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Bennett List For Southern Hemisphere Observers

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#1 LivingNDixie


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Posted 24 March 2013 - 10:23 PM

So I was thumbing through the vol 3 of NSOG and found that appendix B had a listing to the Bennett Object list. This was a list created by John Bennett who was a comet hunter from South Africa in the early 1900s.

Is this a list that is commonly used for new observers like the Messiers? I had not heard of it, but then again I live in the northern hemisphere.

#2 IVM



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Posted 26 March 2013 - 01:47 PM

I see you are not getting hits from Southern Hemisphere observers. I looked at the Bennett list from the perspective of choosing an introductory observing list for the southern sky. It does include the prominent objects and is manageable in length. However it extends too far north, from the perspective of a visitor to the Southern Hemisphere. Also for me it lacks the gravitas of a true historical or discovery catalog.

From this standpoint, the Dunlop catalog from the early 19th century can serve as the "Southern Messier" (~250 objects in the NGC, see the SEDS website), or the Australian amateur Glen Cozens's selection of 100 most prominent or interesting ones from this catalog ("Dunlop 100", published in S&T and online on SEDS, of which I observed 87).

Being a Northerner like you, I don't know how often the Bennett list is used as an observing list by southern beginners. It seemed to me though that the Dunlop catalog or the Dunlop 100 list were not often used. (Perhaps still the repercussions of Dunlop's beating too brazenly the illustrious John Herschel to discover pretty much all the best objects in the southern skies!)

#3 WeltevredenKaroo


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Posted 26 March 2013 - 05:04 PM

I don't know of a John Bennett comet hunter from SA working in the 1900s, but there is a Jack Bennett from here who was active starting in the 1960s using a 5-inch refractor at 21x. He discovered two comets, logged 152 objects in the final version of his catalog, and was honored in the USA for having visually discovered a SN in M83—the first visual SN discovery ever made, so the records have it. (See also this article.) About half the objects are globulars. In those days a 5-inch Fraunhofer was less likely to be as well corrected as achros of today, and plossl/ortho variants with 45° fields were pretty much the best to be had. Hence a more modern list, geared for scopes and eyepieces of our time (and also go-to & Argo Navis capability), is John Bambury's 600-object Southern Skies Observing List, released in 2011. There's quite a discussion of it on the IceInSpace Observational and Visual Astronomy forum.

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