Reach for the Stars/Stars and DSOs

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The Reach for the Stars Star and DSO lists specify which stars and Deep Sky Objects are covered in the event in a particular year. Teams are expected to be able to identify these objects on star charts, HR diagrams (where applicable), planetariums (where applicable), or other forms of display. Teams should also be knowledgeable about the evolutionary stages of these stars and objects.


These are the stars from the 2020-2021 list (not in alphabetical order). With multiple-star systems, the Apparent/Absolute Magnitude is the combined Apparent/Absolute Magnitude of the stars:

2021 Stars
Name Images Spectral Type Constellation Magnitude Distance Coordinates
Apparent Absolute Right Ascension Declination
Altair Altair1.jpg A7V Aquila 0.76 2.22 16.73 ly 19h 50m 47s +08° 52′ 06″
Altair is a main sequence star in the constellation Aquilla, and makes up one of the stars in the Summer Triangle. This Delta Scuti variable star has a such a high rate of rotation that its equatorial diameter is significantly larger than its polar diameter. Additionally, it exhibits luminosity pulsations between 0.8 and 1.5 hours. A mere 16.7 light years away, this star is visible without the aid of telescopes or other equipment.
Capella Capella1.jpg K0III/G1III Auriga 0.08* -0.48 42.9ly 05h 16m 41s +45° 59′ 53″
RS CVn Variable Star, a close binary system whose apparent magnitude varies from +0.03 to +0.16.
Arcturus Arcturus1.jpg K0III Boötes -0.05 -0.30 36.7 ly 14h 15m 40s +19° 10′ 56″
Red giant star.
Sirius Sirius 1.jpg A1Vm/DA2 Canis Major -1.46 1.42 8.60 ly 06h 45m 09s −16° 43′ 06″
Brightest star in the night sky. A binary system with Sirius A, a main sequence star, and Sirius B, a white dwarf with Apparent Magnitude 8.44 and Absolute Magnitude 11.18. The name "Sirius" is derived from the Ancient Greek "Seirios", meaning "glowing" or "scorcher".
Procyon Procyon1.jpg F5IV-V Canis Minor 0.34 2.66 11.5 ly 07h 39m 18s +05° 13′30″
Main sequence star with faint white-dwarf companion.
Deneb Deneb1.jpg A2Ia Cygnus 1.25 -8.38 802 ± 66 pc 20h 41m 25.9s +45° 16′ 49″
Blue-white Supergiant.
Castor CastorPollux1.jpg Gemini 51 ly 07h 34m 36s +31° 53′ 18″
Triple Star system.
Pollux K0III Gemini 1.14 1.08 33.8 ly 07h 45m 19s +28° 01′ 34″
Giant star.
Vega Vega1.jpg A0Va Lyra -0.02-0.07 (0.026) +0.582 25 ly 18h 36m 56s +38° 47′ 01″
Suspected Delta Scuti Variable. Northern pole star around 12,000 BC.
Zeta Ophiuchi ZetaOph1.jpg O9.5 V Ophiuchus 2.57 -4.2 366 ly 16h 37m 10s –10° 34′ 02″
Blue main-sequence star at the start of its life.
Betelgeuse Betelgeuse1.jpg M1-M2 Ia-ab Orion -5.85 643 ± 146 ly 05h 55m 10s +07° 24′ 25″
Semiregular Variable Star.
Rigel B8 Ia Orion 0.13 -7.84 860 ± 80 ly 05h 14m 32s −08° 12′ 06″
Blue Supergiant with Blue main-sequence companion.
Algol Algol1.jpg B8V/K0IV Perseus 2.12 -0.07 90 ± 3 ly 03h 08m 10s +40° 57′ 20.3280″
Multiple star system with a pair of eclipsing Variable stars. Counter-intuitively, the lower-mass star is leaving the main-sequence earlier.
Antares Antares1.jpg M1.5Iab+B2.5V Scorpius 0.6-1.6 -5.28 550 ly 16h 29m 24.5s −26° 25′ 55″
Red Supergiant with Orange main-sequence star companion.
Aldebaran Aldebaran1.jpg K5III Taurus -0.86 -0.64 65ly 04h 35m 55s +16° 30′ 33.5″
Orange Giant Star.
Mizar MizarAlcor1.jpg A2Vp Ursa Major 2.27 0.33 86 ± 4 ly 13h 23m 55.5s +54° 55′ 31″
Visual double with Alcor.
Alcor A5Vn Ursa Major 3.99 2.00 81.6 ly 13h 25m 13.5s +54° 59′ 17″
Visual double with Mizar.
Polaris Polaris1.jpg F7Ib/F6V Ursa Minor 1.98 -3.6 323-433 ly 02h 31m 49.1s +89° 15′ 50.8″
Current Northern pole star; Multiple Star system with Yellow Supergiant orbiting a smaller companion; Cepheid Variable star.
Spica Spica1.jpg B1 III-IV/B2 V Virgo 0.97 -3.55 250±10 ly 13h 25m 11.6s −11° 09′ 40.8″
Binary star system with a blue giant (beta cepheid variable) and a blue main-sequence star; a spectroscopic binary and rotating ellipsoidal variable; 22400 Kelvin.

