We present optical (~3200A to ~9000A) off-nuclear spectra of 26 powerful active galaxies in the redshift range 0.1 < z < 0.3, obtained with the Mayall and William Herschel 4-meter class telescopes. The sample consists of radio-quiet quasars, radio-loud quasars (all with -23 > M_V > -26) and radio galaxies of Fanaroff & Riley Type II (with extended radio luminosities and spectral indices comparable to those of the radio-loud quasars). The spectra were all taken approximately 5 arcseconds off-nucleus, with offsets carefully selected so as to maximise the amount of galaxy light falling into the slit, whilst simultaneously minimising the amount of scattered nuclear light. The majority of the resulting spectra appear to be dominated by the integrated stellar continuum of the underlying galaxies rather than by light from the non-stellar processes occurring in the active nuclei, and in many cases a 4000A break feature can be identified. The individual spectra are described in detail, and the importance of the various spectral components is discussed. Stellar population synthesis modelling of the spectra will follow in a subsequent paper (Nolan et al. 2000).
Comment: 23 pages, LaTeX, uses MNRAS style file, incorporates 71 postscript figures, to be published in MNRAS. Contact author: M.Kukula@roe.ac.uk