We Were Fortunate To Have John Dobson Visit For a Couple or More Weeks During The Late 90’s

Posted January 31, 2022 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

Myself (L) Tom English in the center, and Dobson. I can’t remember, but I think someone local knitted Dobson the funky hat, which he wore most all of the time during his visit.

We had a get-together and dinner at one of the local astronomy club members home.

Dobson and Tom English during a solar observing session. Best I remember, Dobson didn’t think it was a good idea to observe the sun with a solar filter.

A letter that Dobson wrote to my wife, after he returned to San Francisco. He wanted to tell her about a movie he had seen.

M42 and M43 – Bright Nebulae in Orion: February 2022 Observer’s Challenge Report #157

Posted January 21, 2022 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

February 2022

Report #157

M42 and M43, the Orion Nebula

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

Final Observer’s Challenge Report:

NGC 1501 – Planetary Nebula in Camelopardalis: January 2022 Observer’s Challenge Report #156

Posted January 19, 2022 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports

Work-File: Used only for organization and editing. When all entries are received, a final .pdf report will be issued by the 10th of February. And the link will be posted on this page.


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

January 2022

Report #156

NGC 1501 Planetary Nebula in Camelopardalis

This month’s target:

William Herschel discovered NGC 1501 with his 18.7″ reflector on 3 November 1787. As handwritten by his sister Caroline, his description, reads: A very curious Planetary nebula near 1′ diameter. Round, pretty-well defined of a uniform light and pretty bright. Not surprisingly, the open cluster NGC 1502, sitting just 1.4° north of the nebula, was the next discovery in Herschel’s sweep.

Lawrence Parsons (the 4th Earl of Ross) and his assistant Ralph Copeland observed NGC 1501 several times with the 72-inch Leviathan… Perhaps the best description comes from Lord Rosse’s observation on 15 January 1868: A bright ring and inside it a dark annulus, very decided. A star in the centre seen very clearly and continuously with various powers; suspect variable [unequal?] brightness in the ring, perhaps a dark spot in it nearly on the preceding [western] side. The following [eastern] side of the ring appears broadest and to approach the central star nearer than the preceding side does. The north and south sides of the ring seem rather brighter than the preceding and following sides. Suspect other bright points in it, but am not at all certain. It is slightly elliptical, its major axis being preceding and following.

Complete and Finalized Report: Click on the following Link:


Pencil Sketch of NGC 1501 – Planetary nebula in Camelopardalis  

NGC 2264: The Christmas Tree Cluster and Cone Nebula

Posted December 16, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

Last night I received a nice image from Mario Motta of NGC 2264, known as the Christmas Tree Cluster, and the associated Cone Nebula. (December 15, 2021)

I thought this to be the perfect time for a post of this object…being only nine days from Christmas Day.

I’m also including an image and write-up from James Dire.

Just this morning (December 20th) I received an incredible drawing from Bertrand Laville, using a 25-inch telescope.

And a pencil sketch from 2010, by myself for illustrative purposes, as to show how this object appears “visually” with a 10-inch reflector, from a 5.0 suburban back yard.

Image and notes from Mario Motta:

For the season, I’m sharing my image of the Christmas tree cluster in Monoceros. A large object so I used my 6-inch scope, to capture the entire field. The NGC 2264 image is as it appears in the sky in true color, the first image. But, the “tree” is upside down, so for clarity, I inverted the image, and took some liberty of “nudging” the color to make it more distinct for you to see.

Supplemental: I’m adding another image using my 32-inch. Mario

Image using 32-inch telescope:

Image and notes by James Dire:

NGC 2264 is usually the designation given for a star cluster in the constellation Monoceros (mono – one, ceros – horn; The Unicorn) which is embedded in a large nebula. The nebula spans approximately 1º of declination and 1/2º right ascension.

If north is up, the nebula is in the shape of an inverted cone or Christmas tree. Thus NGC 2264 is sometimes called the Cone Nebula or Christmas Tree Nebula. Near the south end of the nebula, or the apex of the cone, lies a dark nebula, also cone shaped, with the apex on the north end. This dark nebula is called the Dark Cone Nebula.

The actual star cluster is approximately 39 arc minutes in diameter. My image of the Cone Nebula is centered on the star cluster, and only captures about half of the bright nebula. This image was taken with a 190mm (7.5-inch) f/5.3 Maksutov-Newtonian Astrograph using an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera.

It’s a composite of six 10-minute frames taken on February 23, 2009. I have captured roughly the bottom half (north side) of the Christmas Tree (remember it’s upside down). Jim Dire

Supplemental: More images from James Dire:


I have attached a couple more images I took of NGC 2264.

