Charles Messier

related topics
{math, energy, light}
{work, book, publish}
{son, year, death}
{water, park, boat}

Charles Messier (26 June 1730 – 12 April 1817) was a French astronomer most notable for publishing an astronomical catalogue consisting of deep sky objects such as nebulae and star clusters that came to be known as the 110 "Messier objects". The purpose of the catalogue was to help astronomical observers, in particular comet hunters such as himself, distinguish between permanent and transient objects in the sky.


Messier's life

Messier was born in Badonviller in the Lorraine region of France, being 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 in 1741, his father died. Charles' interest in astronomy was stimulated by the appearance of the spectacular, great six-tailed comet in 1744 and by an annular solar eclipse visible from his hometown on 25 July 1748.

In 1751 he 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.

In 1764, he 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 [1]:

  • C/1760 B1 (Messier)
  • C/1763 S1 (Messier)
  • C/1764 A1 (Messier)
  • C/1766 E1 (Messier)
  • C/1769 P1 (Messier)
  • D/1770 L1 (Lexell)
  • C/1771 G1 (Messier)
  • C/1773 T1 (Messier)
  • C/1780 U2 (Messier)
  • C/1788 W1 (Messier)
  • C/1793 S2 (Messier)
  • C/1798 G1 (Messier)
  • C/1785 A1 (Messier-Mechain)

His catalogue

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. The final version of the catalogue was published in 1781, in Connoissance des Temps for 1784[2]. The final list of Messier objects had grown to 103.

On several different occasions between 1921 and 1966, astronomers and historians discovered evidence of another seven deep-sky objects that were observed either by Messier or his friend and assistant, Pierre Méchain, shortly after the final version was published. These seven objects, M104 through M110, are accepted by astronomers as "official" Messier objects.

Full article ▸

related documents
Giuseppe Piazzi
Naiad (moon)
Space observatory
Transport phenomena
Atlas (moon)
Diurnal motion
Ephemeris time
Electrical length
Optical path length
Kennelly-Heaviside layer
Reflection coefficient
Linear polarization
Elliptical polarization
Radio horizon
Electro-optic effect
Celestial sphere
Cutback technique
Atmospheric duct
Cloud forcing
Antenna effective area
Angular acceleration