Observing And Cataloguing Nebulae And Star Clusters

Wolfgang Steinicke
Cambridge University Press
Observing And Cataloguing Nebulae And Star Clusters

No stone has been left unturned in the quest for detail in this exhaustively researched, comprehensive history of the compilation of the New General Catalogue (NGC). It covers everything from the early observations of William Herschel through to the finished work of John Louis Emil Dreyer.

Comprising of 7,840 deep-sky objects discovered up to the end of 1887, the NGC is as relevant today as it was when Dreyer compiled it. It remains the standard reference work for amateur astronomers after the very popular Messier catalogue.

Steinicke explains in great detail the earlier catalogues whose data was used to compile the NGC, with numerous references to the original discoverers. Here, some well-known names appear including Charles Messier, Lord Rosse and Edward Barnard among others, many of whom are treated to their own biographic sections.

The black-and-white tables and wood-cut illustrations contribute to the historical feel, although the numerous footnotes are a distraction best avoided. Overall, the book is an amazingly complete work. But it’s not for the faint-hearted, as it’s aimed at academic professionals or amateur astronomers with a deep interest in the history of astronomy.  

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