The Unistellar EVScope 2 – By Guest Host: James Dire

Posted April 14, 2023 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

Unistellar eVScope 4.5 Smart Scope Evaluation: By Guest Host: Gary Addington

Posted April 12, 2023 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

Gary Addington: Observer from North Carolina

See my attached photo of NGC 3044 made using a 4.5-inch Smart Scope from downtown Maiden, North Carolina.  To read that galaxy NGC 3044 was an 11.9 mag object, one might say that a 4.5-inch, would probably not be sufficient so “move on, nothing here.”

How, you might ask, how I, with a couple other members of the club were trying out a new gift from someone we both know. Last Friday, we picked up a new telescope….a gift, from Dr. James Hermann.  The gift was a new Unistellar eVScope 4.5 Smart Telescope.

Before proceeding with Gary’s article/post, I feel the need to share and give credit to Dr. James Hermann, for all he has done for the amateur astronomy community, not only locally, but many other places, including the desert southwest. Some supplemental information, concerning Dr. James Hermann, MD:

Dr. Hermann, has been an amateur astronomy for many years, and has donated many telescopes and much astronomy equipment to universities and colleges, astronomy clubs, and churches. Only Jim knows how much he has donated to deserving astronomy causes over the years.

Just a brief listing of some of his donations...

When Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs built an on-campus observatory, more than 30 plus years ago. Dr. Hermann donated their first dome telescope….a Celestron C-14. Later he replaced this scope with a 16-inch Richey-Chretien telescope with a Parmount Mount.

When he found out the Las Vegas Astronomical Society was wanting to build an observing complex, on Mount Potosi in SW Nevada….Dr. Hermann came through again. This is a famous mountain, for a sad reason.

Not only donating a premium ASA 14-inch RC scope and harmonic mount, but also paid for building a shipping crate, packing the scope and mount, and the shipping from North Carolina to Las Vegas. Roger Ivester

Mount Potosi Observing Complex:

Interested in reading more about this story that was featured in Astronomy Magazine?

Carole Lombard, the wife of Clark Gable, and ~26 other souls were lost, when their DC-3 Luxury-liner, hit the rock cliffs of Mount Potosi at maximum power.

The prints of the rotary engine can be seen on the side of the mountain today. Due to the rough terrain and snow, all of the bodies were not able to be recovered.

It took us about fives minutes to set it up….with the hardest part being leveling the tripod.  The next step is turning it on, connecting with your smart phone or tablet, get either, by selecting from its SkyTour or typing in the name of an object.  

After a couple of warm up objects of the big names, the Orion Nebula, and a few others I suggested your April Challenge of NGC 3044.  Looking it up on my iPad and seeing it was mag 11.9.

I thought this would be a good test for the little scope.  We typed in the name and watched as the scope slewed to the object.  It spends a little time platesolving the field, 1st some movement, then a 2nd platesolve, some movement, then a slight 3rd movement and it comes to rest.  

We see nothing but stars, then the “magic” begins with a touch of the enhance icon at the bottom of the screen.  You see a second counter begin and after 30 seconds, we see a small central bar begin to show. After 1 minute we see a better bar showing and after 3 minutes, I make a picture to my phone.  

Wow, mag 11.9 low surface brightness galaxy in a 4.5-inch telescope from light polluted Maiden, North Carolina.  We went on to look at the Horsehead, Owl Nebula, and some galaxies and clusters.  This is quite a gift.  

We will use it for our public events at the observatory.  Up to 10 people can connect to the scope with their smart devices at one time and will be able to take home a digital picture of what they saw.   What an amazing scope.  

Makes me wonder if this tech upgrades to larger light buckets at a affordable price for amateurs.  Maybe like the big screen TV’s when they were first introduced, and now you can buy a 60-in for about $200.00.  

Meantime we will enjoy this little scope and allow people at our events to enjoy the night sky.  Also thanks for our test object (NGC 3044) last night.

