Aeromoe's Version of Joe Orman's Naked-Eye 100 List

Used and adapted by permission of Joe Orman

How I got started on this list

This endeavour was inspired by a webpage I found by accident in July 2010. While researching amatuer astronomy groups in the Phoenix, Arizona area, I was reading about Messier Marathons. I happened upon the Saguaro Astronomy Club homepage and found an interesting document: Joe Orman's Naked Eye 100. I was intrigued by the idea of trying to see as many of the naked-eye objects on that list as possible. Unlike the one-night Messier Marathons, Joe's list is a long-term project. I don't know Joe Orman personally, but we have shared a couple of emails and he is pleased at least one person is getting some enjoyment from his efforts.

For about as long as I can remember I've had more than just a passing interest in astronomy but I've never seriously persued it. I enjoy looking up at the sky as much as the next person, and I enjoy reading about astronomy. In fact, I've owned several telescopes over the years as well as a number of astronomy books. As an amatuer photographer, I've managed to take some photos of a few astronomy-related subjects. Truth be told, I'm a little OCD about keeping track of stuff...especially when there is a finite total. So I figured "why not" with something like this. Now that I have this list to work on, I hope to expand my horizons a bit and learn some more about the wonders of the sky.

After finding the Naked-Eye 100 list I printed it out. As I read through the items, I was pleased that I could immediately "check" some of them off. However, I didn't do that right away. Instead, I recreated the list in spreadsheet format so I could personalize the list and keep better track of my viewings. Additionally, I decided to create two columns for checking off the items: one column for items observed since I've discovered the list, and another column for items I could account for historically. And remember, this list is for Naked-Eye objects. What kind of casual amatuer astronomer would I be if I hadn't searched for and found the distant Andromeda Galaxy with at least a pair of binoculars? I know I've seen it with my naked eye as well, but before I will check it off the list I'll just have to get back to a dark-sky site and see it all over again.

I was becoming excited about the list and set about checking off some of the easier observations: Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Summer Triangle, etc. I also started researching some of the items unfamiliar to me - Iridium Flares for instance. A quick check of the Heavens-Above website answered that question in short order. Little did I know I'd already unknowingly spotted an Iridium Flare a couple months back without knowing what I'd seen. I did not immediately "check" that item off my list though since I was not aware of what it was at the time. But, before the night was over I was able to easily view an Iridium Flare and I've made it a point to see several more since then.

Since it is summer as I write this, I'll have to wait a few months for the winter-sky objects to become visible. In the meantime, viewing many other ojects on the list is possible. I live in an urban area so many of the dimmer objects will require travelling to a dark-sky site. The summer monsoon is spooling up in Arizona and in the past week the skies are increasingly cloudy and somewhat stormy. "Lightning" was an easy early grab, as were "Crepuscular Rays" during a recent late afternoon.

A number of the items on the list may be possible to observe in the near and distant future. I just missed the most recent lunar eclipse but the next one is in December 2010. And while I distincly remember the partial solar eclipse of 1991, we'll have to wait until 2017 for the next total solar eclipse in the United States. In the meantime, I can check the partial solar eclipse off in my "historical" column as I remember it and have a video record of the event.

Additionally, I've taken a few liberties with respect to those items I've checked off as historical observations but haven't included a date for. Likely candidates are some of the atmospheric phenomena like "moon halo" and "rainbow." Others I've checked off are "milky way", "mirages", "sunset", and "whole sky" because I know I've seen them countless times. And it's just possible I've already got one "extra credit" item from the Southern Hemisphere. I made a trip to New Zealand in September 1997 and was working the night shift. I stepped outside each night all week to marvel at the southern skies. Did I actually lay eyes on the Southern Cross? I believe I did but I honestly can't remember. But I was there, so for now I'm leaving a "\" in that check box.

Some of the items may elude me for the rest of my life. Will I get to see the transit of Venus in 2012, or of Mercury in 2016? I certainly still hope to be around then...after all I hope to see that total solar eclipse in 2017! But what are the odds of actually getting to view those transits? And how about Asteroid 2004 MN4 due to make a naked-eye approach to Earth in 2029? We'll just have to wait and see. And then there is the elusive "green flash." The "green flash" I saw on the Pacific Ocean back in the 90s may well have been a "mock green flash." I'd like to be able to check that one off "historically" as I was purposefully watching for it but I was doing so through a small telescope.

In the meantime, there are LOTS of interesting objects on this list to try and view. Thankfully, most of them are recurring and will continue to inspire us for eons to come whether they exist on somebody's list or not.

So, here is my version of Joe Orman's Naked-Eye 100 list presented in html table format, though I've made a few minor adjustments to the contents. For instance, I moved two mostly "Southern Hemisphere" items (Southern Cross and Magellanic Clouds) to the bottom of the list and added a third: Aurora Australis. To take their place on the main list I added "Midnight Sun" and "Shadow of the vapor trail of a high-flying aircraft" as numbers 99 and 100. The three "Southern Hemisphere" items, as well as a couple others I've added are now 101-106 and I consider them extra credit.

(Finally, a word about the html. I know there is code to create empty table cells...I chose to simply use a "period" to populate empty cells. I did this versus crowding my source document with a bunch of html code.)

The List