Here we present a translation of the original Lacaille Catalog as printed in the Memoirs of the Royal Academy for 1755, pp. 194-199.
We also have the translation of Lacaille's catalog as printed as appendix to Messier's catalog of 1784.
The stars which are called nebulae offer to the eyes of the Observers a yet varying spectacle, which for their exact & detailed description can occupy long times of an Astronomer, & give place for Philosophers to do a large number of curious reflections.
.. more to come ..
The list which I will give here is an extract of the Catalog of southern Stars which I have submitted to the Academy: I have not been able to distinguish the various nebulae in this catalog from the abridged notes, which are explained by the outline which I have composed; but for satisfying the curiosity of those who find these notes too vague, I will give here a short description of each nebula in particular.
Right Ascension Southern [Lacaille's Description] [Identification] for Jan 1 Declina- 1752 tion H. M. S D. M. S. 00:22:54 73:26:50 It resembles the nucleus of a small Lac I.1, NGC 104 comet very clearly. 47 Tucanae 05:40:01 69:17:20 It resembles the preceding, but it Lac I.2, NGC 2070 is fainter. 30 Doradus, Tarantula Nebula 07:42:08 38:00:00 Great nebula 15 x 20 minutes Lac I.3, NGC 2477 in diameter. 12:43:36 69:28:00 It resembles a small faint comet. Lac I.4, NGC 4833 13:12:09 46:10:45 Nebula in Centaurus; it appears, Lac I.5, NGC 5139 with simple view, like a star of Omega Centauri 3rd magnitude viewed through light mist, & through the telescope like a big comet badly bounded. 13:23:16 28:35:30 Small nebula, shapeless. Lac I.6, M83 13:29:34 61:40:10 Small confused spot. Lac I.7, NGC 5281 16:08:30 40:03:10 It resembles a big comet without Lac I.8, NGC 6124 tail. 16:08:33 25:54:55 It resembles a small nucleus of a Lac I.9, M4 faint comet. 16:38:36 39:02:00 Faint oval and elongated patch. Lac I.10, NGC 6242 18:13:41 33:37:05 It resembles a small nucleus of a Lac I.11, NGC 6634, probably not M69 comet. but an asterism of 3 stars mag 8.3, 7.8, 8.7 18:21:19 24:05:00 It resembles the preceding. Lac I.12, M22 18:58:10 71:55:45 It resembles the preceding. Lac I.13, GC 4484, NGC 6777; 2 stars 8..9 mag 19:24:20 31:29:00 It resembles an obscure nucleus of Lac I.14, M55 a big comet.It may be that some of these nebulae could really be a faint comet; the time has not permitted me to assure in researching in the sky, for looking if these stars are all still in the same place.
Right Ascension Southern [Lacaille's Description] [Identification] for Jan 1 Declina- 1752 tion H. M. S D. M. S. 03:54:57, -45:09:40 Compressed heap of about 12 faint Lac II.1, asterism stars of 8th magnitude. 07:17:00, -33:40:00 Heap of 8 stars of 6th to 7th Lac II.2, Cr 140? magnitude, forming for simple view [naked eye] a nebula in the sky. 07:54:45, -60:09:40 Group of 10 to 12 stars, very Lac II.3, NGC 2516 compressed. 08:02:00, -36:30:00 One sees with the naked eye two Lac II.4, NGC 2546 neighboring confused groups of stars; but with the telescope they are small distinct stars, in very great number & very close together 08:31:46, -52:14:05 Small heap of stars. Lac II.5, IC 2391 o Velorum 08:37:46, -41:22:25 Heap of seven or eight stars, Lac II.6, Tr 10? little compressed. 10:11:45, -50:29:00 Heap of four or five stars, very Lac II.7, NGC 3228 small and very compressed. 10:26:32, -56:56:05 Small heap of 4 small stars Lac II.8, NGC 3293 forming a lozenge. 10:34:15, -63:06:16 The star Theta Navis, of the third Lac II.9, IC 2602 magnitude or less, surrounded by a Theta Carinae large number of stars of 6th, 7th & 8th magnitude, which resemble the Pleiades. 10:56:08, -57:19:30 Prodigal cluster of small stars, Lac II.10, NGC 3532 very compressed, filling the figure of a semi-circle of 20 to 25 minutes in diameter. 11:12:00, -56:58:30 Seven or eight small stars Lac II.11, asterism compressed in a right line. 12:39:13, -59:00:30 Five or six small stars between two Lac II.12, NGC 4755 of sixth magnitude. Kappa Crucis 16:36:55, -41:23:10 compressed heap of seven or eight Lac II.13, NGC 6231 small stars. 17:37:12, -34:39:55 Group of 15 or 20 stars very close Lac II.14, M7 together, in the figure of a square.
Right Ascension Southern [Lacaille's Description] [Identification] for Jan 1 Declina- 1752 tion H. M. S D. M. S. 04:56:56, -49:51:30 Small star surrounded by a Lac III.1, star nebulosity. 08:03:30, -48:31:00 Five small stars, under the figure Lac III.2, NGC 2547 of a T, surrounded by nebulosity. 08:34:20, -47:13:10 Star of 6th magnitude, connected to Lac III.3, vdB-Ha 47? another more southern one by a nebulous trace. 09:20:22, -55:55:30 Faint star surrounded by nebulosity. Lac III.4, IC 2488 10:34:30, -58:49:10 Two small stars surrounded by Lac III.5, Cr 228? nebulosity. in NGC 3372 10:34:45, -58:12:25 Large group of a great number of Lac III.6, NGC 3372 small stars, little compressed, and Eta Carinae 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 Three small neighbored stars, Lac III.7, NGC 3766 surrounded by nebulosity. 14:17:43, -55:27:50 Two small stars in a nebulosity. Lac III.8, NGC 5662 15:03:16, -58:14:30 idem. Lac III.9, asterism of 3 stars 15:42:56, -59:46:50 Three small stars in a right line, Lac III.10, NGC 6025 surrounded by nebulosity. 17:20:38, -53:31:30 Small star envelopped in a Lac III.11, NGC 6397 nebulosity. 17:24:00, -32:02:45 Peculiar cluster of small stars, Lac III.12, M6 disposed in three parallel bands, forming a lozenge of 20 to 25 diameter & hitched with nebulosity. 17:48:41, -24:20:15 Three stars enclosed in a drag of Lac III.13, M8 a nebula parallel to the Equator. 21:12:53, -57:57:15 Two small stars surrounded by Lac III.14, asterism of 3 stars nebulosity.I haven't noticed any star above the sixth magnitude which was surrounded or accompanied by nebulosity.
[Coalsack dark nebula]
One can yet mention among the phenomena which strike the view of those who look at the southern sky, a space of about three degrees in extension, in all directions, which appears in a black dark in the eastern part of the southern cross.This appearance is caused by the vividness of the whiteness of the milky way, which encloses this space & which surrounds it on all sides.
Translation was done by Hartmut Frommert; please report me any errors
Last Modification: April 18, 2005