Deep Sky Objects

Table of Deep Sky Objects | Deep Sky Suggestions by Marcus Shaw | References

The following table of easy to find and larger Deep Sky Objects (DSO) was put together by me from the books Deep Sky Reiseführer/Reiseatlas (Stoyan/Feiler & Noack) and Atlas für Himmelsbeobachter (Karkoschka) (see References). I added a few objects based on my own experiences. This list is intended to help me - and perhaps others - to select deep sky objects for observation in the course of the year. The Deep Sky Reiseführer/Reiseatlas rating/ranking might help here (the rankings are based on observations with telescopes of an aperture of up to 150 mm (6") and a dark countryside sky).

In addition, I share suggestions that a hobby astronomer made to a newcomer and that I find quite useful. Perhaps, this helps to spread these suggestions a little further. I edited the suggestions a bit, also the text (a German gave them to a Greek woman in English - the Internet is international ...).

Note: For objects that I observed myself, I am creating additional pages, which contain star maps (created with SkySafari) that help find the objects in the sky. These pages are accessible via links in the table below and open in a new window.

See also page My Deep Sky Observations - Overview


Table of Deep Sky Objects

Column "Rec.": Objects labelled with "+" seem, in my opinion, particularly attractive and (mostly) easy to find. They correspond more or less to my former short list.

 Remarks Rec.
English Latin English* S/F&N   S/F&N K

North (Circumpolar)

Bode Galaxy Ursa Major Great Bear **** G 12' x 5' 18' yes   Together with M 82 +
Cigar Galaxy Ursa Major Great Bear **** G 6' x 2' 10' yes   Together with M 81 +
  Cassiopeia Queen *** OC 10' 12' yes      
Owl Nebula Cassiopeia Queen *** OC 15' x 10' 12' yes      
  Cassiopeia Queen *** OC 6' 6' yes     +
  Cassiopeia Queen ** OC 15' 15' yes     +
  Cassiopeia Queen * OC 5' x 3' 5' yes     +
Kemble's Cascade Camelopardis Giraffe *** SP 2.8°   yes   No number  


  Hydra Water Snake *** OC 50' x 30' 40' yes      
  Hydra Water Snake ** GC 5' 10'        
  Hydra Water Snake ** PN 0.6' 0.6'        
  Hydra Water Snake **** G 7' x 5' 8'        
  Canes Venatici Hunting Dogs ** G 8' x 3.5' 12' yes      
  Canes Venatici Hunting Dogs *** GC 7' 10' yes     +
Whirlpool Galaxy Canes Venatici Hunting Dogs *** G 8' x 4' 8' yes     +
  Coma Berenices Berenice's Hair *** OC 3.5°   yes yes    
  Coma Berenices Berenice's Hair *** G 13' x 1' 15' yes      
  Coma Berenices Berenice's Hair *** G 4.5' x 2.5' 6' yes      
  Coma Berenices Berenice's Hair ** GC 4' 7' yes      
  Virgo Young Maiden (Virgin) ** G 5' 5' yes      
Sombrero Galaxy Virgo Young Maiden (Virgin) *** G 7' x 2' 8' yes      
  Serpens Caput Head of the Serpent **** GC 6' 12' yes     +


Hercules Cluster Hercules Strong Man **** GC 8' 15' yes yes   +
  Hercules Strong Man *** GC 7' 8' yes yes   +
Ring Nebula Lyra Harp **** PN 1.2' 1.5' yes     +
  Lyra Harp ** GC 3' 5' yes     +
  Ophiuchus Serpent Bearer ** GC 8' 12' yes     +
  Ophiuchus Serpent Bearer ** GC 5' 12' yes     +
  Ophiuchus Serpent Bearer *** OC 70'   yes      
  Ophiuchus Serpent Bearer *** OC 20' 20' yes      
  Scorpius Scorpion *** GC 12' 18' yes      
  Scorpius Scorpion ** GC 5' 5' yes      
Butterfly Cluster Scorpius Scorpion **** OC 25' x 20' 20'        
  Scorpius Scorpion **** OC 80' 50'        
  Cygnus Swan ** OC 6' 6' yes      
Cirrus, Veil Nebula Cygnus Swan *** GNE 45' x 5' 60' yes     +
North America Nebula Cygnus Swan **** GNE 1.3° 120' yes      
  Vulpecula Little Fox *** SP 60'   yes yes    
Dumbbell Nebula Vulpecula Little Fox ***** PN 8' x 4' 7' yes     +
  Sagitta Arrow *** GC 6' 5' yes      
Wild Ducks Cluster Scutum Shield **** OC 7' 12' yes     +
  Serpens Cauda Tail of the Serpent *** OC 10' 25' yes   Within IC 4703 +
Eagle Nebula Serpens Cauda Tail of the Serpent * GN 45' x 20'   yes   Surrounds M 16  
  Sagittarius Archer ** OC 25' 25' yes      
Trifid Nebula Sagittarius Archer ** GNE 15' x 10' 20' yes     +
Lagoon Nebula Sagittarius Archer **** GN+OC 20' x 10'/7' 60' yes     +
  Sagittarius Archer *** SP 1.5° x 0.5° 100' yes      
Omega, Swan Nebula Sagittarius Archer **** GNE 20' x 15' 35' yes     +
  Sagittarius Archer *** OC 30' 30' yes      
  Sagittarius Archer ** GCS 5' 6' yes   Close to M 22  
  Sagittarius Archer **** GC 9' 20' yes   Brightest GC in Middle Europe  
  Sagittarius Archer ** GC 12' 15' yes      
  Capricornus Sea Goat ** GC 5' 6'        


