Observing Projects

Data Acquisition

One of the ways in which amateur astronomers can contribute scientific data of value to professional astronomers is by making numerical observations which are too time- and resource-consuming for professionals to undertake. Here are the three ongoing projects in which I accumulate such data points and submit them to international data collection organizations, totals as of 2011 08 01:
 

Organization

ALPO

AAVSO

Type of data

Jupiter central meridian transits

Variable star estimates

Begun

1959 06 05

1963 05 16

1959

149

 

1960

157

 

1961

514

 

1962

111

 

1963

39

7

2001

50

4

2002

57

69

2003

15

318

2004

5

256

2005

4

168

2006

219

92

2007

38

191

2008

 

151

2009

6

151

2010

 

65

2011

 

56

Total

1364

1511

                                                                                      

Cosmic Bird Watching

 

If galaxies were birds, then what we do would be called bird watching, not ornithology. "Cosmic bird watching" might be a good catch-phrase for what deep-sky observing is all about.

-- Jay Reynolds Freeman

 

                    
These are the objects on various lists of astronomical targets which I have observed as of 2008 03 04:
 

Project

Begun

Completed

Objects

Observed

%

Unobserved

%

Messier's Catalog (original) [1]

1957 09 30

1959 10 21

106

106

100

0

0

Messier's Catalog (recent) [1]

1997 07 06

2000 04 28

110

110

100

0

0

RASC Finest NGC

1959 06 05

2001 03 16

110

110

100

0

0

AL Double Stars

1998 08 19

 2003 04 23

100

100

100

0

0

AL Herschel 400

1958 08 04

 2006 04 25

400

400

100

0

0

NSOG **** and ***** [2]

1957 09 30

 

400

307

77

93

23

RASC Southern-Hemisphere Splendours

1959 05 03

 

73

31

42

42

58

Caldwell Objects

1959 09 07

 

109

72

66

37

34

All deep sky objects

1957 09 30

 

 

659

 

 

 

Notes:

1. When I first observed Messier's Catalog in 1957-1959, there were only 106 officially recognized objects on the list. These observations were made as a member of the Messier Club of the RASC Montréal Centre, the first such project as far as I know. I was only the fourth person to complete the list, the first three being Tom Noseworthy, Ted Morris, and Constantine Papacosmas. When I got back into astronomy in 1997, four more objects had been added to the list, and I decided to reobserve the whole catalog to refresh my knowledge of the sky.

2. These are all the deep sky objects which rate four or five stars in George Robert Kepple and Glen Sanner: The Night Sky Observer’s Guide (Willmann-Bell). The list is available here.

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