Observing Omega Centauri And Centaurus A From North Carolina At +35º North Latitude

Posted February 19, 2022 by rogerivester
Categories: Roger's Articles

After years of wondering if I could see globular cluster (NGC 5139) Omega Centauri and galaxy (NGC 5128) Centaurus A from my home at a latitude of +35º 18′ so I gave it a try on April 26th 2009.  

My poor southern view required that I go to a dark-site on the southern rim of the South Mountains, only thirty minutes away.  I also met two other local amateurs at the site, with one bringing a 12-inch Newtonian, which was invaluable in seeing galaxy Centaurus A. The 12-inch also provided an excellent resolve of Omega Centauri, despite the telescope being almost parallel to the ground. 

Theoretical limiting horizon calculation from Western North Carolina at +35º North Latitude:

(90º-35º) = -55º theoretical limiting South Latitude. 

Omega Centauri South Latitude:  -47º 28′  

My limiting southern horizon @ -55º (-) -47º = Only 8º above my theoretical southern horizon, and again…which puts my telescope tube almost parallel to the ground!   I share the following of that night:

I made the following sketch on 4-26-09, using a 102mm f/10 refractor. The NELM was ~6.5 at the zenith and with a good view of the southern horizon. However, the excellent seeing overhead did not transfer to the extremely low southern view as expected, at only 8º’s about my limiting horizon. 

The sketch of Omega Centauri with the 102mm was made “during the observation” at the eyepiece, at a magnification of 42x, using a white charcoal pencil on black card stock. The globular appeared fairly dim, mostly round, well-defined edges, granular with some brighter members sparkling in the interior with averted vision.  I also noted many faint outliers enveloping the cluster. When observing with the 12-inch f/5 reflector, the cluster was “surprisingly” well resolved. 

Observing Centaurus A using a 12-inch Newtonian:

Despite observing at a dark-site, I was looking over many distant lights, and many layers of atmosphere which diminished the view significantly.  I “could not” see the galaxy with my 102mm refractor.

Observing Centaurus A with the 12-inch f/5 reflector…it was extremely difficult.  My notes read: Difficult! Appearing only as a small smudge with a stellar nucleus.  Regardless, of the poor view of Centaurus A, I was very happy to have been able to observe and sketch Omega Centauri and at least to be able to see Centaurus A from the foothills of North Carolina.  

Rough Field-Sketch as following made on 4-26-09 @ 1:00 AM EDT

Rough field sketch with 12-inch f/5 Newtonian from the same location and night:

James Dire Image from Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii

Stellarview 102mm f/6.3 refractor w/Teleview 0.8x focal reducer flattener

James Dire: 100mm Lens Canon DSLR Camera

Omega Centauri reports:

Fred Rayworth of Las Vegas, saw Omega Centauri from Cathedral Gorge, Utah @ +37º 49′ 20″

“I saw Omega Centauri just over the hood of a truck on the horizon. I had a chance to see it at Death Valley, California when we went to the airport, but never caught it.”

+90º North (-) +37º 50′ = (-) 52º 50 mins or limiting southern horizon

So:  -52º 50′ (-) -47º 28′ = ~ 5º 22 mins above the horizon from Cathedral Gorge.    

Larry McHenry: Observing from West Virginia

Globular cluster NGC 5139 – Omega Centauri

Location: Calhoun County Park in central West Virginia. Setup on a ridge of about 1100 ft in elevation. (more about Calhoun at: http://stellar-journ…calhounpark.htm 

At the time of observation, NGC 5139 had an elevation of about 3.5º

First a wide-field “finder” image of NGC 5139 (Omega Centauri) using my Canon 100mm video lens & ASI290MC camera. 

Here’s the main EAA observation of Omega Centauri, again thru the trees, from 4/28/22 at 12:28 AM.

(8-inch SCT @ f/6.3 on an Atlas German equatorial mount , ZWO ASI294MC camera with L-Pro filter, 20 second subs, no dark or flat frames, not guided, live-stacked using Sharpcap for 80 seconds). 

Due to the short exposure time, we were able to see the dark feature called the “Eye of Omega”, which is possibly a dark molecular cloud that is in front of the cluster in our line-of-sight. 
This is generally only seen visually, as most images are longer exposures to pull-out more of the cluster stars. 

The timing was really good for making this observation thru the trees, as the foliage was noticeably thicker a few days later as warm weather really brought on the leaves.

And an observation of galaxy NGC5128 – “Centaurus A” made about 20 minutes prior to the hunt for Omega. (same location as above)

With a higher elevation of 8 degrees, I was able to catch the galaxy sailing thru a clear gap between trees, before it too eventually dived back into the limbs.

(8-inch SCT @ f/6.3, ZWO ASI294MC camera with L-Pro filter, 3 minute subs, dark & flat calibration frames, PHD guided, live-stacked using Sharpcap for 15 minutes).

Overall, It was a successful observing trip!

The park is opening a new observing field on a different ridge that has clear sight-lines to the horizon (one ridge over). Omega should be “in the clear” from there!

Unfortunately, I’ll be at the Cherry Springs Star Party for the next New Moon, and my club’s observatory (ORAS) for June. Next trip to Calhoun wont be until July, so a better observation of Omega will have to wait for one more year.

Larry McHenry

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

Posted February 14, 2022 by rogerivester
Categories: Uncategorized

I was able to get my C-14 up and running in Naples, Florida, and the following are my images to-date.

The above image is my Naples, Florida setup. I work under a Bortle 5.5, which is not ideal and a full magnitude 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.

In addition to my “Florida images” as posted by Roger Ivester, you can see a large set of my images (~700) at www.mariomottamd.com

So click on the top ribbon pane under astronomy to view my total images.

Enjoy….Mario Motta,

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 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.

Calculation for Naples, Florida as following:

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!

From my (+35º 15′ ) 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! Roger

Vela supernova with 90mm f/5.5 scope, use this scope only for piggyback guiding. ASI 071MC pro camera, and with optalon L-extreme filter. Two hours of 5 min subs, this is low in the sky, but with the filter able to image nearly to the horizon.

NGC 1097, in Fornax, 45 MLY away…a beautiful barred spiral

NGC 2467, in Puppis, the “skull and crossbones nebula.” This is NB imaging, mostly H alpha

NGC 4536, barred spiral in Virgo

NGC 5068, open spiral in Virgo

SH2-302 nebula, the “snowman nebula in Puppis. This is all H-alpha

Faint section of the Vela nebula…a supernova remnant

NGC 1365: Known as the Great Barred Spiral in the constellation of Fornax (Feb. 2022)

NGC 2736: The Pencil Nebula (a supernova remnant) in the constellation of Vela (Feb. 2022)

Sh2-301, a small diffuse nebula in Canis Major, can be imaged from Gloucester, but easier from down south. (Feb. 2022)

Globular Cluster NGC 1851 in the constellation of Columba (February 2022)

Centaurus A NGC 5128 in B&W (March 2022)

Centaurus A – NGC 5128 in color (March 2022)

The Famous Globular Cluster…Omega Centauri (March 2022)

Galaxy NGC 2997 in Antilla (March 2022)

Globular Cluster NGC 3201 in Vela (February 2022)

Galaxy NGC 4945 in Centaurus (March 2022)

NGC 6357 in Scorpio, an H alpha region of intense star formation. Taken with the C-14, and the ZWO ASI6200 camera, with H alpha, O3, and S2 filters, combined in PixInsight and processed. The star cluster embedded within the nebula contains some very massive stars, 10-100 solar masses among them. This nebula is also nicknamed the “lobster nebula” (Posted April 26th 2022)

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)