Challenging Summer Deep-Sky Objects

This is a list of challenging astronomical objects to look for with a telescope of moderate in mid to late summer. Webified by Akkana, starting from a list originally compiled by Ray Gralak, Mark Wagner, John Kuklewicz, Jack Zeiders, Doug Ferrel.

I suggest not taking the "ratings" too seriously. Don't worry if some of the "hard" objects seem easier than the "easy" objects. It's not clear what size telescope the original authors had in mind; probably something in the 10-14" class, but many of these objects should be easily visible to a practiced observer using a 6" or smaller telescope. All of these objects will be fairly difficult for a beginning observer.

You can get more information about specific NGC/IC objects through the NGC/IC Project Public Database. You can find some images of NGC objects at the SEDS Non-Messier image list. Detailed photographic charts can be downloaded from the Digital Sky Survey.

I intend to add links for each object on this list to images and to the appropriate DSS photo, chart numbers for the Harald-Bobroff atlas (that being what I have; if someone else wants to send me Uranometria pages I'll gladly include them as well) and magnitudes, and other information, as as I get time. If you have a favorite web image of an object listed here, or would like to see information beyond what I've included here, please
tell me about it.

Designation Common Name Constellation Mag
List 1 - Easier objects
B72 Snake Nebula (dark nebula) Ophiuchus
B78 Pipe Nebula (dark nebula) Ophiuchus
Bock Bock Globules in M8 Sagittarius
B86 Dark nebula Sagittarius
B87 Dark nebula Sagittarius
B90 Dark nebula Sagittarius
NGC 6765 Planetary nebula Lyra
M27 Dumbell nebula's central star Vulpecula 13.5
NGC 6888 Crescent Nebula Cygnus
H2 Regions around Gamma Cygnus Cygnus
NGC 6960 Veil Nebula Cygnus
North American Nebula Cygnus
IC 1392 Galaxy Cygnus
NGC 206 Blue super-giant cloud of Andromeda galaxy Andromeda
Spiral arms of M31 Andromeda
NGC 246 Planetary nebula (NGC 255 galaxy is same field with low power) Cetus
H2 regions and arms of M33 Triangulum
NGC 891 Fine edge-on spiral Andromeda
M81 /M82 The search for structure!
M101 pinwheel arms, and surrounding galaxies
List 2 - Harder objects
IC4617 IC galaxy near M13 Hercules ?
NGC6440/ 6445 globular & planetary Sagittarius
IC 1276 Globular cluster (lies behind Great Rift of Milky Way, dimmed by 3 mags) Serpens 9.7/13
M57 Ring nebula central star (good luck!) Lyra 14.7
PAL 9 Palomar Globular (same as NGC 6717?) Sagittarius
NGC 6822 Barnard's Galaxy Sagittarius 9
NGC 6927-9 Galaxies Delphinus 14.5/12.6/13.5
NGC 6894 Planetary nebula Cygnus 14
IC 5146 Cocoon nebula Cygnus
Stephen's Quintet Pegasus
NGC7320c Sixth galaxy in Stephen's Quintet Pegasus
NGC 7465 numerous galaxies in area: 7465 7448 7454 form triangle 0.5 deg across Pegasus
NGC 7479 Barred spiral Pegasus
NGC 507 Multi-galaxy system Pisces
Hickson 16 4 galaxies Cetus
IC 1499 California Nebula Perseus (?)
M45 Pleiades nebulosity Taurus
NGC 3172 Polarissima (NGC closest to NGP) Ursa Minor
NGC 4236 Draco Dwarf galaxy Draco
List 3 - Most difficult objects
NCG 6027 Hickson 79 (Seyfert's Sextet - 6 galaxies) Serpens
IC 1296 Galaxy off M57 Lyra 15
Abell 49 PK 027-03.1 (mag 16.7) Scutum
Egg Nebula PK 80-6.1 Cygnus
IC 5068/70 Pelican Nebula Cygnus
Abell 70 PK 38-25.1 Aquila
Abell 74 PK 072-17.1 Vulpecula
Hickson 93 5 galaxies Pegasus
Hickson 94 4 galaxies Pegasus
Hickson 2 4 galaxies Pisces
Hickson 10 4 galaxies Andromeda
G1 Brightest globular in M31 Andromeda
Pegasus I Galaxy cluster Pegasus
Perseus Cloud Galaxy cluster Perseus
Arp Cluster Pisces
Hercules Galaxy cluster Hercules
Corona Galaxy cluster Corona Borealis
List 4 - Not-yet-rated objects
PK 80-61 "Egg" planetary (try a polarizer) Cygnus

A somewhat similar list, of deep-sky objects which belong neither to the Messier or Caldwell catalogs, is available on the Hawaiian Astronomical Society's Beyond Messier & Caldwell page.

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