When you go somewhere by car, you use a map or GPS.

Finding stars and known objects, it is exactly the same method. There are astronomical catalogs usually consisting many objects with same kind. These catalogs are named after their designer or generic name.

Star catalogs

In astronomy, there are many star catalogs. Eight of them are regularly mentioned in books, some in historic, others as practical.

  • Uranométria - Bayer designation (1603)
  • Historia Coelestis Britannica - Flamsteed designation (1725)
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) - (1966)
  • Harvard Observatory (HR) - (1908)
  • Bright Star Catalogue (BS/BSC) - (1930)
  • Henry Draper (HD) - (1918 - 1924)
  • Tycho I and II (1997)
  • USNO

Object catalogs

The star is the basic element of the universe. They are referenced in star catalogs, previous topic when it comes to individual stars. When a very large number stars are found together in an extremely small volume under the effect of gravity or that they are very large tracts gas (star nurseries or gas bubble expelled by death one star), we speak cosmic objects (galaxies, open star clusters, globular clusters, nebulae).

In astronomy, there are many cosmic objects catalogs. The French astronomer Charles Messier (1730-1817) was a pioneer in the catalog objects design. These catalogs were primarily aimed to identify fixed diffuse objects that can be mistaken for comets to help looking for unknown comets. I will not go fully in all the catalogs can be found in this science but it should however be dwelling on nine of them that can be commonly found in a night astronomy or in a trade magazine. Listed and discussed in the chronological sense they appear, each catalog can reconstruct the evolution of our knowledge universe or the democratization history in the astronomical observation amateur. Today, all the catalogs used for the amateur as professional exist in electronic form in data centers. For the French and Europeans, access to catalogs is provided for download by the Strasbourg Astronomical Data Centre (CDS). Most catalogs have been made available in formats suitable for direct use from a large number stellar mapping software.

  • Messier (M) - (1774-1781)
  • Herschel 400 (H) - (1980)
  • Caldwell (1995)
  • General Catalogue (GC) - (1864)
  • New General Catalogue (NGC) - (1888)
  • Index Catalogue (IC) - (1888-1907)
  • Barnard's Catalogue (BC) - (1927)
  • Collinder (C) - (1931)
  • Abell (A) - (1958-1989)
  • Principal Galaxies Catalogue (PGC) - (1989-2003)





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