This is a project for Science Logs developed by Lupe Rioné, Spanish amateur astronomer. This section aims to make a count of all the objects in Messier’s catalog. In each post the reader will be able to find out about the history and relevant data of each of these heavenly bodies.
The Messier catalog can be considered an album of astronomical objects. It consists of 110 celestial bodies observable from the northern hemisphere, including galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. It was compiled by French astronomer Charles Messier (1730-1817) in the 18th century, Messier devoted his entire life to searching for comets in the sky. Since he found a small cloud shaped object in the Taurus Constellation (The Crab Nebula or M1) he began to keep track of these objects, among other things, so as not to confuse them with comets. This record is what is known today as the Messier catalog and the celestial bodies registered there as Messier objects
Most of the celestial bodies in the catalog can be seen with small telescopes or binoculars. Even some of them can be seen with the naked eye. Thus, a common practice among amateur astronomers is to view or photograph every object in Messier’s catalog. In fact, the Astronomical League (www.astroleague.org) grants a certificate and the privilege of being in Club Messier to anyone who documents the observation of 70 of these objects. In addition, it is considered a rite of passage for amateur astronomers to run the “Messier Marathon”, which consists of observing the 110 astronomical bodies during one night before the sun rises.
M10 is a very bright and star-rich cluster. Located in the constellation Ofiuco, it is estimated to be approximately 16,000 light-years from the center of our galaxy. An analysis of its radial velocity allows us to deduce that it is moving away from Earth at more than 271,440 km/h.
Like all globular clusters, M9 is a spectacle in itself, and one of the oldest and most intriguing objects in our galaxy. M9 stands out as one of the closest globular clusters to the center of our galaxy, only 5,500 light-years away.
Like all emission nebulae, M8 or NGC 6523 is a gigantic HII region, that is, a spectacular cradle of stars. With a magnitude of 5.8, this incredible nebula boasts many large, hot stars, whose ultraviolet radiation sculpts the gases and cosmic dust, giving it its characteristic shape.
Also known as NGC 6475, M7 is an open cluster, that is, a group of gravitationally bound stars formed by the same molecular cloud. It is a very sparse cluster, located in a very rich region of the Milky Way.
This beautiful cluster comprises more than 200 stars and has a diameter of about 12-20 light-years. It is estimated that its stars were formed about 100 million years ago, which means that while dinosaurs roamed the planet, M6 was just beginning to shine in the sky.
The globular cluster M5 is probably one of the most interesting because it is one of the oldest, largest, and brightest clusters. It is located in the constellation of The Serpent (Serpens) at a distance of approximately 24,500 light-years.
Also called NGC 6121, M4 is the closest globular cluster to the Earth. M4 contains about 100,000 stars, and like most globular clusters, it is a very old structure, about 12-13 billion years old.
M3, also called NGC 5272, is one of the largest and most spectacular clusters that we can observe in our galaxy. In fact, M3 was the first original discovery by Charles Messier.
M2 is a globular star cluster and the second object in the Messier catalog. Also called NGC 7089, it was discovered in 1746 by French astronomer Jean-Dominique Maraldi.