Archive for the ‘Roger’s Articles’ category

Mount Potosi Observing Complex – Aerial Photos By James Yeager, Pilot-American Airlines – Article Excerpts From Astronomy Magazine

December 4, 2016



Above aerial photos from an American Airlines Airbus at 13,000 feet:  

“When flying from Los Angeles into Las Vegas, air traffic control will usually give an arrival called KEPEC3, to set you up for a landing on 25L.  Yesterday morning, they vectored us off the arrival and gave us a heading to fly….that allowed me to get a view of a very cool piece of property on Mount Potosi.”  James Yeager, Pilot, American Airlines.

Cockpit view of Mount Potosi in the distance from McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada


Thank you James Yeager for the fine photos and allowing me to use.  Roger Ivester

The following photo of the observing complex provided by Keith Caceres of Las Vegas. 


The Dr. James Hermann, 14-inch RC Telescope from Lincolnton, North Carolina.





Some briefs from the Astronomy Magazine article, February 2016, pages 54-57, complete with photos of the telescope, domes, pictures of the building process, and other.  A fabulous article indeed!   By Raymond Shubinski 


The first couple paragraphs, and then selected :  

“BE PREPARED. The Boy Scout motto is familiar to everyone, and excellent advice for all. Being prepared requires planning and vision, and this observatory project on a Boy Scout camp southwest of Las Vegas, Nevada, shows both.” 

“A beautiful Officinal Stellare telescope now sits housed at an elevation of 5,680 feet on Mount Potosi, 25 miles from the world famous and incredibly bright…Las Vegas strip.”  

“Jim Gianoulakis is the prime mover behind the efforts to bring this level of astronomical experience to Southern Nevada.  He has been involved in the LVAS for more than 10 years.  His passion for amateur astronomy, coupled with that of the current president of the LVAS, Rob Lambert, has made this project bloom on a desert mountain.”

The flame is lit

“The catalyst of the project came in August 2012.  Gianoulakis, then president of the LVAS, received a message from Roger Ivester, an LVAS member living in Boiling Springs, North Carolina.  Ivester knew of an individual looking to gift a scope and mount to a group with a good use for it.”

“Gianoulakis and Lambert  collaborated on the proposal, which was accepted, and the project was off and running.  James Hermann, a North Carolina resident donated the scope, a 14-inch Officinal Stellare Pro RC-360.  The gift also included an Astro Systeme Austrian equatorial mount.  The value of this donation is $50,000.”  

Note:  James Hermann, MD is an emergency room physician.  Roger

Other facts:

“…members started looking for donations.  An initial gift of $2,500 came from the LVAS  membership.  Then the club raised an additional $10,000 from Las Vegas individuals and businesses.  

“Dan Johanneck at Explora-Dome in Litchfield Minnesota promised 11.5-foot dome and 8-foot domes for the Project.”

“Now where to put the observatory?  The Las Vegas Area (Scout) Reservation southwest of the city. Located on the reservation is Camp Potosi where scouts can camp and work on many of their merit badges.  With an elevation of more than a mile and shielded from the direct glare of the strip, Mount Potosi was an excellent candidate for a future observatory.  So, the LVAS entered into discussions with the council.  It was a win-win arrangement.  The LVAS gets the land on Mount Potosi within the scout camp.  In exchange, the LVAS will provide assistance with the merit badge program and organize viewing events.”  


“But the future already has arrived on Mount Potosi.  In June 2015, about 1,500 boy scouts had a chance to use the observatory and its site to work on and complete the astronomy merit badge.  To LVAS members, this is one of the most exciting aspects of the project.”   

Again, this is a four page article, and the above is just to kinda fill you in on what the Mount Potosi Observing Complex is all about.  If you don’t have your very own February 2016 Astronomy Magazine, please go to or just call and order a copy.  I’m sure they’re still available.  

Roger Ivester


Chaple’s Arc and the Cygnus Fairy Ring

August 14, 2015
  • Date of observation:  August 13th 2015
  • Transparency:  Poor – Very high humidity  
  • Seeing:  Excellent
  • Telescope:  10-Inch f/4.5 Reflector 
  • Location:  Foothills of North Carolina

I located and recognized immediately using a 32 mm eyepiece @ 36x with a 1.8º FOV.   The first star I noticed was double star h1470, with the primary being a ruddy or rust color.  

When increasing the magnification, using a 20 mm eyepiece @ 57x with a 1º FOV, at least eight or more pairs of double stars, making a circle could be seen and separated.  This beautiful ring of doubles are framed very nicely within the 1º field.  A fabulous and most interesting asterism.  Dimensions: 40 x 40 arc minutes.   RI 

A pencil sketch by the writer using a blank 5 x 8 notecard with the colors inverted using a scanner.

