Christmas Day Bicycle Ride – What a Great Day To Get Outside…

Posted December 26, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

     Cloudy skies and rain have prevailed for the past few days, but what a nice day it was on Christmas Day to get outside.  While relaxing, shortly after lunch I received a message from Mike Ribadeneyra, wanting to take a bicycle ride.  I was actually thinking about a nap, but as a cyclist, when someone offers an opportunity to ride…the guilt can be a bit overwhelming should you decline, especially for no good reason. 

     So I got my cycling stuff on, and as always, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment when you are riding back in your driveway.  

     When coming home, we were able to stop and visit with “Albert” the donkey who loves to see us from behind his pasture fence.   It’s always great to hear him coming to us with his bell jingling, to see who might be there.   

     Albert loves for me to bring him an apple, but Debbie has to quarter it, and he will chew each piece very thoroughly.   If a piece falls on the ground, he’ll not eat it until I pick it up and offer it to him again. 

     He’s a bit finicky for sure, but is a very kind, gentle guy and seems to love attention.  Roger 


Albert is glad to see Mike Ribadeneyra:   



Supplemental photo:  Saturday, December 28th, after a ride, changing out of cycling stuff and taking Albert an apple.  He was very disappointed I didn’t have or offer him an apple, when we were riding home.  So….Debbie, and I took him one later.  



Below:  Sophie (our Dachshund) is a bit jealous of me feeding Albert an apple, on another afternoon in (January).  Albert is always excited to see us, knowing we have him a treat!


Below:  A day in February 2020



NGC 1999 – Reflection Nebula With Hole: January 2020 – Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted December 12, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports




Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

January 2020

Report #132

NGC 1999 Reflection Nebula in Orion

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together


The purpose of the Observer’s Challenge is to encourage the pursuit of visual observing. It’s open to everyone who’s interested, and if you’re able to contribute notes, and/or drawings, we’ll be happy to include them in our monthly summary. Visual astronomy depends on what’s seen through the eyepiece. Not only does it satisfy an innate curiosity, but it allows the visual observer to discover the beauty and the wonderment of the night sky. Before photography, all observations depended on what astronomers saw in the eyepiece, and how they recorded their observations. This was done through notes and drawings, and that’s the tradition we’re stressing in the Observer’s Challenge. And for folks with an interest in astrophotography, your digital images and notes are just as welcome. The hope is that you’ll read through these reports and become inspired to take more time at the eyepiece, study each object, and look for those subtle details that you might never have noticed before.

NGC 1999 Reflection Nebula in Orion

NGC 1999 is a bright, 2′ reflection nebula embedded in the southeastern reaches of the more diffuse, 10′ reflection/emission region IC 427. Clasped near its heart, the variable star V380 Ori provides the nebula’s illumination, its visual magnitude varying from magnitude 9.5 to 11 during the past decade. A dark patch shaped somewhat like a chess pawn trends west-southwest from the star. It was long thought to be a type of dark nebula known as a Bok globule, but recent studies show that this inky spot is most likely a dark cavity within the reflection nebula.

Sir William Herschel discovered NGC 1999 on October 5, 1785.His journal entry from that date reads: “A star with a very strong burr all around.”


January:  NGC 1999 – Refection Nebula with hole – Orion; Mag. V=9.5;  Size 2′ 

RA:  05h  36m   Dec.  -06º  43′  

Finalized Observer’s Challenge Report:  JANUARY 2020 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _ NGC 1999

Reports to-date:  “Work File” for organization of final report:  


Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts 

Processed NGC 1999 (Keyhole Nebula) which is the January Observer’s Challenge object.   I did not realize how much dust and gas surrounding area, when imaged. 

This is a total of 166 minutes of H alpha, Sulfur, and O3 filters.  Not much O3 in the final.  Mostly hydrogen with some sulfur.

I’ve sent a B&W composite, and also color.  All taken with my 32-inch f/6 telescope, with STL 1001E SBIG camera. 15×15 arc minute view for scale, the actual keyhole is small, but very bright, the surrounding dust/gas is faint

Processed in PixInsight.    Mario Motta 




Vladislav Mlch:  Observer from Massachusetts

January 2020 Observer’s Challenge report:

Object: NGC 1999

Date: Dec 28, 2019

Location: White Mountains National forest, New Hampshire

Conditions: Bortle 2, average seeing

Telescope:  22-inch f/3.3 DOB with 21mm eyepiece  (~88x, FOV~65 arcminutes, and a 6mm (~300x, FOV~18 arcminutes)

Filter:  No filter used

Notes: Nebula looks like a “blue snowball” in the 21mm eyepiece and it looks like a “big snowball” in 6mm eyepiece. At 300x one can see dark nebula in the middle of the snowball, shaped like Texas. There is a bright core next to the dark nebula.

Pencil sketch below:



Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina 

Reflection nebula, NGC 1999 is easy to locate and see at all magnifications, with a 10-inch reflector.  The nebula has a fairly high surface brightness.   

At a magnification of 104x, the reflection nebula appears as a bright circular haze, with a much brighter concentrated center.  When increasing the magnification to 256x, the illumination star V380 which is variable (mag. 9.5 to 11.0) can be easily seen, appearing a little east of the center.  

The offset of this star brightens the eastern section of the nebulous halo, causing the appearance of greater concentration and being brighter.  

After spending two hours, I could not see the dark void or hole just to the west of the variable illumination star.  However, I believe with better seeing this “noted” feature would have been possible, using the 256x magnification, but on this night, stars were very soft and bloated.   Pencil sketch as following:

NGC 1999 Roger


Joseph  Rothchild:  Observer from Massachusetts  

I observed NGC 1999 on January 15, 2019 on Cape Cod.  I again used my 10-inch  reflector under dark but hazy skies. 

The object was easily found by star hopping from Iota Orionis.  There was an asterism appearing like a reverse 3 or a question mark that pointed to the nebula. 

When using a low magnification of 45x, it appeared like a fuzzy star.  At higher power of 153x, there was a compact nebulosity around a star, seen best with averted vision, while with direct vision it appeared almost stellar.  With averted vision I was able to see the hole with difficulty just adjacent to the central star.     


James R. Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

NGC 1999 is a bright reflection nebula containing a very dark nebula, all part of a vast region of molecular clouds located in Orion. NGC 1999 can be found by following Orion’s Sword south one and one-third degrees past the Trapezium. The brightest part of NGC 1999 glows colorless or white over a region 16 x 12 arcminutes in size. Embedded within this region is a dense dark area, triangular shaped, a few arcminutes on each side.

Finding NGC 1999 in January 2020 from Peoria, Illinois proved difficult due to the weather. The month only offered up one clear night with no interfering moon. On that night, I ventured out to my observatory 20 miles northwest of downtown Peoria, located in a state park. I arrived at sunset. The temperature was 18°F and there was several inches of snow that fell two nights earlier, followed by freezing rain making everything icy and crusty.

I cleared the snow off of my Sky Shed Pod and opened the roof.

Orion was still fairly low in the southwest, so I spent a couple of hours imaging the NGC 708 galaxy cluster before turning my attention to NGC 1999.

