I was playing around with Stellarium the other night and decided to have a close look at the images and information on M51 and its companion NGC5195.
To my suprise, the information box was headlined ‘A Justifiable Replacement for M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy)’. Really?
Does anyone know what this refers to? What is being replaced and why is it justifiable? And who is doing the replacing?
Thanks in advance for illuminating answers (unless nobody replies!)
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.
This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Dominic Ford.