Archive for the ‘Roger’s Articles’ category

Proper Balancing Of An Equatorial Mount Is Essential For Proper Tracking And To Avoid Excess Stress On the Motor Or Motors

May 24, 2023

I’ve had the following manual mount for 32 years, but have seldom used the RA motor, due to the difficulty of proper balancing with the “single 25-pound counter weight.” It is a medium duty, but of very good quality, made in the old Meade facility in Costa Mesa, California.

This mount is sufficient and very stable for this heavy 10-inch reflector, only due to the short pedestal, which also positions me perfectly at the eyepiece when using my astro-chair.

I’ve used it “totally manual” for all this time, as I thought just nudging with my nose to “visually observe” was sufficient, and it has been. But after using my Celestron CGE-Pro mount, over the past couple or so years, it has spoiled me. I’ve now found it almost essential to use RA tracking to properly make a pencil sketch, taking sometimes hours.

So, of only the past few days, I’ve decided to replace the single 25-pound counter weight with two 10-pound weights, and one 5-pound weight, from my gym. And with an extra 2.5-pound weight if needed.

As an adjustment, I’m using 1-inch collars, with a brass threaded rod and brass bolts, cut and filed to length, and a T-handle from Lowe’s Hardware. I’ll replace the brass “straight screwdriver” bolts, when I get another threaded handle, hopefully today.

I’m including some photos of my “multiple weights” for micro-adjusting, and better tracking, which I’ve yet to try out, due to smoke coming down from Canada.

Always use brass bolts as lock-downs against a steel shaft to avoid marring the shaft.

My other mount which I use for my very heavy “solid tube” 10-inch f/4.5 reflector

Note the extra Losmandy 11-pound weight, in addition to the 22-pound standard Celestron counter weight:

Eerie Photos Of Abandoned Astronomical Observatories

May 18, 2023

Pencil Sketch Of The Tarantula Nebula By Visual Observer Magda Streicher In South Africa

May 11, 2023

Tarantula Nebula in the constellation Dorado

NGC 2070

RA: 05h 38m Dec. -69º 06 mins.

The Unistellar EVScope 2 – By Guest Host: James Dire

April 14, 2023

Unistellar eVScope 4.5 Smart Scope Evaluation: By Guest Host: Gary Addington

April 12, 2023

Gary Addington: Observer from North Carolina

See my attached photo of NGC 3044 made using a 4.5-inch Smart Scope from downtown Maiden, North Carolina.  To read that galaxy NGC 3044 was an 11.9 mag object, one might say that a 4.5-inch, would probably not be sufficient so “move on, nothing here.”

How, you might ask, how I, with a couple other members of the club were trying out a new gift from someone we both know. Last Friday, we picked up a new telescope….a gift, from Dr. James Hermann.  The gift was a new Unistellar eVScope 4.5 Smart Telescope.

Before proceeding with Gary’s article/post, I feel the need to share and give credit to Dr. James Hermann, for all he has done for the amateur astronomy community, not only locally, but many other places, including the desert southwest. Some supplemental information, concerning Dr. James Hermann, MD:

Dr. Hermann, has been an amateur astronomy for many years, and has donated many telescopes and much astronomy equipment to universities and colleges, astronomy clubs, and churches. Only Jim knows how much he has donated to deserving astronomy causes over the years.

Just a brief listing of some of his donations...

When Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs built an on-campus observatory, more than 30 plus years ago. Dr. Hermann donated their first dome telescope….a Celestron C-14. Later he replaced this scope with a 16-inch Richey-Chretien telescope with a Parmount Mount.

When he found out the Las Vegas Astronomical Society was wanting to build an observing complex, on Mount Potosi in SW Nevada….Dr. Hermann came through again. This is a famous mountain, for a sad reason.

Not only donating a premium ASA 14-inch RC scope and harmonic mount, but also paid for building a shipping crate, packing the scope and mount, and the shipping from North Carolina to Las Vegas. Roger Ivester

Mount Potosi Observing Complex:

Interested in reading more about this story that was featured in Astronomy Magazine?

Carole Lombard, the wife of Clark Gable, and ~26 other souls were lost, when their DC-3 Luxury-liner, hit the rock cliffs of Mount Potosi at maximum power.

The prints of the rotary engine can be seen on the side of the mountain today. Due to the rough terrain and snow, all of the bodies were not able to be recovered.

It took us about fives minutes to set it up….with the hardest part being leveling the tripod.  The next step is turning it on, connecting with your smart phone or tablet, get either, by selecting from its SkyTour or typing in the name of an object.  