The seeing was terrible, around 4 arcseconds, but the transparency was quite good. I imaged NGC 1999 using an 8-inch f/6.4 Ritchey–Chrétien reflector with a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. 

I combined nine 10-mininute exposures to create the accompanying image of NGC 1999. During he exposure, Orion was embedded in the light pollution over Peoria. I normally only photograph objects to the north or west where the light pollution is minimal. But the only way to capture this image was towards the city, were the sky glow is at its worst. This along with the poor seeing made for an image that left a lot to be desired.

Our observatory complex does not have a warm room. So I put a space heater plugged into shore power under the hatch in the back of my Subaru and folded down one back seat to use as a desk while I sat in the other back seat. With my laptop in the car plugged into a power strip along with a Wi-Fi router, I connected remotely to the computer in the dome to control the telescope and camera. The space heater kept the temperature in the car warm enough so I could remove my hat and gloves and unzip my winter coat. By the time I left at 11:15 p.m., the outside temperature was 14° F. As you might guess, it was much too cold outside to set up a telescope and view NGC 1999 through an eyepiece. But I believe my image captured similar detail that I would have seen in my 14-inch, f/6 Dobsonian.



John Bishop:  Observer from Massachusetts 

On January 22, 2020 I observed reflection nebula NGC 1999 from the ATMoB Clubhouse in Westford, MA. The sky was clear, with transparency and seeing being only fair. The temperature was around 30ºF at sunset, but dropping to 18º by 9:30 pm.

I observed with my 8.25-inch f/11.5 reflector (210/2415) at 48×, 130×, and 193×. I did not use any filters.

This is a rich area of the sky. Showcase object, M42 is close by, as are two pretty clusters, NGC 1981 and NGC 1980. NGC 1999 did not require much star hopping to locate. Using my 2-inch barrel, 50mm eyepiece at 48×, I briefly swept the field just south of NGC 1980. 

Almost immediately, I noticed a small patch of nebulosity surrounding a star-like object. It looked different than the nearby field stars. This was NGC 1999, but initially I was not quite sure what it was – nebula? cluster?  At low power, the bright core and nebulosity even gave it the appearance of a very distant or compact galaxy.

Higher magnification produced a larger, brighter image. At 193×, the nebula was more or less round. The bright core, which did not resolve, was slightly elongated and a little flattened on one side. I believe this was the “keyhole” silhouetting the bright core, although I could not see the keyhole itself.

One twist on this evening’s session was that I had to observe without the benefit of the motor drive on my equatorial mount. The connecting plug to my power source broke during setup, there was no spare. Usually I can lock onto an object and observe it at my leisure. I missed that luxury, as NGC 1999 flew by in the field of view, especially at 193×. 

I tip my hat to my Dobsonian colleagues who always track by hand.  The observing session ended early due to clouds rolling in. I would like to observe this object again to try to see the keyhole. I would also like to try observing this object with filters.  


Corey Mooney:  Observer from Massachusetts 

On December 20th I live-stacked NGC 1999 from the clubhouse in Westford, MA. I was using an 8-inch f/4 Newtonian with a coma corrector, and an ASI294MC-Pro camera. 

NGC 1999 was just barely visible in the 4-second framing exposures, when I switched to 8 seconds and started live stacking it really came to life. The crisp keyhole shape punched out of the soft reflection nebula was sharply defined. 

NCG 1999 is imbedded in the same complex of gas and dust as the Orion nebula. This thick and soupy home results in some very intriguing surroundings. As the short 8-second frames continued to add to the stack, other objects started to appear out of the murky darkness. 

Immediately south of NGC 1999 there are the two red glowing gashes of Herbig-Haro object 1 & 2. These are jets of ionized gas ejected by a newborn star! To the north of NGC 1999 is the extremely faint diffuse blue glow of IC 427, farther north beyond that is the brighter golden glow of IC 428.



Venu Venugopal:  Observer from Massachusetts 

I finally got my first scope, very first camera, and mount.  It was my decision to hold off from buying any devices for a year, since the time I first decided to take up astronomy as a hobby.  My first light was on January 17, 2020, with below freezing, New England temperatures, with a clear night at the clubhouse. 

Tools used:  IOptron GEM45, 8-inch f/4 Newtonian with a comma corrector, ZWO ASI 533 cooled color (gain at 80%, 8-15 seconds exposures for about 30 minutes).  I let sharpcap do the work, and used a bahtinov mask for focusing.  No darks, flats or bias.  I was glad to have been successful in getting NGC 1999 on the first try.  I think the colors did not stretch correctly.  (Thanks to Corey Mooney for helping me with the astrophotography set up).



Richard Nugent:  Observer from Massachusetts 

Observing from my Framingham location the NELM is typically around magnitude 4.8 however, snow cover reduces it to around magnitude 4.4.  With my 10-inch, f/4.7 Dobsonian I could easily see the star V380 Orionis, but could not detect any hint of the accompanying nebulosity. 

I tried varying the magnification, but to no avail. Nor did the use of filters (80a, UHC, and OIII) help.

Under similar conditions I observed the object with my 20-inch Dobsonian. With this telescope the nebulosity was visible at all magnifications. It appeared as a faint, diffuse, uniform glow with no definite border. I could not detect the hole in the nebula.

I would suggest that NGC 1999 requires a dark sky location to be fullyappreciated.


Gus Johnson:  Observer from Maryland 

February 1985:  8-inch reflector @ magnification of 75x, appearing as a faint mostly round nebula with center star.  Also could see using 40x and a UHC filter.    

February 1986:  4.25-inch reflector, easily located and visible, despite a five day moon.  Very easy with 8-inch reflector.  


Chris Elledge:  Observer from Massachusetts 

On January 26th @ 8:07pm EST, I used a 10-inch f/5 refractor to observe NGC 1999 from the ATMoB Clubhouse. Sky conditions were: Bortle Scale 6; NELM 4.5; Transparency: Fair; Seeing: Average.

I attempted to observe NGC 1999 while battling with partly cloudy skies that repeatedly obscured Orion. I was able to observe it several times at low power, but I was never able to switch to high power before more clouds moved in. 

NGC 1999 is easy to locate since the southern edge of M42 and Nair al Saif fit in the 1.9°FoV of my 35mm eyepiece. Placing Nair al Saif on the NNW edge of the view and d Orionis on the SE edge drops NGC 1999 right in the middle.

At 36× (35mm 1.9˚FoV) there is a line of 3 magnitude 8 to 9 stars stretching 44 arcminutes from the SW to the NE (HD 36813, HD 37001, and HD 37131). There are two magnitude 10 stars perpendicular to this line about 20 arcminutes SE of HD 37001. The two stars are TYC 4778-1138-1 and V380 Orionis. V380 is the further of the two stars to the SE and has visible nebulosity surrounding. That’s the bright core of NGC 1999.

At 115× (11mm 0.71°FoV) the nebulosity of NGC 1999 around V380 Orionis is visible with direct vision. The nebulosity quickly fades just a short distance from the star. The center of the glow seems to be slightly offset towards the SW direction from the star. I am unable to see the keyhole feature at this magnification.








