observer’s notebook By Dennis di Cicco

The Missing Mushroom

I

P. K. CHEN

f you’re among the fraternity of observers that
enjoys sweeping the sky
with binoculars and small
telescopes, then there’s a
good chance you have your
own personal stash of asterisms. While some star patterns, such as the Sagittarius Teapot or the
Hercules Keystone, are better known than their parent constellations, most asDelphinus is home to the toadterisms reside only in the
stool asterism mentioned by
minds of those who creSusan French in the June issue.
ated them.
A few years ago I was Although it is barely visible on the wide-field view of the concaptivated as a colleague stellation, it shows well on the 1⁄4°-wide inset from the Digital
who frequently scanned Sky Survey (the little “fuzzy” is NGC 7025, a galaxy that will
the Milky Way with bin- challenge small telescopes). The mushroom appears upside
oculars in search of novae down on these views with north up.
began pointing out his
“drunken sailor,” “barking dog,” and
How could this be? I had seen the pat“crooked walking stick” on one of my tern on photographs while reviewing ilwide-field photographs. Just hearing these lustrations for French’s article about
names made me want to hunt down his deep-sky observing in Delphinus. A clue
asterisms.
to the mystery of the missing mushroom
Apparently I’m not alone. Judging by came in an e-mail message from Brian
the letters and e-mail we received con- Cuthbertson. “The position isn’t even in
cerning the little stellar “toadstool” casu- Delphinus,” he wrote. Sure enough, a
ally mentioned by Susan French in the quick check revealed that a digit was inJune issue, page 107, many readers are advertently dropped from the asterism’s
fascinated by asterisms. The messages, published declination, placing the fickle
however, had a common theme that was fungus in Equuleus 10° south of its true
summarized best by the anonymous ob- location.
server who simply lamented, “There’s
Those wishing to check out the celestinothing there.”
al toadstool should aim their scopes at
right ascension 21h 7m, declination +16° 18' (epoch
2000.0 coordinates). This
Monthly Sunspot Numbers
is close to the Delphinus60
Pegasus border, some 61⁄2°
50
east-northeast of the cen40
ter of the diamond pat30
tern forming the Dol20
phin’s head. The 10'-wide
10
asterism shines with 9th0
and 10th-magnitude stars.
Jun
Aug
Oct ’96
Dec
Feb ’97
Apr
After viewing it with the 5Pierre Cugnon of the Sunspot Index Data Center supplied
inch
17× apogee scope that
these provisional sunspot numbers. The range of minimum and
belonged to the late deepmaximum daily numbers (vertical lines) and monthly means
(connected points) are shown for the nine most recent months.
sky pundit Walter Scott
There are also three months of predictions. Daily numbers are
Houston, I’d rate the toadavailable at http://www.oma.be/KSB-ORB/SIDC/index.html.
stool “two thumbs up!”

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104

September 1997 Sky & Telescope

©1997 Sky Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.