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The TAAS 200
The TAAS 200 is a list of celestial observing targets developed by TAAS members.
It includes the best 200 non-Messier objects easily visible from central New Mexico,
objects north of declination -48°. Since it includes so many bright objects
Messier overlooked, or could not see from Europe, it could be
viewed as complementary to his famous list.
The TAAS 200 is not an
abbreviated version of the Herschel 400 list. While about two thirds of
the TAAS 200 objects are also Herschel 400 objects, the TAAS 200
includes several dozen bright objects not in the Herschel 400.
The TAAS 200 is includes all objects, after the Messiers, that are
bright, large, impressive, colorful, and of historical interest. It does
not include "challenge" objects which require advanced techniques and very
large telescopes, or objects fainter than about magnitude 12.
All of the TAAS 200 objects can be viewed with a 6-inch telescope.
While the minimum aperture needed to detect the object with certainty is
listed, many of the fainter objects
require an aperture of at least twice this size.
The list, and Messier's list is available in several electronic formats.
Just follow the links on the left hand menu. The TAAS 200 Scavenger Hunt is
held each sping and fall. These hunts include a list of 40 objects from the
TAAS 200. To object is to find as many of the 40 as you can before midnight.
Good luck and we hope you have many enjoyable hours observing the
TAAS 200 Scavenger Hunts
The TAAS 200 list of deep sky objects is one of the club's prized projects.
To publicize our list and to generally go out and have fun,
we are have scavenger hunts for those who want to find 40 objects selected from the list.
There are two scavenger hunt lists, one for the spring and one for the fall. To see each list,
just click on text in the left side menu.
The scavenger hunts take place at GNTO
(please contact the GNTO director for directions.) Starting at sundown, astronomers have until midnight to
find and record the 40 objects. It is hoped
that astronomers will only use their star charts but those who want to use the "go-to" or
"push-to" feature on their telescope will not be turned away.
The real purpose here is to have fun.
TAAS 200 Image Catalogs
TAAS is very fortunate to have an astrophotographer as skilled and
generous as Dan Richey. He has imaged all 200 of the TAAS 200 objects,
created two catalogs in pdf fomat, and made them available for perusal
or download here. The catalogs are specifically tailored to help observers
recognize these objects. All images have the same field of view to help
you know what to expect. Bright objects (globular and open clusters)
were imaged with 30 minutes of exposure (5 minute sub frames) and dim ones
(nebulae and galaxies) with 60 minutes of exposure
(10 minute sub frames) to help you judge relative brightness.
Be warned, before prodeeding, that each catalog, with its 200 images is
large, about 80 MB and may take a while to appear on your screen and to download.
In one catalog, available here,
the objects are ordered by the TAAS 200
number. The second catalog, available here, has
the objects listed by constellation.
If you'd like to see more of Dan's astroimages, check out his website: www.drichey.com.
History of the TAAS 200
At The Albuquerque Astronomical Society (TAAS) Executive Board
meeting of April 13, 1995, Lisa Wood proposed the development of
observing programs for Society members.
These programs, in part, would include lists of celestial objects for
club members to observe. By April 1995, recognition by the Society for
the completion of the Messier, and the Herschel
400 (developed by the Ancient City Astronomical Society) lists of
deep sky objects was underway. Both of these lists represent two levels
of deep sky observing skill: the Messier list for beginners using
moderate sized telescopes, and the Herschel 400 for advanced
observers with large telescopes. However, these lists are unsatisfactory
for the intermediate observer. The TAAS 200 list
fills that gap, and includes the best 200 non-Messier
objects easily visible from central New Mexico, (objects north of
Since the TAAS 200 list hass so many bright objects
Messier overlooked, or could not see from Europe, it should be
viewed as complementary to his famous list. Also, the TAAS 200 is not an
abbreviated version of the Herschel 400 list. While about two-thirds of
the TAAS 200 objects are also Herschel 400 objects, the TAAS list
includes several dozen bright objects (logged by William Herschel) that
were somehow overlooked by the Herschel 400 authors. The TAAS 200 is
very thorough and includes all objects, after the Messiers, that are
bright, large, impressive, colorful, and of historical interest. It does
not include challenge objects (e. g. the Horsehead nebula,
or Stephan's Quintet) which require advanced techniques and very large
telescopes, or objects fainter than about magnitude 12. However,
brightness alone did not determine the list.
The initial TAAS 200 list was drafted by Society members Lee Mesibov
(especially) and Jeff Bender. TAAS members Gordon Pegue, Carl Frisch,
Elinor Gates, Bill Tondreau, Leo Broline, Lisa Wood, and Kevin
McKeown added input and alterations to the initial list. Kevin McKeown
summed up and edited the final list.
All of the TAAS 200 objects can be viewed with a 6-inch telescope
under clean, black skies. The list gives the minimum aperture needed to
detect the object with certainty, although for many of the smaller,
fainter objects, an aperture of at least twice this size is recommended.
A 10- or 12-inch telescope will show all the objects especially well.
Tirion's "Star Atlas 2000.0" is adequate for the location of
the objects. One of us (KM) strongly recommends low power finders plus
star hopping for locating the objects. While star hopping is a slower
method, it is a lot of fun, and the observer will better learn and
understand the night sky.
When the observer completes the TAAS 200, he will have also completed
about one-third of the Herschel 400. A notebook, and the use of black
ink is recommended, especially if one wants to obtain the Herschel 400
Certificate issued by the Astronomical League. They require individual
observing notes be submitted. The sky conditions, telescope used, magnifications, location,
date, and time, along with descriptions, can be recorded.
Objects are designated mostly with New General Catalogue (NGC)
numbers, but some objects only have Index Catalogue (IC), or other
designations (Collinder, or Barnard (B) numbers for dark nebulae). Right Ascension
and Declinations are given for Epoch 2000.0. Data for objects were cited
from Observing Handbook and Catalogue of Deep Sky Objects, by Luginbuhl
& Skiff, NGC 2000.0, by R. Sinnott (Editor), and the Cambridge Star
Atlas, by Wil Tirion. Notes were derived from Society members' notes,
and literature including Walter Scott Houston's column Deep Sky
Wonders in Sky and Telescope magazine, Burnham's Celestial
Handbook, by Robert Burnham, Observing the Constellations, by John
Sanford, and The Universe From Your Backyard, by David Eicher.