I was curious which objects are the most popular targets according to astrophotographers. I used their activity to answer this question.
To find out, I deployed a crawler on two popular Hungarian forums, on asztrofoto.hu and tavcso.hu and harvested all the photos posted from the sites’ beginning till november 2014. Most of the posts had a catalog number in their title, some only a variant of the popular name, but they were heterogenous, as none of the two forums apply strict title/naming conventions. I worked with those that had a recognizable catalog number like M7, Messier 24, NGC 7000, C 38 or something similar – so perhaps many Orion nebula and Lagoon nebula pictures are left out, especially because the most popular objects are easily identifiable without a catalog number. Then I created this table containing around 2900 posts of around 250 objects.
Let’s say popularity is the count an object has been photographed. No wonder the most popular objects are the most prominent Messier and Caldwell objects (like NGC 7000), although the Caldwell catalog”s usage is sparse, the NGC or IC numbers are used instead. I used my DSO to collapse most aliases. Another conclusion is that few objects get a lot of attention and many very little, which is not a surprise either.