(IAAC) What is IAAC and what do its Logs mean? (was Re: OBJECT: NGC3293)

Diane Chere's timely message reminded me that it was time we posted another
"what are these IAAC logs all about??" message to interested readers.
IAAC is a mnemonic for the "Internet-based Amateur Astronomers' Catalog of
Visual Deep Sky Observations". It has two parts - a mailing list and indexed Web
archive for observing logs, and a parallel list/archive for discussion.
Again, the essence of IAAC is that visual deep-sky observers can "learn to see
better", both by practicing their observing skills, by having the chance to
compare their results with others, and also by challenging themselves with
reading the observations of other, more experienced observers.
Obviously, some of the deep-sky observations published in print media and more
"advanced" email lists can help challenge the observer: but so many of us
observer under "sub-optimal" conditions, and with less than extraordinary
instruments, that what "They" report may sometimes leave some of us more
discouraged (with the resultant "armchair" mentality) than inspired.
Thus each observing log posted to the IAAC 'netastrocatalog@jovian.com' email
address is designed to give readers (and browsers of our indexed Web archive) a
clear idea of what ONE observer has really seen - at a certain level of
experience, with a certain class of instrument, and under certain conditions.
Posts at ALL experience levels and in ALL kinds of conditions are specifically
welcomed - unlike with many electronic and print deep-sky journals.
Also, on the basis that machines do not (yet) "learn to see" deep-sky objects
better with experience, we are specifically focused on VISUAL OBSERVING. Any
discussion of specific visual instrumentation, imaging technique or technology,
or of non-deep-sky objects are specifically refered to other mailing lists - of
which there are some excellent ones, such as 'shallowsky', 'amastro', 'ASTRO',
'astro-photo' aka 'apml', 'ccd@wwa.com' and many others...
For some, this has unnecessarily limited our scope - with the result that input
from those knowledgeable individuals has been missed here, and what they view as
"rival" email lists have been formed. However, in the name of high "signal to
noise" ratio AND maximum outreach, we continue to narrowly focus our list on one
topic, in the hopes that more knowledgeable, "advanced" posters will nonetheless
choose to contribute from time to time.
So exactly what ARE the deep-sky observations posted to IAAC? First, they should
mention both the OBJECT NAME and the INSTRUMENT YOU USED in the "Subject:" line
of the email... This is very important to archive your log for the Web!
Second, the body of the email should contain whatever combination of the fields
below you feel comfortable filling out! These were chosen and arranged to give
readers the most useful information about your log in the least time.
Here are the SUGGESTED fields for your email (illustrated by a real example):
Observer: Todd Gross
Your skills: Intermediate (some years)
Date/time of observation: 0830 UT 29 Dec 1999
Location of site: Grand Cayman, BWI (Lat 20, Elev 20)
Site classification: Suburban
Sky darkness: ~3.8 <Limiting magnitude>
Seeing: 4 <1-10 Seeing Scale (10 best)>
Moon presence: Major - gibbous or near object
Instrument: 10x42 binoculars
Magnification: 10
Filter(s): None
Object(s): IC2602
Category: Open cluster.
Class: large, loose
Constellation: Car
Data: mag 1  size 50+
Position: RA 10:42  DEC -64:23
<Your detailed observing description of this object goes here!>
Here's a detailed explanation of each of the SUGGESTED fields...
Observer: Todd Gross
    Your name, along with anyone else who helped log this object.
Your skills: Intermediate (some years)
    Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced. Be as honest as you can:
    an in-depth log by a "beginner" is far more worthy of respect
    than a one-line Dreyer-like log by an "advanced" observer.
Date/time of observation: 0830 UT 29 Dec 1999
    Universal Time is prefered, but at any rate be sure to note
    a rough time of date and time of the year.
Location of site: Grand Cayman, BWI (Lat 20, Elev 20)
    The key items here are elevation and latitude! (This is also
    the spot for bragging rights if you go some place exotic. :>)
Site classification: Suburban
    Urban, Suburban, Exurban, Rural. This is actually quite a sub-
    jective field, so we provide more quantitative measures of how
    "good" the observing site was where you took your log...
Sky darkness: 4 <Limiting magnitude>
    How dark the sky was under which you observed! Obviously what
    is "really dark" for someone from a big Eastern city, may be
    only "mediocre" for someone used to the mountains of Montana!
    The IAAC Web form allows you to note Limiting Magnitude, or a
    subjective "Transparency" on several rating scales (e.g, 1-10)
Seeing: 4 <1-10 Seeing Scale (10 best)>
    Seeing - i.e., the "steadiness" of the sky. You can either log
    a subjective impression, or actual separations/image sizes!
Moon presence: Major - gibbous or near object
    What phase and how close was it to your object: several choices.
    Of course this is key to knowing the sky conditions that night!
Instrument: 10x42 binoculars
    What were you observing with? Everything from the unaided eye
    to one-meter and larger professional instruments is welcome!
Magnification: 10
    What magnifications did you use? List all you logged with.
Filter(s): None
    What filters did you use? DeepSky, UHC, OIII, color or other
    "special" filters to explore particular wavelength ranges?
Object(s): IC2602
    List at least one catalog designation for your object. Also,
    if it has any well-known (or not so) Common Name, list that!
    If you observed a GROUP of objects, list any Group identifier
    (e.g., a Hickson or Abell number), as well as the IDs of any
    (or all if feasible!) particularly noted objects.
Category: Open cluster.
    One of several simple categories on the Web form. If more than
    one type of object was observed (e.g., a cluster and emission
    nebula, or globular and internal planetary), list them all!
Class: large, loose
    Classification information for that PARTICULAR object type, e.g.
    for open clusters, a richness and density class; for galaxies, a
    morphology and luminosity class; for variables, a variable type...
Constellation: Car
    What constellation was this in. Very key for quick reference!
Data: mag 1  size 50+
    Any data specific to that object type: total magnitude and angular
    size for clusters or galaxies, catalog separation for doubles, etc.
Position: RA 10:42  DEC -64:23
    J2000 position of the object(s) observed: good cross-reference!
    A multi-line description of what YOU saw in this object(s): be as
    detailed, or even "florid", as you want to be! The more rich detail
    and specific conditions you note, the better reading your log will
    make, and the better it will be as a learning/self-challenging tool.
Clear skies all!
Lew Gramer
To UNSUBSCRIBE from the 'netastrocatalog' lists, use the Web form at: