In Astronomy, What Does "NGC" Stand For?


Quick Answer

The full name of the NGC is the New General Catalog of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars. This astronomical database of deep-sky objects was compiled by J.L.E. Dreyer at the behest of the Royal Astronomical Society in London and published in 1888.

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Full Answer

Dreyer based the NGC largely on the work of William Herschel, an 18th century British astronomer. Unlike most previous astronomical catalogs, the NGC listed coordinates of deep-sky objects visible from the Southern Hemisphere in addition to those visible from the Northern Hemisphere. After many revisions and reprints, the NGC contains 7,840 celestial objects, almost all of which are visible only through binoculars or a telescope. One exception is the Andromeda Galaxy (NGC 224). At a magnitude of 3.4, the Andromeda Galaxy is visible to the naked eye under clear, dark skies. At a distance of over two million light years from the Milky Way, Andromeda is the most remote object visible from Earth without the assistance of binoculars or a telescope.

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