Archive for April 2017

The 2017 Southern Star Astronomy Convention Hosted by The Charlotte Amateur Astronomer’s Club.

April 29, 2017

http://charlotteastronomers.org/southernstar/

The following is a brief review and a few photos of the 2017 and 31st Annual Southern Star Astronomy Convention, held at Wildacres Retreat in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.  

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A picture with Al Nagler, signing my copy of “1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing” by the late Tom Lorenzin.  Al Nagler and Tom Lorenzin were good friends.  

Lorenzin later developed an updated 2000+ digital software package. The Tele Vue Gibraltar Alt-Az Mount has that database by Tom Lorenzin. 

It was Lorenzin who coined the name “The Deer-Lick Galaxy Group.”  He and some of his friends from the Charlotte Amateurs were observing from “The Deer-Lick Gap overlook” on what he described as an incredible night.  That observing site is only a few miles from the Southern Star event, on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NGC_7331_Group

http://www.virtualblueridge.com/parkway-place/deer-lick-gap-overlook/

My copy of “1000+” with a personal note and autograph by both Tom Lorenzin and Al Nagler.  I’ll always treasure my Atlas which Tom signed in a cow pasture back in 1993, near Boiling Springs, North Carolina, and now Al Nagler, 2017 in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.   

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Al Nagler with his wife, Judi….genuine, good and kind people.     

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Jim Lamm of the Charlotte Amateurs presiding over the meeting.   

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Time to eat!  Wildacres retreat has incredible food!

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A photo of the surrounding mountains, looking toward Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi @ 6,684 feet.  I’ve ridden my bicycle many times to the top over the past 30 plus years.  I’m also an eight time participant of the Assault on Mount Mitchell, a 103 mile ride from Spartanburg, SC to the summit.  Cyclists from all of the country and beyond participate in this event each and every May.  

In my first year (1981) of the Assault, I lost eight pounds, despite drinking as much water and Gatorade as possible.  I learned a lot that year and did much better during the following years.  

The reason I’m mentioning this:  If you are a cyclist and attending Southern Star, bring your bicycle and ride the most difficult part.  

Difficult part:  This would be starting in Marion, NC (a relatively small town at the base of the mountain) and then to the top, which is ~30 “extremely” difficult miles.  

This is a great opportunity if you are a cyclist and “pain is your friend.” 

Many world class cyclists (including Tour de France winners) have and continue to train in the North Carolina mountains.  

Greg LeMond, a five-time winner of the tour, said that the high mountains of North Carolina reminded him of  Switzerland.  Lance Armstrong, seven time winner of the Tour de France, also trained in the NC mountains.  However, Armstrong was disqualified due to the use of performance enhancing drugs.  😦     

Another difficult and challenging mountain for cyclists:  Not far from Little Switzerland is Beech Mountain, which is the highest incorporated town east of the Mississippi @ 5,500 feet.  

https://rogerivester.com/2011/10/19/preparing-to-climb-beech-mountain-north-carolina/

 

My wife Debbie with our “Long-Haired” Dachshund, Nova Sophia “Sophie” at Wildacres.      

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Beautiful Wildacres Retreat….    

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Roger Ivester 

 

Recommended Reading: June 2017 Edition of Sky & Telescope Magazine’s “Focal Point” by Science Editor, Camille Carlisle

April 25, 2017

Sky and Telescope’s science editor Camille Carlisle has written an excellent “Focal Point” in the June 2017 edition (page 84) of Sky & Telescope Magazine.  

Camille has beautifully articulated that both God and Science can coexist.

 I’ve included a few brief excerpts from that article as following:   

“It’s something too many of us forget, that reality has layers.  Occasionally people ask me how I can be Catholic and a science journalist.  The answer is simple:  Truth does not contradict truth.  Both science and religion are a pursuit of truth.  They’re after different aspects of truth, different layers of reality, but they’re still both fundamentally about truth.”

“Trying to prove or disprove God with science is like trying to screw in a flat-head nail with a screwdriver.” 

