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 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 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.
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.
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 catalogs and catalog websites.
Messier Catalog (M), Charles Messier, the full list appearing in the 1784 issue of Connoissance des Temps as "Catalogue des Nébuleuses & des amas d'Étoiles", published in 1781.
English translation of Messier's personal copy of the 1781 catalog above.
English translation of the first 1771 version of the catalog up to M45.
English translation of the second 1780 version of the catalog up to M70. M69 and M70 appear in a list of corrections in the same volume as the catalog.
Full Messier catalog list, with notes and translations, including later discoveries by Messier and Pierre Méchain.
The Messier Catalog, SEDS. Detailed information, data, and references with images for each Messier object.
Messier Catalog , Interactive PDF with links to images from the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (Cal Tech).
Sir William Herschel's Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars (H) was released in three papers:
General Catalogue of Nebulæ and Clusters of Stars (GC), Sir John Herschel, 1864. The supplement to his father's catalog, which contains 5079 object entries.
Observations of Nebulæ and Clusters of Stars, Made at Slough, with a Twenty-feet Reflector, between the Years 1825 and 1833 (SC), Sir John Herschel, 1833.
Results of astronomical observations made during the years 1834, 5, 6, 7, 8, at the Cape of Good Hope; being the completion of a telescopic survey of the whole surface of the visible heavens, commenced in 1825 (CC), Sir John Herschel, 1847.
New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars (NGC) and Index Catalogs (IC), John Louis Emil Dreyer.
A New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars, First Index Catalog, and Second Index Catalog, 1888, 1895, 1908. The main catalog with the two index catalogs in one volume.
Barnard Catalogue of Dark Markings in the Sky (B), Edward Emerson Barnard, 1919. The initial list of 182 dark nebulae is found in "On the dark markings of the sky, with a catalogue of 182 such objects", E. E. Barnard, Astrophysical Journal, 49, p.1-24 (1919). The complete list is from "Catalogue of 349 dark objects in the sky", E. E. Barnard, 1927.
Catalogue of Dark Nebulae (LDN), Beverly T. Lynds, 1962 — from Astrophysical Journal Supplement, vol. 7, p.1 (1962).
Catalogue of Bright Nebulae (LBN), Beverly T. Lynds, 1965 — from Astrophysical Journal Supplement, vol. 12, p.163 (1965)
Bonner Durchmusterung (BD), Bonn University: F. Argeland et al 1859–62, F. Küstner 1903, F. Becker 1951, H. Schmidt 1968. A list of over 325000 stars down to below magnitude 9.5. Epoch 1855.0.
Bonner Sternverzeichniss (Southern Durchmusterung) (SD), Dr. Eduard Schönfeld, 1886. Vol 4: -2° to -23°.
The Henry Draper Catalogue (HD), Annie Cannon & Edward Pickering, 1918–24.
[Vol 1: 0ʰ, 1ʰ, 2ʰ, and 3ʰ] [Vol 2: 4ʰ, 5ʰ, and 6ʰ] [Vol 3: 7ʰ and 8ʰ]
[Vol 4: 9ʰ, 10ʰ, and 11ʰ] [Vol 5: 12ʰ, 13ʰ, and 14ʰ] [Vol 6: 15ʰ and 16ʰ]
[Vol 7: 17ʰ & 18ʰ] [Vol 8: 19ʰ and 20ʰ] [Vol 9: 21ʰ, 22ʰ, and 23ʰ]
Yale Catalogue of Bright Stars, 3rd ed. (HR = BS), Yale University, 1964. This catalog first appeared in 1930 as a compilation of data on every star in the Harvard Revised Photometry Catalogue. It contains all stars brighter than magnitude 6.5 (9091 stars in this 3rd edition). See below under modern catalogs for the 5th edition.
Third Catalogue of Variable Stars, Seth Carlo Chandler Jr., 1896. Chandler, an American amateur astronomer, published this catalogue of visually observed variable stars in Issue 379 (Vol. 16, No. 19) of the Astronomical Journal.
Catalogue of Variable Stars, Chandler, 1888. AJ, Issue 179–180.
Supplement to First Edition of the Catalogue of Variable Stars, Chandler, 1890. AJ, Issue 216.
Second Catalogue of Variable Stars, Chandler, 1893. AJ, Issue 300.
Supplement to Second Catalogue of Variable Stars, Chandler, 1894. AJ, Issue 319.
Revised Supplement to Second Catalogue of Variable Stars, Chandler, 1895. AJ, Issue 347.
