Download a handy list of 300 of the best deep-sky objects to explore with telescopes from 2- to 14-inches in aperture.
Downloadable from this post (Celestial Showpiece Roster — .xlsx file) are 300 of the finest deep-sky treasures for viewing and exploration with telescopes from 2- to 14-inches in aperture. Nearly all of them can be seen in the smallest of glasses, and many even in binoculars. Arranged in alphabetical order by constellation (which makes it more convenient to pick out objects for a given night’s observations than one ordered by coordinates), it features brief descriptions of each entry. Primary data sources were Sky Catalogue 2000.0 and the Washington Double Star Catalog.
Constellation (CON) abbreviations are the official three-letter designations adopted by the International Astronomical Union. Right Ascension (RA) in hours and minutes, and Declination (DEC) in degrees and minutes, are given for the current standard Epoch 2000.0. Other headings are the class or type of object (TYPE)*, apparent visual magnitude/s (MAG/S) and angular size or separation (SIZE/SEP) in arc-minutes or arc-seconds. (Position angles for double stars are not given due to the confusion resulting from the common use of star diagonals with refracting and compound telescopes, producing mirror-reversed images of the sky.
Observers desiring the latest values of these as well as component separations should consult the Washington Double Star Catalog on-line at http://ad.usno.navy.mil/wds/.) Approximate distance in light-years (LY) is also given in many cases. Double and multiple stars dominate this roster due to their great profusion in the sky and also their easy visibility on all but the worst of nights. This list extends down to –45 degrees Declination, covering that 3/4ths of the entire heavens visible from mid-northern latitudes. (Two “must see” showpieces actually lie slightly below this limit.) *Type key: SS = First-Magnitude/Highly-Tinted &/or Variable Single Star, DS = Double or Multiple Star, AS = Association or Asterism, OC = Open Cluster, GC = Globular Cluster, DN = Diffuse Nebula, PN = Planetary Nebula, SR = Supernova Remnant, GX = Galaxy. (Also: MW = Milky Way under remarks.)
This list was compiled based on my book Celestial Harvest: 300-Plus Showpieces of the Heavens for Telescope Viewing & Contemplation (Dover). The number shown in ( ) following each object indicates how many of 21 classic and modern deep-sky showpiece lists include it. Bolded entries = best of the finest!