Oh no! Not another list!

While reading the December edition of Sky & Telescope I noticed a great article about an astronomical list that I've never seen before — the Levy list. However, my initial interest soon gave way to a feeling of worry, how long would it be before I started reading rants about this list?

The worry comes about from something that I only recently became aware of. Until I started to get back into astronomy in a serious way I'd never heard of the Caldwell Catalog. I did a bit of searching about it on the net and soon found out that it's a list of objects put together by Patrick Moore. It was during that search that I first came across what might be described as a rant against it. Since then I've read a thread or two on usenet that have attacked the list — there's even been a thread about it on the SPA's BB where some people had negative things to say about the list.

So, given this, I'm wondering how long it will be before the sorts of accusations leveled against Patrick Moore will be leveled against David Levy.

Personally I don't get it, I don't really see the problem. For someone like myself, with a small telescope and a desire to see stuff, lists such as the Messier List and the Caldwell List come in very handy; they provide me with a list of objects that are generally within the grasp of the equipment I own; they provide me with a useful tool for learning what's out there and for helping me record what I've observed. The rants I've read that deal with the Caldwell List seem to assume that it's about some desire for fame and glory on the part of Patrick Moore, they seem to think that someone like me might fall for the "trick" and that I might ignore the astronomical heritage that can be found in older lists and catalogues. I can't help but think that this borders on insulting (insulting to me, the observer, the person with a keen interest). It also seems to miss the point that the knowledge and experiences of other observers are a valuable learning tool for the less experienced.

I'm happy to add the Levy List to my list of lists, it's something else to consult when trying to figure out what's up there and within the grasp of any equipment I own or might own in the future.

I hope this list doesn't come in for the sorts of flack that others have.

File Under: David Levy, Levy List, Patrick Moore, Caldwell List.


Ben C. said...


I agree that lists produced with the effect of reducing the NGC/IC down to something usable - especially by someone as experienced as David Levy - is something to look forward to. His list is out in book form with descriptions of the objects.

One of the complaints I've heard about Patrick Moore's 'Caldwell' List (why Caldwell?) is that he wasn't a deep sky observer.

Maybe because 'M' was already used?

All the best.


Dave Pearson said...

One of the complaints I've heard about Patrick Moore's 'Caldwell' List is that he wasn't a deep sky observer.

That's probably a fair point — one tends to think of PM more as a Lunar and Planetary observer — but I don't think it's much of an actual complaint.

(why Caldwell?) Maybe because 'M' was already used?

That's exactly the reason. His surname is actually Caldwell-Moore.