|Died||12 April 1817 86) (aged|
|Known for||Messier catalog|
|Awards||Cross of the Legion of Honor|
Charles Messier (French: [ʃaʁl me.sje] ; 26 June 1730 – 12 April 1817) was a French astronomer. He published an astronomical catalogue consisting of 110 nebulae and faint star clusters, which came to be known as the Messier objects . Messier's purpose for the catalogue was to help astronomical observers distinguish between permanent and transient visually diffuse objects in the sky.
Messier was born in Badonviller in the Lorraine region of France, the tenth of twelve children of Françoise B. Grandblaise and Nicolas Messier, a Court usher. Six of his brothers and sisters died while young, and his father died in 1741. Charles' interest in astronomy was stimulated by the appearance of the great six-tailed comet in 1744 and by an annular solar eclipse visible from his hometown on 25 July 1748.
In 1751, Messier entered the employ of Joseph Nicolas Delisle, the astronomer of the French Navy, who instructed him to keep careful records of his observations. Messier's first documented observation was that of the Mercury transit of 6 May 1753, followed by his observations journals at Cluny Hotel and at the French Navy observatories.
In 1764, Messier was made a fellow of the Royal Society; in 1769, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; and on 30 June 1770, he was elected to the French Academy of Sciences.
Messier discovered 13 comets:
He also co-discovered Comet C/1801 N1, a discovery shared with several other observers including Pons, Méchain, and Bouvard.(Comet Pons-Messier-Méchain-Bouvard)
Near the end of his life, Messier self-published a booklet connecting the great comet of 1769 to the birth of Napoleon, who was in power at the time of publishing. According to Maik Meyer:
As hard as it may seem to accept, the memoir is an ingratiation to Napoleon in order to receive attention and monetary support. It is full of servility and opportunism. Messier did not even refrain from utilizing astrology to reach his goal. Messier comes quickly to the point on the first page of the memoir, by stating that the beginning of the epoch of Napoleon the Great ... coincides with the discovery of one of the greatest comets ever observed.
Messier is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, in Section 11. The grave is faintly inscribed, and is near the grave of Frédéric Chopin, slightly to the west and directly north, and behind the small mausoleum of the horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet.[ citation needed ]
Messier's occupation as a comet hunter led him to continually come across fixed diffuse objects in the night sky which could be mistaken for comets. He compiled a list of them, galaxies, 4 planetary nebulae, 7 other types of nebulae, and 55 star clusters.in collaboration with his friend and assistant Pierre Méchain (who may have found at least 20 of the objects ), to avoid wasting time sorting them out from the comets they were looking for. The entries are now known to be 39
Messier did his observing with a 100 mm (four-inch) refracting telescope from Hôtel de Cluny (now the Musée national du Moyen Âge), in downtown Paris, France. The list he compiled only contains objects found in the area of the sky Messier could observe, from the north celestial pole to a declination of about −35.7° . They are not organized scientifically by object type, or by location. The first version of Messier's catalogue contained 45 objects and was published in 1774 in the journal of the French Academy of Sciences in Paris. In addition to his own discoveries, this version included objects previously observed by other astronomers, with only 17 of the 45 objects being discovered by Messier himself. By 1780 the catalog had increased to 80 objects.
The final version of the catalogue was published in 1781, in the 1784 issue of Connaissance des Temps . 104 through M 110, are accepted by astronomers as "official" Messier objects.The final list of Messier objects had grown to 103. On several occasions between 1921 and 1966, astronomers and historians discovered evidence of another seven objects that were observed either by Messier or by Méchain, shortly after the final version was published. These seven objects, M
The objects' Messier designations, from M 1 to M 110, are still used by professional and amateur astronomers today and their relative brightness makes them popular objects in the amateur astronomical community.
The lunar crater Messier and the asteroid 7359 Messier were named in his honour.
