Celestial Harvest Showpiece Roster

Download a handy list of 300 of the best deep-sky objects to explore with telescopes from 2- to 14-inches in aperture.

Houssem Ksontini

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!

Download the Celestial Showpiece Roster — .xlsx file.

Observing, Stargazer's Corner: Adventures Under the Night Sky
James Mullaney

About James Mullaney

James Mullaney is an astronomy author who has published more than 1,000 articles and nine books on observing the wonders of the heavens, and logged over 20,000 hours of stargazing time with the unaided eye, binoculars and telescopes. His latest book, Celebrating the Universe! subtitled the Spirituality & Science of Stargazing, has been published by Hay House.

3 thoughts on “Celestial Harvest Showpiece Roster

  1. RussRuss

    Hi James,
    Thanks for the extensive list of good objects to observe. It will come in handy next time I go out for some observing from my home. Been doing this for over 55 years. After decades using a star atlas and finder ‘scope I don’t mind using a go-to rig – it’s easier on my old back.

    I fiddled with your spreadsheet to change font size and column widths so that each entry would print out all information on one sheet. Then inserted a row of column headers on top of each page to identify the columns. When finished it all fit on 5 double sided sheets, handy for use at the telescope.

    I’ve really enjoyed your articles in Sky and Telescope over the years. I hope you can continue with them.

  2. Mircea-Pteancu

    Thank you James Mullaney for the very fine list !
    I can go until – 30 degree Southern declination , so I will not enjoy the objects in the last 15 degrees of declination.
    Double and multiple stars are very interesting objects , especially the ones with striking color contrast or hard to split.
    Thank you once again and I wish you all the best !

    It sound very interesting what you have done to the list.
    I would love to have it in a format fit for use at the telescope.
    Can you please up-load it on Dropbox or Google Drive and share the link , please ?
    Thank you in advance , Mircea

    1. Janine Myszka

      Hi Mircea,

      The file is downloadable from this page! Simply click the blue text at the beginning or the end of the article that reads “Celestial Showpiece Roster — .xlsx file” and you’ll download an Excel file that you can edit as needed for your scope!


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