International Catalog of Heavenly Bodies

The International Catalog of Heavenly Bodies or ICHB

The International Catalog of Heavenly Bodies (ICHB.ORG) is the oldest international scientific non-profit association that has a legislatively established form in the form of a public organization. The organization controls the register of the same name.

The purpose of the organization is to unite astronomers from all over the world, under the idea of ​​providing access for the general public to the results of scientific research, by standardizing information about the celestial bodies of the universe through the creation and maintenance of a consolidated register of proper names of bodies, in order to provide an opportunity for a single identification of celestial bodies.

For these purposes, the data on the registration of the names of stars from all over the world are entered into a unified astronomical information system – the International Scientific Consolidated Astronomical Register of proper names of cosmic bodies and relief details on them “International Catalog of Heavenly Bodies”.

In its activities, ICHB.ORG works only with organizations that have voluntarily adopted codes of corporate ethics, in particular:
1.Code on the prohibition of re-naming the same celestial bodies
2.Code on synchronization of activities with the astronomical community
3.Code on the availability of data to the global public
4.Code on the impossibility of applying restrictions in the use of one’s own name by the general public and the impossibility of applying royalties for their mention
5.Code on the impossibility of mockery, racial, sexual or other discrimination, defamation of honor and dignity, good name or business reputation and other illegal actions
6.Code on data preservation for future generations

ICHB.ORG – as part of the implementation of its tasks, maintains direct contacts with partners, with leading international astronomical organizations, including the Royal Astronomical Society, IAU, NASA, SETI, with many legal institutions, including the United Nations (UN), with all leading world news agencies, including Reuters, etc.

For these purposes, he organizes, negotiates and interacts with more than 17,000 catalogs of Heavenly bodies around the world, gives access to the information system, works with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in order to develop and apply a single standard, notifies companies and research centers about each incident of violation of the codes, has an insurance fund that excludes losses to people involved in the naming process, as a result of possible violations of the codes by its partners.

ICHB.ORG – makes it possible to check naming for plurality, and people, scientists and the media from all over the world choose it, entrusting it with maintaining a registry that allows you to exclude repeated naming.


The ICHB is an International scientific consolidated astronomical register of proper names of cosmic bodies and relief details on them.

Fragmentation of data in thousands of catalogs worldwide, has led to the need to create international catalog of heavenly bodies for the comprehensive development of information on astronomical bodies for centralized collection, storage and tracking of changes.

ICHB has become a controlling entity that registers names to astronomical bodies. For this purpose ICHB.ORG has developed a Unified Heavenly Bodies Catalog synchronising all major data from other registrators.

The catalog is based on all popular Catalogs, which contain detailed information about approximately 2,000,000,000 objects.

A big number of Scientific Institutes, governmental and commercial companies cooperate with ICHB.

All information about a new astronomical body, registered by a registrator participating with ICHB is promptly added to our Unified heavenly bodies Catalog.

All partner companies have a Conformance Certification. A Conformance Certification provides and assurance that the level of a company services is in accordance with ICHB requirements and standards.



Access features

The registered acting members of the IAU, as well as the 73 national representatives representing the countries associated with the IAU, have priority access to the joint scientific astronomical register of space bodies and natural objects “The International Catalog of Heavenly Bodies”.





Astronomical catalogues

We want to express our gratitude to the creators of these star catalogs, for their contribution to the completeness and universality of the Consolidated Scientific Astronomical Register of Cosmic Bodies and Objects of Natural Origin “The International Catalog of Heavenly Bodies”.

Below is an incomplete list of those catalogs, scientists working on them understand and welcome the unification of data to make them available to a wide audience.



  • 0ES — Einstein Slew Survey, version 0
  • 1A, 2A, 3A — Lists of X-ray sources from the Ariel V satellite
  • 1C — First Cambridge Catalogue of Radio Sources
  • 1ES — Einstein Slew Survey
  • 1FGL, 2FGL — Lists of gamma-ray sources from the Large Area Telescope on board the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope
  • 1RXH — ROSAT HRI Pointed Observations
  • 1RXS — ROSAT All-Sky Bright Source Catalogue, ROSAT All-Sky Survey Faint Source Catalog
  • 1SWASP — SuperWASP
  • 2A — see 1A
  • 2C — Second Cambridge Catalogue of Radio Sources
  • 2E — The Einstein Observatory Soft X-ray Source List
  • 2MASS — Two Micron All Sky Survey
    • 2MASP — Two Micron All Sky Survey, Prototype
    • 2MASSI — Two Micron All Sky Survey, Incremental release
    • 2MASSW — Two Micron All Sky Survey, Working database
    • 2MUCD — Ultracool Dwarfs from the 2MASS Catalog
    • 2MASX — Two Micron All Sky Survey, Extended source catalogue
  • 3A — see 1A
  • 3C (and 3CR) — Third Cambridge Catalogue of Radio Sources (and revised)
  • 4C — Fourth Cambridge Survey of celestial radio sources
  • 5C — Fifth Cambridge Survey of Radio Sources
  • 6C — Sixth Cambridge Survey of radio sources
  • 7C — Seventh Cambridge Survey
  • 8C — Eighth Cambridge Survey
  • 8pc — 8 parsec listing, all stars within 8 parsec
  • 9C — Ninth Cambridge survey at 15GHz


