Messier 13 (M13) – The Great Hercules Cluster

Welcome back to Messier Monday! Today, in our ongoing tribute to Tammy Plotner, we take a look at the M13 globular cluster, which is often referred to as the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules. Enjoy!

In the 18th century, French astronomer Charles Messier began cataloging all the “nebulous objects” he had come to find while searching the night sky. Having originally mistook these for comets, he compiled a list these objects in the hopes of preventing future astronomers from making the same mistake. In time, the list would include 100 objects, and would come to be known as the Messier Catalog to posterity.

One of these objects is M13 (aka. NGC 6205) a globular cluster located in the Hercules constellation. Located some 25,100 light-years away from Earth, this cluster is made up of 300,000 stars and occupies a region of space that measures 145 light-years in diameter. Given its sheer size and its location, it is often referred to as the “Great Hercules Cluster”.

Description:

This 11.65 billion year old formation of stars is one of the most impressive globular clusters in the northern hemisphere. Containing over 300,000 stars packed into a 145 light year sphere, the center of this glorious object is 500 times more concentrated than its outer perimeters. And out of all of those stars there stands one stranger – Barnard 29. This spectral type B2 star is a young, blue star that M13 is believed to have collected during one of its tours around the Milky Way Galaxy.

Other interesting finds include the 15 blue straggler star candidates and 10 other possible that have been spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope. The stars in the blue horizontal branch of M13 appeared to be centrally depleted relative to other stellar types and the blue stragglers in the combined sample are centrally concentrated relative to the older red giant stars.

The heart of Hercules Globular Cluster; Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA
The heart of the M13 Hercules Globular Cluster, viewed with the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: ESA/NASA/HST

However, the Stromgren photometry work performed by Frank Grundah (et al.) suggests this is a normal occurrence in evolution. “We also note the existence of what appears to be two separate stellar populations on the horizontal branch of M13. Among other possibilities, it could arise as the result of differences in the extent to which deep mixing occurs in the precursor red giants.”

In their 2002 study, “An aligned stream of low-metallicity clusters in the halo of the Milky Way“, astronomers Yoon and Lee declared:

“One of the long-standing problems in modern astronomy is the curious division of Galactic globular clusters, the “Oosterhoff dichotomy,” according to the properties of their RR Lyrae stars. Here, we find that most of the lowest metallicity clusters, which are essential to an understanding of this phenomenon, display a planar alignment in the outer halo. This alignment, combined with evidence from kinematics and stellar population, indicates a captured origin from a satellite galaxy. We show that, together with the horizontal-branch evolutionary effect, the factor producing the dichotomy could be a small time gap between the cluster-formation epochs in the Milky Way and the satellite. The results oppose the traditional view that the metal-poorest clusters represent the indigenous and oldest population of the Galaxy.”

As to how old M13’s stars are, there is more than one answer. According the work of R. Glebocki (et al), stellar rotation within Messier 13 can also play a role in how the stars age. As they state in their 2000 research study, “Catalog of Projected Rotational Velocities”:

“Much theoretical and observational work about the role that rotation plays in stellar evolution has been done. Angular momentum is one of the fundamental parameters in the process of star formation as well as in early life of a star. A considerable amount of research has been done on the stellar axial rotational velocities. Clusters present unique possibility of determination of age of stars.”

Messier 13 imaged by a DSLR camera. Credit: Rawastrodata at wikipedia.org
Messier 13, as imaged by a DSLR camera. Credit: Wikipedia Commons/Rawastrodata

History of Observation:

M13 was originally discovered by Edmond Halley in 1714. In his notes, he wrote of the cluster: “This is but a little Patch, but it shews it self to the naked Eye, when the Sky is serene and the Moon absent.”

