Archive for the ‘Roger’s Articles’ category

A Nice Visit With Richard Nugent; Amateur Astronomer and Friend From Boston

October 4, 2019

Photo:  Richard, Debbie and myself having lunch.  

Afterwards we enjoyed a nice drive around the community, with plenty of good conversation. 

Later in the evening, an observing session from my back deck.  We observed galaxy NGC 7448….the Observer’s Challenge object for October.  

What is the Observer’s Challenge report? https://rogerivester.com/category/observers-challenge-reports-complete/

Richard and I share a similar story as amateur astronomers.  The Both of us became interested in astronomy at about the same age, during the late 60’s.   

At that time, I was using my brothers 60 mm refractor.  Richard was fortunate to have an 8-inch reflector.  

We really enjoyed Richard’s visit!  

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What? Sand Dunes In The Northeastern Corner Of South Carolina, 50 Miles From The Atlantic Ocean! And Also Very Dark Skies…

August 14, 2018

While visiting family in Mullins, South Carolina over the past few years, I’ve discovered some fabulous dark-sky areas, perfect for the use of an astronomical telescope.  

Only a few miles outside the city limits, there are country roads, agriculture fields, and no houses or lights for miles and miles.  

Hopefully in future visits, I’ll be able to take one of my smaller telescopes, but unfortunately, like most locations on the east coast, during the summer months, cloudy skies seem to prevail.    

However, this trip yielded some beautiful skies, but on our first night we were too tired to attempt to see the Perseid meteor shower. 

The next morning….Tuesday August 14th 2018.  

When driving in a secluded area, via unfamiliar country roads, you never know what you may find:   

While riding around with my oldest grandson, who just got his learners permit, and I was sharing my wisdom, of how to be a safe driver.  During our  leisure drive, we found something very interesting:  

Sand dunes, and a very sandy area….at first resembling snow, all in the middle of a dense forest and surrounded by swamp land.  There were Bald Cypress trees growing out of the black murky water, Spanish moss hanging from the trees, and who knows, maybe even an alligator or two in that dark water!

Note:  This very remote small sandy area is a protected site.  I took some pictures as following, but somehow missed the eerie swamp.   

Roger 

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Stopped and using the car as a size reference, to a part of the protected site: 

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South Carolina Grandkids

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Debbie (Grammy) with granddaughter Gracie

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Couldn’t leave our Sophie behind!  She’s ready to go anytime we are! 

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The Three Types of Astronomical Deep-Sky Sketches Identified and Explained

May 14, 2018

      The following classifications of the various types of deep-sky sketches are solely my opinion only….   

                 Detailed visual telescope sketching:  Observing an object through a telescope via an eyepiece. Drawing the object on paper or a sketch card “as verbatim” as possible using a pencil, or pencils of various hardness or other.   

     I’m a visual back yard observer with more than forty years of experience.  All of my sketches are made using a pencil and a 5 x 8 blank note card with a 3-inch circle.  I do not use paints, colored pencils or in anyway attempt to embellish my sketches.  

     Impression sketching:  A sketch made at the eyepiece, using a pencil, charcoal, or chalk and representing what the observer mentally perceives, without a great degree of scale or detail. 

     Impression sketching:  Want to know more about this type of sketching? 

     Pull out your copy of the “Messier Album” by John Mallas and Evered Kreimer.  Mallas does an excellent job with this type of sketching:  

     “The sketches were made on vellum-type drafting paper with a soft pencil, using finger smudging and erasing until the desired effects were achieved.”  John Mallas 

     Computer-enhanced sketching:  A sketch generated sketch using a computer, from “sometimes” a rough pencil sketch.  Being the purest visual observer,  this is not my favorite system.  From all computerized digital sketches I’ve seen, the sketch appears very similar to that an image via a camera, “and” normally as would be seen through a much larger telescope.  But amateur astronomy is changing, and I’m trying my best to accept those changes.  However, I must admit, change does not come easy for me…regardless of what it is.  Just a symptom of growing older, I suppose.   🙂  

     However, if you choose this type of sketching, please let it be known to your readers that it is a computer generated or assisted drawing, and not a “true” pencil sketch as seen through the eyepiece.   

     Examples of detailed visual telescope sketches, as following:  

     The following is a representation or an illustration of my sketches, using only a pencil, an eraser and a blank 5 x 8 notecard with the colors inverted via a computer or scanner.  

Rogers NGC-2371 Inverted

Rogers M-081 Inverted

Rogers M-082 Inverted

Gamma Virgo - Correct Position Angle

Rogers M-53a

Pacman Nebula - NGC 281

M13 And The Elusive Propeller

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rogers ngc-2175 inverted

Rogers NGC-2300 Inverted

Rogers NGC-2964 Invereted

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 heavy duty 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 very good 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 very portable and versatile telescope at an excellent price. 

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 really fueled my interest in amateur astronomy. From the following books (pictured below) to my first serious telescope, an Edmund 4.25-inch f/10 reflector.   It came with a 25mm eyepiece, which was called a 1-inch in the advertisements, and also an adjustable Barlow, to vary the magnifications. 

The year…1976:

This following photo of my Edmund reflector is especially important to me.  Not only a picture of my telescope, but also the living room of an old rented house which was built in 1927, and took a fortune to heat.  However, the rent was really cheap, so it was affordable.  I was just getting started in my working career, and most all of my money was required for the essentials of life.   

 This telescope allowed me to see many of the Messier objects to a level I’d never seen before.  And at that time I was living in a highly light polluted area, so the setting circles were like magic.  Within a short period, I purchased a larger set of setting circles (also from Edmund) which greatly improved my direct-indexing accuracy to locate deep-sky objects.   

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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 Sirius B.  

“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 person with an interest in astronomy.  So, it was up to me to learn on my own, how to become an amateur astronomer.  I did this by reading the many books by Edmund Scientific, and taking my telescope out into my back yard, night after night.   

It was the 70s and 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.  

However, I was on my way…  

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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