  • Abell — Abell catalogue
  • AC — Astrographic Catalogue
  • ADS — Aitken Double Star Catalogue
  • AG, AGK, AGKR — Astronomische Gesellschaft Katalog
  • ALS — UBV beta database for Case-Hamburg Northern and Southern Luminous Stars
  • APM — Automatic Plate Measuring machine
  • Arp — Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies
  • ASCC — N.V. Kharchenko, All-Sky Compiled Catalogue, Kinematika Fiz. Nebesn. Tel., 17, part no 5, 409 (2001)


  • B — E. E. Barnard’s List of Dark Nebulae
  • BAC — Bordeaux Astrographic Catalog
  • BAY — Uranometria (Bayer designation)
  • BCVS — Bibliographic Catalogue of Variable Stars
  • BD — Bonner Durchmusterung
  • BDS — Burnham Double Star Catalogue
  • Be — Berkeley open cluster list (104 items)
  • BEN — Jack Bennett Catalog
  • BPM / L — Bruce Proper Motion Survey (Luyten)
  • BRI — Bj, R, I survey


  • C — Caldwell catalogue
  • Catalog of Nearby Habitable Systems
  • CCDM — Catalog of Components of Double and Multiple Stars
  • CCO — Catalogue of Cometary Orbits
  • CCS — General Catalogue of Cool Carbon Stars
    • CCS2 — General Catalog of S Stars, second edition
  • CD / CoD — Cordoba Durchmusterung
  • CDIMP — Catalogue of Discoveries and Identifications of Minor Planets
  • CEL — Celescope Catalogue of Ultraviolet Magnitudes
  • CGO — Catalogue of Galactic O Stars
  • CGSS — Catalogue of Galactic S Stars
  • CIO — Catalog of Infrared Observations
  • CMC — Carlsberg Meridian Catalogue
  • Col — Collinder catalog
  • CoRoT — CoRoT Catalogue
    • CoRoT-Exo — CoRoT Catalogue
  • CPC — Cape Photographic Catalogue
  • CPD — Cape Photographic Durchmusterung
  • CSI — Catalog of Stellar Identifications
  • CSV — Catalog of Suspected Variables
  • CSS — General Catalogue of S Stars


  • D — James Dunlop (A catalogue of nebulae and clusters of stars in the southern hemisphere, observed at Parramatta in New South Wales)
  • DA — Dominion Observatory List A
  • DCld — A catalogue of southern dark clouds
  • DENIS — Deep Near Infrared Survey
    • DENIS-P — Deep Near Infrared Survey, Provisory designation
  • DM — Durchmusterung
    • BD — Bonner Durchmusterung
    • CD / CoD — Cordoba Durchmusterung
    • CPD — Cape Photographic Durchmusterung
  • DO — Dearborn Observatory
  • DoDz – Dolidze-Dzimselejsvili open clusters catalogue (11 items)
  • Dolidze – Dolidze clusters list (57 items)
  • DR – Downes and Rinehart microwave sources


  • EC — Edinburgh-Cape Blue Object Survey
  • EGGR — Eggen-Greenstein proper motion star
  • EMP — Ephemerides of Minor Planets
  • ESO — European Southern Observatory Catalog
  • Exoplanet Catalogue
  • Exoplanet Data Explorer
  • Exoplanet Orbit Database
  • Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia


  • FCC — Fornax Cluster Catalogue
  • FK4 — Fourth Fundamental Catalogue
  • FK5 — Fifth Fundamental Catalogue
  • FLM — Historia coelestis Britannica (Flamsteed designation)
  • FSC — Faint Source Catalogue


  • G — Lowell Proper Motion Survey (Giclas)
    • GD — Lowell Proper Motion Survey (Giclas dwarf)
    • GR* — Lowell Proper Motion Survey (Giclas red star)
    • HG — Lowell Proper Motion Survey (Giclas Hyades)
  • GAIA DR 1 Gaia Catalogue
  • GC — General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters
  • GC (Boss) — Boss general catalogue of 33342 stars
  • GCRV — General Catalogue of Stellar Radial Velocities
  • GCTP — General Catalogue of Trigonometric Parallaxes
  • GCVS — General Catalog of Variable Stars
  • Gl / GJ — Gliese–Jahreiß catalogue or Gliese–Jahreiß catalogue
  • GOS — Galactic O Star Catalogue
    • GOSSS — Galactic O-Star Spectroscopic Survey
  • GSC — Guide Star Catalog
    • GSC2 / GSC II — Guide Star Catalog II
  • GSPC — Guide Star Photometric Catalog
    • GSPC2 — Guide Star Photometric Catalog, 2nd
  • Gum – Gum catalog of emission nebulae


