Archive for the ‘Roger’s Articles’ category

Antares – Alpha Scorpii – It Can Be Difficult To See The Companion, But Easy When Using A UHC Nebula Filter?

April 24, 2018

Antares:  Magnitudes 1.0/5.4 with a separation of 3.2 arc seconds.  

Notes from July 6th, 7th and 13th 1995:  “10-inch reflector; seeing good.  Tried all eyepiece combinations, but could not see the companion.”   

The glare of the bright primary makes this a difficult pair to split, despite good seeing and a well-collimated 10-inch reflector.

July 1995:  While browsing through some back issues of Sky & Telescope, I found an interesting article by Walter Scott Houston (December 1991 issue, p. 685) concerning the use of a UHC nebula filter to show the companion to Antares, as reported by Richard Miller.  

The article stated that the companion was barely visible using a 10-inch reflector at 230x, but that the filter showed the fainter star easily through a 6-inch at 96x.  

“The filtered view through the 10-inch showed two crisp disk with a band of sky between them.  Furthermore, the filter’s selective transmission causes the pair to appear deep red and apple green.”

Would the UHC filter work for me?  

I set out to try this for myself on the night of July 14th 1995.  All of my previous efforts to view the companion to Antares through my 10-inch reflector had failed.  

However, when I used an Orion Ultrablock nebula filter with my 10-inch at 240x, there it was…..the companion was clearly visible.  

Because of the filter….both stars appeared greenish, but were only visible for a short period.  The conditions, which were good for double stars earlier, quickly deteriorated as a hot breeze began to stir.      

Roger Ivester  

 

Orion CT80 Refractor Review

April 4, 2018

Telescope:  Orion 80mm f/5 achromatic refractor.  Item #09202 

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     I’d been wanting a small economical refractor for visual observing.  A telescope that could be used for those quick observing sessions when time is limited, and also for terrestrial viewing.  A telescope which could easily be taken on trips, but taking up very little space. 

A Surprise!

My son surprised me with an Orion model CT80 f/5 refractor as a gift.

     This telescope is sold as an optical tube assembly, without accessories from Orion Telescopes and Binoculars.  However, no problem.  I have extra finders, an equatorial mount, an extra or two diagonals, and plenty of eyepieces and a tripod for terrestrial viewing.

     I was not wanting an expensive 70-80 mm apochromat, but an achromat, that was light and easy to take outside and bring back in.  

     The dovetail mount fits perfectly to my Vixen/Orion GP mount.  I purchased a three pound counterweight about ten years ago, apparently just waiting for this scope.   It balances the telescope perfectly. 

     A smaller and lighter duty equatorial mount would be sufficient for the CT80, but the Vixen GP makes for a rock steady mount for sure.  A good quality tripod could also suffice for either astro or terrestrial viewing. 

     With the tripod legs folded together, I was able to hold and carry both the scope and mount with one arm, while opening and closing the door.  Everything was working perfect so far, but how would this little refractor perform on the night sky?

First Light:

     My first target was the beautiful double star, Castor, in Gemini.  I started with 33x, but this was not enough magnification.  With the employ of a 2.8x Barlow, giving a magnification of 93x, I was amazed.  Castor was cleanly separated, with beautiful airy disc rings surrounding both components.  

     My next object was the Trapezium in Orion.  The four primary components were crisp and clean even at 33x.  When increasing the magnification to 93x, it was a beautiful sight indeed.  

     The Orion Nebula appeared very bright with excellent contrast.  I was actually surprised at this view, which would only be possible with a telescope having excellent anti-reflective coatings.   

What about galaxies?  

     M81 and M82, located in Ursa Major, have always been two of my favorite galaxies.  They were very easy to locate, both fitting nicely within the large 1.8º field of view at a 33x magnification.  Beautiful!  This took me back forty years, when I first observed this galaxy pair with a 4.25-inch Edmund Equatorial reflector. 

     I’d been outside for almost an hour which was my time allowance for this night.  

     Never would I take out my 10-inch equatorially mounted reflector, or my 102 mm refractor or 6-inch reflector, both also with EQ mounts for less than an hour.  This telescope had already proved its value and convenience as being light and compact, and also providing excellent views of brighter deep-sky objects.  

     The scope passed all test with flying colors.  I’m very impressed with my new telescope.   

Final:  A portable and versatile telescope at an excellent price. 

https://www.telescope.com/Orion/Telescopes/Beginner-Telescopes/Orion-CT80-80mm-Compact-Refractor-Telescope-Optical-Tube/rc/2160/pc/-1/c/1/sc/21/p/118189.uts

Now for the next test:

     My wife has always had an interest in making some photos of the moon, Saturn and its rings, using her DSLR camera.  Stay tuned…..

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Roger Ivester

 

Using a 76 mm (3-inch) Reflector and 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.  Observing quite a few of my favorite open clusters, a double star or two, planetary nebula and even a galaxy.   

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 the 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.  So, why not spend a few minutes with binoculars, or a very small telescope and you might just be surprised at what you’ll see. Then there is also the benefit of a great nights sleep?   

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

Roger Ivester

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Edmund Scientific of Years Past

February 21, 2018

Edmund Scientific was the company that spawned my interest in amateur astronomy. From the following books (pictured below) to my first serious telescope, an Edmund 4.25-inch f/10, equatorially mounted reflector.  

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 would finally see the companion.  