A Brief “Astrobiography” of Gus E. Johnson

Posted December 7, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Gus Johnson Autobiography

      I became acquainted with Gus Johnson almost ten years ago, and as time passed, we became good friends.  Shortly afterwards, he became a regular contributor to the Observer’s Challenge report.  

     Gus has never used a computer, so it has always been necessary for me to call him via telephone, to receive his observation notes each month.   However, this has never been a problem for me, as I have always enjoyed our conversations over the years.  

     In 2018, Gus sent me his autobiography that he had typed himself.  Yes, Gus still uses a typewriter.  It was my plan to turn his “typewritten” story into a Word document, and then post on my blog site.  However, I could never seem to get started.  So in November 2019, I put out an email, asking if anyone would be interested in helping me tell the story of Gus Johnson “in his own words”.

       A few weeks passed, and I received an email from Nina Craven of Massachusetts.  Nina offered to convert the typewritten notes by Gus into a Word document. And she did a fabulous job!  Both of us decided that his story should indeed be in his own words.  Thank you Nina for your work!    

       My wife, Debbie is my in-house editor, and also anytime I need advice on the best word to use, she seems to always come through.  Debbie did a quick edit of the autobiography, but made only a few minor changes.  Again, trying to keep the story as close to the original as possible.

     Many of you may not know who Gus Johnson is, or his accomplishments and contribution to the world of astronomy.    Roger Ivester 


The following information is from wikipedia:  

SN 1979C was a supernova about 50 million light-years away in Messier 100, a spiral galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices. The Type II supernovawas discovered April 19, 1979 by Gus Johnson, a school teacher and amateur astronomer.[2] This type of supernova is known as a core collapse and is the result of the internal collapse and violent explosion of a large star. A star must have at least 9 times the mass of the Sun in order to undergo this type of collapse.[3] The star that resulted in this supernova was estimated to be in the range of 20 solar masses.[1]

On November 15, 2010 NASA announced that evidence of a black hole had been detected as a remnant of the supernova explosion. Scientists led by Dr. Dan Patnaude from the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA evaluated data gathered between 1995 and 2007 from several space based observatories. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission, as well as the European Space Agency‘s XMM-Newton, and Germany’s ROSAT all participated in the examination.[4]

The researchers observed a steady source of X-rays and determined that it was likely that this was material being fed into the object either from the supernova or a binary companion. However, an alternative explanation would be that the X-ray emissions could be from the pulsar wind nebula from a rapidly spinning pulsar, similar to the one in the center of the Crab Nebula.[4] These two ideas account for several types of known X-ray sources. In the case of black holes the material that falls into the black hole emits the X-rays and not the black hole itself. Gas is heated by the fall into the strong gravitational field.

SN 1979C has also been studied in the radio frequency spectrum. A light curve study was performed between 1985 and 1990 using the Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico.[5]


More information from Chandra:



     In late 1938 I was born, and lived in Vanergrift, Pennsylvania, which is short, about 40 miles north-east of Pittsburgh.  We lived on the bluff overlooking the Kiski River and the Pennsylvania Railroad;  trains soon became a big interest of mine that continues to the present, especially steam-powered trains.

     From I know not where I acquired an interest in classical music, which also is still a big interest after 68 years. I learned to play violin and organ, though not very well.

     One clear starry night I recall, when living on that bluff, but to no avail, as my parents knew next to nothing about stars (or music).  The news media reported a bright comet, but I didn’t see it. It scared me.  I wasn’t keeping notes then so that comet’s name is gone from me.

     In 8th grade, at the Lincoln School in Vandergrift, I chanced upon an article in the classroom encyclopedia, about Mars, with an artist’s version of what Mars looked like as seen from one of its moons.  I think that is what sparked my interest in astronomy.  I read many books on the subject, well, not really many since school libraries had few on astronomy.  Somehow I learned of “Sky and Telescope” magazine.  I still have my first issue , for January 1954, and nearly every issue since then.  Some 1200 issues take a lot of space, and other magazines I have saved in great numbers.  My house is badly a-clutter! 

     Around 1953 I got my first telescope, a hand-held 8 x 30 spyglass.  The optics were good, but hand-held, it was of little use astronomically.  About 1954 I was in high school, where I found that I knew more about astronomy than my general science teacher (9th grade).  She loaned me a larger telescope, of 15x to 40x, but hand-held.  Soon I bought a similar telescope and tried to mount it using a very flimsy music stand, so by the time vibrations died down the object under observation often had drifted out of the field, so I tried some other contrived mounts.  I got a few observations with it like of Venus and Mizar and the moon.  Saturn’s rings were visible, though tiny.

     My father passed away in 1951, and then my mother in 1961.  In 1954 she remarried and we then moved to Castle Shannon, a suburb of Pittsburgh.  I attended a high school in Mt. Lebanon, about 2 miles away, where there was a pretty fair library and more astronomy books.  The librarian acquainted me with the autobiography of John A. Brashear, which I have read numerous times, he being an excellent telescope builder and astronomer at Allegheny Observatory.  His book is a joy to read.  He, as a beginner who worked at a steel mill, had built himself a 5-in. refractor and a 12-in. f/10 reflector.  

     I was inspired to get a real astronomical telescope, and seeing an ad in “Sky and Telescope” I got a 3 ½ in. Skyscope, base priced at $30.  It had ¼ wave optics, and that was adequate to give fairly good views, at 35x and 60x.  A 2.4-in. f/15 Unitron refractor followed, then a Cave 6- in. f/7.8 Newtonian, which really did wonderfully on deep sky and high resolution planetary observing.  Suburban skies were light polluted but sometimes I could use high powers.  My stepfather had a cabin in the woods at Deep Creek Lake, in western Maryland, where skies were fairly dark.  Many trees obstructed the horizons, except to the north and northeast.

     My father’s name was Gus E. Johnson like myself.  My mother’s was Maryon.  My stepfather was Floyd Crouch; he passed away in 1957, as I wrote, my mother passed away in 1961, after which I moved from the Pittsburgh suburb to Deep Creek Lake.  I now have an 8-in. f/6 Orion reflector and a very handy 4 ¼-in. f/7 reflector from Three B Optics, from Mars, PA (They advertised “Mirrors from Mars”) and their optics were very good.  Alas, as with Cave, no longer in business.  Three B’s head optician was Bill Herdman.

     With so many surrounding trees I didn’t get very many observations.  One memorable observation was made, perhaps my only sighting of M51’s spiral arms was from that home.  I remember once carrying (no vehicle) my 55 lb. 6-in. at least a quarter mile so I could see into Scorpius.  I’d get set up on the road then a car would come with its bright lights and I’d have to move the telescope. I think I made that ordeal only once.  When I observe I like to have a writing desk beside the telescope, and along that road I couldn’t have that.

     In around 1973 I got married.  The house was too small so we moved around 24 miles away to Aurora, W.VA. to a sort of  “farmette”, a couple acres, but with good sky access.  My wife didn’t like me out observing, much discord, and a divorce came, a costly one; then I couldn’t afford a good house, so I got this rather dumpy one back near Deep Creek Lake.  It has some NW sky then a fairly low horizon NE through SW.  I can’t quite see Omega Centauri, but just up over the hill it can be seem dimly.  Gamma Velorum can be resolved from that site too, with a 40mm Unitron finder at 12x.  From my home site I can reach Theta Eridani, resolving with a 2.4-in. at 21x.  Those three are my most southern objects.