On June 1st, 1764, Charles Messier officially catalogued the star cluster as item 13. As he described it at the time:

“In the night of June 1 to 2, 1764, I have discovered a nebula in the girdle of Hercules, of which I am sure it doesn’t contain any star; having examined it with a Newtonian telescope of four feet and a half [FL], which magnified 60 times, it is round, beautiful & brilliant, the center brighter than the borders: One perceives it with an ordinary [non-achromatic] refractor of one foot [FL], it may have a diameter of three minutes of arc: It is accompanied by two stars, the one and the other of the ninth magnitude, situated, the one above and the other below the nebula, & little distant. I have determined its position at its passage of the Meridian, and compared with the star Epsilon Herculis; its right ascension has been concluded to be 248d 18′ 48″, and its declination 36d 54′ 44″ north. It is reported in the Philosophical Transactions, no. 347, page 390, that Mr. Halley discovered by hazard that nebula in 1714: it is, he says, almost on a straight line with Zeta and Eta according to Bayer, a bit closer to the star Zeta than to Eta, & when comparing its situation between the stars, its place is rather close to Scorpius 26d 1/2 with 57 degrees Northern [ecliptic] latitude, it is nothing but a small patch; but one sees it well without a telescope when the weather is fine, and if there is no light of the moon.”

Although Sir William Herschel would soon enough resolve it into stars and again by his son and many others, no one described the history of this object more eloquently than Admiral Smyth:

“A large cluster, or rather ball of stars, on the left buttock of Hercules, between Zeta and Eta; the place of which is differentiated from Eta Herculis, from which it lies south, a little westly, and 3deg 1/2 distant. This superb object blazes up in the centre, and has numerous outliers around its attenuated disc. It was accidentally hit upon by Halley, who says, “This is but a little patch, but it shows itself to the naked eye, when the sky is serene, and the moon absent.” The same paper, in describing this as the sixth and last of the nebulae known in 1716, wisely admits, “there are undoubtedly more of these which have not yet come to our knowledge:” ere half a century passed, Messier contributed his 80 or 90 in the Catalogue of 103; and before the close of that century WH [William Herschel] alone had added to the above 6, no fewer than 2500; and his son, in re-examining these, added 520 more! In my own refractor its appearance was something like the annexed diagram; but I agree with Dr. Nichol, that no plate can give a fitting representation of this magnificent cluster. It is indeed truly glorious, and enlarges on the eye by studying gazing. “Perhaps,” adds the Doctor, “no one ever saw it for the first time through a telescope, without uttering a shout of wonder.” This brilliant cluster was discovered by Halley in 1714; and fifty years afterwards it was examined by M. Messier, with his 4-foot Newtonian, under a power of 60, and described as round, beautiful, and brilliant; but, “ferret” as he was in these matters, he adds, “Je me suis assuré qu’elle ne contient aucune étoile.” This is rather startling, since the slightest optical aid enables the eye to resolve it into an extensive and magnificent mass of stars, with the most compressed part densely compacted and wedged together under unknown laws of aggregation. In 1787, Sir William Herschel pronounced it “a most beautiful cluster of stars, exceedingly compressed in the middle, and very rich.” It has been recently viewed in the Earl of Rosse’s new and powerful telescope, when the components were more distinctly separated, and brighter, than had been anticipated; and there were singular fringed appendages to the globular figure, branching out into the surrounding space, so as to form distinct marks among the general outliers.”

And so Messier 13 has been part of our imaginations for many years. And in 1974, a message was sent from Arecibo Observatory designed to communicate the existence of human life to hypothetical extraterrestrials. Known as the “Aricebo Message”, it was expected that this communique had a better chance of finding intelligent life since the odds of it existing within this massive cluster of stars was greater than elsewhere.

Messier 13 location. Image: IAU/Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg)
Messier 13, located in the Hercules constellation. Credit: IAU/Sky&Telescope magazine/Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg

Locating Messier 13:

To locate M13, all one needs to know is the “Keystone” asterism of Hercules. While this lopsided rectangle isn’t particularly bright, once you understand where to find it, you’ll be able to spot it even under relatively light-polluted skies. Both Vega (in the constellation of Lyra) and Arcturus (in Bootes) are very bright stars and the keystone is about 1/3 the distance between them.

Once you locate it, always remember that Messier 13 is on the leading western side – no matter what position Hercules may be in. By just generally aiming your binoculars in the center of the two stars on the western side, you can’t miss this big, bright globular cluster. When using a finderscope, aim slightly north of the center point and you’ll easily spot it as well. From a dark sky location, M13 can often be seen unaided as a small, fuzzy spot on the sky.

