Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Debbie Ivester: My First Photo of The Moon; Using an iPhone and Telescope

January 22, 2019

I was using an iPhone 10 and a 6-inch f/6 imaging Newtonian reflector telescope, with a 26 mm eyepiece for a magnification of 35x.  After focusing the telescope on the moon, I then handheld the iPhone up to the telescope eyepiece.  This was a bit more difficult than I would have thought.  

The iPhone had to be perfectly aligned over the telescope eyepiece, while looking through the phone, which required some slight moving around until the moon was visible through the phone.  Then a light tap on the phone shutter button, and there was an image of the moon.  Pretty incredible.  A bit of practice is required to get this right. 

Unfortunately some high cirrus clouds began covering the moon.  I chose to use the following photo, despite the clouds as this was my best.  I’ll try again on a better night.  It was also cold!  

It would have been great if I’d tried this during the lunar eclipse.  

NOTE:  Many thanks to Roger for helping me accomplish this goal on a very cold night…I just wish we’d been able to have done this Sunday night.  We just didn’t know!  

Also, thank you to Richard Nugent of Boston for the post of the Lunar Eclipse that spawned my appetite to be interested in making a photo using an iPhone  and a telescope…thank you so much, Richard!

Debbie Ivester 


Roger helped me set the telescope up and get ready earlier in the evening.  



Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (ATMoB) Meeting #916 Video – Galaxies

January 21, 2019
The publicly shareable version of ATMoB Meeting #916 — Galaxies:

Thanks to Kelly Blumenthal for giving her presentation and allowing us to share it.

-Chris Elledge

A Refractor Telescope Story, By Guest Host, Sue French, New York

November 12, 2018

Roland Christen and I met in 1980 at Stellafane and became friends. Sometime later, Roland said he had two sets of NASA glass to make triplet refractors.  He planned to make one lens for himself and sell the second set of glass.  I talked him into selling it to Alan. 

Alan still hadn’t gotten around to making the lens by 1987, so I said that I knew Roland would like to see that lens in a scope, and if Alan wasn’t going to tackle it himself, we should ask Roland how much he’d want to turn it into a lens for us.  Roland made us promise to take the scope to the next Stellafane. It took us quite a while to get a tube, and after that we only had a few months before the convention.  I was still painting parts at the motel we were staying at when we got to Stelli.   Sue French 



Celebrating the Universe, by Guest Host, Astronomy Author and Lecturer, James Mullaney

November 5, 2018

Dear Fellow Observers,

My book Celebrating the Universe! represents my “life’s work” (and also my “swan song” – I’ve said it all now!) based on my more than 60 years as a stargazer and “celestial evangelist.” As many of you well know, with all books it’s a struggle to keep them alive (even NY Times best-sellers). 

When sales decline, publishers typically pull the book and take it off the market.  I’ve done everything I can think of to promote it myself since its release in 2013. This isn’t about income – but rather hoping there will still be enough orders that it will be kept in print.  Right now, it’s still available from both and

This is the only work of its kind devoted to not only the joys of stargazing but also to personally experiencing the “soul of the night” – something sadly lacking in both amateur and professional astronomy today.

Jim Mullaney
Former Director Buhl & DuPont planetariums
Author Celestial Harvest (Dover)

The Las Vegas Astronomical Society, Death Valley, November 2-3rd 2018 Observing Event, Summary and Photos by Guest Host, Fred Rayworth of Las Vegas

November 5, 2018

Made the 130 mile (126.5 door to door) trip from my house in Las Vegas to Death Valley, this past Friday and went from ~2600 feet, to -189 feet below sea level.

The humidity is about the same from Las Vegas to Death Valley, somewhere in the single digits. Unfortunately, nobody told the upper atmosphere, so we had to deal with high, thin clouds drifting over most of the day.

However, it finally cleared after dark on Friday. I’ll tell you up front, Saturday was a big bust. Not only did the clouds get worse, but when it finally cleared, the winds picked up and made it impossible to view anything.

The other issue was the golf club house. Since it’s acting as the substitute bar, it was lit up like a beacon until 10. Then when they closed down, they still had white security lights reflecting off white walls, which pretty much ruined the northeastern horizon. Oh well…even the Tamarisk trees, which are pretty thick that way, did little to block them. I thought I’d positioned my telescope to block for the most advantage, but the lights were too spread out. To the south, there were some dimmer lights but they didn’t really bother me much.

About 12-15 scopes showed up out of the 20 that signed up, down from the 30 + that usually sign up, despite lots of pre-publicity. We just couldn’t get the crowd out this time. It’s been two years since our last outing due to construction. A couple of people had good reasons, but others? Who knows?