After a couple of warm up objects of the big names, the Orion Nebula, and a few others I suggested your April Challenge of NGC 3044.  Looking it up on my iPad and seeing it was mag 11.9.

I thought this would be a good test for the little scope.  We typed in the name and watched as the scope slewed to the object.  It spends a little time platesolving the field, 1st some movement, then a 2nd platesolve, some movement, then a slight 3rd movement and it comes to rest.  

We see nothing but stars, then the “magic” begins with a touch of the enhance icon at the bottom of the screen.  You see a second counter begin and after 30 seconds, we see a small central bar begin to show. After 1 minute we see a better bar showing and after 3 minutes, I make a picture to my phone.  

Wow, mag 11.9 low surface brightness galaxy in a 4.5-inch telescope from light polluted Maiden, North Carolina.  We went on to look at the Horsehead, Owl Nebula, and some galaxies and clusters.  This is quite a gift.  

We will use it for our public events at the observatory.  Up to 10 people can connect to the scope with their smart devices at one time and will be able to take home a digital picture of what they saw.   What an amazing scope.  

Makes me wonder if this tech upgrades to larger light buckets at a affordable price for amateurs.  Maybe like the big screen TV’s when they were first introduced, and now you can buy a 60-in for about $200.00.  

Meantime we will enjoy this little scope and allow people at our events to enjoy the night sky.  Also thanks for our test object (NGC 3044) last night.

Tracking The Suns Shadow For An Entire Year

March 23, 2023

Last year (2022) my oldest grandson, needed a project to show the altitude of the sun over a period of time….if possible an entire year. However, despite living 200 plus miles apart, we both made similar “solar devices” to measure the suns shadow beginning on the Vernal Equinox (March 20th 2022) and beyond. John-Winston was living in Myrtle Beach, and I was living in western North Carolina.

As following, the photograph presents the yellow (tape) mark on the right side of the scale…the sun shadow on the 2022 Vernal Equinox. On the left side, the yellow mark, was placed on March 20th 2023. The mark in 2023, is exactly the same, as it should be.

But my grandson and I needed to prove and show this with facts….after all, this is science and it must be proven.

The blue mark (tape) was placed on the scale, and on the shortest day of the year, December 21st 2022, which is the longest shadow of the year for 2022, which shows just how far south the sun was.

The white (tape) mark was placed on the first day of summer (June 20th 2022) which shows the longest day of the year. I’m sure the longest day of the year will be exactly the same on (June 20th 2023), but again, this is science, and we’ve got to prove it.

John-Winston and I have really enjoyed working together on this project, and presenting the suns shadow for an entire year. It has been a great project indeed.

Sophie (our Dachshund) just had to get in on the fun, and Debbie was happy to bring her out for this historic event.

Roger and John-Winston Ivester

Becoming A Real Amateur Astronomer, Seeing M81-82, And The Story Of Losing My Observing Partner Of 17 Years

March 12, 2023

My Notes of seeing M81-82 for the first time in April 1978….and sketches/notes from many years later:   

It wasn’t until the mid-70’s when I acquired my very own telescope, a 4 1/4-inch Edmund Scientific reflector, a Palomar Jr. which was not my first choice, but the best my budget would allow.  

I’ll never forget one special night using this telescope. 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 very severe in my back yard.  

I was less than 50 feet from a HPS street light.  

Attempting to find even the brightest deep-sky objects under these conditions proved to be difficult.  I had tried on many occasions to find M81 and M82, without success.  I wanted to see this galaxy pair, 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 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 happened: A small, faint fuzzy object entered my telescope view.  I then nudged the scope slightly and then another…..finally M81 and M82.  What a beautiful sight!  I savored the view for the longest time and to this day and I can still feel that excitement.  

In my mind, I was now a real amateur astronomer, and went to bed smiling.  RI 


Seeing M81/82 that night in April 1978 with my Edmund 4.25-inch EQ reflector was my greatest achievement to that point, as a humble back yard observer.  

I remember that night so well, and can just see the galaxies in my mind at this very moment, even though I’ve seen them hundreds of times since.  REALLY!  I was using an Edmund 25mm (called a 1-inch at that time) for a magnification of 43x. 

No astronomy club, or other amateurs to share with the next day.  I would have liked that, but the “solitary” excitement in my back yard on that night was “apparently” all I needed.

It would be 1991 before I would meet another amateur astronomer, and later join an astronomy club.  However, most of my observing would and still “continues” to be mostly by myself.

