William Herschel's catalog of Deep Sky objects
Thanks to Bill Arnett,
William Herschel's catalog is available online. Bill acknowledges
David Bishop for making it available.
You have the following options:
More material on Friedrich Wilhelm (William) Herschel:
William Herschel was usually carefully avoiding to number the Messier objects,
in appreciation of Messier's prior work.
However, he of course numbered the missing
and the additional (i.e., later added)
objects, as he did not look at them as Messier's "nebulae". Erroneously, he
also numbered some of the Messier objects though, and in some cases, parts of
Look at the complete list.
Astronomical League's selection of 400 Herschel objects, for which the
AL grants the Herschel Award. This list was compiled by
Brenda Branchett of Deltona, Florida.
full Herschel list of 2500 (actually 2514), which according to David was
originally compiled by Fr. Lucian J. Kemble (a Franciscan monk then living
in Cochrane, Canada, now moved to Lumsden, Saskaschewan, Canada), but
Richard Hook (astronomer in England)
helped to restore. The list may still be somewhat buggy, though.
Moreover, besides these (mostly typing) errors, Herschel's list is indeed
considerably less reliable than Messier's smaller catalog):
Herschel's catalog contains 36 duplications, 4 entries belong to two objects
each, two further are listed twice as it is uncertain which object
corresponds to them, and 87 objects marked as nonexistent in our lists
(for whatever reason). Thus it seems that actually 2397 objects belong to
the total of 2520 entries in our list (some of these objects are still
multiple stars, or asterism).
- I have created a Herschel 2500 list sorted by Herschel number, available
in html (linked to our pages) or as
plain ascii file.
- I extracted the "Notes" on Herschel's catalog of
David Bishop from Bill's README
- Goto Bill Arnett's
complete Herschel directory.
Almost all of Herschel's objects (even the non-existing, erroneous entries)
have also obtained an NGC number; there are only
four or five exceptions.
William Herschel's sister Caroline, who assisted him in recording his
observations, did a number of own deepsky discoveries;
look at her list.
As the most renowned astronomer of his time, William Herschel contributed
significantly to most branches of astronomy: Besides searching clusters and
nebulae, he discovered planet Uranus in 1781, two satellites of Uranus, Titania
and Oberon, in 1787, and Saturn's moons Mimas and Enceladus in 1789, he
investigated the proper motion of stars and derived the peculiar motion of the
solar system toward the direction of constellation Hercules, modelled the
Milky Way galaxy from stellar statistics, and speculated about the nature of
the nebulae, including a discussion of the possibility of external island
universes (galaxies) which had been brought up by Kant. He also contributed to
physics (especially optics) and, e.g., discovered the infrared light.
Thanks to Arild Mikalsen from Norway for contributing some corrections
to this page !
Other Deep Sky catalogs suitable for the
History of the Discovery of the Deepsky Objects
Last Modification: 8 Feb 1998, 20:00 MET