Timeline of Catalogues to Explore the Deep Sky" by Barbara Wilson Oct 1, 1996
Edmund Halley's list of 6 objects 1715 - Of nebulae or lucid spots among the Fix't stars-
This was the first separate list of nebulae
compiled. Halley published it in the
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal
Society in 1715. The objects included the Orion Nebula, M42
(discovered in 1610 by Pieresc), Globular Clusters M22 (discovered in 1665 by
Ihle), Omega Centauri (discovered by Halley in 1677), and M 13 (discovered by Halley in
1714),. Kirch's Nebula M11, (discovered by
Kirch in 1681) and the Andromeda Nebula M31, (discovered by Al-Sufi in the 10th century)..
Messier Catalogue 1783,
1784, 1787 - first catalogue of deep sky
objects published in the Connoissance des Temps. Compiled by
Charles Messier, these objects are still referred to by their "M" number by
professional and amateur astronomers. Messier's
published list in French contained 103 objects. Can be seen in 3" telescopes under dark
skies. Many visible in 7 x 50 binoculars.
Catalogue) 1863 - compiled by John Herschel (son of William). A catalogue of 5079 deep sky objects found from 1758 to 1860,
includes all of Messier's list and William Herschel's 2500 deep sky discoveries plus 8
more objects discovered by W. H. which were not included in his 3 original catalogues. The
GC contains all of John Herschel's discoveries as well. William Herschel's 3 earlier
catalogues were published in 1786 (first
1000 objects), 1789 (Second 1000 objects), and 1802 (500 additional objects) in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Astronomical
Society of England. Some older amateur atlases use the William Herschel
designations (337 for example), for
the objects he discovered. Burnham's Celestial Handbook also gives the
original W.H. designations and the newer NGC # for objects discovered by the elder
Herschel. The GC designations are no longer used in
modern catalogues and have been supplanted by the NGC designations.
THE NGC/IC (New
General Catalogue of Nebulae and Star Clusters and Index Catalogue) 1888, 1895, 1908- compiled by J.L.E. Dreyer
(Danish Astronomer) under the direction
of the Royal Astronomical Society in England. First published in 1888, it contained observations of over 7,840 nebulae
known at the end of the year 1887. Dozens of
observers contributed . It was intended to be
a New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of
Stars, being the Catalogue of the late Sir
John F.W. Herschel, revised, corrected and
enlarged. But the NGC replaced all
previous lists and compilations, including the older GC of John Herschel. In this time nebulas were not known to be
galaxies. Anything not resolvable into stars
was called a nebula. Ordered in right ascension unlike
Messier's Catalogue, lower numbered NGC's like NGC 1 and 2 are located at 00 hours R.A.
and the numbers increase eastward across the sky. Be
aware that successively numbers NGC objects can be separated by many degrees north or
south in declination. The brightest NGC's are
easily visible in a 3" telescope but a 5 to 10" is needed under dark skies to
explore this list. To see ALL of the thousands of NGC objects a 16" to 20" is
(Supplementary Index Catalogue) 1895 - soon after the
NGC was published it became necessary for Dreyer to revise it for new visual discoveries
and corrections to the NGC. Objects with IC
numbers are from these two supplemental listings.
The first IC contains 1,529 objects discovered visually between 1888 -
(Supplementary Index Catalogue) 1907 - The second
IC contains another 3,856 entries discovered between 1895 and 1907. 1400 of these objects were discovered visually with
large telescopes, but the majority were found photographically. Most IC objects are very small and faint (though
not all are). Some are extremely difficult
or nearly impossible to detect visually. However,
with modern nebula filters objects similar
to IC 434 which contains the Horsehead dark nebula B-33 are now routinely seen visually
New General Catalogue of Nonstellar Astronomical Objects
1973, 1980 -Tucson. The RNGC
attempted to "correct" errors in the original NGC. This catalogue was published
in book form and is available on computer tape, and was the main source of NGC data and
positions used to plot Uranometria 2000.0. However,
this catalogue contains many errors and as a result caused
numerous errata lists to be published. However
the later reprints of Uranometria do contain
corrected charts based on these errata lists. The Deep Sky Field Guide to Uranometria contains 6
pages of errata to all volumes of Uranometria 2000.0
Beyond the NGC and Messier is an exclusive realm of objects that few eyes have ever
There are catalogues of emission nebulas such as:
Cederblad 1946 Studies of Bright Diffuse Galactic Nebulae (Lund
1946)- objects designated Ced
Sharpless - A Catalogue of H II
Regions, (ApJ Supplement Series 4, 41, 1959) designated SH2
B. Lynds - (1965) Catalogue of
Bright Nebulae (ApJ Supplement Series 12 1965) designated LBN
van den Bergh -A Study of
Reflection Nebulae (AJ 71 1966) objects
Gum 1955 - objects from Colin Gum's 1955 survey in
the southern sky.
Catalogue of 349 Dark Objects in the Sky 1927 - dark nebulae are now being sought out by advanced
visual observers, and the Messier and NGC lists do not contain these objects. William Herschel commented on several dark
"starless spots in the skies in the late 1700's.
American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard
compiled the first catalogue of these regions and they are called B objects. The most famous is the aforementioned
B33 (Horsehead Nebula). His list is
contained in the classic 1927 work A Photographic
Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way ( Carnegie Institution)
Dark Nebulae- (ApJ Supplement Series 7, 64, (1962) by
Beverly Lynds - objects are designated LDN. A compilation of dark nebulae from a study of
the red and blue POSS prints. Famous for opacity class system where the darkest nebulae
are assigned the class 6 and the barely noticeable dark nebulae are class 1.