And here are the quick facts on the Great Hercules Cluster to help you get started:

Object Name: Messier 13
Alternative Designations: M13, NGC 6205, the “Great Hercules Cluster”
Object Type: Class V Globular Cluster
Constellation: Hercules
Right Ascension: 16 : 41.7 (h:m)
Declination: +36 : 28 (deg:m)
Distance: 25.1 (kly)
Visual Brightness: 5.8 (mag)
Apparent Dimension: 20.0 (arc min)

We have written many interesting articles about Messier Objects here at Universe Today. Here’s Tammy Plotner’s Introduction to the Messier Objects, , M1 – The Crab Nebula, M8 – The Lagoon Nebula, and David Dickison’s articles on the 2013 and 2014 Messier Marathons.

Be to sure to check out our complete Messier Catalog. And for more information, check out the SEDS Messier Database.

The Constellation Auriga

Welcome back to Constellation Friday! Today, in honor of our dear friend and contributor, Tammy Plotner, we examine the Auriga constellation. Enjoy!

In the 2nd century CE, Greek-Egyptian astronomer Claudius Ptolemaeus (aka. Ptolemy) compiled a list of the then-known 48 constellations. His treatise, known as the Almagest, would serve as the authoritative source of astronomy for over a thousand years to come. Since the development of modern telescopes and astronomy, this list has come to be expanded to include the 88 constellation that are recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) today.

One of these is the constellation of Auriga, a beautiful pentagon-shaped collection of stars that is situated just north of the celestial equator. Along with five other constellations that have stars in the Winter Hexagon asterism, Auriga is most prominent during winter evenings in the Northern Hemisphere. Auriga also belongs to the Perseus family of constellations, together with Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Cetus, Lacerta, Pegasus, Perseus, and Triangulum.

Continue reading “The Constellation Auriga”

Messier 12 (M12) – The NGC 6118 Globular Cluster

Welcome back to another edition of Messier Monday! Today, we continue in our tribute to Tammy Plotner with a look at the M12 globular cluster!

In the 18th century, French astronomer Charles Messier noted the presence of several “nebulous objects” in the night sky which he originally mistook for comets. After realizing his mistake, he began compiling a list of these objects in order to ensure that other astronomers did not make the same error. In time, this list would include 100 objects, and would come to be known as the Messier Catalog to posterity.

One the many objects included in this is Messier 12 (aka. M12 or NGC 6218), a globular cluster located in the Ophiuchus constellation some 15,700 light-years from Earth.  M12 is positioned just 3° from the cluster M10, and the two are among the brightest of the seven Messier globulars located in Ophiuchus. It is also interesting to note that M12 is approaching our Solar System at a velocity of 16 km/s.

Continue reading “Messier 12 (M12) – The NGC 6118 Globular Cluster”

Messier 11 (M11) – The Wild Duck Cluster

Welcome back to another edition of Messier Monday! Today, we continue in our tribute to Tammy Plotner with a look at the M11 Wild Duck Cluster!

In the 18th century, French astronomer Charles Messier noted the presence of several “nebulous objects” in the night sky while searching for comets. Hoping to ensure that other astronomers did not make the same mistake, he began compiling a list of 1oo  of them. This list came to be known as the Messier Catalog, and would have far-reaching consequences.

One of these objects is M11, otherwise known as The Wild Duck Cluster, an open cluster located in the constellation Scutum, near the northern edge of a rich Milky Way star cloud (the Scutum Cloud). This open star cluster is one of the richest and most compact of all those known, composed of a few thousand hot, young stars that are only a few million years old.

Continue reading “Messier 11 (M11) – The Wild Duck Cluster”

Messier 5 (M5) – The NGC 5904 Globular Cluster

In the late 18th century, Charles Messier was busy hunting for comets in the night sky, and noticed several “nebulous” objects. After initially mistaking them for the comets he was seeking, he began to compile a list of these objects so other astronomers would not make the same mistake. Known as the Messier Catalog, this list consists of 100 objects, consisting of distant galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters.

Among the many famous objects in this catalog is the M5 globular star cluster (aka. NGC 5904). Located in the galactic halo within the Serpens Constellation, this cluster of stars is almost as old as the Universe itself (13 billion years)! Though very distant from Earth and hard to spot, it is a favorite amongst amateur astronomers who swear by its beauty.

