Short Subjects

  1. Messier 111-115
    The Messier list, while admittedly a collection of the best of every type of deep-sky object, nevertheless has a few oddities. How did such faint or difficult objects like M72, 74, 76 and 77 make the list while other showpieces missed out? I would not dare to revoke any object's membership (except M40) from the list, but thought that adding five more to the list would be an interesting exercise. Some of my favorites would never have been caught without extremely good fortune, so I focused on bright and entertaining objects. Try these on for size:
    It was hard to leave off several old favorites, but they'll have to settle for M115-120. Several excellent edge-on galaxies lead the runners-up: 891, 4565, and 4631 deserve more honors. Also in the pack is cluster ngc6520 and its adjacent opposite B86, galaxy ngc7331, and the bright cluster ngc752 in Andromeda.
  2. Great Images
    I have taken some great images over the years, with several different instruments: 35mm SLR, camcorders analog and digital, a digital still camera. I've had both good luck and bad with all of them. For a high-school science project I shot several galaxies with my first SLR, carefully taking 20-second images to keep the stars sharp. A roll of film went swiftly during the '79 eclipse, although the 200mm lens was not fully up to the scale of the event. Several images of planetary conjunctions are randomly spaced throughout my slide collection of the 70s and 80s. The early 90s saw most of my work in video, jamming a camcorder up to a wide-angle lens to capture Saturn or Jupiter as they wobbled across the screen. Then came the great comets, and a hastily-assembled photo-platform to keep my SLR moving with the stars. More video followed, then a digital still camera was used for the '99 Leonids and the Mercury transit through a filtered refractor. No camera was prepared in advance for the '01 Leonids, so they remain burned only in my memory.

  3. "BNO" Awards!
    Many great individual objects took my breath away, and these were awarded my 'Best New Object' in my notebook. These would of course vary from session to session, based on aperture, sky quality, and probably my state of mind.

    Here is a table of those so honored:
    M46 M104 65/66 n6144 n6543 M51 M101 M3 Pluto n4631
    n7332-9 n7510 n891 n604 IC434 Veil Neb IC59,63 n7678 n6946 n4236
    n1360 111 Ate*n2997 V Aql n6503 n4291/4319 4244 5857-9 7479 6894
    Some others should have been on this table -- my notebook is not as orderly as this list might suggest!
    * minor planet #111

With so many types of observations to be made, it's hard to match up a super comet, meteor storm, extreme deep-sky object, and 600x view of Jupiter.. so I'll pick the "best of" by type: