Messier catalog: Wikis


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Table of all 110 Messier objects.

The Messier objects are a set of astronomical objects first listed by French astronomer Charles Messier in his "Catalogue des Nébuleuses et des Amas d'Étoiles" ("Catalogue of Nebulae and Star Clusters") included in the Connaissance des Temps for 1774 (published in 1771). The original motivation of the catalogue was that Messier was a comet hunter, and was frustrated by objects which resembled but were not comets. He therefore compiled a list of these objects,[1] in collaboration with his assistant Pierre Méchain.

The first edition covered 45 objects numbered M1 to M45. The total list published by Messier finally contained 103 objects, but the list "got an independent life" by successive additions by other astronomers, motivating the additions by side notes in Messier’s and Mechain’s texts indicating that either of them knew of the objects. The first such addition came from Camille Flammarion in 1921, who added Messier 104 after finding Messier’s side note in his 1781 edition exemplar of the catalogue. M105 to M107 were added by Helen Sawyer Hogg in 1947, M108 and M109 by Owen Gingerich in 1960, and M110 by Kenneth Glyn Jones.[2] M102 was observed by Méchain, who communicated his notes to Messier; later, it was admitted by Méchain himself that this object does not exist, and it was simply a re-observation of M101. Some sources mention the galaxy NGC 5866 as an identification for M102, but its description does not fit with Méchain's notes.

Messier's final catalogue was included in the Connaissance des Temps for 1784 (published in 1781).[3] These objects are still known by their Messier number from this list.

Because Messier lived and did his astronomical work in France in the Northern Hemisphere, the list he compiled contains only objects from the north celestial pole to a celestial latitude of about –35.7°. Many impressive Southern objects, such as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are excluded from the list.

All of the Messier objects are visible with binoculars or small telescopes (under favorable conditions); therefore they are popular viewing objects for amateur astronomers. In early spring, astronomers sometimes gather for "Messier marathons", when all of the objects can be viewed over a single night.[4]

A summary of the astrophysics of each Messier object can be found in the Concise Catalog of Deep-sky Objects.[5]

Contents

Links to articles

See also

References

  1. ^ "SEDS Messier Database". THE MESSIER CATALOG. http://seds.org/messier/. Retrieved 2007-11-10.  
  2. ^ The Guinness Book of Astronomy, Patrick Moore and Guinness Superlatives Ltd 1979, ISBN 09-00-42476-1
  3. ^ Charles Messier, 1781. Catalogue des Nébuleuses & des amas d'Étoiles. Connoissance des Temps for 1784 (published 1781), pp. 227-267 [Bibcode: 1781CdT..1784..227M]
    "Original Messier Catalog of 1781". Original Messier Catalog of 1781. http://seds.org/messier/xtra/Mcat/mcat1781.html#messier1781. Retrieved 2007-11-10.  
  4. ^ "The Messier Marathon". THE MESSIER MARATHON. http://seds.org/messier/xtra/marathon/marathon.html. Retrieved 2007-11-10.  
  5. ^ Finlay, W. H. (2003). Concise Catalog of Deep-sky Objects: Astrophysical Information for 500 Galaxies. Springer. ISBN 1-85233-691-9.  

External links


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Noun

Messier catalog

  1. (US) alternative spelling of Messier catalogue







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