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I see that there are a number of stars that have a number at the end of them. Ross 128 is an example. What does this number mean?

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    $\begingroup$ Taking the answer by JohnHoltz into account - but there are far too many stars even in the observable part of the universe to name them all - especially if you widen your observable range with (stronger and stronger) telescopes...Thus came the catalogs of various astronomers into play. Like Messier for what he thought to be nebulae (turns out many were galaxies) [M32 = Andromeda and so on].. $\endgroup$ – eagle275 Nov 19 at 7:31
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The number refers to the number in the catalog compiled by Frank Elmore Ross. From the Wikipedia article on Ross

At Yerkes Observatory he was the successor to the late E. E. Barnard, inheriting Barnard's collection of photographic plates. Ross decided to repeat the same series of images and compare the results with a blink comparator. In doing so, he discovered 379 new variable stars and over 1000 stars of high proper motion. Some of the high–proper motion stars turned out to be quite nearby, and many of these stars (such as Ross 154) are still widely known by the catalog number he gave them.

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  • $\begingroup$ Published in Astronomical Journal vol 36 to 48 in 8 list in years 1925 to 1939. It was a catalog of high proper motion stars: stars that move relatively quickly against background stars. Generally these are closer to earth, than most stars. $\endgroup$ – TazAstroSpacial Nov 21 at 4:40
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Adding to answer by John Holtz. Ross compiled a catalog of high proper motion stars (stars that move relatively rapidly against background stars). The numbers are in order of increasing Right Ascension (sky coordinate like longitude). The list doesn't start at zero RA. Number 5 is just above zero. See the first list of the catalog: Ross, Frank, E., 1925, Astronomical Journal v36, p96

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