Deep-Sky Observing Section annual report
Observers actively contributing to the Section are Magda Streicher, Richard Ford and Auke Slotegraaf. Several new observers are on the brink of active participation: these include Lynnette Foster, Hendrik van Rensburg, and Pieter Koornhof.
Astrophotos of deep sky objects were received from Kos Coronaios, Lucas Ferreira, Dale Liebenberg, Dany Duprez, Pete Scully and Anthony Ayiomamitis.
It’s a particular pleasure to be able to report that the Deep Sky Observer’s Companion Database website was launched in September 2010. The URL for the site is http://www.docdb.net. DOCdb is a free online resource for deep sky observing. In addition to functioning as a growing archive of observations, an array of software tools allows observing sessions to be planned and managed. It also acts as a repository for observing tutorials and guidelines, and has a growing selection of historical material of interest to deep sky observers. As of this writing, the website has not yet been actively promoted in the observing community as technically it is still in its testing phase. However, it is fully functional, and already has 54 registered users.
During the year under review, the “ConCards” resource was developed and released. This consists of basic star charts, one per constellation, with each chart showing a (subjective) selection of the “best” deep sky objects in that constellation. By including only the most prominent deep sky objects, the ConCards fill the gap between planispheres (such as the Southern Star Wheel) and star atlases. The ConCards are available as a free download from [ http://www.docdb.net/tutorials/concards.php ].
Largely the creation of Martin Lyons, an affordable, robust and portable observing shelter has been field-tested. Four have been assembled and are in regular use. The shelter is made of PVC tubing and plastic sheeting, and can be used as a semi-permanent structure or when out in the field.
In closing, special mention has to be made of Richard Ford’s continued efforts to improve his deep sky observing skills, and of Magda Streicher’s ongoing contributions and her work at compiling two new publications. For the past two years Magda has been collaborating with Australian observer Jenni Kay on a book about small open clusters. This work will be published by the Webb Society in January next year. Meanwhile, Magda has been hard at work on her own book of southern deep sky objects, a 350-page tome spanning 45 constellations. This book will be published at the end of 2011.