Deep Sky Objects

These are the Deep Sky Objects (DSOs) from the 2021 list, not in alphabetical order. Each combined image often contains the DSO in multiple wavelengths, sometimes examining different sections of the object. Information about the individual images can be found by clicking on the combined image.

2021 DSOs
Name Images Object Type Constellation Apparent Magnitude Distance Coordinates Links
Right Ascension Declination
M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) M31 Combined Image.png Type Sb spiral galaxy Andromeda 3.44 2.54 Mly 00h 42m 44.3s +41° 16′ 9″
M31 is a galaxy that is part of the Local Group. It is the closest major galaxy to the Milky Way, and will likely collide with the Milky Way in around 4.5 billion years.
DLA8017g (Wolfe Disk Galaxy) DLA0817g Combined Image.png Rotating Disk Galaxy Cancer 12.276 Gly, 3.764 Gpc 08h 17m 40.86s +13° 51' 38.2" NRAO
DLA0817g is the oldest and farthest known disk galaxy, discovered by ALMA.
NGC 5128 (Centaurus A) Centaurus A Combined Image.png Active Galaxy Centaurus 10-16 Mly (3-5 Mpc) 13h 25m 27.6s −43° 01′ 09″ Chandra
THis is the closest active galaxy to Earth, and is apparently the result of a collision of two normal galaxies, as seen by the mixed star clusters and dust lanes.
NGC 4676 (Mice Galaxies) Mice Galaxies.jpg Colliding Galaxies Coma Berenices 14.7 290 Mly, 89 Mpc 12h 46m 10.1s +30° 43′ 55″
The mice galaxies are two colliding spiral galaxies. They have long tidal tails, referenced by their name.
NGC 4555 NGC 4555 Chandra Combined.jpg Elliptical Galaxy Coma Berenices 13.1 310 Mly 12h 35m 41.20s Dec +26° 31' 23.20" Chandra
NGC 4555 is an isolated Elliptical Galaxy, embedded in a cloud of extremely hot gas that is significantly larger than it. The mass of the luminous matter in the galaxy seems far too small for the gas cloud to be held together, however, and astronomers have determined that this object must have a dark matter halo.
NGC 4308 NGC 4308 2MASS.jpg Elliptical Galaxy Corvus 14.4 12.84 +/- 0.96 Mpc 12h 21m 56.9s +30° 04′ 27″
NGC 4308 is an elliptical galaxy, and a member of the Coma I Group.
NGC 4309 NGC4309 SDSS.jpg Lenticular Galaxy Corvus 13.6 54 Mly (16.6 Mpc) 12h 22m 12.4s 07° 08′ 40″
NGC 4209 is a lenticular galaxy in the Virgo cluster that is classified as an AGN. It has undergone Ram-pressure stripping, or the loss of its interstellar medium (the gas and dust between stars) due to moving through intracluster medium (the hot gas in between galaxies).
Dragonfish Nebula Dragonfish Nebula Spitzer.jpg Emission Nebula/Star-Forming Region Crux 30 Kly 12h 11m 27.5s −62° 55′ 10″ NASA
The Dragonfish Nebula is nearly invisible in optical light, as there is a large amount of dust obscuring it. However, in infrared, this massive star-forming region can be seen, as dust is invisible in infrared. The "mouth" of this nebula was formed from strong stellar winds of young, massive stars blowing a bubble in the gas and dust. This nebula might contain some of the brightest and most massive stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
30 Doradus (Tarantula Nebula) 30DoradusCollage.jpg H II Region Dorado 8 160 ± 10 kly 05h 38m 38s −69° 05.7′ [1] [2] [3]
Also known as the Tarantula Nebula. It is found in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and has a magnitude of 8.
Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) LMCOptical.jpg Galaxy Dorado/Mensa 0.9 163.0 kly 05h 23m 34.5s −69° 45′ 22″
A satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. The first mention of the galaxy was by Persan Astronomer 'Abd ar-Rahman as-Sufi around 964 AD, while Magellan observed it in 1519.
Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex Combined Image.png Dark Nebula Ophiuchus 460 ly (140 pc) 16h 28m 06s –24° 32.5′ APOD, APOD, APOD, and APOD
Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex is a dark nebula, and one of the closest star-forming regions to the Solar System. The first brown dwarf ever to be found in a star-forming region was found in Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex.
M42 (Orion Nebula) OrionCollage.jpg Diffuse Nebula Orion 4.0 1,344±20 ly 05h 35m 17.3s −05° 23′ 28″
Contains a very young open cluster known as the Trapezium.
NGC 1333 NGC 1333 Combined Image.png Reflection Nebula Perseus 5.6 967 ly (296.5 pc) 03h 29m 11.3s +31° 18′ 36″ NASA, APOD, Spitzer
NGC 1333 is a reflection nebula, where starlight is reflected by interstellar dust. It currently contains hundreds of stars less than a million years old.
Sagittarius A* SgrACollage.jpg Black Hole Sagittarius Radio ~7860 pc 17h 45m 40s −29° 0′ 28″
Radio source at the center of a galaxy, and location of a supermassive black hole.
M8 (Lagoon Nebula) LagoonCollage.jpg H II Region Sagittarius 6 4100 ly 18h 03m 37s −24° 23′ 12″
Interstellar Cloud.
Baby Boom Galaxy Baby Boom Galaxy Composite.jpg Starburst Galaxy Sextans 12.2 Gly 10h 00m 54.52s +2° 34′ 35.17″ Spitzer
The Baby Boom Galaxy is the record-holder for the brightest starburst galaxy (rapidly star-forming galaxy). It is forming stars at a rate of 4000 new stars per year (in comparison to the Milky Way's ~10 per year), and is thought to be a result of colliding galaxies.
NGC 6357 (Lobster Nebula) Lobster Nebula Combined.png Emission Nebula Scorpius ~5900±450 ly (1800±140 pc) 17h 24m −34° 20 NASA, NASA, APOD, Chandra
The lobster nebula is an emission nebula currently forming massive stars.
NGC 6334 (Cat's Paw Nebula) Cat Paw Combined Image.jpg Emission Nebula Scorpius 5.54±0.98 kly (1.7±0.3 kpc) 17 20 50.9h −36° 06′ 54″
NGC 6334 is known as the Cat's Paw Nebula and Bear Claw Nebula for its paw-like shape. It has several star-forming regions, four of which have formed HII regions.
T Tauri TTOptical1.jpg Variable Star Taurus 10.27 ~600 ly 04h 21m 59.43s +19° 32′ 06.42″
The prototype of all T Tauri variable stars. It was discovered in October 1852 by John Russell Hind. T Tauri appears from Earth amongst the Hyades cluster, but is actually 420 light years behind it and was not formed with the rest of them. T-Tauri stars have similar temperature compared to the main sequence star they will become, but are larger and therefore more luminous. They will follow the Hayashi Track onto the main sequence.
Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) SMCLMC.jpg Galaxy Tucana and Hydrus 2.7 200±9 kly 00h 52m 44.8s −72° 49′ 43″
Dwarf galaxy near the Milky Way. It was once a barred spiral galaxy, but was dirupted by the gravity of the Milky Way.
GN-z11 HST GN-Z11.jpg Distant Galaxy Ursa Major 25.8 32 billion ly (9.8 billion pc) 12h 36m 25.46s +62° 14′ 31.4″
GN-z11 can be found in the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS) northern hemisphere field. It is the farthest galaxy ever observed, and is full of blue, young stars. It appears red because of its enourmous redshift (stretching of light to longer wavelenths), caused by a very high recessional velocity (or it is moving away from us really quickly).
M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy) M101 Combined Image.jpg Spiral Galaxy Ursa Major 7.86 20.9±1.8 Mly (6.4±0.5 Mpc) 14h 03m 12.6s +54° 20′ 57″ NASA, Hubble
M101 is a spiral galaxy around 70% larger than the Milky Way, with an unusually high number of HII regions, indicating a high rate of star formation.
M60 M60 Hubble.jpg Elliptical Galaxy Virgo 9.8 56.7 Mly (17.38 Mpc) 12h 43m 39.6s +11° 33′ 09.40″
Messier 60 is an elliptical galaxy with an inactive supermassive black hole at the center, which is one of the largest (but not the largest) supermassive black holes ever discovered.
M104 (Sombrero Galaxy) Sombrero Galaxy Combined Imge.jpg Lenticular Galaxy Virgo −21.8 9.55 ± 0.31 Mpc

