Observing Certificates


Observing Certificates You Can Obtain

The RASC currently offers three observing certificates that both promote active observing, and allow members to learn more about astronomy. When you successfully complete these programs you are eligible to receive an official certificate from the RASC. These certificates are a great way to challenge yourself, learn more about the night sky and get the most out of our challenging and rewarding hobby.

One of the special features of this program is that it can be completed entirely using binoculars and the unaided eye. A choice of objects is provided so that you can start the program at any time of the year and easily complete the requirements in three to six months time.

Explore the Universe Certificate

This is a challenging program for the new astronomer covering all major astronomical objects including constellations, bright stars, the Moon, Deep Sky Objects, and Double Stars. Suitable for both binoculars and telescopes.

The Explore the Universe Observing Certificate is the first certificate aimed primarily at the novice astronomer. Its goals are to:
Stimulate an interest in observational astronomy. Introduce good observing practices and techniques. Provide a challenging introduction to all aspects of visual astronomy including stars and constellations, lunar, planetary, deep sky, double stars and several optional activities, including variable stars. Encourage active observing programs in Local Centres.
•Jnani Cevvel (Apr 2005)

Messier Certificate

In the early 18th century Charles Messier (1730 – 1817) – an avid comet hunter – travelled the northern skies. During his observational trips he catalogued his now famous list of 110 objects that were “not comets” and which include some of the most spectacular objects in the northern hemisphere.

Messier worked with speculum metal reflectors and small refractors that were essentially the equivalent of a modern 80 – 100 mm reflector. Because of these limited tools, he was unable to see much detail in the objects he catalogued, and referred to them as his “faint fuzzies”. Today modern instruments have revealed the true beauty present in these objects. The Messier Certificate has been awarded since 1981.

The following Edmonton Centre members have been awarded this certificate:

•Peter Ceravolo (Jan 1987)
•Melville C. Rankin (Jan 1987)
•Robert Breckenridge (Jan 1988)
•Tom Matty (Jan 1988)
•Allan T. Mumby (Jun 1989)
•Dave Clyburn (Jun 1989)
•Randy Pakan (Jun 1989)
•Paul Campbell (Sep 1990)
•Robert G. Drew (Sep 1990)
•Larry Wood (Sep 1990)
•Murray D. Paulson (Sep 1990)
•Brad Richens (Jun 1991)
•Bruce J. McCurdy (Jun 1994)
•Ben Gendre (Oct 1994)
•Sylvia Smith (Jun 1995)
•Rose-Marie Eklind (Jun 1995)
•Roger Fell (Jun 1995)
•C. S. Tony Gardner (Jun 1995)
•Sherry Macleod (Jun 1995)
•Peter R. Smith (Jun 1995)
•Alfred L. Connelly (Mar 1996)
•Denis Boucher (Mar 1997)
•David Prudhomme (Mar 1999)
•Arnold L. Rivera (Oct 2000)
•Roy Ramdeen (Oct 2004)
•Trent Bjorndahl (Oct 2004)
•Jnani Cevvel (Oct 2004)
•Tim Bihuniak (Dec 2004)

Finest NGC Certificate

The Finest NGC Certificate is a somewhat more challenging list for the experienced observer, developed by Sky News Magazine Associate Editor, and former Edmonton Centre member Alan Dyer. The list includes another 110 objects, taken primarily from the New General Catalogue.

The New General Catalogue or NGC contains 7,840 entries and forms the core of most people’s “life list” of observing targets. The NGC was originally published in 1888 by J.L.E. Dreyer and therefore predated photographic astronomy. The revised New General Catalogue was published in 1973 by Jack W. Sullentic & William G. Tifft from the University of Arizona, and updates a lot of the information found in the previous edition. The Finest NGC list, as compiled by Alan Dyer compliments the Messier List, and features many fine deep sky objects as well as some more challenging objects. This certificate has been awarded since 1995.

The following Edmonton Centre members have been awarded this certificate:

•Randy Pakan (Feb 1995)
•Dennis Boucher (Mar 1997)
•Arnold L. Rivera (Oct 2000)

Isabel K. Williamson Certificate for Lunar Observing

The Moon is unique among astronomical objects. It is close, easy to find and shows rich detail in even the most humble of instruments. The study of the Moon can be very rewarding but it is also daunting. The Moon shows over 1,000 named features. By some estimates there are over 10,000 distinct features accessible to a well equippmed amateur astronomer

To guide the telescopic exploration of the Moon the Observing Committee of the RASC is please to introduce this lunar observing program that takes into account the advancements in lunar science since 1960.

This program was inspired in large part by the contributions of Isabel Williamson. Ms. Williamson was an active member of the Montreal Centre from 1942 to 1971. In September 1957 she launched and promoted the first lunar observing program for RASC members. Her work and legacy continue to inspire Canadian amateur astronomers today.

The following Edmonton Centre members have been awarded this certificate:

•Bruce J. McCurdy (Feb 2006)