     More regular observing came with my joining the American Association of Variable Star Observers (the AAVSO).  Besides observing long period variables, like Mira, I observed some galaxies, looking for supernovae, though probably not too seriously at first.  On April 18, 1979 I invited the pastor of my church to join me observing, for he had an interest in astronomy.  I took him on a “tour” of the Coma-Virgo Galaxy Cluster with my 8-in. and Leland Copeland’s “Coma-Virgo Land” chart from the Feb. 1955 “Sky & Telescope”.  The pastor’s name is David Long, now a missionary in Botswana.  Anyway, when we looked at M100 (NGC 4321) I noticed a little star, about mag.11 near the galaxy’s edge.  I kept it in mind and later checked a Palomar photo and the star was not there so I phoned the AAVSO and they put out an alert.  By the next day, April 19,1979 it was confirmed, by L. Rosino of Asiago Astrophysical Observatory and R. Kirschner, of the University of Michigan, reported that McGraw-Hill Observatory got its spectrum.

     It was reported to be the third time ever that a supernova was discovered by telescope direct vision, rather than photographically.  The SN was no longer visible by 1980, but I read that it was by infra-red and/or radio telescopes.  I thank GOD for my noticing the SN.  Between mag. 10 and 11 are around a half million stars, and I couldn’t have memorized more than a “handful”. 

     At the autumn meeting of the AAVSO I was awarded a handsome plaque.  Some notable observers were also at that meeting: Canadian astronomers Rolf Meier, discoverer of numerous comets, and Warren Morrison, who discovered Nova Cygni with only a 2.4-in. refractor (probably a Unitron). Decades passed and I watched more galaxies just in case. 

     One interesting observation was made on Feb. 19, 1983.  I was looking for Omicron 2 Eridani (40 ERI) and where I expected to find what normally looks like a wide unequal pair, I saw a nearly equal double aligned apx. E-W, puzzling me. I didn’t become aware of what I had until too late.  The dim star is a pair of white and red dwarf stars, the latter occasionally erupting; it was flaring!  And I didn’t make any timings!

     In autumn of 2010 the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory scientists, using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory satellite discovered x-rays coming from the site of my supernova, which suggested that the SN had left a black hole behind. 

     All of a sudden I was getting calls from newspapers and the HSAO scientists, and a television interview was made.  The “Washington Post” newspaper wrote “…Gus Johnson talks about his black hole discovery 31 years ago.”  NOT quite correct; I found the supernova but NOT the black hole.  Dated Nov. 29, 2010.

     I have done little observing lately, due to my observing eye having a cataract, which I hope to have fixed this spring 2018.

     Like most amateurs I had “aperture fever” but am getting over it.  For over 60 years I wanted a 12-in. telescope, but feel now that it would be too heavy to lug around as long as I live here, where light pollution is increasing.  A good small telescope on a steady mount can give many wonderful evenings.  Just to get a rare clear night is a blessing.  My 4¼-in. at 38x can see mag. 12 stars and even my short 2.4-in. at 25x can see mag. 11.3 (and once reached mag. 13.0 at 86x).  And there are about 1,000 galaxies in range of my 8-in.

     Big automated observatories are putting visual observers “out of business”, yet I feel there are small opportunities for us to find a new nova or maybe even a comet.  Don’t give up.  It is fun trying.       

Gus Johnson


Outdoor Lighting Fixtures From Days Past, and Before the Advent of Incredibly Bright and Health Damaging LED Blue Lighting.

Posted December 2, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

At one time, most all commercial outdoor lighting was fully shielded and pleasant to the eye, without glare and without creating excessive light pollution.  

Antique lighting fixtures, as pictured below: 

These old and fully shielded lights represented a time when people could still see the night sky.  This was before the era of incredibly bright LED’s, which emit health damaging blue light.  

Light pollution and especially “Blue Rich lighting” not only affects human health, but the entire ecosystem.  

A few of the following photos were made this morning (December 2, 2019) while driving to a local bagel shop.  Some of the lights are within a mile of my house and the others, fairly close.   

I’ve always thought of these 1920-50’s lights as objects of beauty.  

Many old and vacant stores or businesses have had their outdoor lights removed by those appreciating antique lighting fixtures.  

Supplemental photos:

On Sunday afternoon (December 8th) Debbie and I noticed quite a few more of the lighting fixtures of days past in uptown Shelby.    

Beginning with Quilting Fabrics and Notions (Lee Furniture and Sewing Center) and also on the side wall of “Pleasant City Wood Fired Grille” 

Roger Ivester










IC 1805 – “Cluster + Nebula” In Cassiopeia – December 2019 – Observer’s Challenge Report #131

Posted November 23, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports




Report #131

IC 1805 Open Cluster in Cassiopeia

Observer’s Challenge Report Final:  Click on the following link



Note:  The following are mostly original notes, with very little if any editing, to preserve the feelings and thoughts of the observer during the observation.  This is not the “official” Observer’s Challenge report, but what I call a “work-file” just to organize the entries.  Roger Ivester

     IC 1805 is a 6.5-magnitude cluster about 62 stars that spans about 20 arcminutes. It’s nearly centered on the group’s brightest member, HIP 11832 shining at magnitude 7.1. The cluster is young at only 2.5-million years and we see it at a distance of roughly 6,500 light-years. IC 1805 is enveloped in and associated with the emission nebula Sharpless 2-190, commonly called the Heart Nebula, which sprawls across 1.6 º of sky.

     Edward Emerson Barnard discovered IC 1805 photographically and included it on the first two plates of his wonderful Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way.  The atlas can be viewed online at:     Intro by Sue French  


IC 1805, December 2019, Observing Report by Mario Motta:

B&W image of IC 1805:  An H alpha image taken through my 6-inch refactor in 2015 for wide field. And has 7,  20 min subs, so 2 hours 20 min of H alpha.  

Color Image:  This was combined with 1 hour each of Oxygen 2 filter and Sulfur filter:  See attached.

IC 1805 (the Heart Nebula), North is to the right on this image, rotated to show the “heart” shape more readily.

Of course…to a cardiologist the Right heart (on the left, person facing you), is very “enlarged” so this is a rather sick heart, with what I would call right heart failure.    Mario Motta 





Sue French: Observer from New York:

14×70 binoculars:

IC 1805 is a fairly large, loose open cluster of six to eight moderately bright stars, depending on the borders, plus about 15 more stars on the backdrop.

105/610mm (4.1-inch f/5.8) refractor

     17×: Nebulosity is faintly visible without a filter, a little better with a UHC filter, and very nice with an O III filter. The brightest areas include: the IC 1805 cluster; a wide arc that runs between clusters IC 1805 and NGC 1027 and then loops around north of the IC 1805 cluster; and a small patch in the position of the nebula complex NGC 896/IC 1795. A fainter arc starts between the two clusters, loops around south of cluster IC 1805 and then northward on the western side of this cluster.  Both loops are quite patchy with very uneven brightness. Nebulosity also stretches from cluster IC 1805 to the eastern loop.