Tracking The Suns Shadow For An Entire Year

Posted March 23, 2023 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

Last year (2022) my oldest grandson, needed a project to show the altitude of the sun over a period of time….if possible an entire year. However, despite living 200 plus miles apart, we both made similar “solar devices” to measure the suns shadow beginning on the Vernal Equinox (March 20th 2022) and beyond. John-Winston was living in Myrtle Beach, and I was living in western North Carolina.

As following, the photograph presents the yellow (tape) mark on the right side of the scale…the sun shadow on the 2022 Vernal Equinox. On the left side, the yellow mark, was placed on March 20th 2023. The mark in 2023, is exactly the same, as it should be.

But my grandson and I needed to prove and show this with facts….after all, this is science and it must be proven.

The blue mark (tape) was placed on the scale, and on the shortest day of the year, December 21st 2022, which is the longest shadow of the year for 2022, which shows just how far south the sun was.

The white (tape) mark was placed on the first day of summer (June 20th 2022) which shows the longest day of the year. I’m sure the longest day of the year will be exactly the same on (June 20th 2023), but again, this is science, and we’ve got to prove it.

John-Winston and I have really enjoyed working together on this project, and presenting the suns shadow for an entire year. It has been a great project indeed.

Sophie (our Dachshund) just had to get in on the fun, and Debbie was happy to bring her out for this historic event.

Roger and John-Winston Ivester

WLRN 91.3 FM; Miami, South Florida: By Yvonne Bertucci zum Tobel: LED Streetlights Are Energy Efficient, But Are They Enviromentally Friendly? It’s Complicated. Also Contributions By Mario Motta, A Cardiologist/Astronomer From Massachusetts, Who Served On The AMA board of Trustees.

Posted March 14, 2023 by rogerivester
Categories: Light Pollution

A brief from the WLRN 91.3 FM article as following:

Brighter streets mean brighter skies. And more light at night takes its toll on all living things. Researchers in England found LED streetlights kill off nocturnal moth caterpillar populations by fifty percent. Billions of migrating birds aren’t able to find their way in our brightening skies. Insect mating is reduced. It affects pollinators. And scientists are worried that light pollution is altering our planet.

LEDs emit blue light, which disrupts circadian rhythms and suppresses melatonin, and lost sleep can lead to health problems like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, according to a 2016 report from the American Medical Association.

“Amoeba in the ocean are affected. Algae are affected. And all the higher animals are affected,” said Dr. Mario Motta, a Boston-area cardiologist who served on the AMA’s board of trustees at the time the report was released. “Melatonin is a very primitive hormone that’s basically in every animal studied.”

Becoming A Real Amateur Astronomer, Seeing M81-82, And The Story Of Losing My Observing Partner Of 17 Years

Posted March 12, 2023 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

My Notes of seeing M81-82 for the first time in April 1978….and sketches/notes from many years later:   

It wasn’t until the mid-70’s when I acquired my very own telescope, a 4 1/4-inch Edmund Scientific reflector, a Palomar Jr. which was not my first choice, but the best my budget would allow.  

I’ll never forget one special night using this telescope. I was attempting to locate M81 and M82, two of the most beautiful galaxies in the heavens. By this time, the fabulous skies of my early years were gone. I’d moved to an area packed with houses and street lights, and the light pollution was very severe in my back yard.  

I was less than 50 feet from a HPS street light.  

Attempting to find even the brightest deep-sky objects under these conditions proved to be difficult.  I had tried on many occasions to find M81 and M82, without success.  I wanted to see this galaxy pair, which appeared so striking and beautiful in the magazines.

One night, while observing, time was running out.  It was already after 11:00 PM, and needed to get up early the next morning.  I used my hands in an attempt to block the ambient light from entering my eyepiece, and then it happened: A small, faint fuzzy object entered my telescope view.  I then nudged the scope slightly and then 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.  

In my mind, I was now a real amateur astronomer, and went to bed smiling.  RI 


Seeing M81/82 that night in April 1978 with my Edmund 4.25-inch EQ reflector was my greatest achievement to that point, as a humble back yard observer.  