“Time in Astronomy” taught me how to use setting circles, which really opened up the world of deep-sky observing for me.  At that time, I didn’t know of another kid or an adult with an interest in astronomy.  So…it was up to me, to learn how to become an amateur astronomer.  I did this by reading everything I could find, and taking my telescope out into my back yard, night after night.   

It was the mid to late 60’s thru the 70s which 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 every amateur wanted to see all of the Messier objects.  As a young enthusiastic amateur, the thought of seeing all of these showpiece objects didn’t even seem possible.  

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

Now what more could any young amateur astronomer ask for?  

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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 was saddened to hear this. 

After 25 years, I still use my UO Konig’s :  A 12mm, 16mm, 24mm in a 1.25-inch  format, and a 32mm 2-inch, and also 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 the eyepiece back to University Optic’s (after more than 10 years) and he would replace the lens.  

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

It’s very sad to see a company that supplied mirror making kits, mirror cells and other low profit items, which other vendors did not sell…now out of business after 55+ years.  

University Optic’s will be missed by the amateur astronomy community.  

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 Newtonian reflector.  Life became really busy and I just didn’t have time to observe for several years.

Earlier this year (2017) 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

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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, during the mid-70’s.  Science Hobbies was a small hobby store that sold products mostly from Edmund Scientific.  They always had a big 8-inch Edmund f/6 with a massive equatorial mount sitting in the front window.   

 

My first telescope was an Edmund 4 1/4-inch f/10, equatorially mounted reflector, however, I really wanted the larger 6-inch Super Space Conqueror. I had to settle for the smaller scope, due to the extra cost of the 6-inch.  My budget was very limited at that time….to say the least!  

https://rogerivester.com/2015/02/03/my-first-and-second-telescopes-from-the-1970s/

Throughout the years, I always enjoyed going to Science Hobbies.  It was fun to see and feel many of the products from Edmund.  Other than my telescope, I bought a few eyepieces, a pedestal mounted eyepiece holder and other astronomy related equipment.  

I also purchased “The Finest Deep-Sky Objects” by Mullaney and McCall, an Edmund Mag 5 Star Atlas, and all of those fabulous astronomy books written for Edmund by Sam Brown and Terence Dickinson.  

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My last trip to Science Hobbies: 

It was a Saturday afternoon, back in the mid-90’s, when my wife and I decided to visit Science Hobbies, as so many times before.    

But this time it was different…

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.  It was obvious…..the store had closed!  

The last time I had been there, one of the clerks told me that business had been really slow.  This concerned me a bit, and on that day, 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, due to online sales.  

I suppose we have to realize that all things “eventually” change.  However, I really miss those lazy Saturday afternoons visiting Science Hobbies, still now, after almost thirty years…..

Roger Ivester

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 

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A great group (pictured below) 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.   

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!  

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Remembering Comet Hale-Bopp – March 1997 – Charcoal/Pencil Sketches, and Photographs

August 14, 2017

Twenty-three years, March 2020!   

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  (North Carolina)

 
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Unfortunately, the sketch is actually larger than our scanner can copy, so some of the comet is cut off.  The sketch was done 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.   Sue French  (New York) 

   

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The following photograph by Mario Motta:

Nikon camera at F2, 50mm lens if I recall….piggybacked on my telescope just before dawn, with FILM  kodachrome. (what is that stuff again?)

I scanned it to digitize a few years back.  I’ve also included an interesting story, following the photo.  Mario Motta  (Massachusetts) 

 
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Hi Roger, 

You might be amused by the background story to the above image.

Before my Gloucester, Massachusetts 32-inch scope, I had a summer home up in Center harbor New Hampshire, where I built my first 32-inch telescope, a Newtonian f/4, much different than my current scope. (that was designed by Scott Milligan though I built it.)

It was on a small lake with many trees. I had a good southern view but had to keep clearing trees east and west. When Hale-Bopp was found, went up to image, given the long tail, I opted for piggyback camera on my telescope.

The day before, I suddenly realized a 130 foot tree would block the rising comet!  So, that afternoon got a chainsaw and cut this rather large tree just to get this image. (had to come down eventually, but, my feeling was trees are welcome to grow on my land.. unless they have the temerity to block my view of the sky… :).

Got up early and made the image at 4 AM, right where that tree was the day before.

That observatory I sold to Arne Hendon, a professional astronomer, who was director of the AAVSO, and was retiring, and looking for a place to put a telescope. He was looking just as Joyce and I were thinking of selling the NH place given our kids were grown, and we did not need a lake anymore when we moved to Gloucester next to a beach.

It worked out well for the both of us. Arne got the telescope he wanted, and retirement home, and I did not have to take apart an observatory.

For several years I actually had two 32-inch telescopes until I sold NH to Arne.

The good news: When my new 32-inch glass was being cast before grinding, it was made 32.25 inches in diameter to allow for edge beveling…whereas my NH 32-inch is exactly 32-inches.

So, I always remind Arne my scope is still the bigger than his… 🙂

Mario Motta  (Massachusetts)  

 

James Dire has quite a few photos of Hale-Bopp, and decided to post his site, as well as one of his images.    http://astrojim.net/Solar System.html 

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Date: March 28, 1997 – Location:  (Jarrettsville, MD) – Minolta X-570 w/Fujicolor 800 Film –  Lens:  50 mm f/2.8 –  Piggyback Bushnell (4-inch) 4000 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope –  Exposure:  10 minutes   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After 17 years, my telescope observing partner passed away. Her name was CJ. Astronomy from my back yard will never be the same.

March 14, 2017

I can still see CJ, our Persian Cat, waiting anxiously at the back door to get out 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 

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