Archive for December 2015

2015 in review

December 31, 2015

The 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


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 beneficial in your future observations.


My Story:

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, or 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 that other 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 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, 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 astrophotographers are very much alike in this regard…always striving for something better.   


Co-founder of the Las Vegas Astronomical Society Observer’s Challenge report.   An international deep-sky observing report….open to any serious amateur to share observations, sketches, images, and notes on a monthly basis.  In June 2017, the challenge will celebrate it’s 100th consecutive monthly report, with  followers all over the country and in many foreign countries.   

Catalyst for the Mount Potosi Observing Complex in Southern Nevada, facilitating a $50,000 telescope donation by Dr. James Hermann, M.D. from North Carolina.    Roger Ivester


Roger and Debbie Ivester


Debbie pictured with a 6-inch f/6 reflector.  In the days of yesteryear, the 6-inch reflector was the workhorse of amateur astronomy, but in recent years has lost favor among the amateur astronomy community.  Not so fast!   Please consider:  The 6-inch reflector is reasonably easy for most anyone to handle, and has good light gathering capability.  The venerable six, is an excellent all around portable telescope, especially with an f/6 focal ratio.   


Just had to include a photo of my other hobby….cycling.  I’ve been fortunate to be able to log 130,000 lifetime miles, to-date.    


NGC 7789, Open Cluster in Cassiopeia

December 14, 2015


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.


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.