The Sharpless catalog is a list of 313 HII regions (emission nebulae), intended to be comprehensive north of declination -27°. (It does include some nebulae south of that declination as well.) The first edition was published in 1953 with 142 objects (Sh1), and the second and final version was published by US astronomer Stewart Sharpless in 1959 with 312 objects. Sharpless also includes some planetary nebulae and supernova remnants, in addition to HII regions.
In 1953 Stewart Sharpless joined the staff of the United States Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station, where he surveyed and cataloged H II regions of the Milky Way using the images from the Palomar Sky Survey. From this work Sharpless published his catalog of H II regions in two editions, the first in 1953 with 142 nebula. The second and final edition was published in 1959 with 312 nebulae.
Sharpless coordinates are based on the star catalogs Bonner Durchmusterung (BD) and Cordoba Durchmusterung (CD), but the second release was adjusted to the 1900 epoch.
In the second release, some coordinates for southern hemisphere regions have an uncertainty over 1 minute of arc. This can make them difficult to find, so a revised catalog called BFS (Blitz, Fich and Stark) was released. BFS has 65 new regions and about 20 removals. Most of the removed items were taken out because they were the aforementioned nebula or remnants.
The 312 items in Sharpless sometimes overlap with the 110 Messier objects (M), 7,840 objects in the New General Catalogue (NGC), the Caldwell catalogue (that itself is a "best of" from other catalogues, with 109 items), and the RCW catalog. Contemporary catalogs were Gum and RCW, but they mainly covered the southern hemisphere.
Examples of second Sharpless (1958 version) catalog; click on image for image credit, most of which are either various amateur astronomers, the ESO, ESA, or NASA
|Sh 2- #||A common name||Images||Names and designations|
|6||NGC 6302||Sh2-6, NGC 6302, Bug Nebula,|
|8||NGC 6334||ESO 392-EN 009, Sharpless 8, RCW 127, Gum 64, NGC 6334|
|11||NGC 6357||Sh2-11, NGC 6357, RCW 131, Gum 66, War and Peace Nebula|
|25||Lagoon Nebula||Sh2 25, RCW 146, Gum 72, Messier 8|
|30||Trifid Nebula||Sh2 30, M20, NGC 6514, RCW 147, Gum 76|
|45||Omega Nebula||Omega Nebula, M17, NGC 6618, Swan Nebula, Sharpless 45, RCW 160, Gum 81|
|49||Eagle Nebula||Sh2 49, Messier 16, NGC 6611, RCW 165, Gum 83|
|64||W 40||Sh2 64, RCW 174|
|101||Tulip Nebula||Sharpless 101|
|105||Crescent Nebula||Sh2 105, NGC 6888, Sharpless 105, Caldwell 27|
|106||Sh2-106||Sh2-106, Celestial Snow Angel|
|117||North America Nebula||NGC 7000, Caldwell 20|
|125||Cocoon Nebula||IC 5146, Caldwell 19|
|155||Cave Nebula||Sh2-155, Caldwell 9|
|162||NGC 7635||Sh2-162, NGC 7635, Bubble nebula|
|184||NGC 281||NGC 281, IC 11|
|191||Maffei 1||Sh2-191, Maffei 1, PGC 9892|
|197||Maffei 2||Sh2-197, Maffei 2, UGCA 39,PGC 10217,|
|199||Soul Nebula||Sh2-199, LBN 667, Soul Nebula, IC 1848 (cluster only)|
|220||California Nebula||NGC 1499, Sharpless 220|
|229||IC 405||Flaming Star Nebula, Caldwell 31, IC 405, Sh2-229|
|238||NGC 1555||NGC 1555, Hind's Nebula, Sharpless 238|
|244||Crab Nebula||Messier 1, NGC 1952,|
|248||IC 443||IC 443, Sh2-248, Jellyfish Nebula|
|271||Flame Nebula||Sh2-271, NGC 2024|
|275||Rosette Nebula||Sh2-275, CTB 21|
|276||Barnard's Loop||Sh2-276, Barnard's Loop|
|281||Orion Nebula||M42, NGC 1976, LBN 974|
|298||NGC 2359||Thor's Helmet, Gum 4, Sharpless 298, NGC 2359|
|This section requires expansion. (August 2009)|
- Galaxy Map - The Gum, RCW, Sharpless and BFS catalogs
- Steven, Dick (2002). Sky and Ocean Joined: The U.S. Naval Observatory, 1830-2000. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-81599-4.
- Stewart Sharpless, A Catalogue of Emission Nebulae Near the Galactic Plane, Astrophysical Journal, vol. 118, p.362, 1953
- Stewart Sharpless, A Catalogue of H II Regions, Astrophysical Journal Supplement, vol. 4, p.257, 1959
- "NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database". Results for Maffei 2. Retrieved 2006-11-25.