Friday, September 10, 2021

learned DSG history

On 7 September, Mike S filled out the contact form for the RASC national Observing Chair. He had a query about the Deep Sky Gems program.

Mike noted a change made to the list in the summer of 2020. The editor's note states that Levy 402 was introduced in place of Levy 226, however the numerical listing and detailed object tables both show Levy 226 present, and Levy 225 deleted. He did not see an update regarding this apparent conflict of information. He asked for some clarification.


I was pressed for time so I quickly acknowledged the receipt of his message. 

Today, I followed up with a detailed reply on his interesting observation.

I shared with Mike that in late-July and early-August, I started a dialogue, with the editor and content owner. I had concerns with the Deep Sky Gems list. It was when I personally considered pursuing the DSG program and did a deep dive that I started to see a number of issues.

In fact, on 1 August, I pointed out this very matter, 225 was missing, 226 remained. And curiously this specific question had never been answered! I did do not know what was intended but guessed it a simple transcription error. The editor meant to say that 225 was replaced by 402.

I thanked Mike for drawing attention to this matter in the Handbook. It needed to be reported and noted in errata documentation...

Then I went on. I told Mike I was anxious about list changes occurring every year or so and I had raised the matter with the Observing Committee. Others were not aware that this was happening. In particular, I wanted to know if it was affecting him. I was concerned that if he was working through the observing certificate that periodic changes might throw off the member.


Mike replied and shared his experiences with the DSG program.

Since first approved, a total of fourteen objects have been changed. That was an eye-opener.

He recommended that changes in the Observer's Handbook be reported by the Observing Committee when they report to National Council so there is an official record. And be included in a RASC Bulletin. I absolutely agree. He noted that if the OC is not being informed of changes being made, they should be. Yes.

These changes challenged him since 2010.

He also noted the original introduction stated there was only one object that overlapped with any other RASC lists. As he worked on the list he found three additional duplicates, one with FNGC and two with Deep Sky Challenge. These were reported and subsequently removed and replaced with four new objects in the 2013 OH. Eight of the fourteen changes mentioned above.

carpet yanked

He agreed with my comment that an observer could be thrown off if changes are not clearly communicated. It would be beyond frustrating to think one completed the list to only be told one had to observe new objects. Yes, exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

Finally, he noticed the PDF list on the web site was outdated. A to-do item for us.

All that said, Mike said that he was really enjoying this program and wanted it to succeed.


I thanked Mike again. I appreciated the fantastic historical perspective. It would really help me out going forwards.

Then I made my key point. I made it clear that the Observing Committee is NOT going to make an observer go and observe new things if they worked from an older list. He definitely would not have to redo anything!

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