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Messier Objects

Messier Objects During the years from 1758 to 1782 Charles Messier, a French astronomer compiled a list of 110 diffuse objects that were difficult to distinguish from comets through the telescopes of the day. His aim was to catalog the objects that were often mistaken for comets. The Messier number is in the order of discovery. A thumbnail version of these objects are shown in Figure 01 (from left to right, and from top to bottom).

There are many repositories for keeping information of astronomical objects. The New General Catalogue (NGC) and Index Catalogue (IC) are other frequently quoted references for astronomical objects besides the Messier (M). IRAS refers to the Infrared Astronomical Satellite Archive. The Abell Catalog (A) is a list for clusters of galaxies, and 3C refers to the third Cambridge Catalogue for radio sources, ...

Figure 01 Messier Objects
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Messier objects lie all over the northern sky. Figure 02 shows all the 109 objects for mid-March with an enlargement for the crowded field in Virgo and Coma Berenices. The silvery ribbon on the map is the Milky Way, while the Ecliptic can be traced out by an imaginary cosine curve starting from GEM at 6h, then following TAU, ARI, PSC, AQR, CAP, SGR, SCO, LIB, VIR, LEO, and finally to CNC. The Messier catalog in Figure 03 lists all the 109 Messier objects with their location in the sky map, the associate constellation, the type of object, the magnitude and size.

Messier Objects 1 Messier Objects 2

Figure 02 Sky Map for Messier Objects
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Messier Catalog

Figure 03 Messier Catalog [view large image]