Jack Bennett’s catalogue of deep sky objects

Introduction

Bennett Catalogue badge

For two decades, starting in the late 1960’s, the southern sky was patrolled by a dedicated South African comet-hunter named Jack Bennett. In addition to discovering comets with his 5-inch low-power refractor, Bennett also noticed many deep-sky objects that looked like comets. His list of comet-like southern deep-sky objects – shades of Messier – forms the basis for the Bennett Catalogue.

For each 20 objects you observe, the Society will issue a General Observer’s Certificate in recognition of your work (given that the observations meet basic quality standards). Your observations will also be added to the DOC Deep Sky Database.

Download the Bennett Catalogue

Download the Bennett Catalogue as a PDF (195 kB) or scroll down to the bottom of this page for the table.

How do I submit observations?

Send your observations by e-mail to [auke  psychohistorian.org] or by snail-mail to: [Auke Slotegraaf, Director: ASSA Deep Sky Observing Section, 14 Mount Grace, Somerset Ridge, Somerset West, 7130, South Africa]. Sketches submitted by snail-mail will not be returned unless you include a self-addressed & stamped envelope. When submitting sketches by e-mail, make sure they are scanned/photographed at good quality. Don’t hesistate to contact me for further details. I look forward to receiving your deep sky observations!

How do I record an observation?

Guidelines for recording observations can be found in the “Deep Sky Observing Checklist“. You may also want to take a look at the “Deep Sky Observer’s Companion tutorial“, a thorough introduction to deep sky observing techniques.

Who’s completed the Bennett Challenge?

  1. Auke Slotegraaf
  2. Magda Streicher

Who is busy with the Bennett Challenge?

  1. Richard Ford (ASSA Cape Centre)

Jack Bennett’s story

Bennett was born on April 6th, 1914 and passed away on May 30th, 1990. A long-standing member of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (ASSA), he was elected President in 1969. The Society awarded him the prestigious Gill Medal for services to astronomy in 1970 and in 1986 he received an Honorary Degree of Master of Science from the University of Witwatersrand. In 1989, at the recommendation of Rob McNaught of Siding Springs Observatory, the asteroid VD 4093 was named after him.

Jack Bennett
Jack Bennett at the eyepiece of the 12-inch Pretoria Centre telescope. It is housed in the Jack Bennett Oservatory which is on the grounds of the Christian Brothers College. On the reverse side of the original photo, in Bennett’s handwriting, is the caption: “Pretoria Centre telescope, 1977, with antiquated observer”.

Bennett was a skilled observer and in the spirit of Charles Messier drew up two lists of southern objects that appeared comet-like in his telescope. His first list (Bennett, 1969) was published four months before he discovered his first comet. The supplementary list (Bennett, 1974) was followed three months later by his second discovery.

In his 1969 Presidential Address to the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, Bennett said: “As an aid to the recognition of comet-like objects in the Southern sky, and to help observers to eliminate them in comet searches, I have over the past five years compiled a list of 130 such objects visible south of the celestial equator. Nearly a hundred of these have been encountered under varying conditions in comet sweeps using a 5-inch short-focus refractor with a magnification of 21 diameters. The rest have been added, and duly observed with the same telescope, after consulting various sources, notably E. J. Hartung’s first-rate book Astronomical Objects for Southern Telescopes which includes details of the appearance in telescopes of various apertures of all but 16 of the 130 objects.”

Bennett’s 1974 article “Some objects of interest in the southern sky” introduced 22 new comet-like objects “which had been observed (many of them repeatedly) in comet sweeps” since his first list was published.

Sun
The contents page of Jack Bennett’s copy of Norton’s Star Atlas (1954) with annotations by him of ‘comet-like objects’.

These two lists have been combined to form the Bennett Catalogue. Bennett’s list reads like the “Who’s Who of the Deep Sky”. Among the 152 objects are the Tarantula, Omega Centauri, 47 Tucanae, Sombrero and the Silver Coin. Twenty-six of Messier’s objects are listed. Bennett noted that including such bright objects may be unnecessary, but added: “it is surprising how easily even these can be mistaken for comets when seen at low altitudes and poor conditions.”