(31.1 ± 1.0 Mly)

12h 39m 59.4s −11° 37′ 23″
M60, or the Sombrero Galaxy, is a lenticular galaxy with an unusually bright, large nucleus and central bulge, and a dust lane that surrounds the outside of the disk.

Past Objects

Objects which previously were included in the list, but have been replaced, are provided here.


Name Images Spectral Type Constellation Magnitude Distance Coordinates
Apparent Absolute Right Ascension Declination
Regulus Regulus.jpg B8 IVn Leo 1.40 -0.52 79.3 ly 10h 08m 22s +11° 58′ 02″
Four star system. Values above are only for Regulus A.

Gliese 581- Gliese 581 is a red dwarf, M3V star about 20 LY away. The star has an apparent magnitude between 10.56 and 10.58 and is located in the constellation Libra. The star is well known for its planet Gliese 581 g, thought to be in the habitable zone of its star, but the planet's existence is disputed.

Mira (o Ceti)- The famous variable star Mira is located on the "tale" of Cetus. It is a binary star, with the red giant Mira A and its companion Mira B. Nearly 7000 other stars are classified with the variable type "Mira", named after the star. The star fluctates between apparent magnitude 2.0 all the way down to the faint 10.1 magnitude. Mira is a red giant star with the spectral type M7. Recently, astronomers have been studying the transport of gases nearly 70 AU from Mira A to Mira B.

Proxima Centauri- At only 4 light years, Proxima centauri is the nearest star to the sun. It is a type-M red dwarf star, and despite its distance, it is too dim to see with the naked eye, at magnitude 11.05. Proxima Centauri is part of a triple star system with its brighter neighbor Alpha Centauri A and B. It is a flare star, a variable type that changes brightness drastically.

