The Avedisova catalog: A real Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?
This massive amount of information threatens to become a barrier to our understanding of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. We need something more detailed than the speculative schematic diagrams showing the bar, bulge and spiral arms, and yet more of a synthesis than is provided by a data dump of a billion objects.
We need a tour of the Milky Way by someone who has read all the major papers, studied all the major catalogs and can tell us what star cluster is part of what OB association which is embedded in what molecular clouds and ionises what nebulae. We need the highlights, and we need links to find more details if that interests us. We need, in short, a real Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
While not as entertaining as Douglas Adam's fictional guide, there is at least the beginning of a detailed guide to the Milky Way, A Catalog of Star-Forming Regions in the Galaxy, released in 2002 and produced by Veta Avedisova and her colleagues at the Institute of Astronomy, Russian Academy of Sciences, in Moscow.
The Avedisova catalog contains information on about 3200 star formation regions. Quite a bit of information — it has over 66 thousand records listing observations of star clusters, molecular clouds, masers, nebulae, dust clouds and much more. Because it includes much of the latest data on infrared and radio sources, it is far more comprehensive than the Sharpless, Gum and RCW nebula catalogs compiled during the 1950s and complements and extends the optically visible OB associations studied by Ambartsumian, Ruprecht and Humphreys.