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Universe Today Guide to the Messier Objects


Well, Tammy’s done it again. Remember the Universe Today Guide to the Constellations? Well now Tammy has completed another monster volume. The Universe Today Guide to the Messier Objects. This is a guide to all 110 Messier Objects, from M1 (the Crab Nebula) to M110 (a satellite galaxy to Andromeda), and everything in between.

In addition to descriptions of the individual Messier Objects, there’s also a nice introduction to the Messier Objects, a guide to doing a Messier marathon, and suggestions for stretching your Messier marathon out to a week.

If you’ve got any questions, comments or feedback, please let us know. I’m sure there are going to be some bugs in there.

Thanks. And thanks again to the wonderful Tammy Plotner for grinding through this monster project.


P.S. If you want to use any part of this information for any reason whatsoever, you’ve got my permission. Be my guest. Print them off for your astronomy club, turn it into a PDF and give it away from your site. Republish the guides on your own site. Whatever you like. All I ask is that you link back to Universe Today and the specific page, so people can find out where it came from.


Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hon. Salacious B. Crumb January 24, 2010, 4:28 PM

    After posting my issues with planetary nebulae in these articles, I remain more surprised with the deathly silence.

    It seems that Frasier Cain’s words about “feedback” are, frankly, empty rhetoric. Unless they are all full of praise and general positive platitudes, any contrary view must be suppressed or be ignored.

    I did a little further investigating into the sources of the values quoted in this M76 article. It is interesting that the original (unacknowledged) source of nearly all of the technical information on distance and sizes of M76 used by Tammy has been taken directly from Hartmut Frommert and Christine Kronberg site, specifically;
    Messier 76. Some of this same data is quoted also in Wikipedia article on M76.

    Clearly much written from this source is out of date (earlier than 1975) and is frankly quite wrong, I.e. The modern distance for M76 according to Philips, J., MNRAS., 361, 283 (2005) is 780 pc. (See Table 2.) Similar given distances in the literature goes back to about 1996.

    It is as I’ve already previously said here;

    Needless to say my point really was not aimed solely at how good or bad the descriptions are, but more towards how often poorly understood nature on planetary nebula and what many sources continue to quite wrongly quote.

    IMO all fatal flaws sometimes need to be corrected not perpetuated ad hoc. M76 is a classic historical example that has been pointed out not just by me.

  • Hon. Salacious B. Crumb January 24, 2010, 4:30 PM

    Sorry for the unintended shouting. I forgot to close the bold setting.

  • Hon. Salacious B. Crumb January 24, 2010, 6:04 PM

    The Wikipedia information on M76 has been today properly updated and referenced.

    I have also formally approached Hartmut Frommert at the SEDS site, requesting that the information there also be updated and the incorrect information removed.

    As Tammy has already said;

    …quite frankly, if you can do it better yourself?
    do it.

    Well I have done so.

  • Nereid2 January 25, 2010, 9:39 AM

    2MASS has produced the 2MASSier (“2MASS Atlas Image Gallery: The Messier Catalog”):

    Now 2MASS and POSS (Palomar Observatory Sky Survey) have comparable resolutions, cover the whole sky, and between them have produced images (data) in five bands (two in the visual, three in the near-IR).

    I’m wondering if there would be any interest in producing a poster – or series of posters – of all the Messier objects, with a uniform scale? For example, this may be a terrific resource for those who teach astronomy (there sooo much you can show, in a visually stunning way, using uniform 5-band images of M objects!).

    It would be a project for someone who is comfortable with astronomical data (FITS files, for example, and how to make queries of databases), but even a modest desktop PC should have more than enough oomph to do it.