     87×: About 40 stars are visible in cluster IC 1805. Its brightest member is a double star, residing in a rough circlet of fainter suns at the cluster’s heart. Arms of stars starting north and south of the circlet curve westward. Two fairly bright stars northeast form a faint star with the lucida.  A broad scattering of stars straggle east through southeast from the circlet, while extremely faint specks of light can be seen within the circlet and rounding out the group.

     The double star is Stein 368 AB (STI 368 AB), PA 97º, separation 9.9″, component magnitudes 8.0 and 10.1. NGC 1027 displays about 50 stars centered on the group’s central lucida. Starting north-northwest of the star, its brightest attendants spiral outward from it for about 1½ turns.

     These observations were made in the northern Adirondack Mountains of New York, where my naked-eye limiting magnitude near Polaris was 6.3.


Roger Ivester:  Observer From North Carolina 

     In November I used a 6-inch f/6 reflector in an attempt to see the nebula in IC 1805. My eyepiece of choice for this night was a 2-inch-barrel 26mm with an O III filter. This gave me a field of view of 2º. 

     Scanning the area before using the O III filter, I first saw open cluster NGC 1027. A bright cluster at magnitude 6.7, consisting of about 20 stars with one brighter member located in the center. This cluster is located just to the east of IC 1805. 

     Now to IC 1805: I could easily see the cluster of stars located in the central region of the IC 1805 nebula. When adding an O III filter, I scanned the area for more than an hour; however, I cannot say definitively that I could see any nebulosity.

     On December 15, 2019, I used an 80mm f/5 refractor, with a 24mm eyepiece and a UHC filter. I was a bit dubious before beginning my observation that I’d be able to see the IC 1805 nebula based on my results using a 6-inch reflector only a month earlier, and with similar sky conditions. 

     After about thirty minutes, I could not see any of the nebula, but the central stars were easy and bright. However, when I began using my “manual” slow-motion controls, I began scanning across the IC 1805 area, and to my surprise, I began seeing very faint brightenings in the area. I scanned one section at a time, and was able to sketch extremely faint tentacles and fingers of nebulosity, only marginally brighter than the background. After more than two hours of “slow-motion” scans, well over two hundred crossings, I was able to sketch some of the brighter sections, encircling the central cluster. 


Roger IC 1805

Telescope: 80mm f/5 achromatic refractor 

Eyepiece: 24mm + UHC filter 

Sketch Magnification: 17× 

Field of View: ~3.5º 


James Dire:  Observer From Illinois 

     The Heart Nebula, IC 1805, is part of a vast complex of nebulae located in the constellation Cassiopeia. The nebula is located five degrees southeast of the star Segin and eight degrees east of the star Ruchbah. Segin and Ruchbah are the two easternmost stars making up Cassiopeia’s “W” asterism. 

     The brightest part of the Heart Nebula is separately known as NGC 896. NGC 896 was discovered by William Herschel in 1787 using his 18.7-inch reflector. NGC 896 measures 27 x 13 arcminutes and is estimated to be magnitude 10.

     The Heart Nebula itself extends about one degree in both right ascension and declination. The Heart Nebula lies 7500 light years away in the Perseus arm of the Milky Way Galaxy.

     IC 1805 is also the designation of an open star cluster in the middle of the Heart Nebula. This cluster is also known as Melotte 15. This loose open cluster is estimated to be a mere 1.5 million years old and contains several bright stars 50 times the Sun’s mass. These stars are responsible for exciting the hydrogen gas in the Heart Nebula resulting in the red glow as seen in photographs.

     My image of IC 1805 was taken with a 71 mm f/4.9 apochromatic refractor using an SBIG STF-8300C CCD Camera. The exposure was 140 minutes. In the image north is up and east to the left.

     The second image has labels pointing out the location of NGC 896 and the central star cluster in IC 1805. Two more open clusters are labeled in the image. The first is NGC 1027 located on the east side of the heart. NGC 1027 is a bright rich cluster of approximately 50 stars all within a 20 arcminute circle. The cluster has a total magnitude of 6.7. The other cluster is called Markarian 6 and is located southwest of the heart. Markarian 6 is magnitude 7.1 and is 6 arcminutes in diameter. All three star clusters contained in the nebula are worthy of inspection with any telescope at medium to high powers.

     My best view of the Heart Nebula was with my 14-inch f/6 Dob using a 26mm eyepiece (82x). This combination provides a one-degree true field of view. While the view comes nowhere close to my image, it was possible to see many of the brighter regions of the nebula, especially NGC 896 and the three above-mentioned star clusters.    




Michael Brown:  Observer from Massachusetts

     I was not certain I would do any observing this month, as we have been having a lot of cloudy nights, and it has been an unusually cold December. I have become reluctant to brave the cold in recent years.  

     Tonight (12/20/19) was so clear, with no moon, and at least not quite as frigid as earlier this week, that I decided to venture out.  Nevertheless, by the time I came inside, the temperature had dropped to 17 degrees F.  

     IC 1805 is an open cluster surrounded by a large nebula.  I observed it with my 8-inch SCT and a 25 mm eyepiece (my largest/lowest power), which has a field somewhat less than 1º field of view.    

     The cluster is fairly sparse, with six bright stars and perhaps a couple dozen dimmer stars visible.  Near the center is an oval-shaped group of stars.  About 1 degree southwest of the cluster is an interesting asterism of five stars shaped like a backwards “J”.  

     A hint of nebulosity was apparent within and surrounding the cluster.  This was more obvious after used a UHC filter on the eyepiece.  

     Because the nebula is considerably larger than my field of view, I slewed in all directions from the cluster to explore it.  In general, the nebulosity appeared to extend a couple of degrees in each direction, before the sky background became fairly dark, indicating I was no longer within the nebula.  

     About 1 degree east of the cluster, I saw a bright star and the brightest knot of nebulosity.  To the north of the cluster the nebulosity also appeared bright and mottled in some areas.  In the northern area, I possibly saw a narrow filament of brighter gas, oriented east-west.

     I can see why a wide-field telescope (which I unfortunately do not have) would be a good instrument for this object.    


Chris Elledge:  Observer from Massachusetts

     On November 30th @6:52pm ESTA, I used a 102 mm f/7 refractor to observe IC 1805 from the ATMoB Clubhouse. Sky conditions were: Bortle Scale 6; NELM 5.0; Transparency: Above Average; Seeing: Poor.

     I found IC 1805 in the Dobsonians that tried by star hopping from Segin and heading SE via triangle of mag. 8 stars (HD 12623, HD 12819, and HD 12568) and a zigzag group of mag. 7 and 8 stars containing HD 13686. Several bright mag. 6 and 7 stars surround IC 1805, and the center cluster of it is quite bright so it’s easy to tell when you’ve found it. The refactor I used for this observation was on a goto mount, so it felt a bit like cheating compared to my usual reflector observations.

