Archive for the ‘Roger’s Articles’ category

Using a 76 mm (3-inch) Reflector and a Relaxing Hour Enjoying The Wonders of The Night Sky….

March 17, 2018

Last night, I didn’t want to set up a larger telescope, but instead scanned the sky for more than an hour using a small 76 mm reflector.  

No notes, no sketches….just relaxing, and taking the advice of Leslie Peltier:  

“Were I to write out one prescription designed to alleviate at least some of the self-made miseries of mankind, it would read like this:  “One gentle dose of starlight to be taken each clear night just before retiring”.  Leslie Peltier

“Many books explain how to observe the sky; Starlight Nights explains why.”  In a way, Leslie Peltier is the patron saint of One Minute Astronomer.”   David Levy

So the next time you want to observe, but are a bit too tired, the weather is too cold or too hot:  why not spend a few minutes with binoculars, or a very small telescope, and you just might be surprised at what you see. Then there is also the benefit of a great nights sleep.  

I enjoy amateur astronomy much more than I did 50 years ago…as a 13 year old kid trying to find my way as an amateur in a weedy field, in the foothills of North Carolina.  

Roger Ivester



International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) Fully Shielded Home Lighting. Sold by Lowe’s Home Improvement

February 22, 2018

My first fully shielded house light, with one more to go.  I purchased this one at Lowe’s on Sunday, and put it up today.  Threw away the old standard brass coach light which  spewed light in your eyes when coming in the front door.  You can actually see the house much better when driving up the street.  All the light shines down in a nice concentrated beam.  I need one more for my back door.  The fixture is well made and was very simple to install….


Edmund Scientific of Years Past

February 21, 2018

Edmund Scientific was the company that spawned my interest in amateur astronomy. From the following books to my first serious telescope, an Edmund 4.25-inch EQ reflector. A Palomar Jr.

It’s really too bad that books like the ones pictured below are no longer available. It was the “Edmund Sky Guide” that taught me all about Sirius and the companion. However, it would be almost forty years later, before I was finally able to see the companion.

It was the mid to late 60’s thru the 70s that were what I call the golden years of amateur astronomy. The days when 6-inch reflectors ruled the day (or night) and fortunate indeed was the amateur that owned an Edmund Scientific or Criterion 6-inch f/8 EQ reflector.

The days when the solitary observer spent many nights in their backyard. The days when every amateur wanted to see all of the Messier’s.

Being really young, always feeling great, no responsibilities, dreaming of a better telescope, or another Kellner eyepiece.

Now what more could anyone ask for…..





Visual Observing with a 6-inch f/6 Imaging Reflector Telescope: Is Sirius B possible With This Scope?

February 10, 2018



The above photos of my now “prized” telescope.  I’m sure this scope is going to see a lot of use this year, and beyond.    

One of my desires has always been to bring back the excitement of the glory days of amateur astronomy, when all kids wanted a telescope.  The nights of the solitary observer in the backyard, attempting to locate and observe several of the showpiece Messier objects.

Those were the days for sure.  I wish it were possible to go back.  However, each and every night when I’m out in my backyard with my telescope….I become 13 years old again.  What a great feeling!

Now sharing my excitement from last night in North Carolina:  February 8th 2018

Yesterday, I received an email from observer’s challenge contributor, and email communications friend, Mike McCabe from Massachusetts.  He was very excited as he was finally able to see the companion to Sirius, known as Sirius B or “the pup.”

Mike was using an 8-inch reflector.  His excitement reminded me of my own several years ago when I was able (after ~40 years) to finally see “the pup” using a 102 mm f/9.8 refractor.  

Mike’s success in seeing Sirius B, caused me to want to know if it would be possible to achieve the same using my 6-inch f/6 (OTA) imaging reflector.  

Due to working with my other telescopes, I’ve just not been able to spent much time with this scope.

Last night I made my attempt (February 8th 2018) with the 6-inch to see if the companion to Sirius would be possible with this telescope.   The weather was perfect, 35º and totally calm. When I took my first look at Sirius, I knew that seeing was very good.

I started with 150x, but to no avail and worked my way up to 232x, and there it was, but was unable to hold it constantly.  After more than 30 minutes with Sirius, I decided to attempt another challenge.

I then moved to the Trapezium in the center of the Orion Nebula. Starting with 232x, I was amazed how easy it was to see the E and F stars. There were beautiful airy disc surrounding the primary four Trapezium stars.  The beauty of a multiple or double star doesn’t get any better than this!

When I purchased the 6-inch f/6 imaging reflector, I had no idea of the quality, either mechanically or optically.

However, I found out pretty fast, as star diffraction rings were “almost” identical when defocusing a star, in and out of focus.  After selling my Criterion RV-6, almost 40 years ago, I just wanted another 6-inch reflector, but not an f/8.

The humble optical tube assembly:  TPO brand, made in Taiwan, purchased from OPT in California, 2-inch focuser and also included tube rings.