I remember that night so well, and can just see the galaxies in my mind at this very moment, even though I’ve seen them hundreds of times since.  REALLY!  I was using an Edmund 25mm (called a 1-inch at that time) for a magnification of 43x. 

No astronomy club, or other amateurs to share with the next day.  I would have liked that, but the “solitary” excitement in my back yard on that night was “apparently” all I needed.

It would be 1991 before I would meet another amateur astronomer, and later join an astronomy club.  However, most of my observing would and still “continues” to be mostly by myself.

Observing deep-sky objects is serious business indeed.  No time for idle chatter!  There are sketches and notes to make.  :-))  

However, I did have one observing partner, that was with me on a regular basis, for almost 17 years, but she passed away in February 2016.  She’s been gone “now” for over seven years, and no one can replace her.  

To this day…I still think about her often.  

She never said….not one time:  “HEY…you gotta see this” or “I’ve got the Ring Nebula, or you should see M42!

My observing partner for 17 years, and the story:

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


The following observations and sketches are from 40 years later: 

Messier 81 (NGC 3031) Galaxy in Ursa:   10-inch f/4.5 reflector.  Sketch magnification; 12mm eyepiece 95x.  

80 mm refractor at 33x, M81 is large, bright, mostly round with a brighter nucleus, and is nicely framed with companion galaxy M82.   

10-inch reflector at 95x, M81 is bright, large, well concentrated, elongated, but subtle, NE-SW.  Very bright nucleus, almost stellar.  Only on nights of excellent seeing and transparency can the spiral arms be seen from my moderately light polluted backyard.   RI   

Rogers M-081 Inverted

Messier 82 (NGC 3034) Galaxy in Ursa Major:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector @ 191x magnification.  Eyepiece:  12 mm plus 2.8x Barlow 

80 mm f/5 refractor:  Surprisingly bright, elongated with a lens shape, smooth texture at low magnification.  When increasing the magnification to 75x, the galaxy becomes very uneven and mottled, with two brighter knots toward the middle, and an outer elongated halo.  This galaxy is much fainter than it’s companion, Messier 81.

10-inch reflector:  Bright, very elongated, dark band in the central region is almost separating the galaxy, and is very easy at 114x, but really comes out at 200x.  At the higher magnification the galaxy becomes very mottled, and with a faint surrounding halo extending the length of the galaxy.  The NE and SW edges or tips of the halo are smooth.   RI   

Rogers M-082 Inverted

Images using a 32-inch telescope of M81 and M82 by Mario Motta:


Astrophysicist Barbie Doll, By Debbie Ivester

Posted March 11, 2023 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

Years ago, I had a lot of Barbie Dolls, but no more. However, last week, Roger encouraged me to purchase my first Barbie Doll in many years, complete with a telescope and star map. I liked the idea….and when I received it this week, it was a bit like going back in time! What a “small” but fun gift to myself. Click on the title to see more photos and real “true to life” astronomical telescopes! Debbie

However there are no shortages of “true astronomical telescopes” around the Ivester house:

There are more telescopes stored in closets and extra bedrooms (not photographed) and with a little help from Roger, I can see galaxies, nebulae and star clusters! Believe me….Roger is outside most all clear “moonless” nights! So these telescopes are very much used.

The Use Of Rat Poison, Causing Death To Wildlife And Pets: We Almost Lost Our Dog! And Also Read The Story “In Brief” Of The Poisoning Of A Female Bald Eagle In Arlington, Massachusetts:

Posted March 2, 2023 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

By Roger Ivester

I’d like to share a “personal episode, or event” that happened to Sophie, our long-haired Dachshund a couple weeks ago.  

While walking Sophie near a vacant house near us….before I could react, Sophie ate a dead mouse.  I found out that rat poison had been “possibly” used in this house, so we naturally assumed that the dead mouse in close proximity to this house had been poisoned.