“So too, trying to “catch” God with science or concluding that He can’t be real because His beautiful universe is too much about drama and too little about perfect engineering…”  

“In my life I, too, have found that God can stand up to any question I throw at Him.  It might take years to find the answer, but it exists.”   Camille M. Carlisle 

From my point of view:  Being a Christian, retired from industry as an industrial engineer, and having engineers, medical doctors and other professionals as both friends and neighbors, none of us have ever had a problem with science and God.  It’s simple…..we believe in both science and God.  

“Such is eminently the right use of the telescope…a more extensive knowledge of the works of the Almighty…of the immediate relation between the wonderful and beautiful scenes which are opened to our gaze, and the great author of their existence.”    Rev. T.W. Webb

Roger Ivester

 

The Doctor talks Books, Books and more Books. An Astronomy Book Review by Daniel Mounsey. Excellent and Enjoyable. Please Take The Time To Watch This YouTube Video.

April 11, 2017

 

NGC 3395-96 – Interacting Galaxies in Leo Minor – Observer’s Challenge Report For April 2017 – Month # 98

April 8, 2017

Complete Report:  APRIL 2017 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – NGC-3395-96

Image by Mario Motta –  Observer from Massachusetts –  32-inch telescope – One hour:  6 exposures x 10 minutes stacked 

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Coordinates:  RA: 10h 49.8m   Dec. +33.0′ 

NGC 3395-96 – Interacting Galaxies – Leo Minor – Visual magnitudes: 12.1/12.2  Sfc. Br. 12.9/13.4   Size: 1.9′ x 1.2′ NGC 3396 2.8′ x 1.2′ – “NGC 3395 small but bright oblong;  NGC 3396 lies 1′ E; small oblong; tough but worthy pair!  don’t leave without seeing spiral galaxy NGC 3430 just 30′ to E.    Tom Lorenzin  1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing

 

NGC 3395 is another 12th-magnitude spiral, about 2′ in diameter.  Amateur telescopes will show it almost in contact with NGC 3396 at its northeast edge.  These are interacting galaxies, but the bridge of material between them does not show in small telescopes.  Has anyone viewed them with a 30-inch aperture?   Walter Scott Houston  Deep-Sky Wonders – selections and commentary by Stephen James O’Meara 

 

In my 130mm refractor at 48× NGC 3430 shares the field with the colliding galaxies NGC 3395 and NGC 3396. Their combined glow appears a little smaller and fainter than the lone galaxy. At 117× these entangled galaxies each harbor a brighter center, with NGC 3395 boasting the more obvious one. NGC 3396 is elongated approximately east-west, with NGC 3395 south of its western end, where their halos blend together. Seen through my 10-inch scope at 166×, NGC 3396 hosts an elongated core with a starlike nucleus.

NGC 3395 and NGC 3396 have undergone at least one close encounter in the past and are now thought to be in the early stages of a merger, a show we are watching from a distance of 85 million light-years.    Sue French – Observer from New York 

 

I also observed NGC 3395-6 under dark skies with a 10” reflector at 81x.  It was easily seen, appearing most like an asymmetric butterfly  with close interaction of the galaxy pair.   Joseph Rothchild – Observer from Massachusetts 
NGC 3395 and 3396 are a pair of interacting galaxies in the constellation Leo Minor. The galaxies are thought to be in the early stages of merging. The galaxies were discovered by William Herschel in 1785 using an 18.7-inch reflector.

NGC 3395, the brighter of the two galaxies, is magnitude 12 and is roughly 1.6 x0.9 arc minutes in size. Its core is south-west of NGC 3396. NGC 3395 is a Hubble type Sc spiral galaxies.

NGC 3396 is slightly dimmer and slightly larger than NGC 3395. It shines at magnitude 12.4 and is 3.1×1.3 arc minutes in size. NGC 3396 is a barred spiral galaxy.

