An autodidact's eclectic website

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Astronomy resources

 

Classic Star Atlases

Online sky atlases from the 20th century

  • Norton's Star Atlas, 14th ed., 1959. 16 charts with stars to magnitude 6.35.

  • Atlas Coeli Skalnaté Pleso 1950.0, Antonín Bečvář,
    1962 edition. 16 charts with stars to magnitude 7.75. This was the primary influence on modern Epoch 2000 charts, especially Wil Tirion's Sky Atlas 2000.0. This online edition has somewhat low contrast images. They could probably be downloaded and improved with Photoshop.

Modern Free Atlases

Modern software-generated atlases. The specifications of some of these are compared on the Lackawanna Astronomical Society site here.

  • Beginners Star Atlas, Ed Vazherov. Six charts with stars to magnitude 6, and a short list of deep sky objects down to magnitude 8.6. A Russian version is also available. Though designed for A4 paper, these would make nice classroom charts on A3 or ledger size paper.

  • Mag 7 Star Atlas Project Deluxe Edition, Andrew L. Johnson, magnitude 7.25 public domain deluxe color edition with Milky Way region in blue.
    Mag-7 Star Atlas Project, Version 2.0, April 2007, both color and black and white editions of this modern magnitude 7.25 planning atlas. Deep sky abjects down to about 12.5. 20 charts plus 1 detail chart for the Virgo Cluster.

  • Taki's Star Atlas, Toshimi Taki, 2005. 12 charts with stars to magnitude 6.5, deep sky objects to magnitude 10 and 11. An excellent atlas for planning, and wide angle binocular viewing.

  • Taki's 8.5 Magnitude Star Atlas, Toshimi Taki, 2005. 146 charts with stars to magnitude 8.5, deep sky objects down to magnitude 10–12.5, plus detailed charts of the Virgo Cluster, central Orion region, and Eta Carinae region. Excellent for binocular and small to medium amateur telescope astronomy.

  • Deep Sky Surfing Atlas, Alethis Software Inc., 270 charts with stars down to magnitude 9, and deep sky objects down to magnitude 11. An observing list is included with each chart.

  • Deep-Sky Atlas, Michael Vlasov, version 2.5, 2007. 80 charts with stars to magnitude 9.5, deep sky objects to magnitude 13. Great for binocular and small to medium amateur telescope astronomy. This is designed for A4 (roughly US letter sized) paper, so printed out it would be fairly compact.

  • Deep Sky Hunter Star Atlas, Michael Vlasov, edition 2, 2013. Entire sky covered by 101 charts, 2 index maps and 8 pages with detailed "zoom" charts. Catalogs of 7000 plotted deep sky objects, and 700 illustrated best DSOs are also available. Great for amateur telescope astronomy. This is designed for A3 (roughly ledger sized) paper, so with over 100 maps, a printed version would be quite large.

Specialty Atlases

Online special observing atlases.

  • Variable Star Plotter, AAVSO. The Variable Star Plotter (VSP) is the AAVSO's online chart plotting program that dynamically plots star charts for any location on the sky, or for any named object currently in the Variable Star Index (VSX, see below).

  • Atlas of Double Stars, Toshimi Taki and Pete Wehner, 2007. 36 charts, with stars down to magnitude 6.75, show 2053 labeled double stars and 356 deep sky objects. An introductory document, index charts, and a catalog of the double stars, can be found on the page.

  • Herschel 800 Atlas, Michiel Brentjens, 2005. This atlas contains 3° finder charts of the Herschel I list of 400 Herschel DSOs compiled by the Ancient City Astronomy Club of St. Augustine, FL, and the Herschel II list of 400 objects compiled by the Rose City Astronomers of Portland, OR. The atlas was made using Brentjens' "fchart" command line Python software program, available at the link.

  • Young Stellar Objects, Reiner Vogel, 2010. This observing guide introduces 52 pre-main sequence stars with surrounding reflection nebula with DSS images, finder charts, and observing reports.

Photographic Atlases

Digital photographic atlases.

  • The STScI Digitized Sky Survey, Space Telescope Science Institute. View square digital photographic charts by inputing object names into the finder text box. The max size is 60" square... unless you cheat like I did by editing the URL. You probably want to select GIF images for viewing. The surveys include the Palomar Sky Survey and the Hubble Space Telescope survey.

  • A Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way, Edward Emerson Barnard, 1927. Georgia Institute of Technology.

Classic Star and Object Catalogs

Classic catalogs and catalog websites.

Modern Observing Lists

Popular checklists of objects to observe. Most amateurs start by working through the Messier Catalog above. Then they try to find objects in the following checklists.

Modern Catalogs

Modern star and objects catalogs, as well as updates on older ones.

Reference Works

Aids to star finding and observational reference works.

  • Planetary Ephemeris Data, AstroPixels. A wealth of solar system data.

  • Observing Resources Page, AstroPixels. Links to many importants astronomy sites on every topic.

  • Local Apparent Sidereal Time, U.S. Naval Observatory. Enter your longitude to find the local sideral (star) time. This will indicate the Right Ascension of the stars directly on the meridian (N-S line). Looking on a star chart you can then tell which constellations are easiest to see. To find your longitude enter your address in this web app. Then paste the lat. and long. on one line into this web app. Mac users may want to download a menu bar app, called Sid, that shows sidereal time, Julian day, and UTC. Click on the dowload link in the menu.

  • The Nautical Almanac, Enno Rodegerdts. Free, software-generated astronomical phenomena tables, nautical almanacs, and sight reduction tables for navigation.

  • A Popular Handbook and Atlas of Astronomy, Sir William Peck, 1891. Some useful tables for observing. The reverse star charts showing over 6000 objects are exceptionally good for this era. There are also nice maps of the Pleiades, the Ecliptic, and a visual table of some double star configurations (for the era).

  • Astronomy 101, Indiana Astronomical Society. Of special note are the three excellent PDF documents at the bottom of the page: IFAS Novice Handbook, IFAS Messier Handbook, and IFAS Binocular Handbook (no longer on the Irish Federation web site).

  • Double Stars, Wulff D. Heintz, 1978.

  • Star-Names and Their Meanings, Roger Hinkley Allen, 1899. The classic text on star names. There is also an online text version. Unfortunately, much of it was based on earlier secondary references that had many errors. This is true of the Arabic names, and even more so, the Chinese, Babylonian, Egyptian, and the various other ancient languages. For a more modern treatment, see Paul Kunitzsch and Tim Smart, A Dictionary of Modern Star Names (2006).

  • Star Lore of All Ages, William Tyler Olcott, 1911. Subtitled: "A collection of myths, legends, and facts concerning the constellations of the Northern Hemisphere."

Report Forms and Observing Log Templates

Forms for reporting observations.

 

 

Copyright © S. Varner 2006