We turned Sophie onto her back, and poured peroxide down her throat. Sophie began vomiting (The purpose and objective) but no mouse.  So we raced her to the veterinary clinic…and fortunately while waiting to see the vet, she vomited the mouse onto the floor.  

The veterinarian told us, that the peroxide procedure has now been replaced, just recently with “an eye-drop” which will cause a complete purge of stomach contents….as we understand.  However, this needs to happen soon after the ingestion (maybe within an hour) of consuming the poisoned mouse.  

Sophie…due to our quick response, received no “apparent” lasting problems, and after two trips to the Vet and several hundred dollars, all seems well.

But it was a bad…very bad experience, and could have caused the death of a beloved member of our family.

This “eye-drop” as we understand is relatively new….and will also work with dogs that swallow other things. 

Note: We were unaware of the “eye drops” after Sophie swallowed the mouse, now available by veterinarians, which is a great thing, as the peroxide treatment is difficult to get a dog or cat to swallow… as you might imagine.

So, please help get the word out, “it’s not cool” to poison rats or mice, as anything that eats that “poisoned mouse” is subject to the same “death” as the varmint.   By Roger Ivester

The following “brief” was taken from a Yahoo News site:

“…..Wildlife experts are working to save the life of a bald eagle that has been sickened by rat poison in Arlington, Massachusetts. The female bird had been seen nesting with a male at a cemetery. But a few days ago, some people noticed the female eagle was drooping her head and spending a lot of time on the ground, instead of in the trees.

A group of wildlife rescuers tried three times Sunday night to capture the eagle, but returned Monday morning, cornered her behind some headstones and grabbed her. “And we saw the male just going back and forth, back and forth, looking for his mate. And he ended in a tree right above the car we were in. And it’s really sad because we can’t tell him, ‘We’re going to try and make her better and bring her back to you,’” said Linda Amato, a wildlife rehabilitator.

The bald eagle is now at a wildlife hospital on Cape Cod, where preliminary tests confirmed rat poisoning. If the bird can be saved, it will likely take months.

Canopus From Western North Carolina @ +35º 18′: Also An Image From Naples, Florida, And A Sighting From Fremont California

Posted February 27, 2023 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

The following is a rough field sketch using chalk on “gray” cardstock, rather than “black” to better illustrate light pollution. Canopus is just visible in a distant tree line.

Canopus is located in the constellation Carina, and is the second brightest star in the sky. It has an absolute magnitude of -5.71 and with the following coordinates:

Right ascension of 06h 23min with a declination of -52º 41

In the early 90’s, astronomer, Tom English, promoted an event called “The Great Canopus Chase” in our local astronomy club. It was unknown at that time if Canopus could be seen from the area, and amateurs went far and wide looking for the perfect southern view.

Many observers saw the star, but most from different locations, within the local area. It was a fun event. When I first saw it…I was actually amazed, but have seen it many times since. Roger Ivester

From my (+35º 18′ ) in North Carolina, my theoretical south latitude 90º (-) 35º = ~ -55º.

Of course the terrain and light pollution can most often be the limiting factor for many in their limiting theoretical southern latitude.

I can see the star Canopus, at a south declination of (-52º 42′) but in a distant tree-line. However, it shines brightly! 

The following is my rough chalk sketch, on charcoal “colored” card stock. I made this “rough sketch” as viewed from the north end of Stadium Drive, at the stop sign (junction to the Boiling Springs/Cliffside highway)

Notes and image as following by Mario Motta:

Canopus near its peak which is 11 degrees, here at about 10º above the horizon in Naples, Florida. The neighbor had all their lights on for some reason.

