The Messier objects are a set of astronomical objects catalogued by Charles Messier in his catalogue of Nebulae and Star Clusters first published in 1774. The original motivation behind 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.
The first edition covered 45 objects numbered M1 to M45. The total list consists of 110 objects, ranging from M1 to M110. The final catalogue was published in 1781 and printed in the Connaissance des Temps in 1784. Many of these objects are still known by their Messier number.
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°. Many impressive Southern objects, such as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are excluded from the list. Because all of the Messier objects are visible with binoculars or small telescopes (under favorable conditions), 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.
Well, that's just what I attempted Saturday night from Canyon of the Eagles. Trouble was that the weather--which started out great--turned to mush and the completely overcast by about 1:00 a.m. As a result I only made it through the first 45. Still, I saw a lot of things I hadn't seen before and want to go back and photograph.
Trudy & Ian came along for the first time. The boy had a pretty good time running around. He & Trudy wound up watching movies on the iBook in the tent after it got dark, but he did come look through the scope a couple of times.
|Object Name||Start Time||Notes|
|M74||8:39:11 PM||very faint|
|M33||8:53:56 PM||large faint patch|
|M31||8:59:57 PM||not bad for low in sky|
|M110||9:00:09 PM||averted vision|
|M52||9:02:22 PM||nice, easy|
|M45||9:23:53 PM||hello ladies! Better in ED80. Some nebulosity visible|
|M79||9:28:02 PM||medium dim|
|M42||9:28:50 PM||great in ED80; a,b,c,d,e & f easy with 13mm Nagler in 10"|
|M1||9:44:11 PM||3D-like, maybe texture with ultrablock?|
|M35||9:49:56 PM||too big for 10"|
|M46||10:38:39 PM||cool w/neb in cluster|
|M81||11:24:33 PM||love 81 & 82|
|M82||11:25:23 PM||love 81 & 82|
|M109||11:47:35 PM||texture w/ averted vision|
|M40||11:50:37 PM||why is this even on the list?|
|M106||11:55:14 PM||definite shape|
|M94||12:07:50 AM||hints of spiral?|
|M51||12:19:07 AM||not bad. definite spiral, no bridge|
|M3||12:36:36 AM||nice. tight center, loose edges|
|M85||12:37:43 AM||hazy w/ bright center, like picture|
|M99||12:45:53 AM||something w/averted vision|
|M100||12:48:53 AM||faint, no detail (pity)|
|M86||1:01:39 AM||84 & 86 together ok|
|M84||1:01:39 AM||84 & 86 together ok|