Almost half the objects in Bennett’s list are globular clusters, which makes sense since these bear a striking resemblance to comets. The constellation richest in Bennett objects is Sagittarius, followed by Ophiuchus. Bennett wrote that “the constellations Scorpio, Ophiuchus and Sagittarius… contain a bewildering variety of comet-like objects. These are mostly globular clusters and all except the largest defy attempts to distinguish them from tailless comets. This relatively small area of sky contains about a third of all the comet-like objects visible with small telescopes south of the equator.”

Dorado also contains many Bennett’s – five galaxies and six clusters and nebulae. The latter lie within the Large Magellanic Cloud which, according to Bennett, “should normally be avoided like the plague by anyone looking for comets. There are, however, a few objects on the outskirts of the Clouds which are regularly encountered in comet sweeps, and these have been included in the list, if only as a warning to the observer of the perils that lie ahead of him!”

References and further reading

  1. Bennett, J. C. (1969) Presidential address to the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, Mon. Notes Astron. Soc. S. Afr., 28(8, August) [ADS article online]
  2. Bennett, J. C. (1974) “Some objects of interest in the southern sky” Mon. Notes Astron. Soc. S. Afr., 33(8,August), 107. [ADS article online]
  3. Campos, J. A. (1990) “Obituary: Jack Bennett” Mon. Notes Astron. Soc. S. Afr., 49 (9&10), 113- 115.
  4. Marsden, B. (1990) “Jack Bennett – An appreciation” Mon. Notes Astron. Soc. S. Afr., 49 (9&10), 115. [ADS article online]
  5. Jones, J. S. (1994) “Jack Bennett, 6 April 1914 – 30 May 1990”. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, 35(3), 353. [ADS article online]