  • HD — Henry Draper Catalogue
  • HCG — Hickson Compact Group
  • HDE — Henry Draper Extension
  • HE — Hamburg/ESO Survey
  • HEC — The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog
  • Hen — Henize Catalogues of Hα-Emission Stars and Nebulae in the Magellanic Clouds
  • HIC — Hipparcos Input Catalogue
  • HIP — Hipparcos Catalogue
  • HIPASS — HI Parkes All-Sky Survey
  • HR — Bright Star Catalogue (Harvard Revised Catalogue)
  • HV = Harvard Variable


  • IC — Index Catalogue
    • IC I — Index Catalogue I
    • IC II — Index Catalogue II
  • IDS — Index Catalogue of Visual Double Stars
  • IGR — Integral Gamma-Ray source
  • IRAS — Infrared Astronomical Satellite
  • IRS — International Reference Star


  • J — Robert Jonckheere’s catalogue of double star observations (see  for an article about it)
  • JW — Jones’ & Walker’s list of stars near the Orion Nebula.


  • K2 – K2 (Kepler extended mission) catalog
  • Kepler — Kepler catalog
  • KIC — Kepler Input Catalog
  • KGZ — Catalogue de Zimmerman
  • KOI — Kepler Object of Interest
  • KUG – Kiso Survey for Ultraviolet-excess Galaxies
  • KUV — Kiso observatory, UV-excess object


  • L / BPM — Bruce Proper Motion Survey (Luyten)
  • Lac — Catalog of Nebulae of the Southern Sky (Lacaille)
    • Lac I — Nebulae
    • Lac II — Nebulous Star Clusters
    • Lac III — Nebulous Stars
  • LBN — Lynds’ Catalogue of Bright Nebulae
  • LDN — Lynds’ Catalogue of Dark Nebulae
  • LDS — Luyten Double Star catalogue
  • LEDA — Lyon-Meudon Extragalactic Database
  • LFT — Luyten Five-Tenths catalogue
  • LG11 — Lépine & Gaidos 2011, bright M dwarfs
  • LHS — Luyten Half-Second catalogue
  • LP — Luyten-Palomar Survey
  • LPM — Luyten Proper-Motion Catalogue
  • LS — either of two “Luminous Stars” catalogues; see LSN and LSS, below
  • LSN — Luminous Stars in the Northern Milky Way
  • LSPM — LSPM catalog – Lépine-Shara Proper Motion catalog
  • LSR — Lepine-Shara-Rich catalogue
  • LSS — Luminous Stars in the Southern Milky Way
  • LTT — Luyten Two-Tenths catalogue


  • M — Catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters (Messier object)
  • MACHO — MACHO Project lensing events (Massive Compact Halo Object)
    • MACHO-LMC — MACHO Project Large Magellanic Cloud Microlensing
    • MACHO-SML — MACHO Project Small Magellanic Cloud Microlensing
  • MAXI — Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image
  • McC — McCormick Observatory Catalog
  • MCG — Morphological Catalogue of Galaxies
  • MCW — Morgan, Code, and Whitford
  • Mel – Melotte Catalogue of Deep Sky Objects
  • MPC — Minor Planet Circulars contain astrometric observations, orbits and ephemerides of both minor planets and comets
  • MSH — Mills, Slee, Hill – Catalog of Radio Sources
  • MW — Mandel-Wilson Catalogue of Unexplored Nebulae, not in SIMBAD yet


  • NASA Exoplanet Archive
  • NASA Star and Exoplanet Database
  • N30 — Catalog of 5,268 Standard Stars Based on the Normal System N30
  • NGC — New General Catalogue
  • NHICAT — Northern HIPASS Catalog
  • NLTT — New Luyten Two-Tenths Catalogue
  • NOMAD — The Naval Observatory Merged Astrometric Dataset (NOMAD)
  • NStars — Nearby Stars Database
  • NSV — New Catalogue of Suspected Variable Stars


  • OEC — Open Exoplanet Catalogue
  • OGLE — Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment
  • OSC — Open Supernova Catalog
  • OSS — Ohio Sky Survey
  • OTC — Open TDE Catalog


  • PAL — Palomar Globular Clusters (15 globular clusters discovered on the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey plates)
  • PGC — Principal Galaxies Catalogue
  • PHL — Palomar-Haro-Luyten catalogue
  • PK — Catalogue of galactic planetary nebulae (Perek-Kohoutek)
  • PLX — General Catalogue of Trigonometric Stellar Parallaxes and Supplement (Jenkins, Yale University)
  • PMC — Tokyo Photoelectric Meridian Circle Catalog
  • PN — See PNG
  • PNG — Strasbourg-ESO Catalogue of Galactic Planetary Nebulae
  • PPM — Positions and Proper Motions Star Catalogues
  • PTFO — Palomar Transient Factory


