Where to find a catalog with basic star information?

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Where to find a catalog with basic star information?


I've been in the hunt for a catalog describing very basic information about celestial bodies (primarily stars) in our galaxy.

The information I'm looking for includes designations (names?), coordinates (declination, right ascension), distance to Earth based on a known epoch, diameter and (apparent) color.

Essentially, the very least information you would use to display them in a 3D visualization program, which I'm intending to create.

There are several sources where I've found part of this information (even Wikipedia has some of this information), but I've been unable to find a combination of sources which I could assemble to get *all* the information I need.

Do you have any recommendations on where should I go to gather such a catalog?

Star catalogues


This depends a bit on how many stars you want to include in your visualisation. If you just want the nearest few hundred stars, then the lists in Wikipedia (like this one en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nearest_stars_and_brown_dwarfs) are fine. If you want many more stars, then you will need one of the catalogues from the various space missions designed to map stars. The Hipparcos mission created some very useful catalogues, including the main one here: heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/db-perl/W3Browse/w3table.pl?tablehead=name%3Dhipparcos&Action=More+Options (which is described in a bit more detail here: heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/W3Browse/star-catalog/hipparcos.html ). This was the catalogue used to create the 100,000 Stars visualisation. There is also the Tycho-2 catalogue, which is a bit easier to use.

The most up-to-date catalogues come from the GAIA mission which is still gathering data but already has more stars than you could possible want! It's current catalogues are here: https://gea.esac.esa.int/archive/

These large catalogues are very complete and have lots and lots of information, but that does make them quite difficult to use. They are also very big - often far too large to download in full - so you will need to use the search tools to find just the stars you want to include and then download just the data you need from them. There are good help systems for them, though, especially the Gaia archive which has some very useful videos and introductory guides.

I hope that helps,
All the best