Archive for December 2015

2015 in review

December 31, 2015

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,100 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

NGC 1579 – “The Northern Trifid” – Reflection Nebula in Perseus – February 19th 2013

December 19, 2015

rogerivester

NGC 1579 – “The Northern Trifid”  Reflection Nebula in Perseus 

Date: January 31st 2013 – Telescope: 10-inch f/4.5 reflector @ 104x – Location: Moderately light polluted Backyard in western North Carolina with a NELM 4.8 

Faint and very diffuse with a brighter oval shaped middle.  The texture is somewhat mottled and uneven, and at least two dark lanes can be seen with averted vision (see sketch).  The nebula has very uneven edges which fade very gradually outwards.  A 12M star lies just to the NE, and a group of four stars to the south make the shape of a dipper.  This is a most interesting object which seems to be overlooked by many amateurs.  The following sketch was made using a 5 x 8 blank notecard, a No. 2 pencil, and an eraser.  The color was inverted using a scanner…

Roger Ivester  2-16-13

NGC 1579 - Reflection Nebulae-1

Date: January 31st 2013 – 10-inch reflector @…

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Roger Ivester: Amateur Astronomer

December 15, 2015

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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NGC 7789, Open Cluster in Cassiopeia

December 14, 2015

NOVEMBER 2015 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – NGC-7789 

NGC 7789, Open Cluster in Cassiopeia:  Location of observation:  From my moderately light polluted backyard in Western North Carolina 

Observer:  Roger Ivester 
Date: October 7th 2015
Conditions: Good   NELM: 5.2
Telescope: 10-inch f/4.5 Newtonian Reflector
Sketch Magnification: 104x    FOV: 0.79º
Catalogued Magnitude: 6.7

Very bright and rich with well over 120 stars counted with the 10-inch. The cluster stars encompass an area of about 25 arcminutes. Loops of stars with dark lanes throughout, but mostly a random scattering of stars. A fairly bright, mag. 9 star is located just off the cluster edge toward the west.  

Pencil Sketch with inverted colors.

Rogers NGC-7789

Image by Dr. James Dire of Hawaii using a 10-inch f/4 reflector, and a SBIG ST-2000 XCM CCD camera.  Exposure time 30 minutes.

NGC7789

The following notes and pencil sketch (with inverted colors) of NGC 7789:  By Jaakko Saloranta of Finland

Despite poor observing conditions a rich and very beautiful cluster.

Strong background glow is lost at high magnification.  Several dark pathways visible within the cluster as starless regions.  

Brighter stars concentrated towards the W edge. ~80* within 9′ down to 13th magnitude.  Resembles an open rose.  

Sketch @ 101x (30′) using a 4.5 inch Orion SkyQuest.

NGC7789_LVAS