This list is based on the collected scientific works of William Herschel (1912).
Objects marked with the “400” are part of the Astronomical League
Hershel award, as compiled by Brenda Branchett of Deltona, Florida.
This list was originally compiled by Fr. Lucian Kemble (a Franciscan monk
living in Tolowo, Canada). He mailed me his database, and when I loaded
it, low and behold, the first third of it was erased. Fortunately, Richard
Hook (rho[email protected] astronomer in England) had already typed in the first
third of this database from a copy of a printout of Lucian’s original.
I put the two together, debugged it a little, checked it with “Uranometria”
and “SAC” and this is the result. This list is still being debugged.
It has lots of “Nonexistent” objects in it, which occasionally turn out to
exist after all. As we debug this list, we will update it.
The “notes” section of this document is to show our interpretation
of what we thought Sir William saw.
David Bishop ([email protected])
Rev 1.0 8/3/95
NGC 2830 has been equated to H113-1 in many places (eg, Burnhams,
Nortons 2000, both following the original NGC). However there seems little
doubt that the identification is actually with NGC 2832. The latter is now
assigned to the brightest member of the group and is very close to NGC 2830
which is much fainter. H only found one object here and he described it as
“pB. cL” so it is reasonable to assume that he found the brightest member
which is the object now called NGC 2832. There is a description of the field in
DeepSky, Winter 90/91,p. 20. On the same night H found NGC 2964 and also
described it as “pB. cL”, in NGC 2000 this object has very similar modern
magnitude and size to NGC 2832.
H118-2 is non-existent, Herschel thought he saw a faint neb close
to M88 in poor conditions. Tempel thought it was two faint
stars. R. Hook
H570-2 is 4277. There is confusion here as Herschel saw four objects
of a group of six and the identifications are not
clear. In Dreyers 1912 notes he gives:
H568-71 = NGC 4270,73,77,81
NGC 1123 is non-existent but H601-2 is probably identical to NGC 1122
which is very close. NGC 2000.0 agrees with this identification. I
think that H601-2 should be identified with NGC 1122 and the previous
NGC 1278 is quite probably H603-2, as marked, but I have a lingering
doubt whether the H object may in fact be the famous peculiar galaxy and
radio source NGC 1275 (Perseus A). The logic of this is as follows. Firstly H
only found one object here when he swept over this field (on October 17th
1786) so it is most likely that he found the most conspicuous which is NGC
- He described it as “pB. stellar. or pcst. with S. vF chev.”. Soon
afterwards on the same night he found NGC 1293/4=H574/5-3 for which the
positions and descriptions match well. I have checked the position of
H 603-2 as follows:
H gives the position as 11m 27s following and 35′ north of Algol which is (in
2000 coordinates) at 3h 8.2m 40deg 57′. Hence the object is at 3h 19.65m
41deg 32′ Modern measurements of NGC 1275 give its position as 3h 19.8m
41deg 31′ and NGC 1278 as 3h 19.9m 41deg 34′. Hence NGC 1275 is closer to H’s
position in both coordinates.
H 2-3 is an interesting case. It is one of the earliest of Herschel’s
discoveries and the position is rather rough – it just says that it is
13min following 60 Cet and north of it. The only non-stellar object close
to this point is NGC 875 (see Uranometria 2000 chart 219). This object has
a (photographic) magnitude of 14 so it could easily have been seen by
Herschel. In the NGC Dreyer puts “(? H 2-3)” next to NGC 875 as well as
giving NGC 867 a more definite identification with H 2-3. In the NGC
2000.0 the identification is confirmed (with a reference to a private
communication from Brian Skiff). So, to sum up, I think that NGC 867
shouldn’t be mentioned and H 2-3 should be identified with NGC 875 although
at this stage one can’t be certain.
NGC 2530/29/31. There are three NGC objects very close together here
and only one object on the sky. Two were found by Bigourdan and described
as vF or eF. H’s object is between the two. This object is now called NGC 2529
so I think that it should be now identified with H 752-3. Today I looked up the
field of this object on the Palomar Sky Survey. There is just one galaxy at
this place, a small spiral with a fairly bright nuclear region. There is a
faint star just to the North which confirms my identification as H’s original
description is: “eF. lE. s of a vSst.”.
H969-3 is most puzzling. Dreyer expresses no doubts that he correctly
identified it on the photos. It is not in any major catalogue of
galaxies. When I searched the “Master List of Non-Stellar Objects” I
found a good match in the object called AR37. After a bit of a search I
found that “AR” just means “Astronomer Royal” and it refers to the same
list of objects in the 1911 MN identification paper. I then looked in
SIMBAD, the Strasbourg on-line astronomical database system, and found
to my surprise that the AR position matches very well (4′ error) an IRAS
point source (IRAS 11294+7439)! I looked on the Palomar Sky Survey
plates and found merely a very small, but quite bright, elongated object
which I think was unlikely to have been seen by Herschel or indeed
spotted on the 1910 plates. So this is a bit of a mystery which I will
pursue. It is most likely a mistake or a faint galaxy which is
bright in the IR but just possibly it is something more interesting.
H968-3 is interesting as being a Herschel
object which exists but is not in either the NGC or the IC and had to await the
mid-twentieth century before it was correctly catalogued. However the
position match is quite good (about 1arcmin error) and the magnitude
(mb=14.69, for a galaxy of type S2) is reasonable for an object originally
described as “eF. vS”.
Dreyer doesn’t give this an NGC number. It is a very large area of faint
diffuse emission in Orion. Dreyer gives extensive notes on this and it is
possible that some of it corresponds to IC434, south of Zeta Ori and
where the Horsehead is. Another section could be the brightest part of
Barnard’s Loop. However some sections don’t seem to match up with any
nebulosity. If you have a FAX I could send you the Dreyer notes, they are
interesting and based on Herschel’s original observing notes. R. Hook
NGC 2356 (H6-7) could be the same object as NGC 2355 (H6-6), they are
close together and neither place agrees well with the modern NGC
2355. The descriptions from the original paper are similar:
H6-6: "A Cl. of st. of various sizes pm. [pretty much] com.. M. p. rich" H6-7: "A p. rich and com. Cl. of st." There is only the one cluster near this place and it fits the descriptions. However as no one else has made this suggestion I am reluctant to commit myself to it.
H1B-8 = NGC 2319 definitely. This is the only “B” identifier I know
of. It was not in the original paper but was added by
Caroline Herschel later when she was compiling her “Zone
Catalogue”. It is 11min following 18 Mon, dec not known.
I don’t think anyone has a clear identification for this
H206-3 = NGC 473 Dreyer says “not found three times from Birr”,
probably doesn’t exist
H26-1 = M95 =NGC3397?, something of a mystery. However, I think that any object
which Herschel called a “bright nebula” was definitely NOT a single star
or double. Dreyer thinks that it was probably actually M95 and I think
this is the most likely explanation.