DSEA: Deep Sky Explorer's Atlas - free southern sky star charts

posted: 3238 days ago, on Thursday, 2009 Jan 08 at 06:02
tags: astronomy, deep sky, outreach, star charts, downloads.

The Deep Sky Explorer's Atlas consists of 30 wide-field star charts, from the south pole to declination +45, showing all stars down to 8th magnitude and over 1 000 deep sky objects.

The design philosophy of the Atlas was to depict the night sky as it is seen, without the clutter of constellation boundary lines, RA/Dec fiducial markings, or other labels. However, constellations are identified by their standard three-letter abbreviations as a minimal aid to orientation.

Those wishing to use charts showing an array of invisible lines, numbers and letters will find elsewhere a wide selection of star charts; these include the Herald-Bobroff Astroatlas , the Cambridge Star Atlas , Uranometria 2000.0 , and the Millenium Star Atlas . The Deep Sky Explorer Atlas is very much for the explorer. And, it's free!

Special mention should be made of the excellent charts by Toshimi Taki and Andrew L. Johnson. Both are free to download and make ideal complements to this Atlas . Andrew Johnson's" Mag-7 Star Atlas Project" consists of wide-field charts include constellation figures and stellar designations and are highly recommended for learning the constellations. Toshimi Taki has produced the excellent "Taki's 8.5 Magnitude Star Atlas" which is a serious competitor for the commercial Uranometria atlas.

Suggestions on how to use the Atlas

Because the Deep Sky Explorer's Atlas is distributed in digital format, its pages can be printed on a standard laser printer as needed. They have been designed for high-quality A3-sized reproduction, and remain legible in the smaller A4 format.

Observers are encouraged to scribble and make notes on the charts while at the eyepiece, and also during the planning of an observing session. Standard reference works can be consulted after the observing session to identify particular deep sky objects.

The reference manual

A reference manual accompanies the Atlas charts. Much of the material in the manual is not needed while at the eyepiece. It contains a chart index, a finder chart, a constellation index, and a catalogue of deep sky objects.

The Chart Index gives, for each chart, the co-ordinate of its centre point, the approximate range of RA and Dec the chart covers (there is generous overlap, though), the approximate time of year the chart is useful for evening viewing, and a list of the constellations shown on the chart.

The Finder Chart shows the boundaries of the 30 charts, making it easy to select and orient a given chart. A larger version of the finder chart is given on the last page of the Atlas . Note that a similar all-sky map is available as a supplementary star disk for the Southern Star Wheel planisphere.

The Constellation Index lists, in alphabetical order, the constellations, the Atlas charts on which they appear, the constellation's English name and genitive form, followed by the approximate time of the year in which the constellation is readily visible from the southern hemisphere. The final column gives a subjective rating, from one to five, of how prominent the constellation is.

The Object Index contains tables, one per chart, listing the deep sky objects plotted on each chart. For each object the following data is given: designation (and cross-identification if available), RA & declination (J2000.0), constellation, object type, angular size in arcminutes, and the V and B magnitude. Finally a catalogue of objects gives a summary of the plotted deep sky objects, showing their distribution by constellation, and by object type, followed by a complete listing of objects by RA.

Future development

Several particularly complex regions of sky will have their own detailed charts, showing stars down to about 11th magnitude. New Selected Areas will be added from time to time; suggestions for additions are welcome.

Special thanks

The helpful comments by Chris Stewart, Kos Coronaios, and Gary Lillis, have guided the development of the Atlas . Thanks, ya'll.

If you find the Atlas useful, please drop me a note.

Where do I get my free download?

Download your free copy of the Deep Sky Explorer's Atlas from the Deep Sky Observer's Companion website.

nothing more to see. please move along.