Messier Catalog

Charles Messier was a French astronomer, who lived long time ago (1730 – 1817). He neither invented a telescope, nor was the first who pointed it towards the night skies. However he is still one of the most famous astronomers. He gained his glory by compiling the first catalogue of deep space objects, known as Messier catalogue.

He made his discoveries in Paris down town, which is nowadays completely unthinkable, because of light pollution. Back in 18th century there were no street lamps, and as soon people extinguished the candles after the dinner, it was completely dark even in city center of Paris. Messier used for his observations and cataloguing quite small telescope, specifically 100 mm refractor, which is not so optimal telescope for deep space objects. The bigger the aperture, the more light it collects and this is probably the reason why the Messier Catalogue has only 110 members. There are other, newer catalogues of deep space objects. For instance New General Catalogue contains 7840, but the gentlemen who compiled it used significantly larger telescopes. Anyway, it doesn’t change the fact, that the Messier Catalogue was the first one.

The story of the first catalogue of deep space objects started by a mistake. Messier considered himself more as a comet hunter. Once he discovered “a comet” in constellation Taurus. But when he repeated the observation few days later, he found out that “the comet” is still on the same spot, thus it cannot be “a comet”. This day the first object of Messier catalogue was discovered and designated Messier 1, nowadays called Crab Nebula.

My intention is to capture all of the Messier’s deep space objects. I started at 2014 and I hope next year (2019) it will be over.