The Messier objects are a set of 110 astronomical objects catalogued by the French astronomer Charles Messier in his Catalogue des Nébuleuses et des Amas d'Étoiles. Because Messier was only interested in finding comets, he created a list of those non-comet objects that frustrated his hunt for them. The compilation of this list, in collaboration with his assistant Pierre Méchain, is known as the Messier catalogue. This catalogue of objects is one of the most famous lists of astronomical objects, and many Messier objects are still referenced by their Messier number. The catalogue includes most of the astronomical deep-sky objects that can easily be observed from Earth's Northern Hemisphere; many Messier objects are popular targets for amateur astronomers.
The New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars is an astronomical catalogue of deep-sky objects compiled by John Louis Emil Dreyer in 1888. The NGC contains 7,840 objects, including galaxies, star clusters, emission nebulae and absorption nebulae. Dreyer published two supplements to the NGC in 1895 and 1908, known as the Index Catalogues, describing a further 5,386 astronomical objects. Thousands of these objects are best known by their NGC or IC numbers, which remain in widespread use.
The Ring Nebula is a planetary nebula in the mildly northern constellation of Lyra. Such a nebula is formed when a star, during the last stages of its evolution before becoming a white dwarf, expels a vast luminous envelope of ionized gas into the surrounding interstellar space.
Messier 100 is a grand design intermediate spiral galaxy in the southern part of the mildly northern Coma Berenices. It is one of the brightest and largest galaxies in the Virgo Cluster and is approximately 55 million light-years from our galaxy, its diameter being 107,000 light years, and being about 60% as large. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1781 and 29 days later seen again and entered by Charles Messier in his catalogue "of nebulae and star clusters".. It was one of the first spiral galaxies to be discovered, and was listed as one of fourteen spiral nebulae by Lord William Parsons of Rosse in 1850. NGC 4323 and NGC 4328 are satellite galaxies of M100; the former is connected with it by a bridge of luminous matter.
Pierre François André Méchain was a French astronomer and surveyor who, with Charles Messier, was a major contributor to the early study of deep-sky objects and comets.
The Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as Messier 51a, M51a, and NGC 5194, is an interacting grand-design spiral galaxy with a Seyfert 2 active galactic nucleus. It lies in the constellation Canes Venatici, and was the first galaxy to be classified as a spiral galaxy. Its distance is estimated to be 31 million light-years away from Earth.
Messier 102 is a galaxy listed in the Messier Catalogue that cannot be unambiguously identified. Its original discoverer Pierre Méchain said that it was a duplicate observation of Messier 101, but more historical evidence favors that it is NGC 5866, although other galaxies have been suggested as possible identities. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) considers it to be the same as NGC 5866.
The Beehive Cluster, is an open cluster in the constellation Cancer. One of the nearest open clusters to Earth, it contains a larger population of stars than other nearby bright open clusters. Under dark skies, the Beehive Cluster looks like a small nebulous object to the naked eye, and has been known since ancient times. Classical astronomer Ptolemy described it as a "nebulous mass in the breast of Cancer". It was among the first objects that Galileo studied with his telescope.
Messier 58 is an intermediate barred spiral galaxy with a weak inner ring structure located within the constellation Virgo, approximately 68 million light-years away from Earth. It was discovered by Charles Messier on April 15, 1779 and is one of four barred spiral galaxies that appear in Messier's catalogue. M58 is one of the brightest galaxies in the Virgo Cluster. From 1779 it was arguably the farthest known astronomical object until the release of the New General Catalogue in the 1880s and even more so the publishing of redshift values in the 1920s.
Messier 74 is a large spiral galaxy in the equatorial constellation Pisces. It is about 32 million light-years away from Earth. The galaxy contains two clearly defined spiral arms and is therefore used as an archetypal example of a grand design spiral galaxy. The galaxy's low surface brightness makes it the most difficult Messier object for amateur astronomers to observe. Its relatively large angular size and the galaxy's face-on orientation make it an ideal object for professional astronomers who want to study spiral arm structure and spiral density waves. It is estimated that M74 hosts about 100 billion stars.