     At 20x (35 mm, 3.4˚FoV) The central cluster of IC 1805 is composed of 10 bright mag. 7 to 8 stars. There are two parallel North/South lines of 4 stars. There is a scattering of mag. 8 and 9 stars all around the outer edges of the nebula. There is a faint glow all throughout the center of the view, but the ESE and NNE sides are notably darker. Moving the view around makes it clear that the IC1805 area is brighter than the surrounding areas. The extents of the nebulosity seem to end near a line of mag. 9 to 10 stars on the North side. It continues on the WNW side towards another cluster of stars that is in NGC896. There is a faint rift between the nebulas in a NE to SW direction. The nebulosity’s Southern bounds is at a WNW to ESE line of mag. 8 and 9 stars on the South side. A tiny cluster Markarian 6 sits right on the SW edge of the nebulosity. The brightest nebulosity is concentrated around the central cluster of stars.

     Adding a UHC filter reveals some mottling in the nebulosity outside of the the bright center nebulosity around the cluster. The ESE edge of the nebula appears brighter than the inner portions. A faint finger of glow stretches to the NE from the Eastern edge of the nebula. Replacing the UHC with a Hydrogen-Beta filter darkened the stars and the brightest central nebulosity, but the edges of the nebula stand out more with some visible mottling inside the two lobes of the heart shape.

     Below are the observing hints that I wrote up for others attempting this based on observing through several telescopes:

     I spent the night of November 30th observing IC 1805 through a variety of telescopes with various filters at the ATMoB Clubhouse. The best view that I got was through a 102 mm f/7 refractor with a 35mm eyepiece providing a 20x mag and 3.4˚ FoV. I recommend using a UHC to see the most nebulosity. While the edges of the nebula were still difficult to determine exactly where they stopped, it was clear that areas around the nebula were darker than the area inside.

     I actually found a Hydrogen Beta filter to be useful on this object. In my refractor with an H-beta filter (on the wide side for bandwidth) I was able to observe that the outer edge of the nebula was slightly brighter than parts of the middle. Some mottling was visible within the nebula outside of the brighter star clusters. This filter makes everything else really faint.

     I was able to observe the nebulosity in both my 10-inch f/5 Dob (36x, 1.9˚) and the ATMoB 25-inch f/3.5 Dob (63x, 1.1˚). In both cases it required extensive panning of the view to determine that the field was brighter within the nebula than outside. It was difficult in both cases to determine where exactly the edge of the nebula was. Sitting the view on the edges of the nebula, I could tell that one side of the view was brighter than the other. Filters helped, but the view through the 20x power of the 102 mm refractor was better.


     Low magnification definitely is important to this one. Probably works best with the biggest aperture you can find that still gives 20x or lower magnification at a reasonable exit pupil. I don’t think anything over 5-inches  will improve visibility. Don’t bother with OIII unless you want to just see the nebulosity around the bright clusters. UHC is ideal. H-beta is fun if you happen to have one that fits your lowest power eyepieces already.


Sameer Bharadwaj:  Observer from Massachusetts  

William Optics GT71 w/ 0.8x flattener

Optolong L-enhance filter, Canon EOS 77D modified

12 x 360 seconds, Ioptron zeq25 guided with QHY5L2M

     Pursued the Heart Nebula all summer with an unmodified camera with limited success. This is the object that finally motivated me to get the camera modified.    Sameer Bharadwaf




Ed Fraini: Observer from Texas

     My observation of IC 1805 and its neighborhood took place on the evening of December 22 at the North Houston Astronomy Clubs dark site near Dobbin, TX.  We had just that one night of clear cold sky following the passage of a cold front.  The sky conditions were recorded at the end of the observing session and are reported as follows;  The overhead sky measured 17.45 SQM, Transparency above average with three stars magnitudes 6.1 to 6.3  in Cassiopeia visible with direct vision, and  Seeing was excellent from sunset throughout our observation.  Both Vega and Capella were bright and steady at sunset, and they were used as the Sky Commander alignment stars for the 20-inch dob.

     The observing plan was to locate IC 1805 as quickly as possible after sunset, which was at 2330 GMT.  Then to determine how soon nebulosity could be detected as the sky darkened. 

 Time 0010 GMT: 

     Not yet astronomical dark, with strong twilight to the west.  Cassiopeia is high towards the north.  40 mm eyepiece giving a very low 48x.  IC 1805 stands out well, counted 17 stars of which most appeared to be close in magnitude and color.  Only three stars exhibit a slight yellow hue.  The cluster is well separated from other field stars making it easy to identify.  This cluster would be classed as widely dispersed in my judgment. It seems lines would be the characterization of the organization of the stars in the group, and many lines are moving across the field from the central area. Already we can see nebulosity, very light but there, to the north and east out towards NGC 1027.  I was very surprised that the nebulosity was so detectable this soon after sunset.

Time 0020 GMT:  

      I moved IC 1805 off to the northeast out of the field of view until Mrk6 appeared in the 40mm eyepiece.  Mrk6 is a beautiful small asterism that I will refer to my fellow observers as “The Worm.” A quick look at 142x revealed no color and equal magnitudes for this collection of stars.

Time: 0025 GMT: 

     Now moving back to IC 1805 with the 40 mm eyepiece, the cluster is now much more distinctive, and the nebulosity very evident.  I can now count 30 to 35 stars in the field, and it still seems very dispersed.  A broader range of colors was observed at this time.

Time 0032 GMT: 

     Even though the nebulosity to the east is strong.  I installed the OIII filter, which significantly enhances the appearance of the nebulosity for the whole field. The sky background is growing darker, and there are three bright areas of the nebula that can be noted.  These are mainly on a north-west to a south-east line from NGC 896, which is bright through IC 1805 and on to the west to another bright nebula area near NGC 1027.  We can follow the opacity from NGC 1027 to IC 1805 very quickly now.  While there are several bright areas, we could not get a sense of the “heart” shape while looking at these relatively small fields of view.  Quite a bit of time trying to sort out the larger pattern of the Heart Nebula.

Time 0100 GMT: 

     Looking at IC 1805 at with a 26 mm eyepiece (without the OIII filter) gives us an exit pupil of 6.7 mm, which is a good match for my dark-adapted eye. Concentrating on IC1805, we can now count 65 – 70 stars, many of which are very dim.  The nebulosity band is substantial to the north and thins out over the cluster.  I worked my way stepwise up to 320x, in a failed attempt to see the companion to HD 15558.  An interesting note, HD 15558, is listed by Wikipedia as being one of the most massive stars in the Milky Way.  I Identified three nearby stars at magnitude 11 that were barely visible, and the companion is reported to be much fainter.  Under increased power, the star group in the center of IC 1805 looked more rectangular in nature with an L/D of 3. HD 15558 is midway on the long side bottom.

Time 0120 GMT:

Wrapped observation of IC 1805:

     To our surprise, it was easy to detect the nebulosity of this extended object quite soon after sunset. It was also a surprise how difficult it was to keep my  orientation while trying to trace out the heart which we are so all familiar with, as shown by our astrophotography friends.


Richard Nugent:  Observer from Massachusetts 

      IC 1805 is a VERY challenging object from my home observing site of Framingham, MA. This site offers a NELM of about 4.9 on the very best of nights. Snow cover reduces it to around magnitude 4! The  observing site of the Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston offers a slightly darker sky with a NELM of about 5.1 or 5.2 but very dark skies are preferred for this object.

