Archive for August 2017

M24 Star Cloud, Open Cluster NGC 6603, Dark Nebula Barnard 92 and 93

August 31, 2017

Observer’s Challenge Report:  AUGUST 2017 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – M-024


2017 Total Solar Eclipse from Laurens, South Carolina – A Great and Memorable Day

August 26, 2017

Image of the eclipse, the diamond ring, and Bailey’s beads provided by Barre Spencer and Patrick White using a Canon Rebel with a 200 mm zoom lens.  Location of photo:  Columbia, SC 

(s) Diamond / Baily's Beads 9

A group of folks from various places met outside of an Italian restaurant to enjoy the solar eclipse together.  We were all surprised how few came to this quaint little town to observe this historic event.  The totality duration was ~ 2 mins  34 seconds, and with perfect weather!    

During totality the sky darkened to a surprising level, but not as dark as a clear full moon night.  Venus appeared very bright in the western sky and Jupiter in the southeast.  I could not see any stars….naked eye.  

Both Debbie and I were amazed at the sudden flash of the diamond ring.  (See the image above) 

The temperature drop was very significant.  A weather bureau report from Newberry, SC, not many miles away and also in the line of totality, had a temperature drop of 11º Fahrenheit .  

We can only assume that this temperature drop would have been similar in Laurens.  When the sun began to re-emerge, we noticed a shimmering of light waves on the pavement in front of us, known as shadow bands.  A very interesting phenomenon, that I was hoping we’d see, and we did!  

What an incredible day!  


Comets Hale-Bopp And Hyakutake, Sketches And Images. The Two Most Impressive Comets Of All Time, At Least For Those Of Us Living Today! Also Comet Neowise, Sketch and Image Included, Which Was The Brightest Comet Since Hale-Bopp!

August 14, 2017

Twenty-Six years as of March 2023!     

Comet Hale-Bopp 
March 1997
10-Inch Reflector
Magnification: 160x
FOV: 0.38º 

White charcoal pencil sketch on black card stock.  The three tails are visible:  The anti-tail, the ion or gas tail and the dust tail are clearly visible.   Roger Ivester  

The following by Sue French:  New York 

Unfortunately, the sketch is actually larger than our scanner can copy, so some of the comet is cut off.  The sketch was made on 4/2/1997.  The tail was about 15° long to the naked eye.  To get the tail and the core detail in the same sketch, I used three different instruments: 8×40 binox, a 90mm refractor, and a 6-inch reflector.   


Mircea Pteancu:  Observer from Romania 
Date: March 31st 1997.  
Telescope:  125mm f/7 Newtonian 
Magnification:  116x
Comet Length:  38 arc minutes
Two tails were visible
Hale Bopp T125mm
Mario Motta:  Massachusetts observer
I only have a few images available in (Florida) as my “deep files” are back home.
Following photos of Hale-Bopp.  They were taken via “film” then scanned digitally.
Back in those days, we did not have a big enough field of view on any digital camera!  
See also photos of Hyakutake, which I consider the best comet ever, which had a 90º tail !!!  
Hyakutake was spectacular!  I used a 24mm wide field camera lens to capture it all.  Again…old “film” technology from 1996.  But I’m so glad I was able to document this incredible comet via film.   And after all…that’s all we had!   

Supplemental: Comet Neowise, also photographed (below) by Mario Motta. Comet Neowise was discovered on March 27, 2020 by astronomers during the NEOWISE mission of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope. At that time it was 18th-magnitude.

NEOWISE is known for being the brightest comet in the northern hemisphere since Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. It was visible to the naked eye under dark skies, reaching a magnitude 0.5 to 1. (Information from Wikipedia)

Roger Ivester: Hyakutake notes, and sketch via an 8 x 50 telescope finder.

I seem to have misplaced my sketches of Hyakutake, but most were made using a 6º finder, as a 2º telescopic view was just not large enough! I also used a pair of Pentax 7×21 mini-binoculars

The following is a note card from the night of March 22nd 1996:

Incredible! Can see a 20º tail without optical aid. My Pentax 7 x 21 mini-binoculars gave an excellent view also, but still too small to appreciate. When using my 10-inch f/4.5 Newtonian, and a 32mm (2-inch format) and 1.7º FoV, not very impressive.

This comet is like nothing I’ve ever seen!! Seemingly “almost” taking up the entire northern sky! When walking out in my back door, without any dark-adaptation…and there it is!

The following binoculars photo:

After almost 35 years, my mini-Pentax 7×21 binoculars, which I’ve used so many hours, including viewing the two great comets of my lifetime. I would use them when I didn’t want or have time to set up a telescope.

And the days before heading to work in the early mornings with a nervous feeling in my stomach, due to a terrible meeting waiting on me.  So, Before getting in my car, I’d have the little Pentax bino’s tucked in my coat pocket, and might enjoy a view of some brighter star clusters.

After about 15 minutes looking at the sky, I’d be ready for the stressful day before me.  Also, before going to bed, on clear nights, I often spend a few minutes taking in some brighter deep-sky objects with these tiny binoculars.  

Amateur astronomy does not “always” require a large telescope, with long set-up times to enjoy the night sky. 

Many amateurs…for their first binoculars, will choose 10x power (or sometimes even greater) and with 80mm objectives, only to find out they cannot be “handhold” and the field-of-view is too small and dim.

I’ve always believed that 8x is the maximum magnification of any binoculars, that can be handheld. Roger

Globular Cluster Messier 14 – July 2017 Observer’s Challenge Report

August 8, 2017


In 10-inch reflector, M14 is a large cluster, mostly round, but with a slight elongation, oriented northeast-southwest.

At 160x very few stars can be resolved, but only with averted vision. The surface brightness is overall fairly low with a mostly even texture, but with a subtle brightening in the central region. The edges fade very gradually outwards.

M14 at magnitude 7.6 is quite a bit fainter than globulars M10 and M12, also located in Ophiuchus.

In 3.5-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain the cluster is mostly round with a faint brighter concentrated middle. No resolve of stars.

Roger Ivester

Inverted colors via computer:

Rogers M-014 Inverted