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Messier Gallery

 

[Messier at c.40]Charles Messier (June 26, 1730 - April 12, 1817)

 

Charles Messier was an 18th century French astronomer and comet hunter.  Comet hunters of the time could win great fame and fortune by discovering a major comet, for example Edmond Halley of Halley's Comet fame and a contemporary of Messier.  So comet hunting was a common application of astronomy in Messier's time and still is today. 

 

Then and now, the practice was to make extended observations of objects with indistinct or fuzzy edges and note any relative motion of the objects against the star background.  Orbits of comets are calculated by measuring this changing location of the object over time through multiple observations or by a single observation for an extended period.  This confirms the object as being a comet or asteroid in orbit about the sun rather than a deep sky object that is stationary with the background stars.

 

Legend has it that during his observations Messier noted objects in the night sky that could take on the fuzzy appearance of a comet but that did not move relative to the background stars.  To avoid wasting time observing these stationary objects for motion and to better his chances of discovering comets he and his assistant Pierre Méchain compiled a catalog of these objects noting their positions so that they could be easily identified and bypassed during their observations for comets.  This catalog is known as the Messier Catalog and was intended to be a catalog of objects to be avoided by comet hunters.

 

I have some doubts as to the credibility of this legend as many of the objects in the catalog are obviously not comet like even through binoculars.  But if so and ironically, in creating his catalog of objects to avoid, Messier documented the locations and descriptions of some of the most stunning and beautiful deep sky objects observable in the northern hemisphere.  Regardless, Messier's fame today is not for his discoveries of comets, of which there were several but no major ones, but instead for his catalog of objects to avoid that are decidedly not to be avoided!

 

Today the objects of the Messier Catalog are favorite targets of visual astronomers and astrophotographers.  Many astronomical societies host an annual Messier Marathon where the goal is to visually locate and observe all 110 objects of the Messier Catalog in a single night of observing.  And the objects of the Messier Catalog are always favorite targets for visual observation year around. 

 

A common and challenging goal of astrophotographers, including me, is to photograph all 110 of these objects and that's what this gallery is about.  The following table lists the Messier objects and will be filled in with thumbnails of these objects as I photograph them.  Click a thumbnail to go to a page displaying the photograph and details of the acquisition and object.

 

 

M1

The Crab Nebula

Supernova Remnant

M2

Globular Cluster

 

M3

Globular Cluster

M4

M5

 

M6

 

M7

 

M8

The Lagoon Nebula

Emission Nebula

M9

M10

Globular Cluster

 

 

M11

The Wild Duck Cluster

Open Cluster

M12

Globular Cluster

 

M13

The Great Hercules Globular Cluster

Globular Cluster

M14

Globular Cluster

 

M15

Globular Cluster

 

M16

The Eagle Nebula

Open Cluster with Nebulosity

 

M17

The Swan Nebula

Emission Nebula

M18

M19

 

M20

The Trifid Nebula

Diffuse Nebula

 

M21

Open Cluster

 

M22

Globular Cluster

M23

M24

M25

M26

Open Cluster

 

M27

The Dumbbell Nebula

Planetary Nebula

M28

M29

M30

 

M31

The Andromeda Galaxy

Spiral Galaxy

M32

Companion Galaxy

M33

The Triangulum Galaxy

Spiral Galaxy

M34

Open Cluster

M35

Open Cluster

 

M36

Open Cluster

M37

Open Cluster

 

M38

Open Cluster

M39

M40

M41

 

M42

The Great Orion Nebula

Diffuse Nebula

M43

Diffuse Nebula

M44

M45

The Pleiades

Open Cluster with Nebulosity

 

M46

 

M47

M48

M49

M50

 

M51

The Whirlpool Galaxy

Spiral Galaxy

 

M52

The Scorpion Cluster

Open Cluster

M53

M54

M55

M56

 

M57

The Ring Nebula

Planetary Nebula

M58

M59

M60

 

M61

 

M62

 

M63

The Sunflower Galaxy

M64

M65

 

M66

 

 

M67

Open Cluster

M68

M69

M70

 

M71

 

M72

M73

M74

M75

 

M76

The Little Dumbbell Nebula

Planetary Nebula

M77

 

M78

Diffuse Nebula

M79

M80

 

M81

Bode's Galaxy

 

M82

M83

M84

M85

 

M86

 

M87

M88

M89

M90

 

M91

 

M92

Globular Cluster

 

M93

Open Cluster

M94

M95

 

M96

 

M97

M98

M99

M100

 

M101

 

M102

M103

M104

M106

 

M106

 

M107

M108

Barred Spiral Galaxy

M109

 

M110

Companion Galaxy

Last Updated: 11/12/2014  -  Copyright © 2004-2013 by Dan Lessmann.  All rights reserved.  Please click here for my usage policy.