In 1844, Captain William Henry Smyth RN published two volumes entitled A Cycle of Celestial Objects. Volume 1 or Prolegomena described in detail Smyth’s observatory in Bedford and his observing techniques. It is volume 2, The Bedford Catalogue, which is still of interest to the 21st century amateur astronomer.
Many of the object designations in the Bedford Catalogue are now anachronistic, and precession has shifted positions from the epoch 1840.0 Smyth provides. It had therefore become no longer possible to directly use his work as an observing guide. I have modernised the object designations for the entire catalogue of 850 objects (also covering the additional objects covered in Smyth’s object descriptions. This makes it possible to once again use the Bedford Catalogue with Smyth’s keen, and detailed notes being as useful to the 21st century observer as they were in 1844.
I want to make this available as widely as possible to re-encourage visual observing with telescopes. James Whinfrey at the Webb Society has kindly posted the updated list and my explanation on the Webb Society’s pages at https://www.webbdeepsky.com/articles/rediscovering-the-bedford-catalogue
The Bedford Catalogue has been re-printed by Willard-Bell (Webb Society has some copies for sale) and pdf facsimiles are available on the internet. I have given the details in my explanatory article.