  • QSO — Revised and Updated Catalog of Quasi-stellar Objects


  • RAFGL – Revised Air Force Geophysical Laboratory (four color infrared sky survey)
  • RC — Reference Catalogue
    • RC2 — Reference Catalogue, 2nd edition
    • RC3 — Reference Catalogue, 3rd edition
  • RCW — A catalogue of Hα-emission regions in the southern Milky Way
  • RECONS — Research Consortium on Nearby Stars
  • RNGC — Revised New General Catalogue
  • Ross — Ross Catalogue of New Proper Motion Stars
  • ROT — Catalogue of Rotational Velocities of the Stars
  • RSA — Revised Shapley-Ames Catalogue
  • RST — Catalogue of southern double stars (Rossiter)
  • RX — ROSAT observations


  • SACS — Second Astrolabe Catalogue of Santiago
  • SAO — Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Star Catalog
  • SCM — Schwarz, Corradi, Melnick catalogue.
  • SDSS — Sloan Digital Sky Survey
    • SDSSp — Sloan Digital Sky Survey, provisory
    • 1SDSS — Sloan Digital Sky Survey, 1st release
    • 2SDSS — reserved by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey for future release. The name is reserved to the IAU, but does not exist yet.
    • 3SDSS — reserved by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey for future release. The name is reserved to the IAU, but does not exist yet.
  • Sh — Sharpless catalog (Sh 1 (1953) & Sh 2(1959))
  • SIMP — Sondage Infrarouge de Mouvement Propre
  • SIPS — Southern Infrared Proper Motion Survey
  • SPF2 — Second Cat of Fundamental Stars
  • SPF3 — Third Santiago-Pulkovo Fundamental Star Catalogue
  • SPOCS — Spectroscopic Properties of Cool Stars
  • SRS — Southern Reference Star Catalog
  • SSSPM — SuperCOSMOS Sky Survey
  • SSTc2d — Spitzer Space Telescope c2d Legacy Source
  • STF — Struve the Father double star
  • Stock — Stock open clusters (Stock 1 and 2 in, Stock 3 to 23 in, Stock 24 in )


  • TAC — Twin Astrograph Catalog
  • TD1 — Catalogue of stellar UV fluxes (TD1 satellite)
  • Terzan — Agop Terzan Catalogue of Globular Clusters (11 objects)
  • TIC — Tycho Input Catalog
  • TrES — Trans-Atlantic Exoplanet Survey
    • TrES-And0 — TrES of planetary candidate in the Andromeda constellation
  • TVLM — Tinney’s Very Low Mass Catalogue
  • TYC — Tycho Catalogue
    • TYC2 — Tycho-2 Catalogue
  • Trumpler — Robert Julius Trumpler’s open cluster list, published in Preliminary results on the distances, dimensions and space distribution of open star clusters


  • UBV — Photoelectric Catalogue, magnitude and color of stars in UBV (Blanco et al. 1968)
  • UBV M — UBV Photoelectric Photometry Catalogue (Mermilliod 1987)
  • UCAC — USNO CCD Astrograph Catalog (UCAC1, UCAC2 and UCAC3)
  • UGC — Uppsala General Catalogue
  • USNO — US Naval Observatory
    • USNO-A1.0 — US Naval Observatory, A1.0 catalogue
    • USNO-A2.0 — US Naval Observatory, A2.0 catalogue
    • USNO-B1.0 — US Naval Observatory, B1.0 catalogue
  • uvby98 — uvbyβ photoelectric photometric catalogue, by B. Hauck, M. Mermilliod, Astron. Astrophys., Suppl. Ser., 129, 431-433 (1998)


  • vB — Van Biesbroeck’s star catalog, variant, “VB”
  • VCC — Virgo Cluster Catalog
  • VdB — Van den Bergh (catalogue of reflection nebulae)
  • VV — Vorontsov-Vel’yaminov Interacting Galaxies


  • W – Radiosource (Westerhout)
  • W20 — Washington 20 Catalog
  • WASP — Wide Angle Search for Planets survey
  • WASP0-TR — Wide Angle Search for Planets, Transit
  • WDS — Washington Double Star Catalog
  • WISE — Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
  • WNC — Winnecke Catalogue of Double Stars
  • Wo — Woolley Nearby Star Catalogue
  • Wolf — Catalogue of High Proper Motion Stars (Wolf)
  • WR — Catalog of Galactic Wolf-Rayet stars


  • XBS — XMM-Newton, Bright Source
  • XBSS — XMM-Newton Bright Serendipitous Survey
  • XEST — XMM-Newton Extended Survey of the Taurus Molecular
    • XEST-OM — XEST, Optical/UV Monitor
  • XTE — X-ray Timing Explorer


  • YZ — Yale Observatory Zone Catalog


  • Z — Fritz Zwicky, Catalogue of galaxies and of clusters of galaxies



A Brief History of Star Catalogs

Throughout the history of astronomy there have been a large number of catalogues of stars. The different catalogues reflect different interests in the sky throughout history, as well as changes in technology. In astronomy, many stars are referred to simply by catalogue numbers. There are a great many different star catalogues which have been produced for different purposes over the years, and this article covers only some of the more frequently quoted ones. Star catalogues were compiled by many different ancient peoples, including the Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, Persians and Arabs.


