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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!

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 declination -48°).

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.

Observing Strategy

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.


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