“Bringing Astronomy to the People of Hampton Roads”

Updated March 12, 2014


Ted Forte is the current chair for the Planetary Nebula Program. Astronomical League members wishing to complete this observing program should visit the Planetary Nebula Program official webpage.

Image of M27 (Dumbbell Nebula) by Richard Dickson. Logo design by Adam Forte

The Planetary Nebula Program's inception was a BBAA effort. After several members, including Bill Dickinson, Richard Dickson, Kent Blackwell and Ron Robisch, made recommendations about objects, Ron chaired a committee to select the 110 planetary nebulae on the list. His committee included Bruce Bodner, Larry Channel, Richard Dickson, Brian Murphy, and Richard Smith. Then a second committee chaired by Georgie June worked out the rules of the program. Her committee included Lelane Arneson, Rick Bish, Cliff Hedgepeth, Chuck Jagow, and Brian Murphy.

The Astronomical League Council approved the creation of the program at their annual meeting in Kansas City in August 2005. The program was officially announced in the December 2005 Reflector, with the Astronomical League webpage launched at the same time.

The pin design (shown above) features an original image of the Dumbbell Nebula taken by BBAA member Richard Dickson. It adorns the 1-1/8" lapel pin awarded for the completion of the program. Both the selection of M27 as the subject of the pin/logo and selection of Richard’s image for the pin was accomplished by popular vote of “backbayastro” (our Yahoo e-group) members.

Image of M57 (Ring Nebula) by Stu Beaber

The 86-page observing guide by Ted Forte contains the catalog of objects, guidelines for completing the project and a number of articles about planetary nebulae and how to observe them. Richard Dickson is the major provider of PN images to the guide. A color image of M57 (above) by BBAA member Stu Beaber was selected to adorn the cover of the Observing Guide. Members Joe Piotrowski, George Reynolds, and Ron Robisch contributed sections to the observing guide and Georgie June helped design the observing log for the program and proofread the guide. Halina Forte helped organize the data, created the catalog tables and proofread the draft manuscript. Sale of the observing guide will finance the program; it pays for the pins, certificates, stationery, and postage costs. The photo of the Eskimo Nebula (below) is typical of the images that appear in the guide.

The Planetary Nebula Observing Guide is available through the Astronomical League Store.

Image of NGC 2392 (Eskimo Nebula) by Chuck Jagow

Ted Forte created a series of monthly posts to the BBAA Yahoo Group on how to find each of the Planetary Nebula Program objects. They are archived here.