CFAS Observing Certificate Program

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After many years CFAS will now have an official Observing Certificate program for its members.  The Observing chairman has agreed to develop  Observing Certificates for the following  :  Moon, Messier, Caldwell and Herchel 400 .  The certificates will recognize observing acievements by CFAS members in the aforementioned areas.


To encourage our members to more formalize their observing sessions, make observing sessions more fun, and to recognize our member’s observing achievements, CFAS has established an Observing Certificate Program. The program is designed so that all members can participate. The program includes certificates for observing the Moon, the Messier objects, the Caldwell objects and the Hershel 400 objects. After reviewing all the various programs sponsored by the various astronomical societies we have decided to establish a unique CFAS program that combines existing programs and those developed by CFAS.


CFAS has selected to support “The Moon Observing Certificate” awarded by the Moon Observing Society for our membership. Members will complete the program following the rules established by the Moon Observing Society that require reading about the moon’s history, a short quiz, and observing specific area on the moon. CFAS will then submit the member’s completed packages to, and pay for the submission fee to the Moon Observing Society. Members will be awarded a handsome certificate provided by the Moon Observing Society at a CFAS meeting. This should be good incentive to use your telescope in your driveway during the various moon phases to complete the 90 objects listed in this program.

It is a great way to learn a lot about the moon’s many features, and how it was formed. Information for completing this program is located below.

The program requires you to read a short paper on the Moon's geology, complete a short open book test and log observations on various moon features.  The good news is that you can complete this program from your back yard. and a small telescope.

Moon Observing Certificate Instructions - Read First

Moon Observing Certificate Power Point

Moon Observing Certificate Log

Lunar Geology

Geology Test


Messier, Caldwell, and Hershel 400 Certificates

The Messier, Caldwell, and Hershel 400 Certificates will be totally CFAS programs. Members will be required to maintain an observation log to record their sightings of each object, and indicate whether it was located by GOTO or Star Chart/Star Hopping method. Members who have smaller telescopes are encouraged to make use of the CFAS loaner and outreach telescopes to find the more difficult objects. Besides helping to organize your observing sessions, you will greatly familiarize yourself with the night skies. To qualify you will have to observe 90% of the objects in each category. Once you start there is no time limit on completing your observations. Members completing each program will receive a certificate and special incentive gift awarded at a CFAS general meeting.

Detailed instructions for all these programs are posted below as they are developed and approved by the CFAS board. These instructions include reference material and log sheets to record observations.

I hope many will start working on their certificates soon. If you have further questions please do not hesitate to contact the Observing Chairman at


This program requires you to log your observations on the Messier Certificate Data Log. When completed turn it into the CFAS observing chairman. You will be awarded a Formal Messier Certificate and pin at the following meeting. You can use a Goto scope system, but must indicate this on your Certificate Data Log. You may consider using a Goto scope first and then do it again with a Dobsonian telescope. The only other equipment you need is a planisphere to help you find the constellations.

Use the following documents to complete this program.

CFAS Messier Observing Certificate Instructions - Read this first

Messier Guide - This is another great guide. Use it in its electronic version. Not recommended to print out since it is over 100 pages.

Messier Certificate Data Log - Use this excel document to permanently record your field observations. Use it also to help plan your observing sessions. It is full of hot links to the messier objects including star charts with Telrad targets. When you have completed the program, print off this Log and submit it to the CFAS Observing chairman.

 Messier Certificate Log PDF - This is another Messier reference document with Telrad star charts included. You can print off star charts for your observing sessions.


This program requires you to log your observations on the Caldwell Certificate Data Log. When completed turn it into the CFAS observing chairman. You will be awarded a Caldwell Certificate and pin at the following meeting.

Use the following documents to complete this program.

Caldwell Observing Certificate Instructions - Read this first

Caldwell Guide

Caldwell Certificate Data Log

Caldwell Catalogue


The Herschel 400 observing certificate list can be found at:

You can choose to print it out in numerical order or by constellation. I printed both and used the first as a master log to keep track of my observed objects. I use the "by constellation" list to organize my observation list for the night.

To aid in locating the object with a push-to scope I found this web site helpful as it has finder charts for all as well as an atlas. 

Because the astro leaque wants sketchs as well as documentation as to when, where, equipment used, etc. I found this web site with pdf sample log sheets.

I use the condensed observation record sheet because you get 5 per page and I printed it on both sides. Remember you have 400 targets to log and that is a lot of paper.

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