It's been AGES since I have the chance to get a decent night of viewing in. Due to work, family and travel, I really have had ZERO opportunities to get out there. Looking ahead at my calender, I have a whole lot of nothingness in there and I am going to try to keep it that way. Cold winter nights under clear skies here we come!
Something I am going to attempt over the next several months is a joint venture with my dad down in Australia. He owns a ten inch Dob, and with the Aussie skies gets great viewing conditions even though he lives close to the large city of Melbourne. When I was last there, we scouted out a great dark sky spot about 20 minute's drive from his house.
So, he and I are going to attempt the Caldwell Catalog. This listing of deep sky objects was compiled by famed astronomer and xylophone player extraordinaire (!) Sir Patrick Moore in the mid-1990s, and contains about 109 objects that can be seen from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. I am going to tackle observing and documenting the Northern Hemisphere objects, and dad will take on hunting down the Southern Hemisphere objects. Betweem us, we'll aim to get the entire catalog nailed down.
I've grown a bit tired of using my only real astro time for imaging, and miss the excitement of visual astronomy, including hunting down deep, faint fuzzy objects. Additionally, Dad hasn't been motivated to get out much lately, and a joint venture like this might be enough to kick him into gear again.
Incidentally, as a 13 year old boy my grandparents arranged to have Patrick Moore write me a letter to encourage my interests in the field of astronomy. That letter is floating around the folks' house back in Australia somewhere, and I must remember to track iot down next time I am there. Anyway, it was a great way to get motivated back then.
So, from time to time I'll use this blog to track our progress. Should be fun!
More info about the Caldwell Catalog can be found here.