Continue reading “Messier 5 (M5) – The NGC 5904 Globular Cluster”

The Andromeda Constellation

In the 2nd century CE, Greek-Egyptian astronomer Claudius Ptolemaeus (aka. Ptolemy) compiled a list of the then-known 48 constellations. His treatise, known as the Almagest, would be used by medieval European and Islamic scholars for over a thousand years to come. Thanks to the development of modern telescopes and astronomy, this list was amended by the early 20th century to include the 88 constellation that are recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) today.

Of these, Andromeda is one of the oldest and most widely recognized. Located north of the celestial equator, this constellation is part of the family of Perseus, Cassiopeia, and Cepheus. Like many constellation that have come down to us from classical antiquity, the Andromeda constellation has deep roots, which may go all the way back to ancient Babylonian astronomy.

Continue reading “The Andromeda Constellation”

Guide to the Constellations and Messier Objects by Tammy Plotner

Tammy Plotner and her Dobsonian

The first person to ever write an article for Universe Today (apart from me) was Tammy Plotner. Tammy was an experienced amateur astronomer, and had already dedicated her life to sharing her love of the night sky with the public. She spoke at astronomy clubs, did plenty of sidewalk astronomy, and in 2004, she contributed her first article to Universe Today.

By 2006, Tammy had written dozens of articles for Universe Today, and embarked on a weekly astronomy series called What’s Up This Week. We later turned those into actual books (printed on paper, no less), and did another edition in 2007.

In 2015, Tammy passed away after a long struggle with MS, and we mentioned it here on Universe Today.

One of my favorite projects that Tammy ever embarked on for Universe Today was to publish a guide to every single Messier Object, and every single Constellation in the sky. There are more than 100 Messier Objects, and 88 recognized constellations, and Tammy wrote an in-depth guide to each and every one.

To honor Tammy, we’ve decided to bring these wonderful guides back to the surface – you probably never even realized they were in the vast Universe Today archives. The Guide to Space Curator, Matt Williams, will be completely revised Tammy’s guides, adding plenty of new pictures and links to additional resources.

We’ll release one a week from both collections until they’re all republished, starting with M1: the Crab Nebula, today.

I hope you enjoy them, I sure did.

Weekly SkyWatcher’s Forecast – March 12-18, 2012

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Greetings, fellow SkyWatchers! What an awesome display of planets! Please take the time to walk outdoors just after skydark – regardless of where you live – and enjoy the bright display of Venus and Jupiter! However, this isn’t the only planetary action going on this week… Mars and M96 pair up, as well as Uranus and the Moon. There’s even a Southern Hemisphere meteor shower to enjoy! Pretty exciting, huh? Join the party by getting out your binoculars or telescopes and meet me for more in the backyard…

Monday, March 12 – No. That’s not the “headlights” of a UFO on the western horizon tonight… It’s a very cool pairing of Venus and Jupiter! It’s not often you see the two visually brightest planets making a close visual pass at each other and tonight you’ll spot the inner planet to the south and the outer planet to the north. This would make a great photo opportunity! Why not consider adding something interesting to your picture like a scenic building, tree, or even a person? Watch in the days ahead as Jupiter appears to stay in the same spot at the same time, yet Venus will climb higher.

Tonight let’s return again to NGC 2362 and start at the cluster’s north-northeast corner to have a look at a single, unusual star – UW Canis Majoris. At magnitude 4.9, this super-giant spectroscopic binary is one of the most massive and luminous in our galaxy. Its two stars are separated by only 27 million kilometers (17 million miles) and revolve around each other at a frenzied pace – in less than four and a half days. This speed means the stars themselves are flattened and would appear to be almost egg-shaped. The primary itself is shedding material that’s being collected by the secondary star.

Now drop southwest of NGC 2362 for another open cluster – NGC 2354 (Right Ascension: 7 : 14.3 – Declination: -25 : 44). While at best this will appear as a small, hazy patch to binoculars, NGC 2354 is actually a rich galactic cluster containing around 60 metal-poor members. As aperture and magnification increase, the cluster shows two delightful circle-like structures of stars, similar to a figure 8. Be sure to make a note… You’ve captured another Herschel 400 object!

Tuesday, March 13 – On this day in 1781, Uranus was discovered by William Herschel. Also on this day, in 1855, Percival Lowell was born in Boston. Educated at Harvard, Lowell went on to found the observatory which bears his name in Flagstaff, Arizona, and spent a lifetime studying Mars. During the early morning hours, you can honor Lowell by seeing Mars yourself – it’s best viewed when as high a possible on the ecliptic. While there won’t be a great many details, think of how many strides have been made since Lowell’s time and how advanced our knowledge of Mars has become!