Atlas Stellarum Variabilium, Johann Georg Hagen, 1899–1908. Important variable star atlas and catalog. Hagen worked at the Vatican observatory, so the introduction is in Latin! The following series in the publication were issued between 1899 and 1908, with notes on each. The catalog gives the Chandler number (Cat. III), star name, 1855 coordinates, the date of observation, and a table for the comparison stars present on the chart. This table helps to gauge the brightness of the variable as it changes. The charts give the Chandler number, star name, 1900 coordinates, color, and magnitude variation. They show a 1° finder charter. An inner square of 30' shows the variable and stars down to a magnitude as faint at the star's faintest magnitude. Outside this square, only stars present in the Bonner Durchmusterung are shown.
Series I, 1899. 45 stars between –25° and 0° decl, and minimum below m=10.
Series II, 1899. 46 stars between 0° and +25° decl, and minimum below m=10.
Series III, 1900. 37 stars between +25° to +90° decl, and minimum below m=10.
Series IV, 1907. 101 stars visible to moderate instruments, and which are found in the BD, ie. brighter than m=10.
Series V, 1906. 48 stars with a minimum brighter than magnitude 7, suitable to naked eye and small instrument observing.
Series VI, 1908. 65 stars added as a supplement to Series I-III.
Second General Catalogue of Variable Stars, Annie J. Cannon, 1907. Published in the Annals of the Astronomical Observatory of Harvard College, Vol. 55, Part 1.
Provisional Catalogue of Variable Stars, Annie J. Cannon, 1903. Annals-AOHC, Vol. 48, Part 3.
William Herschel's Double Star Catalogs (H = ♅), 1782, 1784, 1821.
Catalogue of Double Stars, W. Herschel, 1782. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 72, p.112–162.
Catalogue of Double Stars, W. Herschel, 1785. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 75, p.40–126.
William Herschel's Double Star Catalog, compiled by Bruce MacEvoy, 2011. A compilation of all three catalogs on one web page. A description of the reconstruction of the compiled Herschel catalogs is on MacEvoy's page, "The William Herschel Double Star Catalogs Restored." See also his observers checklist of all Herschel double stars, and his Herschel 500 Double Star List below.
Observations of the Apparent Distances and Positions of 380 Double and Triple Stars..., Sir John Herschel and Sir James South, 1824.
Catalogus Novus Stellarum Duplicium et Multiplicium (Σ = STF), F. G. W. Struve, 1827. One of the most important multiple star system catalogs for many years.
Catalogus 795 stellarum duplicium, F. G. W. Struve, 1822.
Approximate Places of Double Stars in the Southern Hemisphere, observed at Paramatta in New South Wales (Δ = DUN), James Dunlop, 1829. Contains 256 southern double stars.
Catalogue of Double Stars, Otto Wilhelm Struve, 1843.The catalogue includes the main catalog of 514 stars, and the appendix of 256 stars.
Catalogue de 514 Étoiles Doubles et Multiples (OΣ = STT), O. W. Struve, 1843.
Catalogue de 256 Étoiles Doubles Principales entre 32" et 2' Distance (OΣΣ = STT), O. W. Struve, 1843.
Catalogue Revu et Corrigé des Étoiles Doubles et Multiples..., O. W. Struve, 1850. Revised OΣ list.
Catalogue of the Pulkowa Doubles Stars, Lick Observatory. A list by Wm J.Hussey of the OΣ double stars from Micrometrical Observations of the Double Stars Discovered at Pulkowa, Hussey, 1901.
A Catalogue of 10,300 Multiple and Double Stars Arranged in the Order of Right Ascension , Sir John Herschel (Disc. = h = HJ), 1874. Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society, 40.
Reference Catalogue of Southern Double Stars, Robert T. A. Innes, 1899. Largely replaced by Southern Double Star Catalogue –19°. to –90° (SDS), R.T.A. Innes, B.H. Dawson, and W.H. van den Bos, 1927.
New Double Stars (Es), T. H. E. C. Espin, 1901–1933. Contains 2575 double stars discovered by Espin.
A General Catalogue of 1290 Double Stars Discovered from 1871 to 1899, Sherburne Wesley Burnham, 1900.
A General Catalogue of Double Stars Within 121° of the North Pole (BDS), Sherburne Wesley Burnham, 1906. Part I: The Catalogue. Contains 13665 multiple star systems.
Catalogue and Measures of Double Stars Discovered Visually from 1905 to 1916 within 105° of the North Pole and Under 5" Separation, Robert Jonkheere, 1917. Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society vol. 61. Serves as a supplement to BDS above.