     I had an opportunity in November to attempt an observation of this object from Framingham. I was using my 20-inch Dobsonian which is equipped with an internal filter slide holding UHC and OIII filters.  This telescope achieves its richest field configuration when I use my 21 mm 100° eyepiece. This yields a magnification of 120x and a true field of view of 0.83°. 

     The cluster associated with IC 1805 is easy to locate however, with this setup I could see absolutely no trace of nebulosity. Filters did not improve the detectability of the nebula. I tried increasing magnification to darken the background to no avail. The telescope has a 90mm finder that gives 20x and a 3° true field. Considering the large size of this nebulosity, I tried viewing it with this little scope. No luck. I added UHC and OIII filters and again, no luck.

     As a test, I swung the scope to the Veil Nebula. Using the finder with the UHC filter the western portion of the Veil was easy visible. The eastern portion and the nebulosity between the east and west regions was faint but definitely visible. The aperture of this scope proved to be too small to drive light through OIII filter. The failure to detect IC 1805 leads me to believe it is extremely faint!

     In December, I brought an 8-inch f/4 scope to the ATMoB site. While the stars appeared steady, the seeing was actually quite poor. However, using an UHC filter and an eyepiece that gave 50x and a true field of 1.6° I was able to see some extremely faint nebulosity surrounding the cluster. Switching to the OIII the nebulosity was brighter but still very difficult.

     Much to my dismay, I saw no trace of the arcs of nebulosity that lie about ½° to the east of the cluster.

     In my humble opinion, in order to detect this object visually, you’ll need to use an aperture/eyepiece combination that gives low magnification and a large true field of view. Once on the cluster, use UHC and/or OIII filters to enhance the nebulosity, and, as always, try to observe under the darkest skies you can find.


John Bishop:  Observer from Massachusetts 

     I observed IC 1805 on two nights, 11/30/19 and 12/19/19, from the ATMoB  Clubhouse in Westford, MA.  Both nights were clear and cold, dropping to 18º F. on 11/30, and 10º on 12/19. Unfortunately, transparency and contrast were only fair at best. I observed with my 8.25-inch f/11.5 reflector (210/2415) at 48x, 80x, and 100x.

     Star-hopping to a sparse open cluster in this congested area of the sky was a bit of a challenge. Cassiopeia is chock full of clusters, nebulae, and background stars. Telrad got me to the general area, but my 7×50 finder showed a field with numerous fuzzy areas and knots of stars. Which one was IC 1805?

     Using my finder and motor drive, I moved from spot to spot, and then observed at 48x. The first cluster I landed on was a sparse open cluster with a conspicuously bright central star. This proved to be NGC 1027.  I moved to another nearby object. This looked like it could be IC 1805, which it was. Out of curiosity, I turned to yet another nearby fuzzy, starlike object. This was Markarian 6, an unusual cluster of six or so stars in a curving line. Markarian 6 is so distinctive in its appearance that it was an ideal navigational mark, from which I could verify my location. (I was alerted to Markarian 6 by Luginbuhl and Skiff, later confirmed with an online image). In my finder, NGC 1027, IC 1805, and Markarian 6 formed a triangle that I could traverse with my motor drive (no Goto).

     On the advice of other observers, I used the lowest power, widest FOV eyepiece I have to observe IC 1805. This is a 2-inch 50mm eyepiece providing 48x with a 1 degree FOV. I have no filters for the 50 mm eyepiece. 48x, unfiltered, showed 10 or so brighter stars, widely spaced against a dark background, with some fainter stars about. On the first night I could see haze concentrated around several of the stars in the center of the cluster, but I could not see extended nebulosity. This was the same at 80x and 100x, unfiltered, with 1.25″ eypieces. The most I can say was that there may have been brightening of the background which could could have been nebulosity, but my FOV was too narrow to be sure. On the second night, I was prepared to try Roger Ivester’s sweeping technique, but the sky was badly washed out due to snow cover reflection, and it was too cold for extended experimentation.

     On 1.25-inch eyepieces, UHC and OIII filters at 80x and 100x were not much help. For one thing, the FOV was even narrower.  Although the stars were still visible, the images were dark, and not pleasing. I thought I saw faint differences in brightness in the area around the central stars, but the image was too dark and  faint to be useful. Bear in mind that transparency and contrast were compromised, especially on the second night.

     All in all, a good exercise in “celestial navigation”; not much success in seeing the faint, fuzzy stuff.

     Yet – an interesting thing happened as I was packing up on the second night. One of our club members was allowing fellow observers to look through his 3x  “night vision image intensifier” (NVII). When my turn came, I pointed the device at the region of Cassiopeia I had been observing with somewhat meager results. I was stunned. There, hanging in the sky off Epsilon Cassiopeia, were the two nebula associated with IC 1805 and IC 1848. They were amazingly large and bright, at 3x.

     I had never used one of these devices before.  I am still trying to sort out what this almost magical technology means for traditional observational astronomy.


Vladislav Mlch:  Observer from Massachusetts

Date:  Nov 30 and Dec 28, 2019

Location: White Mountains National forest, New Hampshire

Conditions: Bortle 2, below average seeing

Telescope:  22-inch f/3.3 DOB with 10 mm eyepiece (100º apparent field of view)   (185x – FOV 0.54º ) Night vision intensifier with 1.2x Barlow (92x, FOV 0.43º)

Filter:  7 nm Ha used on the NVI  

     I was able to sketch only the central portion of the cluster.  There seems to be patterns of many arches, all consisting of mostly mag. 5-6 stars.

     There was no sign of nebulosity when using a regular eyepiece. I was able to see some nebulosity with the night vision intensifier, coupled to a 7 nm Ha filter. The true field of view of the DOB was too narrow to see the entire nebula at the same time.



Corey Mooney:  Observer from Massachusetts

     On  December 19th I had the opportunity to view the heart nebula using Vladislav Mlch’s Gen III night vision device. He had it set up for hand held use with a 3x lens (75 mm) and Ha narrow band filter.  It was like a magic eye loupe revealing the true nature of the night sky, laiden with numerous Ha regions everywhere I looked.  A truly remarkable experience!

      At the time, the heart nebula was nearly over head so I had to crane my neck to see it, but the sight was worth it.  Both the heart and the soul were clearly visible with great contrast. The heart was distinctly heart shaped with a bright outline and central band. 

     On Dec 20th  before setting up my EAA equipment at the clubhouse I tried to observe the heart visually. I used my 80mm f/7.5 ED refractor with a 50 mm 2-inch eyepiece and a UHC filter. This resulted in a wide 5° FOV at 12x with an exit pupil of 6.6 mm, which could drive a lot of light through the filter. 

      I was able to see some very faint nebulosity around the central star cluster. I also saw the fish head (IC1795) as a detached area of concentrated glow, definitely brighter than the glow around the central cluster. I did not see the fainter heart shaped outline, even after panning around and jiggling the scope with averted vision.  