The Jack Bennett Catalogue

Bennett number Other catalogue designation RA (h) RA (m) RA (s) Dec (deg) Dec (min) Con
Ben 1 NGC 55 0 14 54 –39 11 Scl
Ben 2 NGC 104 0 24 06 –72 05 Tuc
Ben 3 NGC 247 0 47 06 –20 46 Cet
Ben 4 NGC 253 0 47 36 –25 17 Scl
Ben 5 NGC 288 0 52 48 –26 35 Scl
Ben 6 NGC 300 0 54 54 –37 41 Scl
Ben 7 NGC 362 1 03 12 –70 51 Tuc
Ben 8 NGC 613 1 34 18 –29 25 Scl
Ben 9 NGC 1068 2 42 42 –00 01 Cet
Ben 10 NGC 1097 2 46 18 –30 17 For
Ben 10a NGC 1232 3 09 48 –20 35 Eri
Ben 11 NGC 1261 3 12 18 –55 13 Hor
Ben 12 NGC 1291 3 17 18 –41 08 Eri
Ben 13 NGC 1313 3 18 18 –66 30 Ret
Ben 14 NGC 1316 3 22 42 –37 12 For
Ben 14a NGC 1350 3 31 06 –33 38 For
Ben 15 NGC 1360 3 33 18 –25 51 For
Ben 16 NGC 1365 3 33 36 –36 08 For
Ben 17 NGC 1380 3 36 30 –34 59 For
Ben 18 NGC 1387 3 37 00 –35 31 For
Ben 19 NGC 1399 3 38 30 –35 27 For
Ben 19a NGC 1398 3 38 54 –26 20 For
Ben 20 NGC 1404 3 38 54 –35 35 Eri
Ben 21 NGC 1433 3 42 00 –47 13 Hor
Ben 21a NGC 1512 4 03 54 –43 21 Hor
Ben 22 NGC 1535 4 14 12 –12 44 Eri
Ben 23 NGC 1549 4 15 42 –55 36 Dor
Ben 24 NGC 1553 4 16 12 –55 47 Dor
Ben 25 NGC 1566 4 20 00 –54 56 Dor
Ben 25a NGC 1617 4 31 42 –54 36 Dor
Ben 26 NGC 1672 4 45 42 –59 15 Dor
Ben 27 NGC 1763 4 56 48 –66 24 Dor
Ben 28 NGC 1783 4 58 54 –66 00 Dor
Ben 29 NGC 1792 5 05 12 –37 59 Col
Ben 30 NGC 1818 5 04 12 –66 24 Dor
Ben 31 NGC 1808 5 07 42 –37 31 Col
Ben 32 NGC 1851 5 14 06 –40 03 Col
Ben 33 NGC 1866 5 13 30 –65 28 Dor
Ben 34 NGC 1904 5 24 30 –24 33 Lep
Ben 35 NGC 2070 5 38 36 –69 05 Dor
Ben 36 NGC 2214 6 12 48 –68 16 Dor
Ben 36a NGC 2243 6 29 48 –31 17 CMa
Ben 37 NGC 2298 6 49 00 –36 00 Pup
Ben 37a NGC 2467 7 52 36 –26 23 Pup
Ben 38 NGC 2489 7 56 12 –30 04 Pup
Ben 39 NGC 2506 8 12 00 –10 47 Mon
Ben 40 NGC 2627 8 37 18 –29 57 Pyx
Ben 40a NGC 2671 8 46 12 –41 53 Vel
Ben 41 NGC 2808 9 12 00 –64 52 Car
Ben 41a NGC 2972 9 40 18 –50 20 Vel
Ben 41b NGC 2997 9 45 36 –31 11 Ant
Ben 42 NGC 3115 10 05 12 –07 43 Sex
Ben 43 NGC 3132 10 07 00 –40 26 Vel
Ben 44 NGC 3201 10 17 36 –46 25 Vel
Ben 45 NGC 3242 10 24 48 –18 38 Hya
Ben 46 NGC 3621 11 18 18 –32 49 Hya
Ben 47 Mel 105 11 19 39 –63 30 Car
Ben 48 NGC 3960 11 50 52 –55 41 Cen
Ben 49 NGC 3923 11 51 00 –28 48 Hya
Ben 50 NGC 4372 12 25 48 –72 40 Mus
Ben 51 NGC 4590 12 39 30 –26 45 Hya
Ben 52 NGC 4594 12 40 00 –11 37 Vir
Ben 53 NGC 4697 12 48 36 –05 48 Vir
Ben 54 NGC 4699 12 49 00 –08 40 Vir
Ben 55 NGC 4753 12 52 24 –01 12 Vir
Ben 56 NGC 4833 12 59 36 –70 53 Mus
Ben 57 NGC 4945 13 05 24 –49 28 Cen
Ben 58 NGC 4976 13 08 36 –49 30 Cen
Ben 59 NGC 5061 13 18 06 –26 50 Hya
Ben 59a NGC 5068 13 18 54 –21 02 Vir
Ben 60 NGC 5128 13 25 30 –43 01 Cen
Ben 61 NGC 5139 13 26 48 –47 29 Cen
Ben 62 NGC 5189 13 33 30 –65 59 Mus
Ben 63 NGC 5236 13 37 00 –29 52 Hya
Ben 63a NGC 5253 13 39 54 –31 39 Cen
Ben 64 NGC 5286 13 46 24 –51 22 Cen
