One good thing about the Astronomical League are the programs their members have compiled, to establish all kinds of observing goals for the backyard astronomer. From the Sky Puppy program for children ten and younger to Master Observers, or from analemmas to meteors, there’s a wide-ranging list of achievable goals for observers of all backgrounds.
In late 2015, club member Scott Aldridge compiled some documents about the Binocular Messier program and handed them off to S. A. C. members in three-ring binders. In recent months, our members have put those books to use, slowly chalking up finds as they scan the skies with much less power than a go-to telescope. And the things we’ve seen have been amazing, from wispy M48, to the binary star of M40, and even M106 which appeared at the edge of our vision.
Of the documents Scott assembled, here are some links if you’d like to print them out on your own:
This is a link for the introductory letter, describing the Messier bino program. Here’s the link for the first appendix, and for the second appendix. This document offers descriptions to determine seeing and transparency levels on any given evening. Lastly, here’s the Table of Contents and Log Sheet for all Messier objects. This will be the list you’ll use to submit your finds to the Astronomical League for certification. The legends for the log sheets are on the last page of the document, and the best scale I could find for determining naked-eye limiting magnitude (or NELM) is the Bortle Scale.
May we find what we’re looking for out there!