     On December 28th I live stacked the heart nebula with my new IMX294 based camera in my 208 mm f/3.9 Newtonian. The new camera has a much larger sensor than my IMX224, resulting in a much larger field of view, but I was still only able to fit a choice part of the massive heart nebula into the FOV.  I chose to frame the bright central cluster of the heart and the nearby fish head nebula. 

     In the short 8s frames the red nebulosity was visible around the central cluster and the fish head, albeit very noisy. Once the live stack was started the grainy noise started to fade and I could stretch the histogram to cut the sky glow and reveal some of the fainter outline as more frames accumulated. There are wonderful wisps of nebulosity tangled in the central star cluster. The illumination/ionization from the blazing stars gives a very 3D effect to the gas and dust.

     The outline of the heart was much fainter. With aggressive stretching it could be separated from the background, but I settled on a smoother more natural look.  The fish head certainly lives up to its namesake, complete with a gill plate, lips, and an eye. It reminds me of my large pet goldfish.

     Halfway between the central cluster of IC 1805 and the brighter glow of the fish head I noticed a small open cluster of lovely golden stars magnitude 14-17. I later found out it was  called Tombaugh 4, discovered by Clyde Tombaugh while reviewing photographic plates from Lowell Observatory. 

     If I had more clear nights between the holidays I would have liked to try a wide field shot with a camera lens in order to frame the whole nebula.  I am still very happy with how the close up turned out. I look forward to getting more practice with the new camera,

IC 1805 Heart Nebula and IC 1795 Fish Head Nebula

heart and fish_Stack_bits_Gain_343frames_2744s_20_17_03_WithDisplayStretch-downresed

208 mm f/3.9 Newt, ASI294MC-Pro, SW Quattro CC,

8s x 243 = 2744s = ~46 min, live-stacked and stretched in SharpCap

NGC 246 – Planetary Nebula – Cetus November 2019, Observer’s Challenge Object

Posted November 22, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports




NGC 7448 – Galaxy in Pegasus – Observer’s Challenge Object – October 2019

Posted November 9, 2019 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

The complete Observer’s Challenge report link as following: 


My first observation of galaxy NGC 7448, came on the night of October 24, 1994, using a 10-inch reflector.   Roger Ivester 

October 24th 1994: 

“10-inch @ 57x, can vaguely detect with direct vision, situated between two two dim stars, which are oriented ESE-NW of the galaxy.  When increasing the magnification to 190x, the galaxy appeared elongated, still fairly difficult, but could be seen with direct vision.  However, averted vision allowed a clear view of the elongated shape, oriented N-S, with a brighter stellar core.” 

It would be almost twenty five years before I would observe this galaxy again, on September 26th, 2019.  

An astronomy friend, Richard Nugent from Massachusetts, visited both my wife Debbie and I, and were fortunate to be able to observe the galaxy that night.  We estimated the NELM at about 5.0, which is actually pretty good for my back yard this time of the year in the foothills of North Carolina. 

Using a 10-inch reflector, the galaxy was fairly easy to see with direct vision, at 114x.  When increasing the magnification to 174x, using a 12.5 mm eyepiece and a 1.9x Barlow, the galaxy appeared elongated and oriented N-S, with a brighter core.   

However, for a faint galaxy such as this, and using a 10-inch reflector in a moderate-plus light polluted location….just being able to recognize and see a few minor details can be an accomplishment or considered a success.  

I was pleased to be able to see the very faint double star, magnitudes, 13.5 and 14.0 located to the NNW of the galaxy.   (Magnitudes from NOMAD, and provided by special advisor to the Observer’s Challenge, Sue French)  

The double is actually a triple, but the third component is very faint at magnitude 15.7, which is far too faint for my 10-inch reflector.  I’m hoping that others using much larger telescopes were able to see this third star.  

Roger Ivester 

Pencil sketch:  10-inch reflector @ 174x 

Rogers NGC-7448 Inverted

Notes and pencil sketch by Sue French:

NGC 7448 is the brightest of five NGC galaxies that mark the corners of a nearly equilateral triangle with 28′-long sides. It sits at the triangle’s western corner. I first logged NGC 7448 in 1988 for the Astronomical League’s Herschel 400 observing program. Since then I’ve visited it a number of times, along with its buddies, through a few different scopes. My Observer’s Challenge sketch was done with my 254/1494mm (10-inch f/5.8) reflector at magnifications of 187× to 299×.

NGC 7448 appears fairly bright and elongated at 68×, with a 10th-magnitude star in attendance 2½′ east by south of the galaxy. At 115× NGC 7448 presents a moderate-size oval glow, twice as long as wide, that grows gently brighter toward the center. At 187× the galaxy shows a south-by-east tilt. Its large, elongated core looks brighter in the north. At 213× I estimate a size of about 1.7′ × 0.8′.

NGC 7465 shares the field of view with NGC 7448 at 68×, but it’s dimmer and roundish with a tiny, bright center. The galaxy sits 4′ east of an 8th-magnitude star and is tucked inside the western corner of a ¼° trapezoid formed by that star and three others, magnitudes 9 and 7. At 115× the small glow of the galaxy is easily viewed. Its core is tipped NNW and harbors a tiny bright nucleus. At magnifications of 187× to 299×, the core grows brighter toward a stellar nucleus and the faint halo is just a thin coating of fluff that slightly rounds out the galaxy’s profile.

NGC 7463 emerges as an east-west glow at 115×, dwelling just 2½′ WNW of NGC 7465. At 213× it shyly offers an elusive stellar nucleus and has a very elongated façade. At 299× NGC 7463 maintains an almost uniform surface brightness.

NGC 7464 is a tiny little thing dangling south of the eastern half of NGC 7563. I was only able to spot it during one of my observing sessions. With averted vision at 299×, I could catch repeated glimpses of the galaxy as a round dot. It was difficult to see, and I couldn’t hold it steadily in view.

Together NGC 7463, NGC 7464, and NGC 7465 hold down the western corner of the galaxy-pinned triangle. 

NGC 7454 is parked on the triangle’s northern point and is visible even at 43× as a tiny smudge off the ESE side of a 11½-magnitude star. A 9th-magnitude star lies 4½′ east by north. The galaxy is faint and somewhat oval at 68×, and 115× reveals a relatively large, bright, oval core. In addition to the 11½-magnitude star near the galaxy’s WNW side, the higher power captures a 13½′-magnitude star a little farther away to the NNW. NGC 7454 grows gently brighter toward the center at 187×, and at 213× I estimate the visible size as about 1′ × ⅔′.

I’d hoped all the galaxies would fit in my 187×, 32′ field of view, but that wasn’t big enough, so I cheated and nudged the scope north to get NGC 7454. I also used higher magnifications to add some of the details. Sketching stars, I began with those near the galaxies and brighter field stars. For three nights it kept clouded up before I could try to get the rest, so I decided leave the sketch as is. North is to the left and west is up. 

NGC 7488 group c inv

Mario Motta image:  32-inch telescope

See attached, 90 mins exposure on NGC 7448. Wiki says it is 80 million LY away, about 60,000 LY across. Notable for “detached spiral arm segments” which I think you can easily see in my image. Interesting object.

Taken with 32 inch scope SBIG STL 1001E camera, 500 seconds subs, 90 mins total exposure.  Processed in pixinsight.