Selected Astronomical Catalogues
and Online Data Services
-- and a Few Other Interesting Sites

As with the previous few releases, I've stepped a bit beyond astronomy here, and inflicted some of my other passions on you -- classical music and railroads, real and model. I'll be adding other sites for other interests as time goes on. You may certainly ignore these if they don't engage you as they do me. Otherwise, enjoy!


Mid-September 2016 has seen the completion of one of my clean-up tasks with the NGC/IC files. I've put in all the original positions for objects with uncertain or questionable identifications. This will aid anyone wishing to walk down the paper trail after me, checking the identifications, and hopefully seeing things I've missed that might lead to firm identifications.

In the process, I've not only had fascinating correspondence with Steve Gottlieb, Gary Kronk, Yann Pothier, Courtney Seligman, and Wolfgang Steinicke on several interesting objects, I've reconsidered a few of the puzzling cases myself. I've detailed these in the NGC/IC introductory file available here and in the various Notes files.

In mid-October, I started entering original positions -- primarily from the Herschels' observations -- for the Galactic open clusters. This will be the first step in a complete re-evaluation of the NGC and IC open clusters with the original observations taken into account. I have already looked at many of the clusters in the catalogues, but want to cover them all.

Here are some notes from previous releases of these files.

Brian Skiff and I have now selected accurate positions for all of the NGC and IC objects. These are in the current versions of my NGC/IC position and notes files available here, as are positions and notes for about 130 non-stellar objects (or objects thought to be non-stellar) that were known before the NGC was published, but not included in it.

There are still many checks to be done, and a full comparison with the original positions also remains to be done. Finally, I am committed to providing data (particularly magnitudes and diameters) for all of the objects, too. So, check back now and then for updates. I'll announce them on the "amastro" mailing list as they become available, so you could check there as well.

Finally, I have upgraded the operating system on my Mac to 10.11.6 ("El Capitan"). I'm hugely relieved to say that the upgrade went very smoothly -- my fears of a major glitch or a time-consuming reconfiguration were totally unfounded. All of my home-brewed programs and tools ran without recompiling, though I did have to download new versions of Apple's XCode and the Free Software Foundation's GCC compiler package in order to compile new Fortran programs with the latest OS X.

The folks at Apple, generally unsung, handling these upgrades, know what they're doing, at least with a relatively straight-forward machine like mine. They deserve a special acknowledgement, right here, right up front. Arthur C. Clarke once said (I paraphrase from memory, with apologies if necessary), "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." From my point of view, Apple's upgrade system is wonderful magic. It works for me.

Extragalactic Catalogues Maintained by Harold G. Corwin, Jr.

The copies of

  • The Third Reference Catalogue of Bright Galaxies, by G. de Vaucouleurs, A. de Vaucouleurs, H.G. Corwin, R.J. Buta, G. Paturel, and P. Fouqué
  • A Catalogue of Rich Clusters of Galaxies, by G.O. Abell, H.G. Corwin, and R.P. Olowin,
  • A Southern Galaxy Catalogue by H.G. Corwin, A. de Vaucouleurs, and G. de Vaucouleurs,
  • found here are corrected versions of the published catalogues. Though all three are available as printed and bound books, the electronic versions are preferred for reference as all known errata occuring in the printed versions have been corrected. Please let me know if you find any further errors.

    Brief explanations of the data are also available electronically; the full introductions with figures, tables, and references are only available in the printed versions.

    A final version (1.4.3) of

  • A South-Equatorial Galaxy Catalogue by Harold G. Corwin, Jr. and Brian A. Skiff.
  • is also available. This has accurate positions, diameters, position angles, and de Vaucouleurs revised Hubble-Sandage (VRHS) types for 3333 single or multiple galaxies in the south-equatorial declination zones between +3 degrees and -21 degrees. The data were gleaned from POSS1 103a-O copy plates, then checked against the UKST IIIa-J portion of the DSS. The corrected position angles and VRHS types are published here in full for the first time. Notes on the individual objects are also available. SEGC provides a finding list for galaxies generally larger than about 1.8 arcmin at the 25.0 B-mag arcsec^-2 in the south-equatorial zone.

    All of these catalogues are freely accessible; I and my coauthors ask only a reference and/or an acknowledgment if you use data from them.

    The de Vaucouleurs Atlas of Galaxies

    The de Vaucouleurs Atlas of Galaxies by Ronald J. Buta, Harold G. Corwin, Jr., and Stephen C. Odewahn was published in 2007 by Cambridge University Press. It illustrates the classification of galaxies in the de Vaucouleurs revised Hubble-Sandage system with over 500 calibrated digital images of nearby galaxies. It also has an extended introduction presenting our understanding -- as of 2007 -- of how physical processes shape galaxies and drive their evolution.