Historical catalogues

Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia
From their existing records, it is known that the ancient Egyptians recorded the names of only a few identifiable constellations and a list of thirty-six decans that were used as a star clock. The Egyptians called the circumpolar star ‘the star that cannot perish’ and, although they made no known formal star catalogues, they nonetheless created extensive star charts of the night sky which adorn the coffins and ceilings of tomb chambers.

Although the ancient Sumerians were the first to record the names of constellations on clay tablets, the earliest known star catalogues were compiled by the ancient Babylonians of Mesopotamia in the late 2nd millennium BC, during the Kassite Period (ca. 1531 BC to ca. 1155 BC). They are better known by their Assyrian-era name ‘Three Stars Each’. These star catalogues, written on clay tablets, listed thirty-six stars: twelve for ‘Anu’ along the celestial equator, twelve for ‘Ea’ south of that, and twelve for ‘Enlil’ to the north. The Mul.Apin lists, dated to sometime before the Neo-Babylonian Empire (626-539 BC), are direct textual descendants of the ‘Three Stars Each’ lists and their constellation patterns show similarities to those of later Greek civilization.

Hellenistic world and Roman Empire
In Ancient Greece, the astronomer and mathematician Eudoxus laid down a full set of the classical constellations around 370 BC. His catalogue Phaenomena, rewritten by Aratus of Soli between 275 and 250 BC as a didactic poem, became one of the most consulted astronomical texts in antiquity and beyond. It contains descriptions of the positions of the stars, the shapes of the constellations and provided information on their relative times of rising and setting.

Approximately in the 3rd century BC, the Greek astronomers Timocharis of Alexandria and Aristillus created another star catalogue. Hipparchus (c. 190 – c. 120 BC) completed his star catalogue in 129 BC, which he compared to Timocharis’ and discovered that the longitude of the stars had changed over time. This led him to determine the first value of the precession of the equinoxes. In the 2nd century, Ptolemy (c. 90 – c. 186 AD) of Roman Egypt published a star catalogue as part of his Almagest, which listed 1,022 stars visible from Alexandria. It was the standard star catalogue in the Western and Arab worlds for over a thousand years. Ptolemy’s catalogue was based almost entirely on an earlier one by Hipparchus (Newton 1977; Rawlins 1982).

Although the ancient Vedas of India specified how the ecliptic was to be divided into twenty-eight nakshatra, Indian constellation patterns were ultimately borrowed from Greek ones sometime after Alexander’s conquests in Asia in the 4th century BC.

Ancient China
The earliest known inscriptions for Chinese star names were written on oracle bones and date to the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 – c. 1050 BC). Sources dating from the Zhou Dynasty (c. 1050 – 256 BC) which provide star names include the Zuo Zhuan, the Shi Jing, and the “Canon of Yao” in the Book of Documents. The Lushi Chunqiu written by the Qin statesman Lu Buwei (d. 235 BC) provides most of the names for the twenty-eight mansions (i.e. asterisms across the ecliptic belt of the celestial sphere used for constructing the calendar). An earlier lacquerware chest found in the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng (interred in 433 BC) contains a complete list of the names of the twenty-eight mansions. Star catalogues are traditionally attributed to Shi Shen and Gan De, two rather obscure Chinese astronomers who may have been active in the 4th century BC of the Warring States Period (403-221 BC). The Shi Shen astronomy ( Shi Shen tienwen) is attributed to Shi Shen, and the Astronomic star observation ( Tianwen xingzhan) to Gan De.

It was not until the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) that astronomers started to observe and record names for all the stars that were apparent (to the naked eye) in the night sky, not just those around the ecliptic.A star catalogue is featured in one of the chapters of the late 2nd-century-BC history work Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian (145-86 BC) and contains the “schools” of Shi Shen and Gan De’s work (i.e. the different constellations they allegedly focused on for astrological purposes).Sima’s catalogue—the Book of Celestial Offices ( Tianguan shu)—includes some 90 constellations, the stars therein named after temples, ideas in philosophy, locations such as markets and shops, and different people such as farmers and soldiers. For his Spiritual Constitution of the Universe Ling Xian) of 120 AD, the astronomer Zhang Heng (78-139 AD) compiled a star catalogue comprising 124 constellations. Chinese constellation names were later adopted by the Koreans and Japanese.

