The aim of the Deep Sky Surfing Atlas is to provide high-quality detailed maps of the sky showing all deep sky objects that can be viewed in binoculars and small- to medium-sized telescopes.
The atlas constains 270 maps, each showing a region of the sky about 15 degrees square in area. Each map is accompanied by a table describing the objects visible in the map.
The atlas shows:
The atlas is produced in PDF format. The images are very large, in order to produce good quality when printed. Consequently, they may look a bit ragged when first viewed in Acrobat Reader, since they have been scaled down to fit in the window. Zooming in by 300% will give a better idea of how they will look when printed.
The 270 maps in the atlas are divided into groups according to declination. There are naturally more maps in the groups corresponding to middle latitudes, since more real estate needs to be covered.
The following table shows the breakdown:
Around each map is a border which contains the numbers of the maps that continue the view in the corresponding directions.
For ease of downloading, the maps are grouped into sets of eight:
Maps 001 to 008 Maps 073 to 080 Maps 145 to 152 Maps 217 to 224
Maps 009 to 016 Maps 081 to 088 Maps 153 to 160 Maps 225 to 232
Maps 017 to 024 Maps 089 to 096 Maps 161 to 168 Maps 233 to 240
Maps 025 to 032 Maps 097 to 104 Maps 169 to 176 Maps 241 to 248
Maps 033 to 040 Maps 105 to 112 Maps 177 to 184 Maps 249 to 256
Maps 041 to 048 Maps 113 to 120 Maps 185 to 192 Maps 257 to 264
Maps 049 to 056 Maps 121 to 128 Maps 193 to 200 Maps 265 to 271
Maps 057 to 064 Maps 129 to 136 Maps 201 to 208
Maps 065 to 072 Maps 137 to 144 Maps 209 to 216
Here are the symbols used to represent the various types of deep sky objects:
Each map is accompanied by a table showing information about each deep sky object. The information is displayed in two lines; the second line is omitted if there is nothing to display. The columns are:
|Name||The principal catalog name of the object (e.g. NGC 829)|
|M||The Messier catalog identifier|
|Type||The object type, as in the table in the preceding section|
|Size||The size of the object|
|C||The Caldwell catalog identifier|
|R||The R.A.S.C. catalog identifier (see below)|
|S||The Saguaro catalog identifier (see below)|
|O||Indicates the object is the Orion catalog (see below)|
|Star Count||The number of stars (reported mainly for open clusters)|
|B||Indicates that the object can be viewed in binoculars (see below)|
|Common||The common name of the object (e.g. Dumbbell Nebula)|
|Notes||A description of the object, combining information from the NGC and Saguaro catalogs|
The deep sky objects in the NGC catalog are described using a shorthand notation developed by the catalog's editor, Johann Dreyer. This notation combines abbreviations that indicate the object's brightness, size, shape, impressiveness and various other characteristics.
The complete list:
|M103||Cl,pL,B,R,Ri,*10..11||open cluster, pretty large, bright, round, rich, stars of magnitude 10 to 11|
|M31||!!!eeB, eL, vmE||magnificent, most extremely bright, extremely large, very much extended|
Nearly all of the data used to generate the maps and tables are publicly availabe on the Internet. The main sources are as follows:
The star data comes from the full version of the HYG database, prepared by David Nash. This database contains data on 87476 stars down to magnitude 9.0, and is available at: http://www.astronexus.com/general/data/hyg.php
The constellation boundary data came from NASA. Amusingly, some of it needed to be corrected (e.g. the boundary of Cepheus near the north pole).
The data for the deep sky objects comes from the database prepared by the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix, AZ. This impressive work contains information on over 10,000 deep sky objects. It's available at: http://www.saguaroastro.org/content/downloads.htm
The Messier catalog is the most well-known catalog of deep sky objects, and contains most of the brightest objects visible from the northern hemisphere. It was created by the comet hunter Charles Messier in the late 1700's. Ironically, he prepared the catalog in order to avoid mistaking deep sky objects for comets. There are many, many sources for Messier catalog data; the following site includes photographs of each: http://www.seds.org/messier/. These objects are shown in the "M" column of the atlas tables.
Patrick Moore developed the Caldwell catalog for amateur astronomers to advance beyond the relatively easy objects in the Messier catalog. These objects are shown in the "C" column of the atlas tables. The list can be found at: http://www.seds.org/messier/xtra/similar/caldwell.html
Alan Dyer of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has published a list of 110 "Finest N.G.C. Objects" beyond the Messier list. The list can be found at: http://www.seds.org/messier/xtra/similar/rasc-ngc.html. These objects are shown in the "R" column of the atlas tables.
A. J. Crayon and Steve Coe of the Saguaro Astronomy Club, Phoenix, AZ, have compiled a list of 110 "Best Objects in the N.G.C." beyond the Messier list. The list can be found at: http://www.seds.org/messier/xtra/similar/sac110bn.html. These objects are identified in the "S" column of the atlas tables.
Orion Telescopes and Binoculars publishes a DeepMap&tm; folding star chart showing the location of roughly 600 deep sky objects. Ray Cash's web site lists 537 of these objects: http://pages.sbcglobal.net/raycash/dmcon.htm. These objects are flagged in the "O" column of the atlas tables.
Only a very few dark nebula are displayed.
Deep sky objects are flagged as viewable through binoculars if they appear in any of the following lists:
The green lines showing traditional constellation figures were added by the author, after consulting several standard star atlases.
We gratefully acknowledge the efforts of the following people and organizations for developing and publishing the data sets used in building the atlas:
A. J. Crayon, Steve Coe and the Saguaro Astronomy Club of Phoenix, AZ: deep sky database, and Best of the NGC list
David Nash: HYG database of stars
Alan Dyer and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada: Finest NGC Objects list