Friday was killer. Since everyone else was showing the usual tourist objects, I concentrated on the Challenge objects.

October’s, the cluster and nebula popped right into view. The cluster was a nice little clump, not so much looking like a coat hangar this time. The LBN nebula was very prominent amongst the two or three stars. However, the non-existent NGC 7133 or whatever it is, was there. It was a halo, a faint glow that extended well away from the LBN. It’s supposedly made up of three IC objects and I could see it plain as day. I never tried an O-III, but a UHC just blanked it all out and only showed a slight hint of the LBN.  Being a reflection nebula, It looked best unfiltered.

I saw all three plus galaxies and a few UGCs as well. I think NGC 147 was quite difficult at first.  NGC 185 was much brighter.  NGC 278  was very bright and compact. Right next to NGC 185, was a tight little UGC galaxy.

The Decembers challenge object, NGC 1003, was dim and flat, if I remember right. It had a couple of UGC and PGC galaxies nearby as well.

I found a few planetaries, open clusters and a bunch of galaxies between Pegasus, Pisces, and especially Fornax, which is blocked from my regular observing location  back in Las Vegas.

I logged over 60 objects total but won’t know the final count for a few days.

It was my desire to go for some more Herschels but most of them were to the northeast and couldn’t look that way because of the golf course clubhouse.

I did take a quick glance at the Horsehead and Flame. I saw the wall and just a hint of the notch unfiltered.’

Thank you, Fred Rayworth





Observing Venus Near Inferior Conjunction: By Guest Host, Richard Nugent From Massachusetts

October 23, 2018

    Venus passes through inferior conjunction every 19 months and during the week prior to and after I love to observe her. Why? Because during inferior conjunction Venus is passing between the Earth and the Sun. Its angular diameter is large because it is closest to Earth and it offers a unique view of the planet: a razor-thin crescent! This month, on October 26, Venus will be a generous 6°20’ from the sun making this inferior conjunction particularly easy to observe. Her disk will be slightly larger than one arcminute and she will be 0.6% illuminated. So, how do we observe this!

    The region of the sky this close to the sun is a perilous place to be observing. Your telescope will be unfiltered so aiming the telescope is critical. You do not want to be sweeping in this part of the sky!  In order to know where to look I use SkySafari Pro but any planetarium program will work. If you have a go-to or push-to telescope, carefully align the scope and let the computer guide you to Venus. If you are using good, old-fashioned setting circles make sure your mount is polar aligned, set the R.A. circle to the proper sidereal time, get the right ascension and declination for Venus and go to that spot.  I live in the alt-az world so I get that info from my program and then use the phone’s compass and tilt meter to get to the correct spot. I find the tilt meter to be more accurate than the compass so I get close then carefully…I mean CAREFULLY sweep in azimuth until I spot Venus. I typically use a 10-inch, f/5 dob with an 80mm Finder. Today, Venus was easily visible as a crescent in the finder. Once it’s in the finder you’re home free!

   One important tip is to pre-focus your eyepiece. If Venus is out of focus it’s crescent will smear out and blend into the bright background. I start with a low power eyepiece and graduate to my 16mm Nagler. This gives about 75x with a generous amount of sky around Venus. The seeing is usually terrible during the day but I find that an aperture mask is particularly useful in reducing the turbulence. Today, I ran the scope at 60mm. [f/19.9 with a 0.8mm exit pupil] The crescent was magnificent! During moments of steadier seeing I thought I could see the entire limb of Venus but that just might have been my brain connecting the cusps to complete the circle. I’ll look a little closer towards inferior conjunction when the effect should be greatest.

    I’m really a visual astronomer but sometimes I can’t resist the urge to snap a picture. The image here was taken by holding my iPhone (8 Plus) up to the eyepiece. I use the camera zoom to focus the telescope then zoom out a little and shoot bursts of images. I select the best shots, crop them, and adjust the exposure if necessary.

   We only get a couple of weeks every 19 months to observe Venus this way so I use every clear opportunity to make observations. The next inferior conjunction of Venus wont be until June 3, 2020 but Venus will be too close to the sun to view. In that case, I’ll observe Venus up until a few days before then wait a few days after the actual conjunction. My strict limit is 3-4 degrees away from the solar limb. As I said…perilous!

    I’d encourage you to try to see Venus this week. Have fun but please be careful!   RN 


The Doctor talks Books, Books and more Books. An Astronomy Book Review by Daniel Mounsey. Excellent and Enjoyable. Please Take The Time To Watch This YouTube Video.

April 11, 2017