Tonight let’s hop about four fingerwidths east-northeast of Sirius. Look for 5th magnitude SAO 152641 to guide you to a faint patch of stars in binoculars and a superb cluster in a telescope – NGC 2360 (Right Ascension: 7 : 17.8 – Declination: -15 : 37). Comprised of around eighty 10th magnitude and fainter stars, this particular cluster will look like a handful of diamond dust scattered on the sky. Discovered by Caroline Herschel in 1783, this intermediate-aged galactic cluster is home to red giants and heavy in metal abundance. Mark your notes, because not only is this a Herschel object, but is known as Caldwell 58 as well!

Wednesday, March 14 – Today is the birthday of Albert Einstein. Born in 1879, Einstein was one of the finest minds of our times. He developed the theory of gravity in terms of spacetime curvature – dependent on the energy density. Winner of the 1921 Physics Nobel prize, Einstein’s work on the photoelectric effect is the basis of modern light detectors.

Tonight let’s hop about a fistwidth north of bright Eta Canis Majoris and have a look at a “double cluster” – NGC 2383 (Right Ascension: 7 : 24.8 – Declination: -20 : 56) and NGC 2384 (Right Ascension: 7 : 25.1 – Declination: -21 : 02). Just showing in binoculars as a faint patch, this pair will begin resolution with larger scopes. Studied photometrically, it would appear these fairly young clusters have contaminated each other by sharing stars – which has also occurred in some clusters located in the Magellanic Clouds. Enjoy this unusual collection of stars…

Thursday, March 15 – Today celebrates the birth of Nicolas Lacaille. Born in 1713, Lacaille’s measurements confirmed the Earth’s equatorial bulge. He also named fourteen southern constellations. To honor Lacaille tonight, let’s begin some explorations in a constellation he named – Puppis!

For SkyWatchers living in high northern latitudes, you’ll never see all of this constellation, but there will be some things for you to explore, as well as a great deal for our friends in the southern hemisphere. The first is a Herschel object that lies directly on the galactic equator around five degrees north-northwest of Xi.

NGC 2421 (Right Ascension: 7 :36.3 – Declination: -20 : 37) is a magnitude 8.3 open cluster that will look like an exquisitely tiny “Brocchi’s Cluster” in binoculars and begin good resolution of its 50 or so members to an intermediate telescope, in an arrowhead-shaped pattern. It’s bright, it’s fairly easy to find, and it’s a great open cluster to add to your challenge study lists!

If you’re looking for a curiosity, then look no further than Leo and Mars. Tonight the happy red planet is situated just to the east of Messier 96 (Right Ascension: 10 : 46.8 – Declination: +11 : 49)! Enjoy celestial mechanics over the next few nights as Mars gently changes its position in relation with this distant galaxy… and gets much closer!

Friday, March 16 – On this day in 1926, Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fuel rocket. But he was first noticed in 1907 when a cloud of smoke issued from a powder rocket fired in the basement of the physics building in Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Needless to say, the school took an interest in the work of this shy student. Thankfully they did not expel him, and thus began his lifetime of work in rocket science. Goddard was also the first to realize the full implications of rocketry for missiles and space flight, and his lifetime of work was dedicated to bringing this vision to realization. While most of what he did went unrecognized for many years, tonight we celebrate the name of Robert H. Goddard. This first flight may have gone only 12 meters, but forty years later on the date of his birth, Gemini 8 was launched, carrying Neil Armstrong and David Scott into orbit!

Let’s begin our observing evening with Mars. While you may have been keeping track of its position, did you know that it’s less than a degree away from a Messier object tonight? That’s right! You’ll find the dusty red planet just to the north of M96 (Right Ascension: 10 : 46.8 – Declination: +11 : 49).

Tonight we’ll pick up a challenge cluster and a planetary nebula on the Herschel list by returning to NGC 2421 and hopping about a fingerwidth northeast for NGC 2432 (Right Ascension: 7 : 40.9 – Declination: -19 : 05). This small, loose open cluster is rather dim and contains around 20 or so faint members shaped like the letter B. About another degree northeast is NGC 2440 – an elongated, small 11th magnitude planetary nebula. Look for its central star to cause a brightening and up the magnifying power to reveal it.