One taken with a Stellarvue SV-102T 102mm f/8 Apo with a 0.8x focal reducer/field flattener to yield f/6.4. This was taken with Canon 30D digital camera. 60 minute exposure (6x10min). February 23, 2009 from, Earl, NC

The second taken with a William Optics 132mm f/7 refractor with a 0.8x focal reducer/field flattener yielding f/5.6. . This was taken with an SBIG ST-4000XCM CCD camera. 290 minute exposure (29x10min). Images taken on March 4 & 7, 2021 from Jubilee College State Park, Illinois.

Merry Christmas, Jim

Sketch by Roger Ivester:

10-inch reflector at 57x, and a 1.1º field. Some very faint nebulosity could be seen, at the southern tip, as shown, and without a filter, with a 5.0 NELM.

South is down, North is up, and West to the right.

Drawing by Bertrand Laville from France using a 25-inch telescope:

From “Deep-Sky Wonders” by Sue French:

“Dubbed the Christmas Tree Cluster by Leland S. Copeland, this striking cluster well deserves its nickname. I recall observing NGC 2264 long ago when I’d heard of the Christmas Tree but didn’t know to which cluster the name referred. One look through the eyepiece and I knew this must be it!”

“…I can imagine them fashioning a large five-pointed star crowning the tree. Since the tree hangs tip-south in the sky, it can sometimes be seen upright when viewed through a telescope that inverts the view…”

Comet Leonard: Image by Guest Host Anas Sawallha from Jordan

Posted December 4, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Hello Roger, I wanted to share my rather humble image of Comet Leonard with globular cluster M3, taken using an alt-azimuth mount and a monochrome camera.

NGC 16; Galaxy in Pegasus: December 2021 Observer’s Challenge Report #155

Posted November 23, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

Work-File: Used only for organization and editing. When all entries are received, a .pdf report will be issued by the 10th of January. And the link will be posted on this page.

James Dire: Observer from Illinois

On a recent autumn night with great seeing and transparency, I imaged NGC 16 with a wide-field view to capture it with myriad galaxies lying in the same field, four of which are in the New General Catalog (NGC). The telescope was a William Optics 132mm f/7 Apo. The imager was a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. The images here were created by combining 20 ten-minute exposures. The camera was self-guided on a Celestron CGEM II mount using MaximDL software for capture and guiding. One image below has labels showing some of the brighter galaxies in the field of view. 

After NGC 16, the brightest galaxy in the field of view is NGC 1. The New General Catalog lists deep space objects by right ascension. So NGC1 has the smallest right ascension of any object in the catalog: 00h 07m 15.9s (Epoch 2000). NGC1 is a magnitude 12.8 spiral galaxy 1.6×1.1 arcsec in size. Some spiral structure can be seen in large amateur telescopes and is even captured in my wide-field image.

Just below NGC 1 is NGC 2, a magnitude 14 spiral galaxy measuring 0.9×0.5 arcsec in size. At 220 and 330 million light years, respectively, NGC 1 and NGC 2 are farther away from us than NGC16. Whereas NGC1 presents itself more face on, NGC2 is more edge on.

The final NGC object on the image is NGC 22, a magnitude 14.8 spiral galaxy. NGC 22 is 1.2×0.7 arcsec in size. At magnitude 14.6, UGC69 is the next brightest galaxy. UGC69 is about the same angular size as NGC1 and at the same distance. However, at nearly two magnitudes fainter, UGC69 as well as NGC 22 are difficult to see in telescopes smaller than 14-inches. Despite the scale, some spiral structure is visible in my image for both of these faint galaxies.

There are dozens of other galaxies in my image. Most appear as tiny, dim star-like dots. Some appear elongated giving away their galactic shape. Three I have labeled are PGC1811465 (mag. 16.7), PGC212478  (mag. 16.7), and PGC182172 (mag.16.8). I was able to pick out galaxies down to magnitude 19 in the image.

Supporting notes and information to follow later…

Pencil sketch by Roger Ivester:

Pencil Sketch by Uwe Glahn: Observer from Germany

NGC 1 and NGC 2: 27-inch reflector @ 293x

NGC 7662 Planetary Nebula in Andromeda: November 2021 Observer’s Challenge Report #154

Posted November 19, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

November 2021

Report #154

NGC 7662 Planetary Nebula in Andromeda

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

Final November .pdf report, click on the following link:

This is the observer’s challenge “Work-File” report: Used only for organization and editing. When all entries are received, a .pdf report will be issued by the 10th of December. And the link will be posted on this page.