Nebula Catalogues - William Herschel invented the term planetary nebula to describe the
class of faint circular objects whose greenish color reminded him of the planet Uranus
which he discovered. However, these objects have nothing to do with planets, they are hot stars surrounded by a shell of
ionized gas. There are over 1500 known planetaries in our portion of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Catalogue of Planetary Nebulae 1992 - a
revision of the PK which contains additional objects found to be planetary nebulae and
deleted a number of previously believed to be planetaries which were in the earlier PK
Catalogue. This catalogue is available through Simbad on the Internet.
Kohoutek 1967 - many of the non NGC/IC
planetaries are from Perek and Kohoutek's 1967 Catalogue
of Galactic Planetary Nebulae, Prague,
1967. These non NGC/IC planetaries only have a PK
designation. However, P and K catalogued all the planetaries known at
that time, so all NGC/IC planetaries do have PK numbers. With UHC and O3 filters which
let through the light of doubly ionized oxygen, many
PK planetaries are being observed by advanced observers. Most PKs are 13th to 16th
magnitude, and plotted on Uranometria 2000. This catalogue is out of print and impossible
to find, contains finder charts.
of Planetary Nebulae 1950's - George Abell's listing of some 100 large faint planetary nebulas which he
discovered on the survey photographs taken in
the 1950's for the Palomar Sky Survey.
Catalogues - Over 1200 open clusters have
been discovered in the Milky Way Galaxy.
The main open cluster catalogue is:
Catalogue of Open
Cluster Data by Gosta Lynga (1981), updated 1987 (Lund Observatory Sweden).
many open clusters are plotted on Uranometria 2000.0 with prefixes that contain the name of
their discoverer, (the following is not a complete list) such as:
van den Bergh
vdb-Ha (van den
Globular Clusters - There are 150 known
confirmed globular clusters that are associated with our Milky Way Galaxy. Some are halo globulars and are therefore distant
and faint like the ones discovered on the Palomar Sky Survey, these are named Palomar 1-15. There
are globulars that are highly reddened and were found using infrared surveys near the center of our galaxy. Many of these have
names like Terzan 1-11. Over 90 of the 146 are in the Messier and NGC
catalogues. The others are in specialized
catalogues, since most of these were discovered in the last 40 years. Some are still being discovered today. A "newly" designated globular is IC 1257
which was just within the last 2 weeks confirmed as a globular, but has been pretty much ignored since its inclusion in the IC
1 in 1890!! It was listed as an open cluster in a few old catalogues but no modern work
had been done on it. It makes the the 147th
known Milky Way globular. is The best current
list for amateurs is maintained by Brian
Skiff of Lowell Observatory with observational parameters on all known globulars and a few
visible in external galaxies. email Brian at
firstname.lastname@example.org for the latest data. Also MegaStar Deep Sky Atlas
ver. 3 (CDRom) has Brian's latest list included. Dr. William Harris at McMaster University in
Canada also maintains a current professional list and extensive data on globulars on the
World Wide Web, http://www.physics.mcmaster.ca/globular.html .
Galaxy Catalogues - For the last 30 years galaxy surveys have produced numerous
catalogues at research observatories. Most
non NGC/IC galaxies are fainter than 13th
magnitude and are in the big amateur telescope realm.
Beyond 14th magnitude, the number of galaxies may be limitless. With a 4
meter telescope and CCD imaging probably over 20 billion galaxies could be detected. These professional surveys catalogued and
labeled thousands of objects missed by the compilers of the NGC. The following are just a few of these professional catalogues so when
you hear these names batted about you will know a little of their history:
A Revised Shapley
Ames Catalog of Bright Galaxies (1981) - 1249 bright galaxies of which all but 61
appear in the NGC
Atlas and Catalog
of Nearby Galaxies (1981)
Catalog of Bright Galaxies (1976) University
of Texas Press
Catalog of Bright Galaxies (1991) Springer Verlag- updated info on all Shapley Ames Galaxies plus descriptive
notes on appearance of many as seen on POSS prints.
Catalog of Galaxies (The UGC, 1973) Peter Nilson, Uppsala Observatory, Sweden data
given for 12,921 galaxies north of -2 degrees. Designed
to be complete to the 1' diameter size as the galaxies appear on the POSS blue prints and
includes all galaxies to the limiting magnitude of 14.5
in the CGCG even the ones smaller than 1' with observational data on each. Has a
wonderful history of galaxy catalogues.
of Galaxies (The MCG) (1962-74) 5 volumes- Moscow
University Press This compliation lists over 35,000 galaxies .
Catalogue of Galaxies
and of Clusters of Galaxies (The CGCG) (1961-68) Cal Tech.
six volumes - Fritz Zwicky's catalog of over 15 million galaxies) . Magnitudes
can't be trusted in this catalogue.
Arp Atlas of Peculiar
Galaxies - beautiful photographic atlas and catalogue of unusual galaxies compiled by Halton Arp (ApJ
Supplement Series Vol 14, Nov 1966.) It was published also in a large size 11 x 14
photographic reproduction in 1966 by Cal Tech but is now out of print and rare.
AGC - Abell Clusters
of Galaxies (1958) "The Distribution of
Rich Clusters of Galaxies"( ApJ Supplement Series 3, 1958) - George Abell
cataloged over 2712 rich clusters of galaxies
he found while examining the Palomar Sky Survey Plates. The brightest of these clusters
are visible with large amateur telescopes and some within range of 10 inch scopes.
MegaStar Deep Sky Atlas catalogues all of these clusters, and in many charts has
positional data for individual galaxies within the clusters. The Webb Society Deep Sky Observer's
Handbook Volume 5 lists 15 of these remote clusters visible in amateur telescopes with
detailed charts and many more with positional data. These are the current best easily
available sources if you want to observe the really deep sky.