Archive for the ‘Roger’s Articles’ category

Remembering Comet Hale-Bopp – March 1997 – Charcoal Sketch and Photograph

August 14, 2017

A pleasant memory and a fast 20 years.  

Comet Hale-Bopp
March 1997
10-Inch Reflector
Magnification: 160x
FOV: 0.38º

White charcoal pencil sketch on black card stock.  The anti-tail, gas and dust tails are clearly visible.   

 
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Image by Mario Motta of Massachusetts.  

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.  Mario Motta 

 
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The 2017 Southern Star Astronomy Convention Hosted by The Charlotte Amateur Astronomer’s Club.

April 29, 2017

http://charlotteastronomers.org/southernstar/

The following is a brief review and a few photos of the 2017 and 31st Annual Southern Star Astronomy Convention, held at Wildacres Retreat in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.  

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A picture with Al Nagler, signing my copy of “1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing” by the late Tom Lorenzin.  Al Nagler and Tom Lorenzin were good friends.  

Lorenzin later developed an updated 2000+ digital software package. The Tele Vue Gibraltar Alt-Az Mount has that database by Tom Lorenzin. 

It was Lorenzin who coined the name “The Deer-Lick Galaxy Group.”  He and some of his friends from the Charlotte Amateurs were observing from “The Deer-Lick Gap overlook” on what he described as an incredible night.  That observing site is only a few miles from the Southern Star event, on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NGC_7331_Group

http://www.virtualblueridge.com/parkway-place/deer-lick-gap-overlook/

My copy of “1000+” with a personal note and autograph by both Tom Lorenzin and Al Nagler.  I’ll always treasure my Atlas which Tom signed in a cow pasture back in 1993, near Boiling Springs, North Carolina, and now Al Nagler, 2017 in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.   

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Al Nagler with his wife, Judi….genuine, good and kind people.     

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Jim Lamm of the Charlotte Amateurs presiding over the meeting.   

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Time to eat!  Wildacres retreat has incredible food!

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A photo of the surrounding mountains, looking toward Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi @ 6,684 feet.  I’ve ridden my bicycle many times to the top over the past 30 plus years.  I’m also an eight time participant of the Assault on Mount Mitchell, a 103 mile ride from Spartanburg, SC to the summit.  Cyclists from all of the country and beyond participate in this event each and every May.  

In my first year (1981) of the Assault, I lost eight pounds, despite drinking as much water and Gatorade as possible.  I learned a lot that year and did much better during the following years.  

The reason I’m mentioning this:  If you are a cyclist and attending Southern Star, bring your bicycle and ride the most difficult part.  

Difficult part:  This would be starting in Marion, NC (a relatively small town at the base of the mountain) and then to the top, which is ~30 “extremely” difficult miles.  

This is a great opportunity if you are a cyclist and “pain is your friend.” 

Many world class cyclists (including Tour de France winners) have and continue to train in the North Carolina mountains.  

Greg LeMond, a five-time winner of the tour, said that the high mountains of North Carolina reminded him of  Switzerland.  Lance Armstrong, seven time winner of the Tour de France, also trained in the NC mountains.  However, Armstrong was disqualified due to the use of performance enhancing drugs.  😦     

Another difficult and challenging mountain for cyclists:  Not far from Little Switzerland is Beech Mountain, which is the highest incorporated town east of the Mississippi @ 5,500 feet.  

https://rogerivester.com/2011/10/19/preparing-to-climb-beech-mountain-north-carolina/

 

My wife Debbie with our “Long-Haired” Dachshund, Nova Sophia “Sophie” at Wildacres.      

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Beautiful Wildacres Retreat….    

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Roger Ivester 

 

Recommended Reading: June 2017 Edition of Sky & Telescope Magazine’s “Focal Point” by Science Editor, Camille Carlisle

April 25, 2017

Sky and Telescope’s science editor Camille Carlisle has written an excellent “Focal Point” in the June 2017 edition (page 84) of Sky & Telescope Magazine.  

Camille has beautifully articulated that both God and Science can coexist.

