09 March 2015

Introducing The Herschel Sprint

Mark Bratton, author of The Complete Guide to the Herschel Objects, wrote a fascinating piece in the April issue of Sky & Telescope that describes a very productive night of observing by William and Caroline Herschel in April 1785. Entitled "William Herschel's Extraordinary Night of Discovery", the article describes how the Herschels conducted observations of 74 objects in a single night. The article includes comments about each object, making it a highly recommended read. Once you've read the article, it feels like you've observed with William and Caroline - a very neat thought.

This season of the year has it's Messier Marathon, but if you've mastered that, the 'Herschel Sprint' offers a similar but greater challenge. The Sprint is a very inviting and historically interesting project for modern observers with 15 inch or larger telescopes. (The Herschels accomplished their feat with an 18 inch speculum metal reflector.) You can read more about the Herschel Sprint from Sky & Telescope editor Susan Johnson-Roehr. Licensed users of Deep-Sky Planner can download the Herschel Sprint observing plan from the online Plan Library now. The plan contains all 74 objects from the article along with modern object data.

The Herschel Sprint Observing Plan
Pursuing the Herschel Sprint with Deep-Sky Planner gives the modern observer many advantages - GoTo telescope slewing, managed object images, inter-operation with planetarium software and automated logging. One can only imagine what William and Caroline might have done with GoTo and automated logging!

Knightware thanks Sky & Telescope magazine for granting permission to use data from this special article to create an observing plan for Deep-Sky Planner users.