Islamic world
A large number of star catalogues were published by Muslim astronomers in the medieval Islamic world. These were mainly Zij treatises, including Arzachel’s Tables of Toledo (1087), the Maragheh observatory’s Zij-i Ilkhani (1272) and Ulugh Beg’s Zij-i-Sultani (1437). Other famous Arabic star catalogues include Alfraganus’ A compendium of the science of stars (850) which corrected Ptolemy’s Almagest;and Azophi’s Book of Fixed Stars (964) which described observations of the stars, their positions, magnitudes, brightness and colour, drawings for each constellation, and the first descriptions of Andromeda Galaxy and the Large Magellanic Cloud. Many stars are still known by their Arabic names (see List of Arabic star names).

Pre-Columbian Americas
The Motul Dictionary, compiled in the 16th century by an anonymous author (although attributed to Fray Antonio de Ciudad Real), contains a list of stars originally observed by the ancient Mayas. The Maya Paris Codex also contain symbols for different constellations which were represented by mythological beings.

Bayer and Flamsteed catalogues
Main articles: Bayer designation and Flamsteed designation
Two systems introduced in historical catalogues remain in use to the present day. The first system comes from the German astronomer Johann Bayer’s (1572–1625) Uranometria published in 1603 and is for bright stars. These are given a Greek letter followed by the genitive case of the constellation in which they are located; examples are Alpha Centauri or Gamma Cygni. The major problem with Bayer’s naming system was the number of letters in the Greek alphabet (24). It was easy to run out of letters before running out of stars needing names, particularly for large constellations such as Argo Navis. Bayer extended his lists up to 67 stars by using lower-case Roman letters (“a” through “z”) then upper-case ones (“A” through “Q”). Few of those designations have survived. It is worth mentioning, however, as it served as the starting point for variable star designations, which start with “R” through “Z”, then “RR”, “RS”, “RT”…”RZ”, “SS”, “ST”…”ZZ” and beyond.

The second system comes from the English astronomer John Flamsteed’s (1646–1719) Historia coelestis Britannica. It kept the genitive-of-the-constellation rule for the back end of his catalog names, but used numbers instead of the Greek alphabet for the front half. Examples include 61 Cygni and 47 Ursae Majoris.


Full-sky catalogues
Bayer and Flamsteed covered only a few thousand stars between them. In theory, full-sky catalogues try to list every star in the sky. There are, however, literally hundreds of millions, even billions of stars resolvable by telescopes, so this is an impossible goal; these kind of catalogs generally try to get every star brighter than a given magnitude.

Histoire Celeste Francaise
Jerome Lalande published the Histoire Celeste Francaise in 1801, which contained an extensive star catalog, among other things. The observations made were made from the Paris Observatory and so it describes mostly northern stars. This catalog contained the positions and magnitudes of 47,390 stars, out to magnitude 9, and was the most complete catalog up to that time. A significant reworking of this catalog in 1846 added reference numbers to the stars that are used to refer to some of these stars to this day. The decent accuracy of this catalog kept it in common use as a reference by observatories around the world throughout the 19th century.

Henry Draper Catalogue
The Henry Draper Catalogue was published in the period 1918–1924. It covers the whole sky down to about ninth or tenth magnitude, and is notable as the first large-scale attempt to catalogue spectral types of stars. The catalogue was compiled by Annie Jump Cannon and her co-workers at Harvard College Observatory under the supervision of Edward Charles Pickering, and was named in honour of Henry Draper, whose widow donated the money required to finance it.

HD numbers are widely used today for stars which have no Bayer or Flamsteed designation. Stars numbered 1–225300 are from the original catalogue and are numbered in order of right ascension for the 1900.0 epoch. Stars in the range 225301–359083 are from the 1949 extension of the catalogue. The notation HDE can be used for stars in this extension, but they are usually denoted HD as the numbering ensures that there can be no ambiguity.

Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Star Catalog
The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory catalogue was compiled in 1966 from various previous astrometric catalogues, and contains only the stars to about ninth magnitude for which accurate proper motions were known. There is considerable overlap with the Henry Draper catalogue, but any star lacking motion data is omitted. The epoch for the position measurements in the latest edition is J2000.0. The SAO catalogue contains this major piece of information not in Draper, the proper motion of the stars, so it is often used when that fact is of importance. The cross-references with the Draper and Durchmusterung catalogue numbers in the latest edition are also useful.

Names in the SAO catalogue start with the letters SAO, followed by a number. The numbers are assigned following 18 ten-degree bands in the sky, with stars sorted by right ascension within each band.

The Bonner Durchmusterung (German: Bonn sampling) and follow-ups were the most complete of the pre-photographic star catalogues.

The Bonner Durchmusterung itself was published by Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander, Adalbert Kruger, and Eduard Schonfeld between 1852 and 1859. It covered 320,000 stars in epoch 1855.0.