  Pegasus Pegasus **** GC 6' 10' yes     +
  Aquarius Water Bearer ** GC 3' 3'        
Saturn Nebula Aquarius Water Bearer ** PN 0.4' 0.6'        
  Aquarius Water Bearer *** GC 6' 10' yes      
Helix Nebula Aquarius Water Bearer *** PN 12' 15'        
  Andromeda Chained Maiden ** PN 0.5' 0.5'        
Andromeda Galaxy Andromeda Chained Maiden ***** G 3° x 1° 150' yes yes   +
Triangulum Galaxy Triangulum Triangle *** G 30' x 20' 50' yes yes    
  Perseus Greek Hero ** PN 1' 2.5' yes      
  Perseus Greek Hero ***** OC 20' 25' yes yes Double open star cluster +
  Perseus Greek Hero ***** OC 25' 25' yes yes
  Perseus Greek Hero *** OC 35' 30' yes yes    
  Perseus Greek Hero *** OC 18' 25'        
    Mel20 Mirphak Cluster Perseus Greek Hero         yes yes added by me +
  Cetus Whale *** G 2' 3'        
Sculptor Galaxy Sculptor Sculptor *** G 20' x 4' 25'        


  Auriga Charioteer *** OC 25' 20' yes yes   +
  Auriga Charioteer *** OC 12' 15' yes yes   +
  Auriga Charioteer *** OC 16' 25' yes yes   +
  Auriga Charioteer ** OC 25' x 18' 20'        
Pleiades, Seven Sisters Taurus Bull ***** OC 1.8° x 1.2° 100' yes yes   +
Hyades Taurus Bull *** OC 5° x 4° 300' yes yes   +
Crab Nebula Taurus Bull *** GNE 5' x 4' 6' yes     +
  Taurus Bull ** OC 35' 40'        
Orion Nebula Orion Hunter ***** GNE 25' x 30' 40' yes yes   +
  Orion Hunter ** GNE 6' x 3' 12' yes yes Part of M 42 +
  Orion Hunter * GNR 5' x 4' 7' yes      
  Lepus Hare ** GC 5' 6'        
  Gemini Twins **** OC 28' 30' yes yes   +
  Monoceros Unicorn *** OC 23' 25' yes   Together with NGC 2237  
Rosette Nebula Monoceros Unicorn * GNE 80' x 60' 80' yes   Together with NGC 2244  
Christmas Tree Monoceros Unicorn *** OC 20' 15' yes      
  Monoceros Unicorn *** OC 20' 15' yes      
  Canis Major Big Dog *** OC 40' 30' yes yes    
  Canis Major Big Dog *** OC 8' 6' yes      
  Puppis Stern of the Argo navis *** OC 30' x 20' 25' yes      
  Puppis Stern of the Argo navis *** OC 20' x 15' 25' yes   Together with NGC 2438  
  Puppis Stern of the Argo navis * PN 1.1' 1.0'     Together with M 46  
Praesepe, Beehive Cancer Crab **** OC 70' 80' yes yes   +
  Cancer Crab *** OC 15' 20' yes yes    


*) The English constellation names were taken from Constellation Guide - Constellation Names and are often more "meanings" than "approved names"; there you can read more about the names and their background.

Type: G = galaxy, GC = globular star cluster, OC = open star cluster, PN = planetary nebula, GN = galactic nebula (GNE = emission, GNR = reflection), SP = star pattern


Deep Sky Suggestions by Marcus Shaw

The following suggestions for the observation of deep sky objects were made by Marcus Shaw (Schorhr) 2014 to a Greek woman (Trillian!) in the Stargazers Lounge forum (see also link below). After consulting the forum, she had bought a Skywatcher Heritage P130 Dobsonian telescope (5"), and the suggestions naturally take the performance of the telescope into account. I find these suggestions very useful for myself and for other beginners. I therefore publish them here in an adapted form. The contributions range from the end of May 2014 to the beginning of July 2014, so that the suggestions mainly relate to objects which can be observed at that time (that is, in summer).

Object Name Constellation Type Marcus' Comment
M 57 Ring Nebula Lyra PN Ring nebula - between the two stars at the outside/bottom of Lyra. Looks like a blurry star in low magnification. At around 100 x you should see that it's a ring, if the sky is truly dark it should be very obvious.