A Catalogue of Star Clusters shown on Franklin-Adams Chart Plates (Mel), Philibert Jacques Melotte, 1915.
Trumpler catalog of open star clusters (Tr), Robert Julius Trumpler, 1930 — shown as "An." (anonymous) in Table 16 of his paper, "Preliminary results on the distances, dimensions and space distribution of open star clusters". Lick Obs. Bull. Vol XIV, No. 420 (1930) p.154-188.
Collinder Catalog of Open Star Clusters (Cr), Per Arne Collinder's 1931 list of open star clusters. These are seen in many modern star charts with a "Cr" followed by the list number.
Atlas of the Heavens II Catalogue 1950.0, Antonín Bečvář, 1964. Companion catalog to the Atlas Coeli Skalnaté Pleso above. This handy catalog gives data on the objects in the atlas, including all stars to magnitude 6.25, double stars, variable stars, novae, open and globular star clusters, planetary nebulae, diffuse nebulae, radio sources, and galaxies. Useful tables and a Messier list are also present.
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.
Herschel 400 List, Ancient City Astronomy Club, St. Augustine, FL, 1980. A list of 400 of the best objects from William Herschel's Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars.
Information page and links about the Herschel 400 program.
Herschel 400 II List, Rose City Astronomers, Portland, OR, 1997. An additional 400 objects from William Herschel's Catalogue. These are fainter and more challenging. For information on the list, see the Rose City Astronomer's description page, and the Astronomical League project page.
Caldwell List (C), Robert Moore, 1995. A collection of 109 of the most impressive celestial objects taken from the NGC and IC catalogs that were not included in Messier's list. Wikipedia article list.
The Astronomical League page has information and links about the Caldwell observing program.
The RASC's Finest NGC Objects List, Alan Dyer, 1995. A list of the 110 best deep sky objects used by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. The objects are arranged by viewing season. Information about the list and the certificate awards is on the RASC Finest NGC Objects page.
TAAS 200 Observing List, The Albuquerque Astronomical Society, 1995. A list of the best 200 non-Messier objects easily visible from central New Mexico (objects north of declination -48). This list was intended for intermediately experienced and equipped observes. The society site has a page on the history of the list.
The Herschel 500 Double Star List: A Selection of Herschel's Class I to Class V Double Stars, Bruce MacEvoy, 2011.
Modern star and objects catalogs, as well as updates on older ones.
Astrometric and Standard Star Catalogs, Kitt Peak National Observatory.
Fifth Fundamental Catalogue (FK5) Part II. An extended list of fundamental stars used for more accurate position coordinates. Key to the catalog entries are here. Part I of FK5, listing the classic fundamental stars, is on this PDF document.
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Star Catalog (SAO), J2000 epoch, north of -40° declination. The catalog lists 216462 stars. Key to the catalog entries are here.
Strasbourg Astronomical Data Center, "CDS". CDS hosts the SIMBAD astronomical database, the world reference database for the identification of astronomical objects; VizieR, the catalogue service for the CDS reference collection of astronomical catalogues and tables published in academic journals; and the Aladin interactive software sky atlas for access, visualization and analysis of astronomical images, surveys, catalogues, databases and related data.
General Catalogue of Variable Stars (GCVS). Variable star query form. This is more up-to-date than the version on VizieR. Originally published in 1948 by B. V. Kukarkin and P. P. Parenago.
International Variable Star Index, AAVSO. VSX was conceived and created by amateur astronomer Christopher Watson in response to the specific desires of the members of the Chart Team and the Comparison Star Database Working Group of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), and the broader perceived need for a globally-accessible central "clearing-house" for all up-to-the-minute information on variable stars, both established and suspected. The VSX web site was designed to be the on-line medium by which variable star data are made available to the general public, and through which the data are maintained, revised, and commented upon.
Washington Double Star Catalog, United States Naval Observatory.
A Catalogue of Galactic Supernova Remnants, D. A. Gree, 2014.
HEASARC Catalog Resources Index, NASA – High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center. Another huge database of catalog information.
Some of the more useful for amateur astronomy:
Messier Nebulae Preface number with M. [info];
NGC2000.0: Complete New General Catalog and Index Catalog Preface number with NGC or IC. [info];
Third Reference Catalog of Bright Galaxies (RC3) SIMBAD uses VII/155 designation. [info].
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."
Forms for reporting observations.
Observing Logs and Sketching Forms, Home Built Astronomy Projects.
Observing Forms and Templates, Belt of Venus Observation Record Sheets.
Observing Forms, American Association of Amateur Astronomers.