 I’ve included a few brief excerpts from that article as following:   

“It’s something too many of us forget, that reality has layers.  Occasionally people ask me how I can be Catholic and a science journalist.  The answer is simple:  Truth does not contradict truth.  Both science and religion are a pursuit of truth.  They’re after different aspects of truth, different layers of reality, but they’re still both fundamentally about truth.”

“Trying to prove or disprove God with science is like trying to screw in a flat-head nail with a screwdriver.” 

“So too, trying to “catch” God with science or concluding that He can’t be real because His beautiful universe is too much about drama and too little about perfect engineering…”  

“In my life I, too, have found that God can stand up to any question I throw at Him.  It might take years to find the answer, but it exists.”   Camille M. Carlisle 

From my point of view:  Being a Christian, retired from industry, and having engineers, medical doctors and other professionals as both friends and neighbors, none of us have ever had a problem with science and God.  It’s simple…..we believe in both science and God.  

“Such is eminently the right use of the telescope…a more extensive knowledge of the works of the Almighty…of the immediate relation between the wonderful and beautiful scenes which are opened to our gaze, and the great author of their existence.”   Rev. T.W. Webb, British Astronomer, 1807-1859 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_William_Webb

Roger Ivester

 

After 19 years, my telescope observing partner passed away. Her name was CJ. Astronomy from my backyard will never be the same.

March 14, 2017

I can still see our Persian Cat, CJ…waiting at the backdoor to get outside, after setting up my telescope.  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 moving to California, but that two weeks ended up being almost 20 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.  

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

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

December 4, 2016

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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. 

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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. 

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

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Some brief excerpts 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 

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“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 Ivester

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.”  

Success:

“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 fill you in on what the Mount Potosi Observing Complex is all about.  

Roger Ivester

Cold Weather Boots For Amateur Astronomers

January 6, 2016

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One of the first things I learned as a very young observer:  If the feet get cold, observing is not fun and impossible, especially when the temperatures drop into the teens or even the 20’s or 30’s.  

We all know it’s those beautiful transparent skies of winter which the serious amateur loves the most.  The seeing might not be the best, and double stars might suffer, but galaxies and nebulae are presented at their best, due most often to the excellent transparency.  

Pictured above are the boots that I’ve had for many years.  I’ve been able to observe at temperatures in the teens, for as long as four to six hours without warming, with either pair.   The “Mickey Mouse” boots or the black rubber ones are “replica” military paratrooper boots.  They are great, and require only one pair of socks.  The other pair is my Canadian made ( -40º boots) with removable liners, and also designed to be worn with only one pair of socks.  

It’s important to insure that the feet have good circulation, and many amateurs make the mistake of wearing more than one pair of socks, which tighten and constrict blood flow.  This in turn, causes the feet to FREEZE….so get the proper boots if you are going to observe on cold nights!   

Roger

 

 

Roger Ivester: Amateur Astronomer

December 15, 2015

Thank you for visiting my site. I’m hopeful that you’ll find it both interesting and possibly beneficial in your future observations.

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I first became interested in astronomy in the mid-60’s at the age of twelve. One of my brothers, Jim had purchased a 60 mm refractor, and I soon became really interested in this telescope.

It had an equatorial mount, several eyepieces, a Barlow lens, and a host of other accessories. I would take this small telescope into a weedy field beside  my house, where I hoped to view some of those fabulous spiral galaxies and nebulae and star clusters I’d seen in my science books. However, this was not yet to be, as I had quite a bit of learning to do, which continues even to this day.     

I grew up in the foothills of North Carolina, and my house was located near the end of a dirt road with only two others.  It was a fabulous place for a budding new amateur astronomer, completely devoid of light pollution. The sky was velvety black with the Milky Way extending almost to the southern horizon. 

My progression was slow, and I found amateur astronomy to be difficult.  However, it was just fun being outside with my telescope in total solitude. When looking into the eyepiece, the colors of the stars became obvious. I perceived some as being rust, white, blue, bluish-white, or orange. And sometimes while looking at those distant suns, I’d wonder if there was life beyond the Earth.

