Beyond Herschel 400 – Open road ahead

foogy sunrise at highway

Right now the status of my visual deep sky observing program is like this:

  • Caldwell -catalogue (82/109 observed, 3 objects observable from Finland still to be observed)
  • Hidden treasures -catalogue by Stephen O’Meara (93/109 observed, 3 objects observable from Finland still to be observed)
  • Herschel 400 I (256/400 observed, 116 objects observable from Finland still to be observed)

This means, that I still have 122 objects of these catalogues that I can observe from Finnish latitudes and 65 such objects, that I have to observe them from some southern location.

My dream is, that I could complete observing these catalogues some day, including the southern objects!

But I’m already planning what to do after having completed this observing program, at least to the extent it is possible in Finland. So there are two steps in this mission: 1. observe all objects that are observable in Finland, 2. observe those objects, that can be observed from a southern location. I will now consider only the first step of this mission, and what to do after having completed it. The second step is going to be another sub-mission, and I will deal with it later.

I have been thinking about at least following possibilities to go beyond Herschel 400:

  • Herschel 400 II (obviously)
  • Observing some challenging deep sky objects (perhaps more irregularly but trying to observe in best possible conditions)
  • Observing bright nebulas with H Beta filter (trying to observe all such objects, that are best viewed with H Beta filter)
  • Sketching some impressive and famous deep sky objects on black cardboard (with white pencils)
  • Buying even larger telescope, and observing some challenging objects (for example Hickson galaxy groups, etc.)
  • Observing comets visually in more systematic way
  • Observing variable stars
  • Writing a book about deep sky observing

It would take me about 2 observing seasons to complete the first part of the mission. During season 2017-2018 I would observe Caldwell, Hidden Treasures and Herschel 400, and I would most likely complete Caldwell and Hidden treasures. During season 2018-2019 I would still have Herschel 400 objects to be observed, but those would all be in the Spring of 2019, and then I could complete Herschel 400 by the end of that observing season. Then I would need to find something to be observed in Autumn 2018. That could be a suitable position to launch my next endeavor, whatever it would be.

I feel that after having completed my current deep sky observing program (Caldwell, Hidden Treasures and Herschel 400, part I: objects observable in Finland), I have climbed to a top of one mountain, or at least to a side peak of a higher mountain!

When I’m at that point, I feel that I can start climbing another mountain, and leaving the highest peak of the first mountain (Caldwell, Hidden Treasures and Herschel 400, part II: objects observable from a southern location) to be conquered at some other time, when the time is right. Now I have plenty of options where to choose from! All of them are familiar at some level, but I would just go deeper into them. Most of these options have something to do with observing, one of them is something that would seriously test my skills as a writer.

For now, I will leave this open question. Time will tell, to which direction my intuition is leading me from where I’m now!



Plan for variable star observing for season 2016-2017

In my previous post, I made a personal, semi-scientific, qualitative mini-review on my variable star observations during season 2015-2016. In this post, I’m going to present my variable star observing plan for season 2016-2017.

During observing season 2016-2017, Im going to continue observing variable stars visually with 10×50 binoculars. Based on my conclusions I presented in my previous post, I’m going to make some adjustments to my observing program. During season 2016-2017, my observing program is going to be as follows:

  • EU Del
  • U Del
  • W Cyg
  • X Her
  • ST Uma
  • UU Aur
  • W Ori
  • Y Tau
  • X Cnc
  • RS Cnc

When I was choosing the stars to my observing program, I was considering following criterions:

  1. The star has already long history of observations, and that’s why it is worthwhile to try to extend the already long history of visual observations of the star. Such stars are included in LPV program of AAVSO, and especially in LPV Legacy program. I was selecting my stars from these programs, having emphasis on LPV Legacy stars.
  2. The star is included also in the Binocular -program of AAVSO, meaning that according to AAVSO, it makes sense to observe the star with binoculars
  3. The star is ranking high in the Binocular program of BAA.VSS, meaning that according to BAA.VSS, it is a reasonably good idea to carry on observing the star
  4. The star has suitable brightness range for 10×50 binoculars, and that the star can be observed with these binos throughout the entire cycle of the star
  5. The comp stars are reasonably close to the variable itself, so that it can be easily observed with 10×50 binos
  6. I decided to limit my program to only 10 stars, which I fully commit to observe through to whole season

All the stars happen to be semiregulars of type SRB. Some of the stars are known to be intensively red stars, which can be a challenge for observing. But based of my experience of observing a red star (for example UU Aur) during season 2015-2016, I have a reason to believe, that I can perform observing these red stars well enough.

So, after having a small hiatus from vsriable star observing from early February 2016 to June 2016, variable stars are back in my observing program! The hiatus happened because of my life situation was intensively busy, and in the spring of 2016  I was emphasizing visual deep sky observing. But from now on, I’ll be committing to observing these 10 stars and I’m going to have this small variable star observing program as my top priority! I’m going to also observe deep sky objects visually whenever I have time and energy, but these variable stars are going to be my priority number one!