Observing deep-sky objects is serious business indeed.  No time for idle chatter!  There are sketches and notes to make.  :-))  

However, I did have one observing partner, that was with me on a regular basis, for almost 17 years, but she passed away in February 2016.  She’s been gone “now” for over seven years, and no one can replace her.  

To this day…I still think about her often.  

She never said….not one time:  “HEY…you gotta see this” or “I’ve got the Ring Nebula, or you should see M42!

My observing partner for 17 years, and the story:

I can still see CJ, our Persian Cat, waiting anxiously at the back door to go outside, while I’d be setting up my telescope on the deck or in the back yard. 

She would walk around, climb the deck, play like she was catching something….pouncing and clawing the ground. However, after a short while, she’d end up on my lap, either due to being cold, or to just feel safe.  

CJ was going to stay with me for only a couple weeks, and then would be moving to California, but that two weeks ended up being almost 17 years.  I’m really glad the move didn’t work out.   

Astronomy from my backyard will never be the same.  

Debbie and I held her in our arms from 11:30 AM till 8:15 PM.  I had my hand on her chest when her little heart beat the last time, after 19 years.  It was a very sad day.  

CJ had a wonderful life.  We treated her like a Princess!   Roger 


The following observations and sketches are from 40 years later: 

Messier 81 (NGC 3031) Galaxy in Ursa:   10-inch f/4.5 reflector.  Sketch magnification; 12mm eyepiece 95x.  

80 mm refractor at 33x, M81 is large, bright, mostly round with a brighter nucleus, and is nicely framed with companion galaxy M82.   

10-inch reflector at 95x, M81 is bright, large, well concentrated, elongated, but subtle, NE-SW.  Very bright nucleus, almost stellar.  Only on nights of excellent seeing and transparency can the spiral arms be seen from my moderately light polluted backyard.   RI   

Rogers M-081 Inverted

Messier 82 (NGC 3034) Galaxy in Ursa Major:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector @ 191x magnification.  Eyepiece:  12 mm plus 2.8x Barlow 

80 mm f/5 refractor:  Surprisingly bright, elongated with a lens shape, smooth texture at low magnification.  When increasing the magnification to 75x, the galaxy becomes very uneven and mottled, with two brighter knots toward the middle, and an outer elongated halo.  This galaxy is much fainter than it’s companion, Messier 81.

10-inch reflector:  Bright, very elongated, dark band in the central region is almost separating the galaxy, and is very easy at 114x, but really comes out at 200x.  At the higher magnification the galaxy becomes very mottled, and with a faint surrounding halo extending the length of the galaxy.  The NE and SW edges or tips of the halo are smooth.   RI   

Rogers M-082 Inverted

Images using a 32-inch telescope of M81 and M82 by Mario Motta:


Astrophysicist Barbie Doll, By Debbie Ivester

March 11, 2023

Years ago, I had a lot of Barbie Dolls, but no more. However, last week, Roger encouraged me to purchase my first Barbie Doll in many years, complete with a telescope and star map. I liked the idea….and when I received it this week, it was a bit like going back in time! What a “small” but fun gift to myself. Click on the title to see more photos and real “true to life” astronomical telescopes! Debbie

However there are no shortages of “true astronomical telescopes” around the Ivester house:

There are more telescopes stored in closets and extra bedrooms (not photographed) and with a little help from Roger, I can see galaxies, nebulae and star clusters! Believe me….Roger is outside most all clear “moonless” nights! So these telescopes are very much used.

The Use Of Rat Poison, Causing Death To Wildlife And Pets: We Almost Lost Our Dog! And Also Read The Story “In Brief” Of The Poisoning Of A Female Bald Eagle In Arlington, Massachusetts:

March 2, 2023

By Roger Ivester

I’d like to share a “personal episode, or event” that happened to Sophie, our long-haired Dachshund a couple weeks ago.  

While walking Sophie near a vacant house near us….before I could react, Sophie ate a dead mouse.  I found out that rat poison had been “possibly” used in this house, so we naturally assumed that the dead mouse in close proximity to this house had been poisoned.

We turned Sophie onto her back, and poured peroxide down her throat. Sophie began vomiting (The purpose and objective) but no mouse.  So we raced her to the veterinary clinic…and fortunately while waiting to see the vet, she vomited the mouse onto the floor.  

The veterinarian told us, that the peroxide procedure has now been replaced, just recently with “an eye-drop” which will cause a complete purge of stomach contents….as we understand.  However, this needs to happen soon after the ingestion (maybe within an hour) of consuming the poisoned mouse.  

