Planetary Nebula IC 1295 In Scutum: August 2018 Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted September 20, 2018 by rogerivester
Categories: Observer's Challenge Reports

AUGUST 2018 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – IC-1295-1

Image by Mario Motta from Massachusetts, using a 32-inch reflector

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Las Vegas Astronomical Society, Annual Observing Event at Cathedral Gorge, Nevada. Date: Thursday September 6th Thru The 9th 2018

Posted September 15, 2018 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

Cathedral Gorge, Nevada, deep-sky observing site.  What a beautiful place!  

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Below:  Robert Sherman facing away, and standing beside John Heller’s 25-inch Obsession reflector.  Fred Rayworth’s 16-inch Meade in the center of the photo.  

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Christina Feliciano (R) and Cindi Heller to the left.

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Below:  Fred Rayworth. 

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Jay and Liz Thompson with the LVAS 24-inch club scope.  

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Messier 4 – Globular Cluster in Scorpius – July 2018 Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted August 24, 2018 by rogerivester
Categories: Observer's Challenge Reports

Click on the following link for the complete report:  

JULY 2018 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – M-004

Notes from my backyard:

Globular cluster, M4 is easy to see with a 60 mm refractor, appearing as a faint circular glow at low magnification.  When using a 3.5-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain at 78x, there is a resolve of some of the brighter members.  The cluster has a subtle elongated shape.  A very faint chain of stars was noted in the central region, oriented N-S.  With 102 mm refractor, there is a greater number of stars resolved within the cluster, and much greater concentration of stars, elongated and with more stars in the central chain. A prominent double star is located on the SE edge.   

10-inch reflector at 140x, excellent resolve of the cluster. The center chain of stars is very bright and with many stars counted, both in the central region and around the outer edges.  A chain of stars makes an arc, the entire length of the cluster on the NW side.  The elongation shape becomes much more apparent with the larger aperture.      Roger Ivester 

Pencil sketch with the colors inverted using a 102 mm refractor @ 140x 

Rogers M-004 Inverted

 

 

What? Sand Dunes In The Northeastern Corner Of South Carolina, 50 Miles From The Atlantic Ocean! And Also Very Dark Skies

Posted August 14, 2018 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

While visiting family in Mullins, South Carolina over the past few years, I’ve discovered some fabulous dark-sky areas, perfect for the use of an astronomical telescope.  

Only a few miles outside the city limits, there are country roads, agriculture fields, and no houses or lights for miles and miles.  

Hopefully in future visits, I’ll be able to take one of my smaller telescopes, but unfortunately, like most all locations on the east coast, cloudy skies seem to prevail.  

However, this trip yielded some beautiful skies, but on our first night we were too tired to attempt to see the Perseid meteor shower. 

The next morning….Tuesday August 14th 2018.  

When driving in a secluded area, via unfamiliar country roads, you never know what you may find:   

While riding around with my oldest grandson, who just got his learners permit, and I was sharing my wisdom, of how to be a safe driver.  During our  leisure drive, we found something very interesting:  

Sand dunes, and a very sandy area….at first resembling snow, all in the middle of a dense forest and surrounded by swamp land.  There were Bald Cypress trees growing out of the black murky water, Spanish moss hanging from the trees, and who knows…..maybe even an alligator or two in that dark water!

Note:  This very remote small sandy area is a protected site.  I took some pictures as following, but somehow missed the eerie swamp.   

Roger 

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Stopped and using the car as a size reference, to a part of the protected site: 

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South Carolina Grandkids

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Debbie (Grammy) with granddaughter Gracie

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Couldn’t leave our Sophie behind!  She’s ready to go anytime we are! 

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M51 and Companion Galaxy NGC 5195 – June 2018 Observer’s Challenge Report

Posted July 12, 2018 by rogerivester
Categories: Observer's Challenge Reports

JUNE 2018 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – M-051

Observing notes: 

Messier 51 is visible along with companion NGC-5195 in a 60mm (2.4-inch) refractor.  M51 was mostly round with a bright stellar nucleus and a very faint halo.  The small companion galaxy, NGC-5195, just to the north was very faint and small.  If sky conditions are poor, this galaxy pair can be extremely difficult to see using a telescope this small.

In a 10-inch reflector on an exceptional night at 190X, spiral structure was easily visible.  I could trace the prominent eastern arm almost in contact with companion galaxy, NGC-5195.  The nuclei of both NGC-5194 and NGC-5195 were both stellar, with the smaller galaxy, 5195, having a brighter, more intense nuclei.  M51 had a mag. 13.5 star a couple of minutes to the SW of the core, still within the halo, and a mag. 14 star, (requiring averted vision to see) just off to the east, but outside of the halo.