As it covered only the northern sky and some of the south (being compiled from the Bonn observatory), this was then supplemented by the Sudliche Durchmusterung (SD), which covers stars between declinations -1 and -23 degrees (1886, 120,000 stars). It was further supplemented by the Cordoba Durchmusterung (580,000 stars), which began to be compiled at Cordoba, Argentina in 1892 under the initiative of John M. Thome and covers declinations -22 to -90. Lastly, the Cape Photographic Durchmusterung (450,000 stars, 1896), compiled at the Cape, South Africa, covers declinations -18 to -90.

Astronomers preferentially use the HD designation of a star, as that catalogue also gives spectroscopic information, but as the Durchmusterungs cover more stars they occasionally fall back on the older designations when dealing with one not found in Draper. Unfortunately, a lot of catalogues cross-reference the Durchmusterungs without specifying which one is used in the zones of overlap, so some confusion often remains.

Star names from these catalogues include the initials of which of the four catalogues they are from (though the Southern follows the example of the Bonner and uses BD; CPD is often shortened to CP), followed by the angle of declination of the star (rounded towards zero, and thus ranging from +00 to +89 and -00 to -89), followed by an arbitrary number as there are always thousands of stars at each angle. Examples include BD+50°1725 or CD-45°13677.

The Catalogue astrographique (Astrographic Catalogue) was part of the international Carte du Ciel programme designed to photograph and measure the positions of all stars brighter than magnitude 11.0. In total, over 4.6 million stars were observed, many as faint as 13th magnitude. This project was started in the late 19th century. The observations were made between 1891 and 1950. To observe the entire celestial sphere without burdening too many institutions, the sky was divided among 20 observatories, by declination zones. Each observatory exposed and measured the plates of its zone, using a standardized telescope (a “normal astrograph”) so each plate photographed had a similar scale of approximately 60 arcsecs/mm. The U.S. Naval Observatory took over custody of the catalogue, now in its 2000.2 edition.

USNO-B1.0 is an all-sky catalog created by research and operations astrophysicists at the U.S. Naval Observatory (as developed at the United States Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station), that presents positions, proper motions, magnitudes in various optical passbands, and star/galaxy estimators for 1,042,618,261 objects derived from 3,643,201,733 separate observations. The data was obtained from scans of 7,435 Schmidt plates taken for the various sky surveys during the last 50 years. USNO-B1.0 is believed to provide all-sky coverage, completeness down to V = 21, 0.2 arcsecond astrometric accuracy at J2000.0, 0.3 magnitude photometric accuracy in up to five colors, and 85% accuracy for distinguishing stars from non-stellar objects. USNO-B is now followed by NOMAD; both can be found on the Naval Observatory server.

Guide Star Catalog
The Guide Star Catalog is an online catalog of stars produced for the purpose of accurately positioning and identifying stars satisfactory for use as guide stars by the Hubble Space Telescope program. The first version of the catalog was produced in the late 1980s by digitizing photographic plates and contained about 20 million stars, out to about magnitude 15. The latest version of this catalog contains information for 945,592,683 stars, out to magnitude 21. The latest version continues to be used to accurately position the Hubble Space Telescope.

Specialized catalogues
Specialized catalogs make no effort to list all the stars in the sky, working instead to highlight a particular type of star, such as variables or nearby stars.

Aitken’s double star catalogue

New general catalogue of double stars within 120 deg of the North Pole (1932, R. G. Aitken).
This lists 17,180 double stars north of declination -30 degrees.

Bright Star Catalogue
First published in 1930 as the Yale Catalog of Bright Stars, this catalog contained information on all stars brighter than visual magnitude 6.5 in the Harvard Revised Photometry Catalogue. The list was revised in 1983 with the publication of a supplement that listed additional stars down to magnitude 7.1. The catalog detailed each star’s coordinates, proper motions, photometric data, spectral types, and other useful information.

The last printed version of the Bright Star Catalogue was the 4th revised edition, released in 1982. The 5th edition is in electronic form and is available online.

Carbon Stars
Stephenson’s General Catalogue of galactic Carbon stars is a catalogue of 7000+ carbon stars.

Gl, GJ, Wo
Gliese Catalogue of Nearby Stars
The Gliese (later Gliese-Jahrei?) catalogue attempts to list all stars within 20 parsecs of Earth ordered by right ascension (see the List of nearest stars). Later editions expanded the coverage to 25 parsecs. Numbers in the range 1.0–965.0 (Gl numbers) are from the second edition, which was

Catalogue of Nearby Stars (1969, W. Gliese).
The integers up to 915 represent stars which were in the first edition. Numbers with a decimal point were used to insert new stars for the second edition without destroying the desired order (by right ascension). This catalogue is referred to as CNS2, although this name is never used in catalogue numbers.