M 44

Praesepe, Beehive Cancer/Crab OC Nice open star cluster for low magnification. The darker the sky, the more beautiful it gets. In the center of Cancer.
M 27 (NGC 6853) Dumbbell Nebula Vulpecula/Little Fox PN If you draw a line from M57 to Albireo, and extend it further, you will find another nebula. A dark sky helps, but it is definitely one of the easier one's.
M 81/82 Bode Galaxies Big Bear/Dipper G Imagine a diagonal through the Big Dipper (actually Ursa Major!) and extend it outside of the Big Dipper once, then the two galaxies should be visible in the low magnification eyepiece - those two will show under mediocre conditions at the edge of a city. Even if you cannot make out much detail, one should be round, one long-ish. Under very good conditions you may be able to see the irregular center of the cigar galaxy.
M 101 Pinwheel Galaxy Big Bear/Dipper G Spiral galaxy, preeetttyyy... If the sky is dark. But in 5" near civilization, you can usually not expect this kind of detail. Under city sky it may not be visible at all. If you have decent city limit conditions, it may look like ... If light pollution is strong, it may just be a faint glow, or not visible.
M 51 Whirlpool Galaxy Canes Venatici G One of my favorites. Under the handle of the Big Dipper (part of Ursa Major). Under good "city limit conditions" the two cores should easily be visible. If you observe it for long, if the sky is very clear, you might see some details even in 5". I once saw a faint band between the cores. It will never look like ... but it still is amazing to see a galaxy almost 3.0000.000 light years away that shows what will happen with our galaxy and Andromeda in "a couple of years"...
M 13 Hercules Cluster Hercules GC The cluster in Hercules. Aim for under his armpit, it's easy to find. My first observation was a bit of a disappointment. A faint glow, not more...
Important: Observe when it's dark, no moon. Use indirect vision!
The center of our eye's retina is the sharpest but not as light sensitive as the outer regions. So if you try NOT to look at M13, you may see more stars in the corner of your eye.

M 3

  Canes Venatici GC Also check out M3 (stated after covering M13).
NGC 6826 Blinking Nebula Cygnus/Swan PN The Blinking Nebula. Same game: If you look at it directly, you will see the small star. If you look away, you will see the larger, dim nebula. If you quickly look at it again, it vanishes. Thus the Blinking Nebula...
NGC 884/869 h & chi Persei Double Cluster Perseus OC Beautiful, look like diamond fireworks. This is the sort of object the low magnification, wide field heritage shows well...
M 31 Andromeda Galaxy Andromeda G Under dark skies visible with the naked eye, larger than the moon... Under mediocre night sky it will just be a oval smudge.
NGC 7000 North America Nebula Cygnus/Swan GNE Big nebula, while the orion nebula is not visible in the summer, the North America Nebula is.
Cr 399 Coat Hanger Vulpecula/Little Fox SP The Coat Hanger. The sky is full of commodities :-)
--- Albireo Cygnus/Swan Double star Close to M57, one of the stars of Cygnus/Swan, is Albireo. While stars always appear as small dots, this one reveals something beautiful: If you magnify it, you will see that there are actually TWO stars. One is red, one is blue. Pretty double star.


Type: G = galaxy, GC = globular star cluster, OC = open star cluster, PN = planetary nebula, GN = galactic nebula (GNE = emission, GNR = reflection), SP = star pattern

Remarks as to Albireo and the Ring Nebula

Albireo (double star) should split at as low as 8 x. ... It's much more pretty with your own eyes, the colors are much more noticeable than with a deep sky camera.

The ring nebula (M 57) or M 13 (as another example...) are a faint smudge in low magnification, larger than a star. When increasing magnification under light pollution, they may not show more details. That gets kind of frustrating.

I have observed the ring nebula under a full moon before. It works, but yesterday the moon was so close it did not work well. Under dark skies it is really obvious, if you find it. So save yourself frustration and wait for darker conditions when attempting DSO. It will still be a faint smoke ring, not the colorful explosion you see on images from the Hubble telescope.

For some it looks like a faint smudge. But it's kind of fascinating to see the remains of a super nova with your own eyes, far, far away. With larger telescope you could even see the small center star remain.

My "first ring nebula" took me 30 minutes as I just did not know what I had to look for, much like you now. We all have been there. After one or two successful observation of objects you kind of get a sense for scale, what to look for and frustration is blown away. And always have a "plan b": If you can't find something, observe something you already know for practice and to avoid wanting to throw the telescope down the balcony.

In the 25 mm eyepiece, it almost looks like when a star is just slightly off focus, but no matter how carefully you try to focus, all the stars next to it are sharp, small dots, the ring nebula looks like a faint blurry star. With 8-12 mm it already looks like a tiny ring. If light pollution is an issue, the darker center might be less obvious.




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