Sophie…due to our quick response, received no “apparent” lasting problems, and after two trips to the Vet and several hundred dollars, all seems well.

But it was a bad…very bad experience, and could have caused the death of a beloved member of our family.

This “eye-drop” as we understand is relatively new….and will also work with dogs that swallow other things. 

Note: We were unaware of the “eye drops” after Sophie swallowed the mouse, now available by veterinarians, which is a great thing, as the peroxide treatment is difficult to get a dog or cat to swallow… as you might imagine.

So, please help get the word out, “it’s not cool” to poison rats or mice, as anything that eats that “poisoned mouse” is subject to the same “death” as the varmint.   By Roger Ivester

The following “brief” was taken from a Yahoo News site:

“…..Wildlife experts are working to save the life of a bald eagle that has been sickened by rat poison in Arlington, Massachusetts. The female bird had been seen nesting with a male at a cemetery. But a few days ago, some people noticed the female eagle was drooping her head and spending a lot of time on the ground, instead of in the trees.

A group of wildlife rescuers tried three times Sunday night to capture the eagle, but returned Monday morning, cornered her behind some headstones and grabbed her. “And we saw the male just going back and forth, back and forth, looking for his mate. And he ended in a tree right above the car we were in. And it’s really sad because we can’t tell him, ‘We’re going to try and make her better and bring her back to you,’” said Linda Amato, a wildlife rehabilitator.

The bald eagle is now at a wildlife hospital on Cape Cod, where preliminary tests confirmed rat poisoning. If the bird can be saved, it will likely take months.

Canopus From Western North Carolina @ +35º 18′: Also An Image From Naples, Florida, And A Sighting From Fremont California

February 27, 2023

The following is a rough field sketch using chalk on “gray” cardstock, rather than “black” to better illustrate light pollution. Canopus is just visible in a distant tree line.

Canopus is located in the constellation Carina, and is the second brightest star in the sky. It has an absolute magnitude of -5.71 and with the following coordinates:

Right ascension of 06h 23min with a declination of -52º 41

In the early 90’s, astronomer, Tom English, promoted an event called “The Great Canopus Chase” in our local astronomy club. It was unknown at that time if Canopus could be seen from the area, and amateurs went far and wide looking for the perfect southern view.

Many observers saw the star, but most from different locations, within the local area. It was a fun event. When I first saw it…I was actually amazed, but have seen it many times since. Roger Ivester

From my (+35º 18′ ) in North Carolina, my theoretical south latitude 90º (-) 35º = ~ -55º.

Of course the terrain and light pollution can most often be the limiting factor for many in their limiting theoretical southern latitude.

I can see the star Canopus, at a south declination of (-52º 42′) but in a distant tree-line. However, it shines brightly! 

The following is my rough chalk sketch, on charcoal “colored” card stock. I made this “rough sketch” as viewed from the north end of Stadium Drive, at the stop sign (junction to the Boiling Springs/Cliffside highway)

Notes and image as following by Mario Motta:

Canopus near its peak which is 11 degrees, here at about 10º above the horizon in Naples, Florida. The neighbor had all their lights on for some reason.

I received this note from Richard Shuford, this morning: March 2nd 2023

Back in 1976, when I was an undergraduate physics major at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, NC, catching a glimpse of Canopus was celebrated by some of my friends who observed it from a high hilltop in Burke County.Richard Shuford

(Note: Hickory is about one hour north from my location of seeing Canopus) I was very surprised when reading these notes from Richard Shuford, as I thought our group, in the early 90’s was the first time anyone in this area (+ 35º) NC was able to see Canopus….Roger Ivester

Chuck Vaughn: Observer from California

Now what is the likelihood of me finding and seeing this in a 30 year old magazine? Especially since I just completed a Canopus post on my site? Sharing the story By Roger Ivester

I was looking through a December 1992 Sky & Telescope, and the word “Canopus” seemingly jumped out of page-712 and hit me…right in the eye! His latitude was +37º 49′ which puts his theoretical limiting declination of almost exactly that of Canopus! And he claims to have seen it without optical aid!

The following is a brief of that article:

Canopus, too! Chuck Vaughn of Fremont, California… to have caught sight of the star without optical in November, 1991, and three years earlier in December. Has anyone else seen it from such a northerly location?”

Note for reference: Richmond, Virginia has a latitude of +37º 53′ just about the same as Fremont, California.