Deep Sky Objects

2017 DSOs
Name Images Object Type Constellation Apparent Magnitude Distance Coordinates
Right Ascension Declination
NGC 7293 (Helix Nebula) HelixMultiFreq.png Planetary Nebula Aquarius 7.6 714 ly 22h 29m 39s -20° 50′ 14″ [4] [5] [6] [7]
A planetary nebula that will become a white dwarf. Helix nebula is not a simple helix, but has two nearly perpendicular disks, as well as arcs, shocks, and features not well understood.
NGC 3603 3603Collage.jpg HII Region with an open cluster Carina 9.1 6900pc 11h 15m 23s -61° 15′ 00″
The nebula was first discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1834.
NGC 3372 (Carina Nebula) CarinaCombined.jpg Star Formation Region Carina +1.0 ~6500-10000ly 10h 45m 08.5s −59° 52′ 04″
The Carina Nebula is located in the Carina-Sagittarius Arm. It was discovered by Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille on January 25th, 1752. The nebula consists of open clusters, O type stars and Wolf Rayet variable stars.
Cassiopeia A (Cas A) CasACollage.jpg Type IIb Supernova Remnant Cassiopeia Radio/X-Ray 11 kly 23h 23m 26s +58° 48′
Visible light from the remnant was blocked, probably due to interstellar dust. Its discovery was first reported by Ryle and Graham-Smith in 1948, although it may be recorded by Flamsteed in 1680.
Tycho's SNR TychoCollage.jpg Type Ia Supernova Remnant Cassiopeia Peak −4 8000-9800 ly 0h 25.3m +64° 09′
The supernova appeared in November 1572. Tycho Brahe did extensive work observing the stars and analyzed sighting from his colleagues.
Cygnus X-1 CygX1Collage.jpg Black Hole Cygnus 8.95 6,100 ± 400 ly 19h 58m 21.7s +35° 12′ 05.8″
A source of x-ray. It is the first widely accepted black hole to be an x-ray source such as itself. It was discovered in 1964 and is located about 6,070 light years from the sun. Cygnus X-1 is a member of a high-mass X-ray binary system. It is about 5 million years old and rotates once every 5.6 days.
Geminga GemingaCollage.jpg Neutron Star (Pulsar) Gemini 25.5 815 ly 06h 33m 54.15s +17° 46′ 12.9″ [8]
Geminga is likely a decaying core of a Type II Supernova. It is highly visible in the gamma-ray spectrum.
NGC 602 602Collage.jpg Open cluster Hydrus 15.44p 196 kly 01h 29m 32.1s −73° 33′ 38.1″ [9] [10]
Open cluster found in the Small Magellanic Cloud.
M57 (Ring Nebula) RingCollage.jpg Planetary Nebula Lyra 8.8 2.3 kly 18h 53m 35.08s +33° 01′ 45″ [11] [12]
Planetary Nebula discovered by Messier in January 1779.
Kepler's SNR KSNRCollage.jpg Type Ia Supernova Remnent Ophiuchus Peak -2.25 - -2.55 20 kly 17h 30m 42s −21° 29′ [13] [14]
Appeared in 1604. It was first observed by Colomb in October 1604, while Kepler tracked the object for an entire year and published a book on the subject.
M17 (Omega Nebula) OmegaCollage.jpg H II Region Sagittarius 6.0 5-6 kly 18h 20m 26s −16° 10′ 36″
Also known as the Swan Nebula, Checkmark Nebula and the Horseshoe Nebula. First recorded observation by Chéseaux in 1745, and catalogued by Messier in 1764.
M16 (Eagle Nebula) EagleCollage.jpg H II Region Serpens 6 7 kly 18h 18m 48s −13° 49′
First observed by Cheseaux in 1745-46.
M1 (Crab Nebula) CrabCollage.jpg Supernova Remnant Taurus 8.4 6500±1600 ly 05h 34m 31.94s +22° 00′ 52″
The center of the nebula contains Crab Pulsar, a neutron star.

