Rediscovering the Bedford Catalogue for the 21st Century

Rob Peeling has undertaken to modernise Captain William Henry Smyth's 1844 The Bedford Catalogue for use by modern amateurs.

Now his work is complete he has kindly offered to provide his updated version of The Bedford Catalogue in PDF format for anyone to download from our website.

It is complete with modern designations and positions right alongside Smyth's original data and comments for his 850 entries. It also provides an updated guide for the bulk of the deep sky objects in Reverend Thomas Webb's Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes which were heavily based on the Bedford Catalogue.

We highly recommend you take the time of examine it and hopefully observe some of the objects it contains. In Rob's words...

This leads to the question of why a modern observer might choose Smyth as his companion for the Deep Sky. The answer for a visual observer is that identifying all the additional objects mentioned by Smyth when looking at one of his objects will help develop their observing skills.

Smyth will encourage you to estimate orientation, position angle, object separations and better understand the movement of the sky and the relationship between your telescope’s optics and the star atlas. He will also encourage his reader to take much more notice of relative magnitudes and colour. Imagers may find inspiration to try new projects such as measuring multiple star systems and interpreting the fields around the objects they image.

I asked Rob for a brief introduction to the project as it's hard to get people to write very much. He delighted me by sending a fully fledged article on his Bedford Catalogue project containing some of the history of the original and how he approached this mammoth work.

The Brightest Planetary Nebulae Observing Atlas - 2nd Edition

Massimo Zecchin has just completed the 2nd Edition of an atlas of planetary nebulae observed with small apertures and from suburban locations, entitled: "The Brightest Planetary Nebulae Observing Atlas".

Massimo has kindly made the atlas is freely available in two versions, Black (for display) and White (printer friendly with the images in negative).

The Brightest Planetary Nebulae Observing Atlas (2nd Ed) Black - Courtesy of Massimo Zecchin The Brightest Planetary Nebulae Observing Atlas (2nd Ed) White - Courtesy of Massimo Zecchin

The 2nd Edition contains:

  • Six additional objects.
  • Data of visual magnitude, central star magnitude and object size from the Strasbourg-ESO Catalogue of Galactic Planetary Nebulae (SEC catalogue) and in a few cases from the Saguaro Astronomy Club database (SAC catalogue).
  • Calculated surficial brightness for any object (in magnitude per square arcsec).
  • Six additionaltables showing the objects sorted by magnitude, surficial brightness, size, central star mag, constellation and declination.
  • A general position map.

Either version of the atlas can be downloaded as a PDF file onto your computer by right clicking the respective image above and choosing either Save Target As or Save Link As...

Please note that the Black version is 14MB and the White version 10MB

Deep Sky Forum Object of the Week

Owen Brazell has created SkyTools files for all of the past Objects of the Week on the Deep Sky Forum to help you find them all.

They're complete up to this year's, and Owen intends to keep adding new objects as they appear on the forum. Just click on the link of the file you'd like from the list below to download it.

We also sell Alvin Huey's excellent Deep Sky Forum Object of the Week Observer's guides for the years 2012 and 2013.

Clear Skies Observing Guides (CSOG)

Courtesy of Victor van Wulfen.

Clear Skies Observing Guides Banner

Webb Deep-Sky Society member Victor van Wulfen produces the CSOG. He's recently relaunched the website and now there's a version 2.2, so take a look at his blog post to find out more.