The Little Dumbbell Nebula, also known as Messier 76, NGC 650/651, the Barbell Nebula, or the Cork Nebula, is a planetary nebula in northern constellation Perseus. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1780 and included in Charles Messier's catalog of comet-like objects as number 76. It was first recognised as a planetary nebula in 1918 by the astronomer Heber Doust Curtis. However, there is some contention to this claim, as Isaac Roberts in 1891 did suggest that M76 might be similar to the Ring Nebula (M57), being instead as seen from the side view. The structure is now classed as a bipolar planetary nebula (BPNe), denoting two stars which have burst, leaving neutron star or white dwarf remnants and luminous envelopes. Distance to M76 is currently estimated as 780 parsecs or 2,500 light years, making the average dimensions about 0.378 pc. across.
Messier 78 or M78, also known as NGC 2068, is a reflection nebula in the constellation Orion. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1780 and included by Charles Messier in his catalog of comet-like objects that same year.
The Owl Nebula is a starburst ("planetary") nebula approximately 2,030 light years away in the northern constellation Ursa Major. The estimated age of the Owl Nebula is about 8,000 years. It is approximately circular in cross-section with faint internal structure. It was formed from the outflow of material from the stellar wind of the central star as it evolved along the asymptotic giant branch. The nebula is arranged in three concentric shells/envelopes, with the outermost shell being about 20–30% larger than the inner shell. A mildly owl-like appearance of the nebula is the result of an inner shell that is not circularly symmetric, but instead forms a barrel-like structure aligned at an angle of 45° to the line of sight.
Messier 99 or M99, also known as NGC 4254, is a grand design spiral galaxy in the northern constellation Coma Berenices approximately 15,000,000 parsecs from the Milky Way. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain on 17 March 1781. The discovery was then reported to Charles Messier, who included the object in the Messier Catalogue of comet-like objects. It was one of the first galaxies in which a spiral pattern was seen. This pattern was first identified by Lord Rosse in the spring of 1846.
Messier 93 or M93, also known as NGC 2447, is an open cluster in the modestly southern constellation Puppis, the imagined poop deck of the legendary Argo.
Messier 105 or M105, also known as NGC 3379, is an elliptical galaxy 36.6 million light-years away in the equatorial constellation of Leo. It's the biggest elliptical galaxy in the Messier catalogue that is not in the Virgo cluster. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1781, just a few days after he discovered the nearby galaxies Messier 95 and Messier 96. This galaxy is one of a few not object-verified by Messier so omitted in the editions of his Catalogue of his era. It was appended when Helen S. Hogg found a letter by Méchain locating and describing this object which matched those aspects under its first-published name, NGC 3379.
The Caldwell catalogue is an astronomical catalogue of 109 star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies for observation by amateur astronomers. The list was compiled by Patrick Moore as a complement to the Messier catalogue.
The Herschel 400 catalogue is a subset of William Herschel's original Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars, selected by Brenda F. Guzman (Branchett), Lydel Guzman, Paul Jones, James Morrison, Peggy Taylor and Sara Saey of the Ancient City Astronomy Club in St. Augustine, Florida, United States c. 1980. They decided to generate the list after reading a letter published in Sky & Telescope by James Mullaney of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
An astronomical catalog or catalogue is a list or tabulation of astronomical objects, typically grouped together because they share a common type, morphology, origin, means of detection, or method of discovery. The oldest and largest are star catalogues. Hundreds have been published, including general ones and special ones for such items as infrared stars, variable stars, giant stars, multiple star systems, star clusters, and so forth.
Attempts to find as many Messier objects as possible in one night
NGC/IC Project is a collaborative effort between professional and amateur astronomers to correctly identify all of the original NGC and IC objects, such that the identity of each of the NGC and IC objects is known with as much certainty as we can reasonably bring to it from the existing historical record.