    Links to Useful Astronomical Web Sites

    Most of these Web sites are devoted to astronomical cataloguing and data distribution.
  • NED -- NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database
  • SkyView, a Virtual Observatory on the Web
  • The NASA Astrophysics Data System
  • MAST -- The Space Telescope Science Institute HST Data Archive
  • The Canadian Astronomy Data Centre
  • The ESO/ST-ECF Science Archive Facility
  • The NGC/IC Project
  • Wolfgang Steinicke's Home Page, with links to his historical work on the observations leading to the Dreyer's NGC and IC
  • Wolfgang Steinicke's biographical information for the NGC/IC observers
  • Courtney Seligman's Celestial Atlas featuring images and notes for many celestial objects, including the NGC and IC objects
  • The Webb Deep Sky Society
  • Creative Commons
  • Miscellaneous Files

  • Links to Music Web Sites

  • ArkivMusic -- The Source for Classical Music is a clearing house for virtually all of the distributors of recorded classical music in the USA. I use their service frequently as it is fast and reliable. If there are problems (I've had just two in the past decade), their customer service reps will fix them quickly. They do downloads as well as physical media, and have begun a streaming service as well. They also have agreements with many record companies to make deleted issues available as on-demand CD-Rs.
  • Fanfare -- The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors. If you have any interest at all in listening to classical or jazz recordings, this magazine is for you. Published every two months, it is packed with reviews of most of the classical music recordings released in the US. The reviewers write knowledgeable and interesting reviews, and there is an on-line archive of the latest 35 years of the magazine's reviews and feature articles (the first three years will be online soon!).
  • The Havergal Brian Society promotes the music of the 20th century English composer and critic Havergal Brian. I must confess that I find his orchestral music fascinating and frustrating all at once. Tonally-based and superbly orchestrated, his music is nevertheless among the more difficult that I have tried to get a grip on. Brian's works overflow with ideas, and often burst through the usual formal constraints of symphonic music. The disconcerting result is that I am often lost among the trees while trying to make out the overall patterns of his wonderful forests of sound.
  • The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is our orchestra. While perhaps not quite in the top rank of orchestras in the world, the BPO is very close, and we are lucky to be living in a city that supports them. They have many recordings available that demonstrate their versatility. In my opinion, almost all of the recordings are worth adding to your collection. Buying the recordings directly from the BPO makes a contribution to the orchestra as well as providing you with a fine CD.
  • Links to Railroading Web Sites

  • Amtrak -- the National Railroad Passenger Corporation provides intercity passenger train service in the US. We are fortunate to have an Amtrak station within a few miles of our home, so we travel by train when we can.
  • NARP -- the National Association of Railroad Passengers is a primary voice in Washington, DC speaking on behalf of train and rail transit passengers. NARP has some considerable clout in helping to keep Amtrak going.
  • ESPA -- the Empire State Passengers Association has moved its main web presence to Facebook. Just as NARP is an organization devoted to promoting rail travel across the United States, so is ESPA "working for better rail passenger service and public transportation in New York State." In principle, ESPA promotes transportation initiatives across the entire state, but it seems to be primarily focused on Upstate issues affecting passenger travel outside the New York City area.
  • Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society is dedicated to preserving and disseminating the historical record of the Southern Pacific Railroad and its affiliates. The Southern Pacific was "my" childhood railroad in California, and I renewed my attachment to it during my twenty years there between 1991 and 2011. SPH&TS publishes "SP Trainline" four times a year. Yes, the magazine is a nostalgia trip for me, with a strong focus on the railroad itself. But the "Espee" is also an important element in the history of the western and southwestern United States. "Trainline" often provides that broader context.
  • Model Railroading is a glimpse inside the mind of an atypical model railroader. I call myself "atypical" because I have no layout where I can actually run my trains, and no large space where I can even contemplate building such a layout. Nevertheless, I have a lot of rolling stock, almost all modeled from the Southern Pacific prototypes (see above) or from Amtrak prototypes (also see above). Once in a while, I will report on my model railroading activity in this space. At the moment, this directory has before and after photos of an HO model of a single Amtrak passenger car that I've recently modified, as well as a link to a photo of the prototype.

  • Contact


    Note that I have closed my gmail account. Please use the above email address instead. Thanks!


    The previous version of this site was made possible by the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I am pleased to acknowledge their support prior to my retirement in July 2011.

    NED maintains that earlier version of this site which will serve as an archival snapshot of the catalogues as they existed when I loaded them into NED.

    I use GoDaddy for hosting and domain services. They offer far more than I need, but what I do need from them is easy to use and reliable.

    Latest update: 28 November 2016