Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

2017 Total Solar Eclipse from Laurens, South Carolina – A Great and Memorable Day

August 26, 2017

Image of the eclipse, the diamond ring, and Baily’s beads provided by Barre Spencer and Patrick White using a Canon Rebel with a 200 mm zoom lens.  Location of photo:  Columbia, SC 

(s) Diamond / Baily's Beads 9

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, with perfect weather!  My wife, Debbie took the photo.  

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, as well as all of the others standing with us.  

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 F.  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.   


Laurens, South Carolina


Debbie and myself all ready for the main event!






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.   


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 


August 2017 Total Eclipse Information and Tips

August 7, 2017

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

April 29, 2017

The following is a brief review and a few photos of the 31st Annual Southern Star Astronomy Convention.  It was great catching up with old friends and also making a few new ones.  This was another great event in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains at Wildacres, a private retreat near Little Switzerland, North Carolina. 

Time passes so fast and life is both unpredictable and fleeting….however, lets try our best to meet again next year.  Roger Ivester 


A picture of me (Roger Ivester) 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 very good friends.  Lorenzin later developed an updated 2000+ digital software package.    

The Tele Vue Gibraltar Alt-Az Mount has the 2000+ database by Tom Lorenzin.  Lorenzin passed away unexpectedly in August 2015.  Tom was a friend and I learned a lot from him over the years.  I listened carefully….

Probably very few “1000+ Amateur Field Guides” with a personal note and autograph by both Tom Lorenzin and Al Nagler.  I’ll always cherish my 25 year old Atlas which Tom signed in a cow pasture back in 1993, and now Al Nagler, 2017 in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.   Roger 



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


Charlotte Amateurs very own Jim Lamm presiding over the meeting, and also a photo with Nagler. 



Al Nagler with longtime member of the Charlotte Amateur’s, Gayle Riggsbee, a multiple winner at Stellafane over several years.


Featured Speaker:  Dr. John Mather NASA 


Featured speaker and former observing partner, Tom English.  (Roger Ivester) 


Speakers:  Drs. Jay Pasachoff and John Mather enjoying the event.  


Featured speaker Dr. Brad Barlow, enjoying a conversation with Southern Star Attendee, Megan Gialluca “Astronomical League Promising Young Astronomer 2016”


Time to eat!  Wildacres retreat has incredible food!


A photo of the surrounding mountains, looking toward Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi @ 6,684 feet.   (Debbie Ivester)

My wife Debbie with our Dachshund, Nova Sophia “Sophie” at Wildacres.  We had a great day!    


More photos of beautiful Wildacres Retreat, as following:    







During the event I was fortunate to meet and talk with Chris Waldrup from Tennessee who is interested in being a part of the Las Vegas Astronomical Society Observers Challenge report.  Chris had two full books of pencil sketches and notes.  My kind of amateur:  Visual observer, pencil sketches and notes!

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 industrial management and having engineers, medical doctors, and a retired military pilot and other professional 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.”    T.W. Webb

Roger Ivester


Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (ATMoB) Monthly Meeting #897: April 13, 2017 – Keynote Speaker: Kevin Collins Shares His Conversion of a 13.1-inch Coulter Dobsonian to an Ultra-Compact

April 22, 2017

Revised ATMoB Meeting Video by Christopher Elledge:    

Craig Sandler of Massachusetts Discovers the Fun and Satisfaction of Finding Deep-Sky Objects by Using Good Old Fashioned Star-hopping.

April 15, 2017
After 15 years of being a slave to my GOTO systems, last night I located M44, M67 and M68, via good old fashioned “Star-hopping” using a totally manual EQ mount and a S&T Sky Atlas.    

It was a REVELATION!   I now understand the sky….maybe 30 percent better this week than two weeks ago, and I was not a beginner to start with.

My first scope was a Meade ETX 125 Maksutov-Cassegrain, so my observing or self-teaching was about looking up at the sky for awhile, then punching buttons, navigating menu stystems instead of the stars, and centering.  

As of my last two sessions with my manual equatorial mount, I now understand why the GoTo systems are set up the way they are.  More to my point, my relationship with the sky is now very intimate, familiar and satisfying.  It’s really hard to put into descriptive language or words. 

I’d never seen the last object on my list and had to FIGHT for ~15-20 minutes to find it, but LOVED the challenge!  I KNEW I could do it, but it wouldn’t have happened without a wide-field of view.    

I recently purchased an Orion Astroview 120 mm f/5 refractor.  It has a straight through, 6×30 finder, not a 90º diagonal, with a mirror-image non-correct view…..which can be torture.  

The Orion Astroview is a high-quality refractor telescope, but with a very economical price.  Now is this possible?  Yes….apparently it is!  Maybe it does not perform like a designer or “big name” APO, but I find the views to be very acceptable….maybe even great!    

Again… I said earlier, I’m re-learning amateur astronomy, and many would say the right way.  I’m now using the finding methods of Messier, Herschel, and so many other great observer’s of the past.  

I must say…’s wonderful.   Craig Sandler