Ordinary Meeting, 2002 March 16


The Visual Archive of the Deep Sky Section

Dr. Hewitt opened by agreeing with much of Mr. Brazell's previous talk, specifically he suggested the visual archive of the DSS needed to be better utilised. Dr. Hewitt inherited the archive in 1992 from Bernard Abrams, and said that much of it still needed organising. The archive contains over 600 drawings from the 1980s with at least 51 contributors. The speaker reported that so far he had scanned 178 of these to digital format, and hoped that Bob Marriot's help would speed the process. The drawings were usually cropped from the report form and inverted to give an eyepiece view, as opposed to black objects on white paper.

Dr. Hewitt reported that the majority of the archive were not scientific observations, with the only exception being Alan Kane's near miss at being the first British supernova discoverer with SN1989B. Unfortunately Mr. Kane delayed reporting his observation, and was beaten to it. The speaker went on to demonstrate the quality of some of the images in the archive, showing a selection of his favourites. He compared these with the all time benchmark images of the 19th century including Sir John Herschel's famous drawing of the Orion nebula. Dr. Hewitt commented that many past observers had never anticipated that one day their work might be scanned, and had often folded their masterpieces or written on the back of them such that the writing shows through the paper.

The speaker intended to work on the visual archive in the immediate future and hoped to produce a joint CD or DVD with the Webb Society, as well as a paper publication. The photographic archive was also in need of attention, and the speaker hoped this would be worked on after the visual archive had been scanned.

In response to a question from Stewart Moore, the speaker agreed that the journal could benefit from more popularist papers, such as "The Top Ten Deep Sky Objects". Both Hazel McGee, editor of the Journal, and Nick James, paper secretary, agreed that such papers would be well received.

Following the applause for Dr. Hewitt's superb and well-illustrated talk, the President personally welcomed the afternoon's discussion of visual deep sky work since such a high proportion of observers are visual. He suggested that deep sky work was a good way to learn to get as much detail as possible from the eyepiece. He then adjourned the meeting until 2002 April 27 at the University of Cardiff.


Dominic Ford

© 2002 Dominic Ford / The British Astronomical Association.






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