The cost of the OTA was very good also.  I don’t remember my old Criterion RV-6 being anywhere near this good, optically or mechanically.

I added an 8 x 50 finder, as it came with a tiny 6 x 30.  Not relative to the telescope, but I had to purchase another Vixen counter weight for my 20 year old GP mount. 

My primary reason for purchasing this scope was for portability and ease of carrying and set-up.  My 10-inch EQ reflector seems to get heavier with the passing of each and every year.

I never really expected such a quality 6-inch OTA for such an extremely low price.  Roger Ivester

University Optics Close Doors After More than 55+ Years

December 3, 2017

I’m a bit late in finding out, but University Optics closed its doors in ~June 2017.  I am saddened to hear this. 

After 25 years, I still use my UO Konigs 12 mm, 16 mm, 24 mm in 1.25″ format, and a 32 mm 2-inch, and a 20 mm UO Erfle.  I also have a University Optics 2.8x Klee Barlow.  

About 15 years ago I called the owner, Mr. Seyfried.  My 12 mm Konig had a streak of light crossing the FOV when observing brighter stars.  Seyfried told me to send it back (after more than 10 years) and he would replace the lens.  

I received the EP back in less than a couple weeks, and it performs perfectly to this day.  Now this is a warranty and service for sure!  I was willing to pay, but Mr. Seyfried would have no part of this.  

An ad from the 70’s in S&T:  A complete UO 6-inch reflector OTA kit for sale.  You had to assemble all parts, black the inside, and paint the outside.  The cost was $164, and did I ever want this kit telescope!  

It’s for sure sad to see a company that supplied at one time, mirror making kits, mirror cells and other items which other vendors did not sell….out of business after 55+ years.  I like things to stay the same  😦 

Roger Ivester

Bob’s Knobs – Collimation Thumbscrews For Newtonian and Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescopes

November 27, 2017

It was almost forty years ago when I sold my 6-inch Criterion RV-6.  Life became really busy and just didn’t have time to observe for several years.

Earlier this year, I decided to replace the RV-6, with another 6-inch reflector.   I really didn’t need another telescope, but you know how that can be.

The telescope came with a bag of Bob’s Knobs thumbscrews, but I had not installed, until this weekend.  It was very easy….replacing one screw at a time and collimating after each replacement.

The 6-inch reflector: 

In the days of yesteryear, a 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 purpose telescope, especially with an f/6 focal ratio.   

Roger Ivester


Does Anybody Remember Science Hobbies on Central Avenue in Charlotte?

November 7, 2017

I will always remember purchasing my first telescope from Science Hobbies in Charlotte, North Carolina during the mid-70’s.  It was an Edmund Scientific 4 1/4-inch f/10 reflector. Science Hobbies sold mostly Edmund products, and always had a big 8-inch Edmund f/6 reflector sitting in the window.  The 8-inch would have been my dream scope at the time, but the cost was well over $600.  The year was 1976….and this was far beyond my budget.

I was looking at both the Edmund 4 1/4 and the larger 6-inch Super Space Conqueror.  I really wanted the 6-inch with a much heavier equatorial mount, but had to settle for the smaller scope, due to the cost. 

Throughout the years, I always enjoyed going to Science Hobbies.  It was fun to see the latest from Edmund, which included telescopes, eyepieces, and other fun science products.  I bought a lot of stuff over the years from that little store.

I also purchased The Finest Deep-Sky Objects by Mullaney and McCall, a Tirion Atlas.  One item I really like and use is an eyepiece shelf which mounts on the pedestal and will hold six eyepieces.  I also purchased all of those old, but fabulous astronomy books written for Edmund by Sam Brown and Terence Dickinson.  I still use them on occasion.  

A sad day:

It was a Saturday, back in the late 90’s, and I said to my wife Debbie “hey lets ride down to Science Hobbies”.  Debbie always enjoyed going to a shopping mall after my spending a couple of hours looking at telescopes, etc.  We drove into the parking lot, something did not seem right, there was no telescope sitting in the window.  The rusty sign that had been hanging over the front door for many years was missing.  I got out of the car and pressed my nose on the front door.  Oh no…..the store was empty!  The store had closed!  

The last time I had been there, one of the clerks told me that business had been slow.  This concerned me a bit…..I was the only person in the store.

I really miss that place, spending time and looking at astronomy equipment “live” and not on the pages of a catalog.  Retail stores are having a difficult time these days, regardless of what they sell.  It’s really hard to compete with the internet, and mail order.  

If you have problems via mail order it can be quite difficult having to box up a defective product.  I had to return two Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes quite a few years ago.  One would not focus, and the other had a serious problem with the drive.  It would have been great if I could have checked them out in a store before taking them home.    

The good thing….all major astronomy equipment vendors online have excellent return policies, should there be a problem, or if the product does not meet your expectations.   

All of my astronomy purchases are now online, since the closing of Science Hobbies, which has now been almost twenty-five years.   However, I still miss those Saturday afternoons, looking at astronomy equipment.  

Roger Ivester