Deep Sky Surfing Deep Sky Atlas

Introduction

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.

Organization of the atlas

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:

DeclinationMapsCount
+89 °1-88
+75 °9-2012
+60 °21-3515
+45 °36-5318
+30 °54-7724
+15 °78-11336
+0 °114-15845
-15 °159-19436
-30 °195-21824
-45 °219-23618
-60 °237-25115
-75 °252-26312
-89 °264-2718

Around each map is a border which contains the numbers of the maps that continue the view in the corresponding directions.

The Maps

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   

Map Legend

Here are the symbols used to represent the various types of deep sky objects:

SymbolAbbrType
GCglobular clusters
OCopen cluster
GALgalaxies
DNdiffuse nebulas
PNplanetary nebulas
ASTasterism
DRKdark nebulas

Data Table

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:

First Line

ColumnDescription
NameThe principal catalog name of the object (e.g. NGC 829)
MThe Messier catalog identifier
TypeThe object type, as in the table in the preceding section
ConstellationThe constellation
MagnitudeThe magnitude
SizeThe size of the object
CThe Caldwell catalog identifier
RThe R.A.S.C. catalog identifier (see below)
SThe Saguaro catalog identifier (see below)
OIndicates the object is the Orion catalog (see below)
Star CountThe number of stars (reported mainly for open clusters)
BIndicates that the object can be viewed in binoculars (see below)

Second Line

ColumnDescription
CommonThe common name of the object (e.g. Dumbbell Nebula)
NotesA description of the object, combining information from the NGC and Saguaro catalogs

Dreyer Descriptions

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.

Impressiveness codes:

CodeBrightness
!remarkable
!!very remarkable
!!!magnificent or very interesting

Brightness codes:

CodeBrightness
eFexcessively faint
vFvery faint
Ffaint
cFconsiderably faint
pFpretty faint
pBpretty bright
cBconsiderably bright
Bbright
vBvery bright
eBextremely bright

Size codes:

CodeSize
eSexcessively small
vSvery small
Ssmall
cSconsiderably small
pSpretty small
pLpretty large
cLconsiderably large
Llarge
vLvery large
eLextremely large

Shape codes:

CodeShape
Rround
vlEvery little extended
Eelliptic or oval
cEconsiderably extended
pmEpretty much extended
mEmuch extended
vmEvery much extended
eEextremely extended

The complete list:

AbbrDescription
Ababout
almalmost
amamong
appappended
attattached
bbrighter
bebetween
biNbinuclear
bnbrightest towards the north side
bsbrightest towards the south side
bpbrightest towards the preceding side
bfbrightest towards the following side
Bbright
cconsiderably
chchevelure
cocoarse, coarsely
comcometic
contin contact
Ccompressed
Clcluster
ddiameter
defdefined
difdiffused
difficdifficult
distdistance or distant
Ddouble
eextremely, excessively
eemost extremely
ereasily resolvable
excexcentric
AbbrDescription
Eextended
ffollowing
Ffaint
ggradually
grgroup
iirregular
invinvolved, involving
iFirregular figure
llittle or long
Llarge
mmuch
mmmixed magnitudes
mnmilky nebulosity
Mmiddle, or in the middle
nnorth
nebnebula
nfnorth following
npnorth preceding
nrnear
NNucleus, or to a Nucleus
ppretty (before F,B,L,S)
ppreceding
pgpretty gradually
pmpretty much
pspretty suddenly
Ppoor
quadquadrilateral
quarquartile
rresolvable (mottled, not resolved)
rrpartially resolved (some stars seen)
AbbrDescription
rrrwell resolved, clearly consisting of stars
Rround
RRexactly round
Ririch
ssuddenly
ssouth
spsouth preceding
sfsouth following
scscattered
sevseveral
ststars
st 9stars from the 9th magnitude downwards
st 9 13stars from the 9th to 13th magnitude
suspsuspected
shshaped
stellstellar
Ssmall
smsmaller
triNtrinuclear
traptrapezium
vvery
varvariable
vvvery, very
*a star: *10, a star of 10th magnitude
**double star
***triple star
!remarkable
!!very remarkable
!!!magnificent or very interesting

Examples:

M103Cl,pL,B,R,Ri,*10..11open cluster, pretty large, bright, round, rich, stars of magnitude 10 to 11
M31!!!eeB, eL, vmEmagnificent, most extremely bright, extremely large, very much extended

Index of Maps by Constellation

Abbr.ConstellationMap(s)
AndAndromeda53
AntAntlia208
ApsApus255-256
AqrAquarius115-118, 160
AqlAquila121, 122
AraAra241
AriAries110
AurAuriga49
BooBo÷tes63, 92
CaeCaelum233
CamCamelopardalis17, 18, 33
CncCancer101
CVnCanes Venatici44
CMaCanis Major185
CMiCanis Minor103,144,212
CapCapricornus163, 164
CarCarina245-247
CasCassiopeia20, 35
CenCentaurus204-206, 226-227, 243
CepCepheus9, 22
CetCetus153-156, 192-194
ChaChamaeleon258
CirCircinus242
ColColumba213, 232
ComComa Berenices65, 95
CrACorona Austrina222
CrBCorona Borealis62
CrvCorvus176
CrtCrater177
CruCrux244
CygCygnus38
DelDelphinus83
DorDorado248
DraDraco11-14, 24-26
EquEquuleus82, 118
EriEridanus150, 188-190, 214, 234
ForFornax215, 216
GemGemini70, 71, 103, 104
GruGrus220
HerHercules44, 60, 61
HorHorologium234, 250
HyaHydra180, 181, 204-208
HyiHydrus250, 262
IndIndus238
Abbr.ConstellationMap(s)
LacLacerta37
LeoLeo97-99, 137
LMiLeo Minor46
LepLepus186, 187
LibLibra172
LupLupus225
LynLynx47, 48
LyrLyra59
MenMensa261
MicMicroscopium198
MonMonoceros144-146
MusMusca257
NorNorma241, 242
OctOctans264
OphOphiuchus125, 126, 169, 170
OriOrion105, 106, 147, 148
PavPavo239, 240
PegPegasus54, 55, 79-81
PerPerseus51
PhePhoenix236
PicPictor248
PscPisces111-114, 158
PsAPiscis Austrinus196
PupPuppis183, 211, 231
PyxPyxis210
RetReticulum249
SgeSagitta84, 85
SgrSagittarius166, 167, 199, 200
ScoScorpius171, 201, 202
SclSculptor218
SctScutum167
SerSerpens90, 124, 128, 129, 168
SexSextans138
TauTaurus107, 108
TelTelescopium222, 239
TriTriangulum75, 76
TrATriangulum Australe241
TucTucana237
UMaUrsa Major28, 29
UMiUrsa Minor13, 45
VelVela229-230, 245
VirVirgo130-135, 174, 175
VolVolans259, 260
VulVulpecula57, 58

Sources of Data

Nearly all of the data used to generate the maps and tables are publicly availabe on the Internet. The main sources are as follows:

Stars

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

Constellation boundaries

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).

Deep sky objects

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

Messier catalog

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.

Caldwell catalog

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

R.A.S.C. catalog

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.

Saguaro catalog

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 catalog

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.

Dark nebulas

Only a very few dark nebula are displayed.

Binocular objects

Deep sky objects are flagged as viewable through binoculars if they appear in any of the following lists:

Constellation Figures

The green lines showing traditional constellation figures were added by the author, after consulting several standard star atlases.

Acknowledgements

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