I can still remember the frogs in the spring and summer, and occasionally a solitary great horned owl in the distance on those cold wintry nights.  

Summer in western North Carolina had a sound all its own, with a million insects singing in perfect harmony.  Gazing at a dark sky, full of stars and listening to the sounds of nature was mesmerizing.  

During those early years, I didn’t know of another kid having an interest in telescopes and astronomy.  At least twenty years would pass before I would meet that other person with a similar interest.  And finding that other person with an interest in astronomy would finally happen in 1985.  A local astronomy club was formed and I became a member with my youngest son, Brad.  

I gave my first amateur astronomy presentation to my eighth grade science class in October 1967.  The title of my presentation was “How To Use An Astronomical Telescope.” I used my brothers 60 mm Sears (Jason) refractor, and told the class all about it, and most importantly, how to use it.  I was a big hit…even if it only lasted for the remainder of the day.  

It wasn’t until the mid-70’s that I acquired my very own telescope, a 4 1/4-inch Edmund Scientific Newtonian reflector, a Palomar Jr. which was not my first choice, but the best my budget would allow at this time in my life. Using an inflation calculator, the cost of the Edmund reflector was $159.50 in 1976, which would be $744.45 in 2019.  

I’ll never forget one special night using that humble Edmund scope, while attempting to locate M81 and M82, two of the most beautiful galaxies in the heavens. And by this time, the fabulous skies of my early years were gone. I’d moved to an area packed with houses and street lights.  

Attempting to find even the brightest deep-sky objects under these conditions proved to be difficult. I had tried many times to locate M81 and M82, but without success.  

One night while observing, I was using my hands in an attempt to block the ambient light from entering my eyepiece, and then it happened:  A small and faint fuzzy object entered my telescope view, and then with a slight nudge, 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.  I went to bed smiling that night, and in my mind, I was now a real amateur astronomer!    

Getting Serious:

There would be many other successes and failures in the years to follow, however, it wasn’t until 1992 that I became a serious observer. A new 10-inch, equatorially mounted reflector allowed me to see faint deep-sky objects that were impossible with my previous smaller telescopes. 

After a period of time with my new 10-inch reflector, I soon realized that just going outside and observing was not enough.  I needed a purpose, something more lasting.  I began taking copious notes on all objects observed, noting the minutest of details, or at least to the best of my abilities.  This also proved to be somewhat lacking, so I added to those notes by pencil sketching.  I soon realized that drawing deep-sky objects challenged me to really see what I was trying to observe.

Over the past years, I have observed and cataloged many deep-sky objects, accumulating more than a thousand pencil sketches. This has required many hours at the eyepiece, and a countless number of hours working on notes, organization of the notes, sketches and astronomy articles.  

My first recorded notes were fairly brief, and my sketches were not as detailed as I would have liked.  Even today, I’m still working to improve both my notes and sketching, never being totally satisfied  with the results.  I suppose that sketchers and astrophotographers are very much alike in this regard…always striving for something better.   

Supplemental:  

Co-founder of the Las Vegas Astronomical Society Observer’s Challenge report.   An international deep-sky observing report, which allows any serious amateur the opportunity to share notes, sketches and images for a preselected deep-sky object on a monthly basis. The observer’s challenge will begin its eleventh year in 2019.  

Observer’s Challenge mission statement: “Sharing observations and bringing amateur astronomers together” 

I was fortunate to be able to play a role in the Mount Potosi Observing Complex in Southern Nevada, facilitating a $50,000 telescope donation by Dr. James Hermann, M.D. from North Carolina. The facility has been featured in Astronomy Magazine, the Las Vegas Review Journal and other publications.  

https://rogerivester.com/2016/12/04/mount-potosi-observing-complex-las-vegas-astronomical-society-an-aerial-photo-by-james-yeager-pilot-american-airlines/

Astronomy blogger since 2010.   http://www.rogerivester.com 

Roger and Debbie Ivester 

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Just had to include a photo of my other hobby….cycling.  I’ve been fortunate to have logged more than 140,000 lifetime miles, as of 2018.      

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