Edmond Halley's Deep Sky Object Catalogs

In his catalogue of southern stars of 1678, Halley lists three "nebulous" objects, which is here taken as quoted by M.D. Bigourdan (1892):

Designat  Bi  NGC/IC M    Long  (1661.0)  Lat  RA  (2000.0)   Dec  Rem

Hal 180 23 5139 214:57 -35:07:05 13:26:34 -47:22:23 Omega Cen Hal 20 27 6231 252:11 -19:01 16:53.3 -41:45 Near Zeta Sco Hal 29 33 6475 M7 264:00 -13:25:05 17:53.8 -36:53:42
Later, in 1716, he published a paper in the Philosophical Transactions, listing six "nebulae", or nebulous objects, which could not be resolved into stars with the telescopes of Halley's time:
  1. in Orion: The Orion Nebula M42. Discovery quoted to Huygens, 1656.
  2. in Andromeda: The Andromeda Galaxy M31. Discovery credited to Bullialdus, about 1661.
  3. in Sagittarius: Globular Cluster M22. Discovered by M.J. Abraham Ihle, 1665.
  4. in Centaurus: Globular Cluster Omega Centauri (NGC 5139). Halley's own discovery of 1677.
  5. in Antinous (Scutum): Open Cluster M11. Discovered by Gottfried Kirch in 1681.
  6. in Hercules: Globular Cluster M13. Halley's own discovery of 1714.

N  Designat.  Ident  Long (1716) Lat  RA (2000) Dec

1  N. in Ori   M42    79:00  -28:45
2  N. in And   M31    24:00  +33:20
3  N. in Sgr   M22   274:30  -00:30
4  N. in Cen  N5139  215:45  -35:12
5  N.[in Sct]  M11   279:00  +17:10
6  N. in Her   M13   236:30  +57:00
See Halley's original paper online.

Besides his deepsky discoveries and observations (which have played a minor role in Halley's astronomical carreer only), Halley undertook a journey to St. Helena and compiled a catalog of southern stars, observed several comets and calculated the orbits of them, and detected the proper motion of some "fixed" stars. The second Astronomer Royal after Flamsteed, he got most famous posthumously because of his correct prediction of the return of "his" comet, now named "Comet Halley", in 1758-59.


  • History of the Discovery of the Deepsky Objects
  • More Deepsky Catalogs and Observing Lists
  • Some other historical catalogs

    Hartmut Frommert (spider@seds.org)
    Christine Kronberg (smil@lrz.uni-muenchen.de)

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    Last Modification: 31 Jan 2001, 22:30 MET