This small group of of bluish-white stars really adds to the beauty of this object.  The misty nebula, encapsulating the trio of stars creates a beautiful sight, but there’s even more to this object.  IC 1590, a small and very faint open star cluster is also located within the nebula, but I was unable to see or recognize this cluster during any of my observations.

Sue French from New York, using a 10-inch reflector said “Nice large nebula, improved with a UHC filter, even better with an O-III.  When using a 4.1-inch refractor, a faint nebula surrounding a pretty trio of stars.”  

Jaakko Saloranta of Finland “bright enough to be spotted under less than good skies, using a 4.8-inch refractor with an O-lll filter.”  

Gus Johnson of Maryland “found it easily with a 4 1/4-inch reflector.  In the fall of 1968, using a 6-inch reflector at 148x, was able to see all four stars of Burnham 1.”  Note:  Gus was the founder of SN 1979C, and only the second amateur at that time to visually discover a supernova.)  

Fred Rayworth of Nevada using a 16-inch reflector from Cathedral Gorge “a mostly round nebula at 102x, but when adding an O-III the “Pacman” shape was easy.  Could see only three stars in Burnham 1.”

The following sketch was made by the writer, using a No. 2 pencil and a blank 5 x 8 note card.  The colors were inverted using a scanner.  The telescope used was a 10-inch f/4.5 reflector and with the employ of an O-III nebula filter.

Pacman Nebula - NGC 281

The following image was made by James Dire, formerly of North Carolina, now residing in Hawaii.  Dire used an Orion 190 mm Maksutov-Newtonian f/5.3 to make this beautiful image.