Deep Sky Objects In The Magellanic Clouds

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By Max Gardner AM

Most keen observers are familiar with the brighter and more interesting objects in the two Magellanic Clouds. However, how many have wished to identify more of the mass of fainter objects that lurk in the background of almost every eyepiece view of either Cloud. The problem is to find charts that are sufficiently detailed to show them all. At this time, only the Hodge and Wright atlases of each Cloud have that sort of detail, but they are expensive and hard to obtain, especially their Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) atlas, which has been out of print for several years. Also the Hodge and Wright atlases were compiled for professional use and consist of 80-odd loose charts, being prints from Schmidt plates. Only half the charts identify deep sky objects, the rest being devoted to the thousands of variable stars in both Clouds. As a result, they are not easy to use in the field!

The Australian-produced Herald-Bobroff Astro-atlas does an excellent job on both Clouds. It provides large-scale charts of the whole of both clouds. Even larger scale charts show greater detail, with another four super-detailed charts covering the crowded "bar" area of the LMC. This atlas will certainly meet the needs of most observers.

Australian Astro-cartographer, Mati Morel, also produced excellent charts of both Clouds. His most recent publication "LMC Visual Atlas 2000", consists of 31 detailed charts, which plot most of the LMC objects visible in a 12" scope. This is a most useable and inexpensive publication, which is strongly recommended to all keen observers.

However, for observers wishing to use electronic atlases, most of which originate in the northern hemisphere, the detail shown in the Clouds will probably be far less than you need. We asked Mati Morel if he could provide lists of all the deep sky objects plotted in the Hodge and Wright atlases, with epoch 2000 coordinates. He has very kindly researched the literature and made the following invaluable lists of data available to all observers. The lists are in machine-readable form, ready for direct importation into most electronic atlases. Simply down-load them into your word processing or note-pad program and import them into your atlas, following the instructions in the hand book.

The Astronomical Society of NSW is very proud to offer this unique data in epoch 2000 format for what we believe is a much needed and world-first presentation. We thank Mati Morel for his efforts in researching and providing it.

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