Scanned Image 160890002


The following is an excerpt from an article by Glenn Chaple and posted by “Skyscrapers, Inc.” 

“Forgive me for the apparent ego trip, but this month I’m going to introduce you to an amazing little asterism called “Chaple’s Arc.” I stumbled upon the Arc in the mid-1970s while looking for the double star h1470. Instead of one double, I found four arranged in an arc 1/2° across. So smitten was I by its extraordinary appearance that I eventually wrote about it in the September 1980 issue of Deep Sky Monthly. New York amateur astronomer John Pazmino viewed the group and dubbed it “Chaple’s Arc.”

A quarter century later, I decided to introduce the Arc to a much larger audience by featuring it in my “Observing Basics” column in Astronomy. To my amazement, I saw the same group described in the British magazine Sky at Night. The writer called it the “Fairy Ring.” Uh-oh! Had I missed something?

After a little detective work and an assist from Sky and Telescope’s Sue French, I learned that the Arc had been seen by Utah amateur astronomer Kim Hyatt in the early 1990s. Like me, he found it during a search for h1470. Because he was using a larger telescope than I had, he was able to view some faint pairs that, along with my four, formed a ring of double stars. Not knowing about Chaple’s Arc, he and a friend christened it the Fairy Ring.”   Glenn Chaple/Skyscrapers, Inc. 




Open Cluster’s NGC 752, NGC 7243, and NGC 7789

August 10, 2015

NGC 752 – Open Cluster in Andromeda

Date: October 27th 1994 – Location:  North Carolina Foothills

Conditions:  Poor; NELM 4.5 – Telescope: 10-inch f/4.5 reflector – Magnification: 20mm Erfle EP @ 57x FOV: 1º

Notes: Naked eye object with a dark sky. A very large open cluster easily fills a 1º eyepiece field of view. Approximately 75 or more stars could be counted. Two prominent bright stars, one being yellow and the other reddish or rust lies to the SSW. This cluster is mostly irregularly round with many chains of stars crossing throughout.

NGC 7243 – Open Cluster in Lacerta Date: September 30th 1994 – Location:  North Carolina Foothills

Conditions:  Fair; NELM 5.0 – Telescope: 10-inch f/4.5 reflector – Magnification: 20mm Erfle EP @ 57x FOV: 1º

Notes: Very irregularly shaped, fairly loose open cluster. Double star Struve 2890 with both stars at mag 8.5 lies in the center. A dark lane crosses the central region.

NGC 7789 – Open Cluster in Cassiopeia – Date: December 20th 1994 – Location:  North Carolina Foothills 

Conditions:  Good; NELM 5.5; Telescope: 10-inch f/4.5 reflector; Magnification: 16mm University Optics Konig EP @ 71x and FOV:  0.92º

Notes:  Circular chains or patterns of stars. This cluster is large, very rich and condensed. Beautiful and refreshing after looking at faint objects.

Roger Ivester

Observing The Entire Messier Catalog, But Please….Not In One Night!

March 8, 2015


The Astronomical League Messier awards certificate book, offers an excellent visual description of each of the entire 110 object Messier catalog, by two very experienced observers.   It includes many pencil sketches as well as some excellent images. The book can be purchased from the AL for only $10.00 plus shipping.  A great buy…indeed! 

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced amateur, this is an excellent book for either. The author’s, Kathy Machin and Sue Wheatley did an excellent job in documenting their observations with detailed notes, plus a lot of supporting information.

I like the following quote from the introduction: “We hope you will not rush through the objects, saying, yep, that’s one. What’s next? The Messier List is not a race.”

I continue to use my copy of the AL Messier Objects.  A great little book!   

With so many astronomy clubs sponsoring Messier Marathons on the weekend of the 21st, it would be a great opportunity for each club to promote the Astronomical League Messier Awards certificate.

As I’ve mentioned in published articles, emails, and presentations and other:  “Observing with a purpose” is seemingly the most important thing any amateur can do to continue with that passion we all had when we first started.

Astronomy Magazine contributing editor Glen Chaple quoted me on this in his “Observing Basics” article in the March 2015 Astronomy Magazine.

What if only two or three amateurs in each of the clubs across the country, sponsoring a marathon would use the night for an opportunity to carefully study each object, making visual notes, and beginning a lifetime of serious amateur astronomy?  I’m betting that the number of serious amateur astronomer’s would increase dramatically!  

Maybe even using the night as a start for achieving their Messier Awards Certificate and pin, and finding their “observing with a purpose”  for many years to come.  

Roger Ivester

A New Diagonal: Correct Image and The Advantages

March 6, 2014

I really like observing with my 102mm refractor, but don’t like the reversed mirror image view, due to the 90 degree diagonal.  On many occasions I choose my Newtonian, as I want my sketches to be correctly oriented.  For many years, I’ve wanted to try a correct image 90 degree diagonal, but thought the views might suffer.  I’ve been using a 96% enhanced reflectivity mirror diagonal for many years.  

Why do I dislike a mirror reversed view?  When making a sketch, it does not match most published photographs which are oriented scientifically correct, with N at the top and W to the right.  I also like to compare my sketches with photographs.  While observing, it can also be easy to confuse the cardinal points when using a standard diagonal, due to the mirror reversed image.    

While looking through an Orion Telescope and Binocular catalog last week, I noticed a 1.25-inch, correct image diagonal for only $49.95.  After many years of wondering how this type of diagonal would perform, I made the decision to order one, and give it a try. 

Last night (March 5th, 2014) I set up my refractor for the big test.  I started with a high magnification of 200x.  I examined the Trapezium stars in the Orion Nebula to see how the view would compare with my current enhanced mirror diagonal.  The stars were beautiful and sharp in both, and even the “E” star could be glimpsed.  First test: passed.  I then went to my favorite galaxy pair, M81 and M82 at 57x.  I immediately liked the non-reversed and correct image view, and couldn’t really see any difference between the two diagonals.   The next test would be Jupiter, and again, both diagonals performed comparably with the cloud bands appearing very sharp in both.   

One thing I should mention.  When observing a bright star with a correct image prism diagonal, a very thin thread of light will be seen crossing from edge to edge.  This is not a defect, but is inherent to this type of diagonal.  I only noticed this when observing Sirius, and found it not to be objectionable.  I purchased this diagonal, however, not to observe the brightest of stars, but to observe the faintest of deep-sky objects possible, with a 102 mm refractor.  


Optimize Your Observing Skills Using These Accessories

February 4, 2014

I would like to suggest several observing accessories.  It’s my opinion, the following items are essential to become a better observer: I purchased all of the following items from Orion Telescope and Binoculars, however, a couple of them over twenty years ago.  The folding observing table was custom made by a good friend.  

  1. Astrogoggles:  Red flexible plastic glasses that can be worn at least 30 minutes prior to going outside, to better acclimate your night vision.  I also find them to work great, should it be necessary to come back into the house, as they will allow you to maintain your “ready to observe” night vision.  
  2. Observing cloth:  Placing a cloth over your head, can significantly improve your ability to see the faintest details in deep-sky objects, by blocking ambient light.  I like the one shown in the picture, which I ordered many years ago, again from Orion.  It’s lightweight, has a liner, and allows for good air circulation, which eliminates fogging the eyepiece.  You could use most any piece of black fabric, but this one is designed and engineered just for the amateur astronomer.   
  3. Astro-Chair:  If you want to see the faintest of details, an adjustable observing chair should be  considered essential.  It’s impossible to stand, hold both your head and eye still, make some notes and a sketch, while standing.  It’s very important to be relaxed and comfortable while observing!  


NGC 3893 Galaxy in Ursa Major and Faint Companion NGC 3896 – Seeing The Unseen

November 30, 2013

I wanted to share an article concerning an observation I made on April 20, 1993.  It’s a testament that documenting and taking good notes is indeed a good thing!   

During some recent cloudy weather, while reviewing past logbook entries, I discovered that I had not followed up on an object viewed on 20 April 1993.  The main object was NGC 3893, an 11th magnitude galaxy in Ursa Major.  While making my sketch of this excellent galaxy, I noticed a smaller, very faint object, SE and very close.  I noted this in my logbook as one to look up later.  But it was almost ten months later, while browsing through the logbook, that I remembered to follow up on this observation.

I checked Burnham’s Celestial Handbook, Tom Lorenzen’s 1000+, and the Tirion Sky Atlas 2000.0 only to find that none of these sources listed a companion galaxy.  I then went to the NGC-2000.0 Catalog by Roger Sinott, and found the companion listed as NGC 3896, a 14th magnitude galaxy. I was elated, as this was the faintest galaxy I had ever observed with my 10-inch reflector from my moderately light polluted backyard.  It should also be noted that this observation was made from my sun deck, with unshielded streetlights nearby. 

If I had not sketched NGC 3893, it is possible that I would have missed NGC 3896.  And, if I had not logged the companion, I probably would never have checked any reference material.  So, the moral of this story is:  Keep a logbook, sketch your observations, and periodically review your logbook.  You never know what you may find.

The following is the “rough” but original sketch made at the telescope eyepiece, without any alterations or changes.  After 20 years, I’m already excited about going back to NGC 3893 and NGC 3896…hopefully from a dark site.  I wonder how the fainter companion will present itself this time?  Hopefully, I will be able to produce a better sketch and improve my notes.  Please note:  The following sketch of both NGC 3893 and NGC 3896 is much brighter than the actual visual view.  


2014-04-08- 001

NGC 3893 and 3896 - Ursa Major -1