Near Star Catalogue

A New Nomenclature for Nearby Stars

This page (and the accompanying updated catalogue) promotes a new nomenclature for nearby stars. It is inspired by variable designation which, once the letters are exhausted, consist of V (e.g. V645 Centauri): in the same way, nearby stars are to be designated by N (e.g. N1 Centauri). Component letters may follow: in this way, Proxima Centauri's designation becomes N1 Centauri C. It is hoped that these designations would be used in preference to previous catalogue designations (e.g. GJ/Gl, NS, both of which were complicated for different reasons).

Designations are assigned as follows:

  • The Sun is N0 [that's a zero], without any following constellation name;
  • Stars in the original database are grouped by constellation and numbered from 1 in order of increasing distance (according to the best available estimate at the time: the relationship between number and distance is not of ultimate importance). Once assigned, these designations are not modified nor removed by updated parallaxes.

    e.g. the Alpha Centauri system is N1 Centauri (components A-C); N2 Centauri is GJ 3737 / LHS 337. 2MASS J18450541-6357475 may now conveniently be referred to as N1 Pavonis.
  • When a new star is eligible for inclusion (through the publication of a reliable trigonometric parallax >= 40mas), it will be numbered to its constellation, taking the next available designation (regardless of distance order etc).

Stars that are designated as being 'nearby' are usually those within 25 parsecs of the Sun, with distances able to be measured by accurate parallaxes. First there was Gliese & co. with the Catalogue of Nearby Stars (CNS)1. Then in 1998 a similar project was begun at Northern Arizona University, called NSTARS, but it disappeared a few years ago. A copy I made in late 2006 is attached to this page in csv format.

I'm pleased to release my unofficial update of the NSTARS catalogue, entitled the Near Star Catalogue. It proposes a new nomenclature for nearby stars that I hope will be adopted. Stars that have been shown to lie well beyond the 25pc limit have been removed; stars which lie near the limit have been retained and designated, though they may prove to lie just outside the limit.

I acknowledge the hard work done by the NSTARS team to compile the original database. Thank you also to the folks at SIMBAD, the RECONS team, Frederick Pilcher who transcribed the Uranometria Argentina, to Dr. Carolin Liefke of the University of Hamburg (see her NEXXUS database), and to Ken Slatten, whose corrections to the original NSTARS database have been passed on to me.

Click here to see blog posts on this topic.

File Format

This file is comma-delimited.

 Column    Field Description
0#Row number only.
1N*Identifier (see above)
2NameName (or other identifier)
3BayerBayer/Lacaille  designation
4FlamsteedFlamsteed number
5GouldGould number
6Var IDVariable designation
7GJGliese Catalogue ID
8LHSLuyten Half Second Catalogue ID
9PLX Trigonometric Parallax Catalogue ID
10HIP Hipparcos Catalogue ID
11Giclas Giclas Catalogue ID
13HD HD number
14 HR HR number (Bright Star Catalogue)
15 RA (2000.0)Right Ascension (2000.0)
16 dec (2000.0)Declination (2000.0)
17plx Parallax
18plxerr Parallax error
19parsecs Distance (parsecs)
20APM Annual Proper Motion
21PosA PM Position Angle
24U Magnitudes
32M Absolute magnitude
33RV Radial velocity
34Spec Spectral type
35Notes Notes
36NS Original or updated/corrected NSTARS id. Do not use: for information only.

I have several files for download:
  1. ns.csv: The original NSTARS database, circa 2006. This formed the basis for the current catalogue;
  2. nsc.csv. The latest Near Star Catalogue, in the format describe above;
  3. nstars_planets.csv. Some exo-planets that were included in the original NSTARS database. These were not retained in the Near Star Catalogue;
  4. removed.csv. Stars from the original NSTARS catalogue, where post-Hipparcos research has shown that they lie well beyond the 25pc limit. These have been removed and undesignated in the NSC.

1. The Gliese Catalogue of Nearby Stars (CNS) pioneered this work in the 1950s, until in 1991 a "preliminary" version of the 3rd catalogue (CNS3) was released. Many stars were unnumbered by the author, and though others later assigned numbers that are now included in SIMBAD, some astronomers prefer not to use these later designations. A 4th edition (CNS4), referred to in some papers and taking into account data from the Hipparcos satellite, is still unpublished.

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff !!
    I've written a small program in Python to read the csv fields; Any use to you ??