Commonly called the Blue Snowball, the planetary nebula NGC 7662 dwells in the northern reaches of Andromeda. Its nickname springs from an article by Leland S. Copeland in the February 1960 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine. Copeland describes the nebula as “looking like a light blue snowball.” 

William Herschel discovered this nebula on October 6, 1784, with this 18.7-inch reflector. His journal entry reads: A wonderful bright, round planetary pretty well defined disk, a little eliptical [sic]; perhaps 10 or 12″ diameter. Another entry from October 3, 1790, endearingly states: My planetary nebula. A very beautiful object, with a vS [very small] star following; giving one the idea of a large Planet with a vS satellite. In his impressive new book, William Herschel Discoverer of the Deep Sky, NGC/IC researcher Wolfgang Steinicke credits William Herschel with 10 observations of NGC 7662.

NGC 6857: Emission Nebula – Cygnus: October 2021 Observer’s Challenge Report #153

Posted October 13, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

October 2021

Report #153

Click on the following link, for the complete report:


This month’s target:

William Herschel discovered NGC 6857 on 6 September 1784. His handwritten journal for that date reads: A patch containing some nebulosity…irregularly long.

Heinrich d’Arrest writes of this object and his observation of it in his 1867 Siderum Nebulosorum Observationes Havnienses. My very loosely paraphrased English for the Latin text: Minute, faint; it is most probably a cluster. A 12th-magnitude star precedes it. – Rechecked shortly after: it was not so small; not all of the nebula is resolved, there is at least some cloudiness. I’m not surprised that this was missed by Rosse.

NGC 6857 is the brightest part of the larger, star-forming emission region Sharpless 2-100, which is a much more difficult visual target than NGC 6857. 

A 2010 paper by Manash Samal and colleagues in the Astrophysical Journal indicates that the main ionizing source at the center of NGC 6857 is the bright, massive star at its heart. This compact nebula is estimated to be approximately 28 thousand light-years away from us, and the star is thought to have a spectral type of about OIII. The most likely age of the nebula is in the vicinity of 1 to 2 million years. (Intro and object information by Sue French)

NGC 6823/Sh 2-86: Open Cluster/Emission Nebula in Vulpecula: September Observer’s Challenge Report #152

Posted September 13, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports


Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina


Sue French, New York

September 2021

Report #152

NGC 6823 & Sh 2-86, Open Cluster & Emission Nebula in Vulpecula

Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together

Observer’s Challenge Report: Final

September 2021 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE _NGC 6823 & Sh 2-86

This month’s target:

The nebula surrounding the open cluster NGC 6823 suffers an identity crisis. It’s not NGC 6820, as many sources claim, but rather a small knot of nebulosity 16 arcminutes in position angle 218 degrees (southwest by south) from the bright quadruple star at the cluster’s heart. 

Here is NGC/IC maven Harold Corwin’s explanation:

NGC 6820 is a small knot of nebulosity, roughly 1′ × 1′, perhaps a reflection nebula around a few young stars or pre-stellar objects. It is specifically NOT the much larger HII region Sharpless 2-86 as has been many times been claimed, nor is it the cluster Collinder 404 = OCl 122, though that may 

represent the stars involved with the nebula. Marth’s original observation with Lassell’s 48-inch reflector mentions only the nebulosity: “F, S, R, bM”. [Faint, small, round, brighter in the middle]


The position of NGC 6820 is 19h 42m 27.9s  +23° 05′ 15″. Consider this a bonus object if you’d like.

Information above compiled by Sue French

Jaakko Saloranta: Observer from Finland (Pencil Sketch)

M57, Planetary Nebula in Lyra: August 2021 Observer’s Challenge Report #151

Posted August 17, 2021 by rogerivester
Categories: Work File Only - Observer's Challenge Reports


Roger Ivester: Observer from North Carolina

10-inch reflector, fairly bright with well defined edges, gray in color, oval shape with a center void.  Both the NW and SW sides are brighter with greater concentration.  The ring is much lighter, or thiner on the NW, and also on the SE, but more subtle.  A 12th magnitude star lies, so very close to the east of the ring.

3.5-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope at a magnification of 146x, the ring nebula is presented as very dim, round but mostly featureless. The central void can be seen, but fairly difficult.  

102mm refractor at 175x, shows the ring as surprisingly bright on this night of exceptional viewing with sharp and well defined edges.  The center void can be seen, but only as a lighter round gray spot, within the ring. Bright star just to the east.

Pencil sketch below: