Nicholas Louis de la Caille's Original Catalog

Nicholas Lacaille's catalog was one of the first more systematic Deep Sky catalogs in the history of the Discovery of the Deep Sky Objects.

Here we present a translation of the original Lacaille Catalog, as it was reprinted in an appendix to Charles Messier's Catalog in 1781 in the Connoissance des Temps for 1784.

In this reprint, Messier represents the objects by their position (Right Ascension and Declination) rather than their numbers in Lacaille's catalog. We also have a translation of Lacaille's 1755 catalog.

Nebulae of the Southern Sky.

Observed by M. l'Abbe de la Caille, from the Cape of Good Hope.

The catalog printed in Mem. Acad. annee 1755, page 194.

Nebulae without Stars
visible with a telescope of 2 feet [focal length and about 0.5 inch aperture]

00:22:54, -73:26:50 (Lac I.1, NGC 104, 47 Tucanae)
It resembles the nucleus of a small comet
05:40:01, -69:17:20 (Lac I.2, NGC 2070, 30 Doradus, the Tarantula Nebula)
It resembles the preceding, but it is fainter
07:42:08, -38:00:00 (Lac I.3, NGC 2477)
Great nebula 15 x 20' in diameter
12:43:36, -69:28:00 (Lac I.4, NGC 4833)
It resembles a small comet, faint
13:12:09, -46:10:45 (Lac I.5, NGC 5139, Omega Centauri)
Nebula in Centaurus; with simple view, it looks like a star of 3rd magnitude viewed through light mist, and through the telescope like a big comet badly bounded
13:23:16, -28:35:30 (Lac I.6, M83)
Small nebula, shapeless, observed by M. Messier on February 17, 1781. See No. 83.
13:29:34, -61:40:10 (Lac I.7, NGC 5281)
faint confused spot
16:08:30, -40:03:10 (Lac I.8, NGC 6124)
It resembles a big comet without tail
16:08:33, -25:54:55 (Lac I.9, M4)
It resembles a small nucleus of a faint comet, observed by M. Messier. See No. 4.
16:38:36, -39:02:00 (Lac I.10, NGC 6242)
Faint oval and elongated patch.
18:13:41, -33:37:05 (Lac I.11, NGC 6634; probably not M69)
It resembles a small nucleus of a comet, observed by M. Messier on August 31, 1780. See M69 [probably a misidentification!].
18:21:19, -24:05:00 (Lac I.12, M22)
It resembles the preceding. M. Messier has observed it. See M22.
18:58:10, -71:55:45 (Lac I.13, NGC 6777; 2 stars 8..9 mag nearby; GC 4484)
It resembles the preceding.
19:24:20, -31:29:00 (Lac I.14, M55)
It resembles an obscure nucleus of a big comet. M. Messier has observed it. See M55.
Nebulous Star Clusters
03:54:57, -45:09:40 (Lac II.1, asterism)
Compressed heap of about 12 faint stars of 8th magnitude.
07:17:00, -33:40:00 (Lac II.2, perhaps open cluster Collinder 140)
Heap of 8 stars of 6th to 7th magnitude, forming for simple view [naked eye] a nebula in the sky.
07:54:45, -60:09:40 (Lac II.3, NGC 2516)
Group of 10 to 12 stars, very compressed.
08:02:00, -36:30:00 (Lac II.4, NGC 2546)
One sees with the naked eye two neighboring confused groups of stars; but with the telescope the.y are small distinct stars, in very great number and very close together
08:31:46, -52:14:05 (Lac II.5, IC 2391, o Velorum)
Small heap of stars.
08:37:46, -41:22:25 (Lac II.6, probably open cluster Trumpler 10)
Heap of seven or eight stars, little compressed.
10:11:45, -50:29:00 (Lac II.7, NGC 3228)
Heap of four or five stars, very small and very compressed.
10:26:32, -56:56:05 (Lac II.8, NGC 3293)
Small heap of 4 small stars forming a lozenge.
10:34:15, -63:06:16 (Lac II.9, IC 2602, Theta Carinae)
The star Theta Navis, of the third magnitude or less, surrounded by a large number of stars of sixth, seventh and eighth magnitude, which resemble the Pleiades.
10:56:08, -57:19:30 (Lac II.10, NGC 3532)
Prodigal cluster of small stars, very compressed, filling the figure of a semi-circle of 20 to 25 arc min in diameter.
11:12:00, -56:58:30 (Lac II.11, asterism)
Seven or eight small stars compressed in a right line.
12:39:13, -59:00:30 (Lac II.12, NGC 4755, Kappa Crucis)
Five or six small stars between two of sixth magnitude.
16:36:55, -41:23:10 (Lac II.13, NGC 6231)
compressed heap of seven or eight small stars.
17:37:12, -34:39:55 (Lac II.14, M7)
Group of 15 or 20 stars very close together, in the figure of a square. M. Messier has observed this cluster; see his No. 7.
Stars Accompanied by Nebulosities
04:56:56, -49:51:30 (Lac III.1, star)
Small [faint] star surrounded by a nebulosity
08:03:30, -48:31:00 (Lac III.2, NGC 2547)
five small stars, under the figure of a T, surrounded by nebulosity
08:34:20, -47:13:10 (Lac III.3; probably open cluster van den Bergh-Hagen (vdB-Ha) 47)
Star of 6th magnitude, connected to another more southern one by a nebulous trace.
09:20:22, -55:55:30 (Lac III.4, IC 2488)
Faint star surrounded by nebulosity.
10:34:30, -58:49:10 (Lac III.5, probably open cluster Collinder 228 in nebula NGC 3372)
Two small stars surrounded by nebulosity.
10:34:45, -58:12:25 (Lac III.6, NGC 3372, Eta Carinae Nebula)
Large group of a great number of small stars, little compressed, and filling out the space of a kind of a semi-circle of 15 to 20 minutes in diameter; with a slight nebulosity widespread in space.
11:24:49, -60:15:00 (Lac III.7, NGC 3766)
Three small neighbored stars, surrounded by nebulosity.
14:17:43, -55:27:50 (Lac III.8, NGC 5662)
Two small stars in a nebulosity.
15:03:16, -58:14:30 (Lac III.9, asterism of 3 stars)
15:42:56, -59:46:50 (Lac III.10, NGC 6025)
Three small stars in a right line, surrounded by nebulosity.
17:20:38, -53:31:30 (Lac III.11, NGC 6397)
Small star envelopped in a nebulosity.
17:24:00, -32:02:45 (Lac III.12, M6)
Peculiar cluster of small stars,disposed in three parallel bands, forming a lozenge of 20 to 25 diameter and hitched with nebulosity. M. Messier observed this cluster. See M6 in his catalog.
17:48:41, -24:20:15 (Lac III.13, M8)
Three stars enclosed in a drag of a nebula parallel to the Equator. M. Messier observed it. See M8.
21:12:53, -57:57:15 (Lac III.14, asterism of 3 stars)
Two small stars surrounded by nebulosity.
Right Ascension and Declination are given for January 1, 1752, in hours:minutes:seconds and degrees:arc minutes:arc seconds, respectively.

Translation was done by Hartmut Frommert; please report me any errors (my French is very limited..).

Hartmut Frommert
Christine Kronberg

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Last Modification: May 19, 2000