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Alex Rodgers, Colin Campbell, and John Whiteoak, working at Australia's Mount Stromlo observatory under the direction of Dutch-American astronomer Bart Bok, published their nebula catalog in 1960. The RCW catalog is largely an expansion of Colin Gum's 1955 catalog. Although astronomers publish articles referring to the RCW nebulae almost every month, there seems to be few places on the Internet that bring together information on these nebulae as a whole - unlike, for example, the Messier catalog. This is most likely because the Messier objects are visible to anyone with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope. Most of the RCW objects are clearly visible only in long exposure CCD images or photographic plates taken by large telescopes. Fortunately some of these plates have now been digitally scanned and made publicly available.
Many of the brightest and most beautiful Milky Way star formation regions visible from the southern hemisphere are in the RCW catalog so the 182 objects it contains are well worth examining carefully. (In fact there are more than 182 objects as subsequent research has shown that some of the RCW nebulae consist of more than one object.) At least 50 objects in the RCW catalog are also in the Sharpless catalog and I have noted this in the descriptions of these objects.
Most of the images used to illustrate the RCW catalog were created using the
SuperCOSMOS Sky Survey, with red = hydrogen-alpha,
blue = UKST Blue and green = UKST Infrared. Because green represents infrared, the images are not quite
the same as would be seen at purely visual frequencies. Green in these images usually reveals warm dust or red giant stars.
These images were created using the POSS-II/UKSTU data of the Digitized Sky Survey and SuperCOSMOS using the process described here.
According to my correspondence with the Royal Observatory Edinburgh and the Space Telescope Science Institute, I am allowed to use the POSS-II/UKSTU data to create and display images for non-commercial purposes so long as I include this fine print for the SuperCOSMOS data:
Use of these images is courtesy of the UK Schmidt Telescope (copyright in which is owned by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council of the UK and the Anglo-Australian Telescope Board) and the Southern Sky Survey as created by the SuperCOSMOS measuring machine and are reproduced here with permission from the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.
and this acknowledgement taken from the DSS site:
The Digitized Sky Surveys were produced at the Space Telescope Science Institute under U.S. Government grant NAG W-2166. The images of these surveys are based on photographic data obtained using the Oschin Schmidt Telescope on Palomar Mountain and the UK Schmidt Telescope. The plates were processed into the present compressed digital form with the permission of these institutions.
The Second Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS-II) was made by the California Institute of Technology with funds from the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, the Sloan Foundation, the Samuel Oschin Foundation, and the Eastman Kodak Corporation.
The UK Schmidt Telescope was operated by the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, with funding from the UK Science and Engineering Research Council (later the UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council), until 1988 June, and thereafter by the Anglo-Australian Observatory. The blue plates of the southern Sky Atlas and its Equatorial Extension (together known as the SERC-J), as well as the Equatorial Red (ER), and the Second Epoch [red] Survey (SES) were all taken with the UK Schmidt.
The "Second Epoch Survey" of the southern sky was made by the Anglo-Australian Observatory (AAO) with the UK Schmidt Telescope. Plates from this survey have been digitized and compressed by the ST ScI. The digitized images are copyright © 1993-5 by the Anglo-Australian Observatory Board, and are distributed herein by agreement.
The "Equatorial Red Atlas" of the southern sky was made with the UK Schmidt Telescope. Plates from this survey have been digitized and compressed by the ST ScI. The digitized images are copyright © 1992-5, jointly by the UK SERC/PPARC (Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, formerly Science and Engineering Research Council) and the Anglo-Australian Telescope Board, and are distributed herein by agreement.
The compressed files of the "Palomar Observatory - Space Telescope Science Institute Digital Sky Survey" of the northern sky, based on scans of the Second Palomar Sky Survey are copyright © 1993-1995 by the California Institute of Technology and are distributed herein by agreement. The compressed files of the "Palomar Observatory - Space Telescope Science Institute Digital Sky Survey" of the northern sky, based on scans of the Second Palomar Sky Survey are copyright © 1993-1995 by the California Institute of Technology and are distributed herein by agreement.