Ben 65 NGC 5617 14 29 48 –60 43 Cen
Ben 66 NGC 5634 14 29 36 –05 59 Vir
Ben 67 NGC 5824 15 04 00 –33 04 Lup
Ben 68 NGC 5897 15 17 24 –21 01 Lib
Ben 69 NGC 5927 15 28 00 –50 40 Lup
Ben 70 NGC 5986 15 46 06 –37 47 Lup
Ben 71 NGC 5999 15 52 12 –56 28 Nor
Ben 72 NGC 6005 15 55 48 –57 26 Nor
Ben 72a Trumpler 23 16 01 30 –53 32 Nor
Ben 73 NGC 6093 16 17 00 –22 59 Sco
Ben 74 NGC 6101 16 25 48 –72 12 Aps
Ben 75 NGC 6121 16 23 36 –26 32 Sco
Ben 76 NGC 6134 16 27 42 –49 09 Nor
Ben 77 NGC 6144 16 27 18 –26 02 Sco
Ben 78 NGC 6139 16 27 42 –38 51 Sco
Ben 79 NGC 6171 16 32 30 –13 03 Oph
Ben 79a NGC 6167 16 34 24 –49 36 Nor
Ben 79b NGC 6192 16 40 18 –43 22 Sco
Ben 80 NGC 6218 16 47 12 –01 57 Oph
Ben 81 NGC 6216 16 49 24 –44 44 Sco
Ben 82 NGC 6235 16 53 24 –22 11 Oph
Ben 83 NGC 6254 16 57 06 –04 06 Oph
Ben 84 NGC 6253 16 59 06 –52 43 Ara
Ben 85 NGC 6266 17 01 12 –30 07 Oph
Ben 86 NGC 6273 17 02 36 –26 16 Oph
Ben 87 NGC 6284 17 04 30 –24 46 Oph
Ben 88 NGC 6287 17 05 12 –22 42 Oph
Ben 89 NGC 6293 17 10 12 –26 35 Oph
Ben 90 NGC 6304 17 14 30 –29 28 Oph
Ben 91 NGC 6316 17 16 36 –28 08 Oph
Ben 91a NGC 6318 17 17 48 –39 27 Sco
Ben 92 NGC 6333 17 19 12 –18 31 Oph
Ben 93 NGC 6356 17 23 36 –17 49 Oph
Ben 94 NGC 6352 17 25 30 –48 25 Ara
Ben 95 NGC 6362 17 31 54 –67 03 Ara
Ben 96 NGC 6388 17 36 18 –44 44 Sco
Ben 97 NGC 6402 17 37 36 –03 15 Oph
Ben 98 NGC 6397 17 40 42 –53 40 Ara
Ben 98a NGC 6440 17 48 54 –20 22 Sgr
Ben 98b NGC 6445 17 49 12 –20 01 Sgr
Ben 99 NGC 6441 17 50 12 –37 03 Sco
Ben 100 NGC 6496 17 59 00 –44 16 CrA
Ben 101 NGC 6522 18 03 36 –30 02 Sgr
Ben 102 NGC 6528 18 04 48 –30 03 Sgr
Ben 103 NGC 6544 18 07 18 –25 00 Sgr
Ben 104 NGC 6541 18 08 00 –43 42 CrA
Ben 105 NGC 6553 18 09 18 –25 54 Sgr
Ben 106 NGC 6569 18 13 36 –31 50 Sgr
Ben 107 NGC 6584 18 18 36 –52 13 Tel
Ben 107a NGC 6603 18 18 24 –18 25 Sgr
Ben 108 NGC 6618 18 20 48 –16 11 Sgr
Ben 109 NGC 6624 18 23 42 –30 22 Sgr
Ben 110 NGC 6626 18 24 30 –24 52 Sgr
Ben 111 NGC 6638 18 30 54 –25 30 Sgr
Ben 112 NGC 6637 18 31 24 –32 21 Sgr
Ben 112a NGC 6642 18 31 54 –23 29 Sgr
Ben 113 NGC 6652 18 35 48 –32 59 Sgr
Ben 114 NGC 6656 18 36 24 –23 54 Sgr
Ben 115 NGC 6681 18 43 12 –32 18 Sgr
Ben 116 NGC 6705 18 51 06 –06 16 Sct
Ben 117 NGC 6712 18 53 06 –08 42 Sct
Ben 118 NGC 6715 18 55 06 –30 29 Sgr
Ben 119 NGC 6723 18 59 36 –36 38 Sgr
Ben 120 NGC 6744 19 09 48 –63 51 Pav
Ben 121 NGC 6752 19 10 54 –59 59 Pav
Ben 122 NGC 6809 19 40 00 –30 58 Sgr
Ben 123 NGC 6818 19 44 00 –14 09 Sgr
Ben 124 NGC 6864 20 06 06 –21 55 Sgr
Ben 125 NGC 6981 20 53 30 –12 32 Aqr
Ben 126 NGC 7009 21 04 12 –11 22 Aqr
Ben 127 NGC 7089 21 33 30 –00 49 Aqr
Ben 128 NGC 7099 21 40 24 –23 11 Cap
Ben 129 NGC 7293 22 29 36 –20 48 Aqr
Ben 129a NGC 7410 22 55 00 –39 40 Gru
Ben 129b IC 1459 22 57 00 –36 28 Gru
Ben 130 NGC 7793 23 57 48 –32 35 Gru

(Co-ordinates are in J 2000.0)