(IAAC) Re: Revised NGC / IC

Doug Stewart wrote in a follow-up:
>The problem, therefore, is trying to predict an object's visibility from
>its various published magnitudes and angular dimensions.

And to be honest, Doug, the answer I always give to that "problem" is a
simple one: "Don't bother predicting - go out and try to see it!" :)

Many folks I meet on the observing field find this answer frustrating, and
choose to ignore me. Hey, I feel like ignoring myself too, some times. ;>

When you're starting out, and you don't feel like you can find ANYTHING, it
will seem mighty comforting to think that there is some number in a book
somewhere, which will tell you, "Yes, you WILL see this object..." But it
really is the best advice I can give folks, to say "ignore the numbers in
that book, and just give it try anyway..." (No offense to the fine deep-
sky authors on our list, of course! There is great value in reading many
of these texts... My advice is simply not to depend on them *entirely*.)

And the same advice holds, whatever "it" is, and whatever your instrument
and conditions may be. But don't get me wrong! If you ONLY look for non-IC
(Zwicky or MCG) galaxies, with an 8" SCT in suburban skies, you had better
prepare yourself for years of pure frustration... But that surely doesn't
mean you'll never any of these superfainties either! Some clear night, a
power substation may explode, lights will go out all over your town, and
your (by then highly TRAINED) eye and brain may just tease out that tiny,
hazy blob in the eyepiece field at long-suffering-last... :)

On the other hand, some like to concentrate on FINDING bright objects,
but training their eyes to see the subtlest DETAILS of those objects...
That is a whole lot less frustrating: at least you know you're bound to
see SOMETHING, even if it's not what you're looking for... And logging
the 5th spiral arm of M33 or the halo of M57 can definitely be just as
challenging as hunting for obscure PK planetaries or Tarzan globulars!

The key is to have fun, and do what you are passionate about: observing
the night sky. Now if it would only clear here in New England, I would
sure be happy to try taking my own advice... ;>

Clear skies all,
Lew Gramer

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