Reply To: Stellarium and NGC5195

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Dominic Ford

My tuppence worth…

Anyone writing a planetarium program has an interesting challenge when looking for a catalogue of informal names to display next to deep sky objects.

Since 2016, the IAU has maintained a list of “official” names for stars – an effort led by Ian Ridpath. Before 2016, there wasn’t even a canonical list of names for stars. The author of every star atlas would have to make up their own mind about which names were canonical and which ones were just silly.

There is no corresponding list for deep sky objects, and if you try searching the internet for a catalogue of common DSO names, most of what you find is junk. I speak from hard experience, since the BAA image gallery tries to display the common names for DSOs where possible.

The BAA image gallery uses a hand-created list that I’ve built over the years, and which is probably highly incomplete. I imagine the authors of Stellarium wanted a more complete list, which meant they were probably stuck with crowd-sourcing their data. And when you crowd-source data… of course you sometimes get bad data.