I received this note from Richard Shuford, this morning: March 2nd 2023

Back in 1976, when I was an undergraduate physics major at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, NC, catching a glimpse of Canopus was celebrated by some of my friends who observed it from a high hilltop in Burke County.Richard Shuford

(Note: Hickory is about one hour north from my location of seeing Canopus) I was very surprised when reading these notes from Richard Shuford, as I thought our group, in the early 90’s was the first time anyone in this area (+ 35º) NC was able to see Canopus….Roger Ivester

Chuck Vaughn: Observer from California

Now what is the likelihood of me finding and seeing this in a 30 year old magazine? Especially since I just completed a Canopus post on my site? Sharing the story By Roger Ivester

I was looking through a December 1992 Sky & Telescope, and the word “Canopus” seemingly jumped out of page-712 and hit me…right in the eye! His latitude was +37º 49′ which puts his theoretical limiting declination of almost exactly that of Canopus! And he claims to have seen it without optical aid!

The following is a brief of that article:

Canopus, too! Chuck Vaughn of Fremont, California… to have caught sight of the star without optical in November, 1991, and three years earlier in December. Has anyone else seen it from such a northerly location?”

Note for reference: Richmond, Virginia has a latitude of +37º 53′ just about the same as Fremont, California.

The Deep-Sky From Florida: Volume 2: By Guest Host Mario Motta

Posted February 25, 2023 by rogerivester
Categories: The Deep-Sky From Florida: Volume 2

I was able to get my C-14 up and running in Naples, Florida, and the following are my images to-datebeginning in the winter of 2022, and continues as following into 2023.

The following is the second in the series: Volume 2

The above image is my Naples, Florida setup. I work under a Bortle 6.1, which is not ideal and “almost” two magnitudes below my 4.5 skies in Gloucester, MA where my 32-inch scope is located.

I have an iOptron CEM 70g mount and pier-tripod, which has a level and a built in polar alignment scope. I find it invaluable for a quick polar alignment, when I set it down on a pre-marked location via a pad.

This mount is center-weighted, which is excellent for southern objects, and much better then a standard German equatorial, due to the weight of the scope “hanging off” the end of the polar axis at +26º North.

On this mount the polar axis is “centered” between two bearings…spreading the weight distribution well for southern locations, and It has excellent tracking.

As shown above:

My C-14 Edge has excellent optics, and I employ a focal reducer, so my work is at f/7 instead of f/11. 

I then have a filter wheel, with a Astrodon Light pollution L2P filter in place of standard Lum filter, which helps cut the LP down a bit. Then standard R,G,B astronomik filters, and finally astrodon 5 nm, Ha, S2 and O-III filters.

Finally, my standard camera is a ZWO ASI6200MM pro. I like this camera due to its very low dark current and excellent sensitivity, and wide field.

Piggybacked on this set-up is a Night Hawk 85mm f/6.5 refractor, which I primarily use in auto-guiding with a starlight express Ultrastar. On occasion I use this for a super-wide field image, such as the Vela supernova remnant image, as shown in the images below.

Finally…I have a Celestron dew control system, which is a necessity here in Florida. The humidity and dew-point can and most often is somewhat high.

After spending a night with a hairdryer removing dew every half hour, I recognized immediately that a dew-control system was not just a necessity, but a must!

Set-up time is about 50 minutes, with about 10 minutes to polar align after placing on the preset location.

A nice dark-sky would be great, but not…which indicates we need good light-pollution laws in every state.

I plan on catching those deep south gems that are not available to me from my home, back in Massachusetts, and will be adding my latest and newest Florida images as following, as they occur.

If you can’t remember this link: Whatever search engine you are using, just type in “The Deep-Sky From Florida: Volume 2″ Mario Motta”

For the benefit of those that might want to follow Mario in his quest to observe deep-sky objects from Florida, I’ve included the following calculation for your use.

Or you might just want to determine the deep-south objects that are available to you, which you might not thought were possible, due to their southerly location.

Theoretical limiting southern horizon calculation from Naples Florida at ~ +26º North Latitude:

(90º-26º) = -64º limiting south latitude, which opens up a vast number of deep-sky objects not available in the NE:

Open Cluster M46 in Puppis, with planetary nebula NGC 2438 at -14º south declination

Taken with C-14 at f/7, with R/G/B and Lum filters, 2 hours imaging

NGC 3109, galaxy in Hydra, -26º south declination

1 hour of Lum filter with C-14

Galaxy NGC 3621 located in Hydra, located at -33º south declination.

about 90min lum filter with C-14

NGC 4361, a small but bright planetary in Corvus, located at -23º declination.

