Sunday, 13 December 2015

Beyond the Messier and Caldwell Catalogues

If you subscribe to one of the magazines that cater for amateur astronomers you will soon realise that the same few objects are mentioned again and again as suitable targets for owners of small telescopes. I am, of course, referring to those listed in the Messier catalogue.
However there is a limit to how many times an object can be viewed or imaged before boredom sets in. So it is hardly surprising that more active observers started looking for advice on possible deep-sky objects “beyond the Messier catalogue”. Many other lists of astronomical targets have been compiled. Perhaps the best known of these is the Herschel 400. All 400 targets can be seen with a 6 inch telescope from a moderately dark site.
These lists seem to have one important feature in common – they are sub-sets extracted from much larger catalogues using a range of selection criteria that are not always well explained.
My lists of targets are not like these others. I have discovered all these objects myself: either by direct observation or via data mining.
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