Numbers in the range 9001–9850 (Wo numbers) are from the supplement

Extension of the Gliese catalogue (1970, R. Woolley, E. A. Epps, M. J. Penston and S. B. Pocock).
Numbers in the ranges 1000–1294 and 2001–2159 (GJ numbers) are from the supplement

Nearby Star Data Published 1969–1978 (1979, W. Gliese and H. Jahrei).
The range 1000–1294 represents nearby stars, while 2001–2159 represents suspected nearby stars. In the literature, the GJ numbers are sometimes retroactively extended to the Gl numbers (since there is no overlap). For example, Gliese 436 can be interchangeably referred to as either Gl 436 or GJ 436.

Numbers in the range 3001–4388 are from

Preliminary Version of the Third Catalogue of Nearby Stars (1991, W. Gliese and H. Jahrei).
Although this version of the catalogue was termed “preliminary”, it is still the current one as of March 2006, and is referred to as CNS3. It lists a total of 3,803 stars. Most of these stars already had GJ numbers, but there were also 1,388 which were not numbered. The need to give these 1,388 some name has resulted in them being numbered 3001–4388 (NN numbers, for “no name”), and data files of this catalogue now usually include these numbers. An example of a star which is often referred to by one of these unofficial GJ numbers is GJ 3021.

The General Catalogue of Trigonometric Parallaxes, first published in 1952 and later superseded by the New GCTP (now in its fourth edition), covers nearly 9,000 stars. Unlike the Gliese, it does not cut off at a given distance from the Sun; rather it attempts to catalogue all known measured parallaxes. It gives the co-ordinates in 1900 epoch, the secular variation, the proper motion, the weighted average absolute parallax and its standard error, the number of parallax observations, quality of interagreement of the different values, the visual magnitude and various cross-identifications with other catalogues. Auxiliary information, including UBV photometry, MK spectral types, data on the variability and binary nature of the stars, orbits when available, and miscellaneous information to aid in determining the reliability of the data are also listed.

William F. van Altena, John Truen-liang Lee and Ellen Dorrit Hoffleit, Yale University Observatory, 1995.

The Hipparcos catalogue was compiled from the data gathered by the European Space Agency’s astrometric satellite Hipparcos, which was operational from 1989 to 1993. The catalogue was published in June 1997 and contains 118,218 stars. It is particularly notable for its parallax measurements, which are considerably more accurate than those produced by ground-based observations. See Stellar parallax and List of stars in the Hipparcos Catalogue.

The PPM Star Catalogue is one of best, both in the proper motion and star position till 1999. Not as precise as Hipparcos catalogue but with many more stars. The PPM was built from BD, SAO, HD and more, with sophisticated algorithm and is a extension for the Fifth Fundamental Catalogue, “Catalogues of Fundamental Stars”.

Proper motion catalogues
A common way of detecting nearby stars is to look for relatively high proper motions. Several catalogues exist, of which we’ll mention a few. The Ross and Wolf catalogues pioneered the domain:

Ross, Frank Elmore, New Proper Motion Stars, eight successive lists, The Astronomical Journal, Vol. 36 to 48, 1925-1939
Wolf, Max, “Katalog von 1053 starker bewegten Fixsternen”, Veroff. d. Badischen Sternwarte zu Heidelberg (Konigstuhl), Bd. 7, No. 10, 1919; and numerous lists in Astronomische Nachrichten 209 to 236, 1919-1929

Willem Jacob Luyten later produced a series of catalogues

L – Luyten, Proper motion stars and White dwarfs

Luyten, W. J., Proper Motion Survey with the forty-eight inch Schmidt Telescope, University of Minnesota, 1941 (General Catalogue of the Bruce Proper-Motion Survey)
LFT – Luyten Five-Tenths catalogue

Luyten, W. J., A Catalog of 1849 Stars with Proper Motion exceeding 0.5″ annually, Lund Press, Minneapolis (Mn), 1955
LHS – Luyten Half-Second catalogue

Luyten, W. J., Catalogue of stars with proper motions exceeding 0″5 annually, University of Minnesota, 1979
LTT – Luyten Two-Tenths catalogue

Luyten, W. J. Luyten’s Two Tenths. A catalogue of 9867 stars in the Southern Hemisphere with proper motions exceeding 0″.2 annually, Minneapolis, 1957; also supplements 1961–1962.
NLTT – New Luyten Two-Tenths catalogue

Luyten, W. J., New Luyten Catalogue of stars with proper motions larger than two tenths of an arcsecond (NLTT), Univ. of Minnesota, 1979, supplement 1980
LPM – Luyten Proper-Motion catalogue

Luyten, W. J., Proper Motion Survey with the 48 inch Schmidt Telescope, University of Minnesota, 1963-1981
Later, Henry Lee Giclas took over, again with a series of catalogues:

Giclas, H. L., et al., Lowell Proper Motion Survey, Lowell Observatory Bulletins, 1971-1979


More information in a separate article:
A History of Star Catalogues


Review Date
Reviewed Item
International Catalogue of Heavenly Bodies