Taken with NB (Ha/S2/O3 filters), two hours of imaging

NGC 5084, an edge-on galaxy on the Virgo-Centaurus border, with many galaxies nearby (labeled).

Located at -21º south declination, two hours Lum filter imaging.

M83 is one of my favorite galaxies (image as following) but too far south, making it difficult to get up north.

I did have a very good night a few years ago with my 32-inch, and got a nicely detailed image. But, just not high enough in the sky to do multiple channels for color and hydrogen alpha. And the poor spring weather in Massachusetts, caused me to miss opportunities to get full scale color.

So…a few nights ago I tried to obtain M83 from Naples: Four hours of imaging over two nights to obtain R/G/B and Ha, and Lum channels, it came out reasonably well. However, the detail can not match what my 32-inch scope is capable of. A “nice result” for a C-14 but I’m spoiled by my 32-inch image of this galaxy.

Then I got the idea to use RGB and Ha from my C-14 and instead of the C-14 lum, combine it with my older 32  Lum image. Using a program in PixInsight called dynamic alignment, I was able to accomplish, and came out very nice.  (See the following image.)

M83 is 15 MLY away in Hydra on the border with Centaurus, a spectacular barred spiral. 

This image shows RGB, Lum, and Hydrogen alpha detail…

RCW 38, a star forming region in Vela: (Note: images follow the identification and text) Telescope: C-14

RCW 36, a star forming region in Vela (Telescope: C-14)

RCW 19, a star forming nebula in Puppis (C-14 Telescope)

NGC 2177 known as “The Seagull” Nebula, as following was taken with 86mm Nighthawk with focal reducer, and with Optalong L extreme filter, 90 minutes of imaging

I used my 80mm scope last night (February 22nd 2023) to get these wide-fields.

1. Simeis 147 (also known as SH2-240, or the Spaghetti nebula), is in Auriga and Taurus. I used the 80mm scope, with a field compressor working at f/5 with an optalong L extreme filter (allows Ha and O3), despite my wide field I needed to mosaic it, this is 3 sections overlapped, about 5×6 degree field in all. with light pollution some overlap lines are seen. This is a huge supernova remnant, very dim, a total of about 4 hours imaging 5 min subs. 

2. At the other end of the sky is the Vela SN remnant (also known as Gum 16, which is far below the Massachusetts horizon) and is a similar SN remnant, Vela.

This is a single image frame, about 2 hours total imaging, I re-imaged this from last year using the wider field this time. Same set up as above. 

Vela Supernova also known as Gum 16:

Gum 15 in Vela: Located at -41º south declination, and is a large glowing nebula from a central double star, HD 74804. The image was taken with my C-14 and Ha and O3 filters…about 2 hours imaging.

NGC 1851: Globular star cluster in Columba, taken with C-14, 1 hour of Lum filter at -40º south declination.

NGC 3201

Deep-sky galactic cluster, the hydra cluster, about 200 MLY away, many galaxies. I labeled the brightest and largest in the group, many more….about 90 minutes imaging located at -27º south declination.

ScopeStuff: Telescope Accessories And Hardware

Posted February 22, 2023 by rogerivester
Categories: ScopeStuff: Telescope Accessories and Hardware

Your One-Stop Shop For Astronomy Accessories!
Prices include shipping in the USA. ($10 Minimum Order)

Choose a Category:
A – – Telescope Covers – Original Solar Series
B – – Telescope Covers – Continuous Exposure Series
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Q – – Collimation Stuff
R – – Threaded Things – Telescope and Mount Hardware
S – – Caps and Cases
T – – Red Things
U – – Machined Things – Fine Focus Knobe, Filter Wrenches, Etc.
V – – Telescope Electronics – Interface and Replacement Cables
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