Andromeda Galaxy (M31, NGC 224)- About 2.5 million LY away, the Andromeda Galaxy is the closest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way. In fact, it is one of the relatively few galaxies that are approaching the Sun, causing the light from its 1 trillion stars to be blue-shifted. With an apparent magnitude of 4.4, it's one the brightest Messier objects in the nighttime sky. The Andromeda Galaxy has a double nucleus: P1, a brighter nucleus with lots of reddish, cool stars, and P2, a supermassive black hole at the very center of the galaxy with more bluish, hotter stars. There was one recorded supernova in 1885. The name comes from the fact that the Andromeda Galaxy appear to be in the constellation Andromeda from our vantage point on Earth.

Beehive Cluster (M44, Praesepe (Latin: manger), NGC 2632)- An open cluster in the constellation Cancer- possibly of similar origin to the Hyades- the Beehive Cluster is about 600 million years old. It spans 510-620 LY across, with big bright stars towards the center of the cluster and smaller, dimmer stars on the outside fringes. M44 contains red giants, main sequence stars, and white dwarfs; about 68% of the stars are M-class, 30% F, G, or K-class, and about 2% A-class. The brightest individual stars have an apparent magnitude of about 6 to 6.5, while the Beehive Cluster as a whole is about 3.1.

Cassiopeia B (Tycho's SNR)- A supernova remnant, left over from a supernova detected in November 1572 which remained highly visible for 2 years, then faded. The supernova resulted from a white dwarf accumulating too much matter and exploding. It is called Tycho's SNR after the astronomer Tycho Brahe, who was the most accurate observer of the supernova itself.

Globular Cluster (M13, NGC 6205)- A globular cluster (hence the name) about 25,100 LY away and 145 LY across in the constellation Hercules. M13 has several hundred thousand stars, but is barely visible from Earth, with an apparent magnitude of 5.8. Its brightest star is V11, which has an apparent magnitude of 11.95.

Hyades Star Cluster- The Hyades are the closest open cluster to us at 151 LY away, located in the constellation Taurus. The 4 brightest stars in the Hyades (formerly A-class stars, now off the main sequence) form a V shape along with Aldebaran. It could share a common origin with the Beehive Cluster (M44). The name is from ancient Greek mythology- Hyades was the collective name of several weeping sisters who were turned into stars and therefore associated with rain.

Milky Way Galaxy ("The Galaxy")- A barred spiral galaxy in the Local Group (which, in turn, is in the Virgo Supercluster) about 100,000 LY in diameter and 1,000 LY thick. Of the 200-400 billion stars in this galaxy, most are red dwarfs. The oldest ones are 12.8-14.4 billion years old. The galactic center is in the general direction of the constellation Sagittarius- in fact, Sagittarius A* is a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. It could collide with the Andromeda Galaxy in 3-4 billion years. The Milky Way can be seen as far north as Cassiopeia and as far south as Crux (the Southern Cross).

Pleiades (M45, Maia Nebula)- Another open cluster in the constellation Taurus; one of the closest to Earth at about 440 LY away. Most of the stars in M45 are hot, blue stars formed in the last 100 million years or so, but there are also some brown dwarfs. The cluster will survive for about another 250 million years, then be dispersed by gravity. The name Pleiades is from Greek for either "sailing ones", "many", or "flock of doves".

Whirlpool Galaxy (M51, NGC 5194)- A red-shifted galaxy (moving farther away from the Sun) in the constellation Canes Venatica about 23 million LY away, the Whirlpool Galaxy is famous for its distinct spiral shape. This is thought to be caused by interaction between M51 and a nearby galaxy, NGC 5195. There is also thought to be a black hole at the very center of the galaxy. In 2005, a supernova was detected in the Whirlpool Galaxy with highest apparent magnitude 14.

See Also

Reach for the Stars