Monday, 11 June 2012

James Dunlop and early Australian Astronomy

"Jamie" Dunlop was the first to catalogue southern "deep sky" objects, ie stars clusters and nebulae - if we don't count Lacaille who mapped some with a tiny half inch telescope! Dunlop used a home-made 9 inch reflector. It's not hard to show he was a superb observer and draughtsman, and his catalogue of 600 southern objects mapped and described in seven months (in 1826) is an extraordinary feat! But why are half of these objects now "missing"?

ASNSW has honoured me with a invitation to deliver a talk: "Dunlop the Draughtsman",  in July, when this and other questions will be discussed. Tracking down "missing" Dunlop objects is an exciting project for amateur astronomers.

The image compares well-known southern galaxy N4945 with Dunlop's sketch of it from almost 200 years earlier - and 4945 is not a bright galaxy! Background image courtesy Johannes Schedler, Panther Observatory.

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