My image of NGC 3395 and 3396 was taken with a 10-inch f/6.9 Newtonian with a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. The exposure was 150 minutes. West is to the right and north is up. Several smaller fainter galaxies can be seen scattered throughout the image. The brightest star in the image, located near the left (east) edge, shines at magnitude 10.3. NGC 3396 is on the left, NGC 3395 on the right.

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Sometimes NGC 3395 is measured to be larger than the size I reported above. That is because the galaxy lies along the line of sight of a slightly larger and slightly dimmer background galaxy. This galaxy is PGC 4534783, a magnitude 13.2 galaxy. PGC 4534783 is 2.3 x 1 arc minutes in size and the position angle is nearly identical to NGC 3395.

The bright emission nebula IC 2605 lies in the southern edge of NGC 3395. The nebula can be seen in the accompanying image near the edge of the visible galaxy. This nebula was discovered April 11, 1899 by Guillaume Bigourdan. He estimated the magnitude to be 15 and size 0.4 x 0.2 arc minutes.

I viewed NGC3395 and 3396 with a 6-inch refractor under clear dark skies. The galaxies appeared as elongated glows close to one another, but the interacting portions of the galaxies were not bright enough to see.     Dr. James Dire from Hawaii

 

Observer:  Roger Ivester – Date: March 18, 2017  
Telescope: 10-Inch Reflector
Sketch Magnification: 135x
Eyepiece: 16 mm + 1.9x Barlow

Galaxy NGC 3395-96: Almost connecting. Both galaxies are elongated, brighter middles with NGC 3396 having a distinctive stellar nucleus when using averted vision, but could only be seen intermittently. I could glimpse the galaxies using a low magnification of 57x, but the best views came at 200x, and 135x, respectively, which would indicate that both galaxies are fairly well concentrated. Joseph Rothchild from Massachusetts, using a 10-inch reflector provided an excellent description of this beautiful interacting pair: “Easily seen, appearing most like an asymmetric butterfly….”

Another galaxy, NGC 3340, only 1/2º to the east of the NGC 3395-96 pair, has low surface brightness. Elongated NE-SW with an oval shape and a very subtle brightening or greater concentration in the central region. Despite the low surface brightness, I found that a higher magnification of 191x worked best.

Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina 

NGC 3395-96:  Pencil Sketch with colors inverted:

Rogers NGC-3395-96a

NGC 3395-96:  Pencil sketch direct from the telescope eyepiece without colors inverted:

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NGC 3430:  Direct pencil sketch from the telescope eyepiece without colors inverted.  

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Glenn Chaple:  Observer from Massachusetts

“I observed and sketched these interacting galaxies with a 13.1-inch f/4.5 Coulter Odyssey I reflector and 9mm Nagler eyepiece (166X, 0.5 degree field). The galaxies were relatively easy to find by star-hopping from a trio of stars that included 46 LMi and 46 UMa to a wide double star a degree south and slightly west, then shifting one-half. I had previously viewed these galaxies with fellow ATMoB members Steve Clougherty and Rich Nugent, using Steve’s 18-inch Dob. They were barely perceptible, but skies were rapidly hazing up. These galaxies definitely need clear skies!”

You’ll like this. On the same night we viewed NGC 3395/6, Steve and Rich also turned the 18-inch on your Virgo Diamond. I’m not sure which of them had the finder chart, but they did this on their own – no prodding from me

Glenn Chaple 

Arizona Sky Village Opportunity

April 7, 2017

I talked to Jim Lamm today, a good friend of many years.  Jim has an offer to anyone tired of light pollution, blizzards, extreme cold, traffic and other annoyances.  This is truly an opportunity of a lifetime!  

Be a part-owner of an astronomy home at one of the premier astronomy communities in America — Arizona Sky Village.  Extremely dark skies, gorgeous mountains, astronomy friends as neighbors and the opportunity to live out your observing and astrophotography dreams — all at the fraction of the cost of a total home investment. See the attached link for more information:  

I have attached the one-page flyer that has been the main piece of literature supporting this effort. 

If interested, give me at call at 704-621-6309.
 
Jim Lamm