Imaging – Bennett Observing Program

Bennett Observing Program Coordinator:

Rob Lentini
4103 Casey Court
Alexandria, VA 22306

Bennet OP Pin
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The Bennett Catalog is the southern skies equivalent of the Messier Catalog for the northern latitudes. Of the myriads of star clusters and nebulae scattered over the sky only about 152 can claim membership to this list. However, this happens to include most, but not quite all, of the finest objects observable from southern latitudes. 107 of these objects have been selected to be included in the Astronomical League’s Imaging – Bennett Observing Program.

The Bennett Catalog is a happy hunting ground for any amateur with a taste for deep sky objects.

This Observing Program is designed to bring these spectacular objects to the astrophotographer.  If you are not an astrophotographer, then the Visual Bennett Observing Program can be found here.

Background Information

Jack Bennett (April 6th, 1914 – May 30th, 1990) was a South African astronomer who developed an intense interest in comet hunting. He was a member and past president of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa. For more information on Jack Bennett and the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, visit their website:

In the same spirit as Charles Messier, Bennett created a list of southern sky objects that appeared like comets in his telescope; objects to be avoided in his search for comets. Initially published in 1969, it was updated in 1974. Also, like Messier, Bennett did not discover many of the objects on his list

Bennett’s list is a catalog of southern deep sky gems. It includes many famous objects such as the Tarantula Nebula, Omega Centauri, and the Sombrero Galaxy. The complete list contains: 72 globular clusters, 46 galaxies, 22 open clusters, 9 planetary nebulae, and 3 bright nebulae. All of the objects have a declination below the celestial equator. The southernmost object is at declination –72° 40’.

Requirements and Rules

This certification is available to members of the Astronomical League, either through their local astronomical society or as members at large.  If you are not a member and would like to become one, check with your local astronomical society, search for a local society on the Astronomical League Website, or join as a member at large .

The Astronomical League offers special recognition in the form of a Bennett Observing Program certificate and pin for those that have observed the required 107 of the Bennett objects. There are two levels of this certification 107 objects (certificate and pin) and the complete level: all 152 objects (additional certificate only). To obtain certification you must follow these rules:

Rule 1:

Visually observe the required 107 Bennett objects and keep a record of your observations. Your notes must include:

  1. Date and Time of observations (local time or UT)
  2. Latitude and Longitude of observations
  3. Seeing and Transparency
  4. Aperture size of telescope
  5. Power used
  6. A description of the Bennett object as it appears in the eyepiece.

Rule 2:

You may have your observing log and images examined by an officer of your Astronomical Society . (If you are not a member of a society you may send a copy of your logs and images to the Imaging – Bennett Observing Program Coordinator directly or provide a link to the images on the internet.) After reviewing and approving your observations that member of your society should forward a letter or email stating that you have completed the required observations.

Note:  If you are approving a submission for the Coordinator, it is critical that you tell the Coordinator that this is an Imaging certification.

All observations must be done through Imaging to receive this certification.

Be sure to include your name, mailing address, email address, phone number, and society affiliation. This letter or email should be addressed to the Imaging – Bennett Observing Program Coordinator.

Only non-society members need to actually mail their observing log to the Messier Observsing Program Coordinator. The letter should specify the address to which the certification should be mailed. The certificate will be suitable for framing.

Note: If a member has already earned the Bennett Observing Program certification, another pin will NOT be awarded, only the additional certiicate.

Rule 3:

To complete the Complete Imaging – Bennett Observing Program, when you have imaged the entire list (152) of the Bennett Objects, your logbook and images should be examined again and a letter or email forwarded to the Imaging – Bennett Observing Program Coordinator again, indicating that you have completed the images of the complete Bennett Catalog. You will receive a second certificate signed by the current President of the Astronomical League. Be sure to indicate the return address.

Rule 4:

Images done as part of other Astronomical League Observing Programs may be included here.

Submitting for Certification

Bennett Observing Program Coordinator:

Rob Lentini
4103 Casey Court
Alexandria, VA 22306


Upon verification of your submission and of your active membership in the Astronomical League, your recognition (certificate, pin, etc.) will be sent to you or to the awards coordinator for your society, as you specified.  Your name will also appear in an upcoming issue of the Reflector magazine and in the Astronomical League’s on-line database.  Congratulations.  Good luck with your next observing challenge.


Other Bennett Program Links:

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