One of my most memorable views of NGC-5194 and NGC-5195 came during an early spring night in 1993, using a 14.5-inch reflector.  The connecting arm of M51 (NGC-5194) was incredible and it reached far out toward the companion galaxy to the north.  This view rivaled that of many photographs.

On the night of April 14, 1994, supernova 1994I was visible.  I estimated the mag. of the SN on that night at 13.8.  The following pencil sketch was made that night. 

 

Rogers M-051 New a Inverted
 

Cline Observatory Double Star List – Compiled By Tom English – July 2018

Posted June 22, 2018 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

Cline Observatory Double Star List – 25double-5triple

Tom English has put together an excellent list of twenty five doubles and five  multiple stars, which at first glance would seem to be compiled for only those new to this facet of amateur astronomy.  However, for those of us who have enjoyed double star observing for decades, we know there is no such thing as a beginners list.

Double star lists can be comprised of the most difficult pairs due to their close separations and sometimes with unequal magnitudes, or those with wide separations and beautiful contrasting colors.  It was the latter which coined the name: “The jewels of the night sky.”

This list contains some beautiful and interesting doubles, all of which can be observed with a very small telescope.  The famous double star, Epsilon Bootis is probably the most difficult double on the list, which has always required a 4-inch aperture for me.  Many observers have reported seeing the companion to Epsilon with a 3-inch, and from Webb….a 2-inch, or even smaller.   

Are you stressed, too tired to take out that big telescope, but would like to enjoy an hour or so of relaxation under the night sky?  So….why not a 60 mm refractor or a 3-inch reflector?  Oh yes….don’t worry about the bright moon or ambient lights as both have little effect on most double stars.     

At one time I thought anything less than a three or four hour observing session was not worth the effort to take a telescope outside.  I became so consumed with observing….there was no way I could miss one clear night.  My observing became more of a job, and I was always grateful for a cloudy night.  The obsession to observe did not allow me to make the decision to not observe, only something like a cloudy night, rain or snow, which was beyond my control.  I’m happy to say….I’m now cured of this malady.  🙂 

Want to become a better double star observer?  I’ve listed a few things as following which have helped me over the years:  

I’ve never been able to observe through a telescope eyepiece and stand at the same time, much less attempt a pencil sketch.  

Careful and skilled observing requires patience and comfort.  

And for those extremely close and difficult doubles, an eyepatch is necessary for the non-observing eye.  It’s important to relax the facial muscles and  it’s “absolutely” essential to hold the observing eye very still and on-axis….hence the need to be seated.   

Roger Ivester  

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word”   Margaret Atwood

 

Epsilon Bootis – Double Star – W. Struve’s “The Most Beautiful One”

Posted June 19, 2018 by rogerivester
Categories: Observer's Challenge Reports

Observer’s Challenge object for June 2019:  

Epsilon Bootis:  Called “Pulcherrima” or “the most beautiful one” by Struve.

At one time, observing double stars was the most popular facet of amateur astronomy, however, I think we can all agree, this is not the case as of current.  Sad indeed!   I say….fortunate indeed is the amateur who discovers the joy of observing double stars.

Nothing is more beautiful than a close pair with vivid and contrasting colors, such as Epsilon Bootis.

Want to have some fun tonight?  You don’t have to be concerned with the brightening moon, or ambient lighting, but take a look and try the very challenging double star Epsilon Bootis.

Good seeing is definitely required to see the companion of Epsilon.  On many nights with less than good seeing, I’ve failed to see the companion, even with a 102 mm refractor, or a 10-inch reflector with an effective aperture of 4-inches, using an off-axis stop-down mask.  

It is an unequal double with the primary being magnitude 2.37 and the secondary at 5.12, with a separation of 2.9″ which makes this double difficult for many observers.

I see the colors as a beautiful yellow and a vivid blue, with a clean separation at 175x using a 102 mm refractor.

Quoting from Celestial Harvest by James Mullaney:

! Izar, Magnificently-tinted but tight pair. “Most beautiful yellow, superb blue.” Rather difficult in apertures under 4-inches.  A 3-inch at 150x shows two beautifully-colored diffraction disk nearly in contact!  ….called “Pulcherrima” or “the most beautiful one” by Struve.  JM

Many have seen the companion with a 3-inch, and from Webb, even a 2-inch, however, for me, it’s always been at least 4-inches of aperture.  What will be the smallest telescope which will allow you to see the companion?

After all….every amateur should attempt to see a double star called “the most beautiful one.”

Roger Ivester