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ASSA Top 100 Deep Sky Objects

Published: 2006 October 28

The Deep Sky Observing Section of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa is pleased to present the "Top 100 Deep Sky Objects", an observing programme for the novice and seasoned observer alike.

Hand-picked and collected together in a single list for the first time are the 100 best galaxies, star clusters and nebulae visible in the southern skies.

Many can be seen with the naked eye and all are visible in binoculars, so a telescope is not essential to see them.

For each 20 objects you observe, the Society will issue a Merit Award Certificate in recognition of your work (given that the observations meet basic quality standards). Your observations will also be added to the DOC Deep Sky Database.

Download the Top-100 list

Choose your format:

MS-Word document,

MS-Excel spread sheet, or

Cartes du Ciel catalogue file.

The list gives the position (RA and Dec) of each object, so you can use your favourite star atlas or charting software to help in finding it in the night sky. You're welcome to use GOTO-type computerized mounts to find them, but I'd strongly encourage beginners not to do so, simply because you then learn new skills, such as star hopping. However, it's ultimately up to you.

How do I submit observations?

Send your observations by snail-mail to: [Auke Slotegraaf, Director: ASSA Deep Sky Observing Section, Forelle Crescent 8, Die Boord, Stellenbosch, 7600], or via e-mail to [auke{at}psychohistorian.org]

Sketches submitted by regular mail will not be returned unless you include a self-addressed & stamped envelope. When submitting sketches by e-mail, make sure they are scanned/photographed at good quality.

Don't hesistate to contact me for further details. I look forward to receiving your deep sky observations!

How do I record an observation?

Guidelines for recording observations can be found in the "Deep Sky Observing Checklist". You may also want to take a look at the "Deep Sky Observer's Companion", a thorough introduction to deep sky observing techniques.

Brief summary of the list

Object typeNumber
Open star clusters40
Globular clusters24
Planetary nebulae8
Bright nebulae7
Dark nebulae5
Star cloud1

The table shows a breakdown of the list by object type. Of these objects, 86 appear in the NGC (New General Catalogue), six are from the IC (Index Catalogue) and the remaining eight are from various other catalogues.

The objects are spread about the sky, but all are south of the celestial equator. The most southerly object has a declination of −79.3°.

Several objects are circumpolar from southern Africa, and in any given month, more than 45 of the 100 objects can be seen during the course of an evening.

The Top-100 objects

#Object IDTypeCon
001NGC 55, Bennett 1GlxyScl
002NGC 104, 47 Tuc, Bennett 2GlclTuc
003NGC 247, Bennett 3GlxyCet
004NGC 246PlnbCet
005NGC 253, Silver Coin, Bennett 4GlxyScl
006NGC 288, Bennett 5GlclScl
008NGC 362, Bennett 7GlclTuc
009NGC 1068, Messier 77, Bennett 9GlxyCet
010NGC 1261, Bennett 11GlclHor
011NGC 1291, Bennett 12GlxyEri
012NGC 1316, Fornax A, Bennett 14GlxyFor
013NGC 1365, Bennett 16GlxyFor
014NGC 1535, Bennett 22PlnbEri
015NGC 1851, Bennett 32GlclCol
017NGC 1904, Messier 79, Bennett 34GlclLep
018NGC 1976, Great Orion NebulaBrtNOri
019NGC 1977BrtNOri
020NGC 2070, Tarantula Nebula, Bennett 35BrtNDor
021NGC 2287, Messier 41OpClCMa
022NGC 2362, Tau CMa clusterOpClCMa
023NGC 2422, Messier 47OpClPup
024NGC 2437, Messier 46OpClPup
025NGC 2451OpClPup
026NGC 2447, Messier 93OpClPup
027NGC 2477OpClPup
028NGC 2516OpClCar
029NGC 2547OpClVel
030NGC 2548, Messier 48OpClHya
031IC 2391, omicron Velorum ClusterOpClVel
032NGC 2808, Bennett 41GlclCar
033NGC 2818OpClPyx
034IC 2488OpClVel
035NGC 3114OpClCar
036NGC 3115, Spindle Galaxy, Bennett 42GlxySex
037NGC 3132, Eight-Burst Nebula, Bennett 43PlnbVel
038NGC 3201, Bennett 44GlclVel
039NGC 3242, Ghost of Jupiter, Bennett 45PlnbHya
040IC 2581OpClCar
041NGC 3293OpClCar
042NGC 3324OpClCar
043IC 2602, theta Car ClusterOpClCar
044NGC 3372, eta Carina NebulaBrtNCar
045NGC 3532OpClCar
046NGC 3766OpClCen
047NGC 3918, Blue PlanetaryPlnbCen
048NGC 4361PlnbCrv
049Dark DoodadDrkNMus
050NGC 4594, Sombrero Galaxy, Bennett 52GlxyVir
052NGC 4755, Herschel's Jewel BoxOpClCru
053NGC 4833, Bennett 56GlclMus
054NGC 4945, Bennett 57GlxyCen
055NGC 5128, Centaurus A, Bennett 60GlxyCen
056NGC 5139, omega Centauri, Bennett 61GlclCen
057NGC 5189, Bennett 62PlnbMus
058NGC 5236, Southern Pinwheel Galaxy, Bennett 63GlxyHya
059NGC 5281OpClCen
060NGC 5460OpClCen
061NGC 5662OpClCen
062NGC 5822OpClLup
063NGC 5823OpClCir
064Barnard 228DrkNLup
065NGC 6025OpClTrA
066NGC 6067OpClNor
067NGC 6087, S Norma ClusterOpClNor
068NGC 6121, Messier 4, Bennett 75GlclSco
069NGC 6124OpClSco
070NGC 6193OpClAra
071NGC 6218, Messier 12, Bennett 80GlclOph
072NGC 6231OpClSco
073NGC 6254, Messier 10, Bennett 83GlclOph
074NGC 6266, Messier 62, Bennett 85GlclOph
075NGC 6273, Messier 19, Bennett 86GlclOph
076NGC 6281OpClSco
077Barnard 59-78, Pipe NebulaDrkNOph
078NGC 6405, Butterfly ClusterOpClSco
079NGC 6397, Bennett 98GlclAra
080NGC 6475, Ptolemy's ClusterOpClSco
081NGC 6494, Messier 23OpClSgr
082NGC 6514, Trifid NebulaBrtNSgr
083NGC 6523, Lagoon NebulaBrtNSgr
084NGC 6531, Messier 21OpClSgr
085NGC 6541GlclCrA
086NGC 6584, Bennett 107GlclTel
087NGC 6618, Swan Nebula, Bennett 108BrtNSgr
088IC 4715, Messier 24*cldSgr
089IC 4725, Messier 25OpClSgr
090NGC 6656, Messier 22, Bennett 114GlclSgr
091NGC 6705, Wild Duck Cluster, Bennett 116OpClSct
092NGC 6723, Bennett 119GlclSgr
093Bernes 157DrkNCrA
094NGC 6744, Bennett 120GlxyPav
095NGC 6752, Bennett 121GlclPav
096NGC 6809, Messier 55, Bennett 122GlclSgr
097Melotte 227OpClOct
098NGC 7089, Messier 2, Bennett 127GlclAqr
099NGC 7099, Messier 30, Bennett 128GlclCap
100NGC 7293, Helix Nebula, Bennett 129PlnbAqr

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