While out, be on watch for the Corona-Australids meteor shower. While the fall rate is low – 5 to 7 per hour – our friends in the southern hemisphere might stand a chance with this one!

Saturday, March 17 – On this day in 1958, the first solar-powered spacecraft was launched. Named Vanguard 1, it was an engineering test satellite. From its orbital position, the data taken from its transmission helped to redefine the true shape of the Earth.

Tonight let’s return to Xi Puppis and head less than a fingerwidth east-northeast for Herschel study NGC 2482 (Right Ascension: 7 : 54.9 – Declination: -24 : 18). At magnitude 7, this small fuzzy spot in binoculars will resolve into around two dozen stars to the telescope. Look for the diagonal chain of stars along its edge.

Now let’s have a look at an open cluster easily located in northeastern Orion. This 5.9 magnitude scattered group of stars may have been first observed by Giovanni Batista Hodierna in the mid-17th century. While bright enough to have been a Messier object, William Herschel added it to his log of discoveries on October 15, 1784, as H VIII.24. Of the 30 known stars associated with this 3,600 light-year distant group, the brightest is 50 million years old. A half-dozen of the cluster’s very brightest members can be seen in small scopes at mid-range powers. Look for NGC 2169 (Right Ascension: 6 : 08.4 – Declination: +13 : 57) slightly less than a fist width north-northeast of Betelguese and slightly south of Xi and Nu Orionis.

Sunday, March 18 – Although you can’t see it with just your eyes, Uranus is less than a degree from the Moon this morning. For some areas this could be an occultation, so be sure to check IOTA information!

Today in 1965, the first ever spacewalk was performed by Alexei Leonov onboard the Soviet Voskhod spacecraft. The “walk” only lasted around 20 minutes and Alexei had problems in re-entering the spacecraft because his space suit had enlarged slightly. Imagine his fear as he had to let air leak out of his space suit in order to squeeze back inside. When they landed off target in the heavily forested Ural Mountains, the crew of two had to spend the night in the woods surrounded by wolves. It took over twenty-four hours before they were located and workers had to chop their way through the forest and recover them on skis. Brave men!

Tonight let’s honor them by studying a small area which contains not only three Herschel objects – but two Messiers as well – M46 and M47. You’ll find them less than a handspan east of Sirius and about a fistwidth north of Xi Puppis.

The brighter of the two clusters is M47 (Right Ascension: 7 : 36.6 – Declination: -14 : 30) and at 1600 light-years away, it’s a glorious object for binoculars. It is filled with mixed magnitude stars that resolve fully to aperture with the double Struve 1211 near its center. While M47 is in itself a Herschel object, look just slightly north (about a field of view) to pick up another cluster which borders it. At magnitude 6.7, NGC 2423 isn’t as grand, but it contains more than two dozen fairly compressed faint stars with a lovely golden binary at its center.

Now return to M47 and hop east to locate M46 (Right Ascension: 7 : 41.8 – Declination: -14 : 49). While this star cluster will appear to be fainter and more compressed in binoculars, you’ll notice one star seems brighter than the rest. Using a telescope, you’ll soon discover the reason. 300 million year old M47 contains a Herschel planetary nebula known as NGC 2438 in its northern portion. The cluster contains around 150 resolvable stars and may involve as many as 500. The bright planetary nebula was first noted by Sir William Herschel and then again by John. While it would appear to be a member of the cluster, the planetary nebula is just a little closer to us than the cluster. Be sure to mark your notes… There’s a lot there in just a little area!

Until next week? May all of your journeys be at light speed!

Many thanks to John Chumack for the inspiring image!

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.

M1M2M3M4M5M6M7M8M9M10M11M12M13M14M15M16M17M18M19M20M21M22M23M24M25M26M27M28M29M30M31M32M33M34M35M36M37M38M39M40M41M42M43M44M45M46M47M48M49M50M51M52M53M54M55M56M57M58M59M60M61M62M63M64M65M66M67M68M69M70M71M72M73M74M75M76M77M78M79M80M81M82M83M84M85M86M87M88M89M90M91M92M93M94M95M96M97M98M99M100M101M102M103M104M105M106M107M108M109M110

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.