Astronomical catalogs

Astronomical catalogs

Astronomical catalogs are lists of deep space objects that occupy a fixed position in the sky.

They are very useful for astronomers as well as astronomy enthusiasts, since they collect the main galaxies, nebulas and star clusters that can be seen with a medium telescope.

The best known are:

Messier Catalog: It is the most famous and the first one that was published. It was developed by the French astronomer Charles Messier in 1769. Gather 110 numbered objects from M1 to M110, in the order in which Messier discovered them while watching the sky in search of comets. It only gathers visible objects from the northern hemisphere.

Caldwell Catalog: It was developed to complement the Messier catalog. Collect 109 objects numbered C1 through C109, in order of latitude from north to south. It includes objects from the southern hemisphere and other important objects from the northern hemisphere that do not appear in the Messier, such as the Hyades.

Herschel 400 catalog: It was created for use by astronomy enthusiasts. Collect 400 easy-to-see objects with a medium telescope. It is a selection of objects from the General Catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters, drawn up in 1864 by the English astronomer William Herschel.

New General Catalog: It is currently, together with the Messier, the most used catalog to name deep space objects. It was published in 1880 to update the general Herschel catalog, and included all known objects until then. Use the acronym NGC and then the object number. The current version of the NGC gathers more than 13,000 objects.

What is the Messier marathon?

Every year, thousands of astronomy fans gather to celebrate the Messier Marathon. It consists of observing in a single night the 110 objects of the Messier catalog.

The Messier marathon is held at the end of March of each year, coinciding with the new moon in early spring. It is the ideal time for observation.

Although fans from all over the world attend, the marathon can only be held in the northern hemisphere, as the catalog only collects objects visible from there.

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Clusters of galaxies