Messier catalog


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Messier catalog

(mĕsyā`), systematic list of nebulae and star clusters. A first list, compiled and published in 1771 by Charles Messier, contained 45 objects. The final list, published in 1784, contained 103 objects; some of these were later removed from the list. Of the remaining objects, about 50 are extragalactic nebulae, i.e., galaxies. Designations from Messier's catalog are frequently used to refer to the brighter nebulae and star clusters; for example, M31 is the Andromeda Galaxy, M1 the Crab Nebula, M42 the Great Nebula in Orion, and M45 the Pleiades.
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Messier Catalog

(mess -ee-ay, mess-yay ) A catalog of the brightest ‘nebulae’ prepared by the French astronomer Charles Messier and printed in final form in 1784. Messier compiled the list in order to avoid confusion of these cloudlike objects with comets, for which he was a keen searcher. 103 celestial objects, which appeared fuzzy and extended in telescopes of the time, were listed and given a number preceded by the letter M. This is the object's Messier number, an example being M42: the Orion nebula. It was later found that most of the objects were not true nebulae but galaxies and star clusters. Seven more objects were later added to Messier's list, bringing the total number of cataloged items to 110. See Table 8, backmatter; NGC.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
Today astronomical readers have a shelf-filling variety of books surveying the Messier catalog, and every one we have seen credits Darquier.
(8) At 3,600 light-years, M93 is one of the more distant open clusters in the Messier catalog. Look for the bright giants HD 62679 and TYC 6540-4176-1 to the southeast of the cluster's center.
The first image in the Messier catalog, called M1, was that of the Crab Nebula, which Messier mistook for the Halley's Comet - his inspiration for creating his catalog.
Since Messier's time the Messier catalog has developed and matured, in several stages.
Inexperienced observers often cite it as one of the hardest objects in the Messier catalog, especially if they're observing in or near a city.
It's plausible that Mechain was in fact describing NGC 5866, and identifying M102 with this galaxy nicely fills out the Messier catalog. So I'll enroll in that school of thought for the moment.
During that brief period, it's possible to log all 109 objects in the Messier catalog in a single night.
WHAT'S THE BRIGHTEST northern galaxy not included in the Messier catalog? You might be surprised to hear that distinction belongs to 8.4-magnitude NGC 2403, a prominent spiral that would be better known if it wasn't isolated within the dimly lit outlines of the sprawling constellation Camelopardalis.
Spiral galaxy M109 in Ursa Major sports one of the most distinct central bars of any galaxy in the Messier catalog.
Indeed, this 8th-magnitude object holds the distinction of being the most elusive open cluster in the Messier catalog. Luckily, its position is easy to pin down--M26 completes a right triangle with the nearby 5th-magnitude stars Epsilon ([epsilon]) and Delta ([delta]) Scuti.
According to the website cited above, the Herschel Catalog is considered less reliable than the much smaller Messier Catalog in terms of duplications and other errors.
For deep-sky observing, the Quantum provided memorable views of star clusters and planetary nebulae, and it had no problems showing brighter nebulae and galaxies (think "Messier catalog") in my suburban sky.