Deep Sky Companions: The Messier Objects
Messier-an 18th century French comet hunter compiled the Messier catalogue to
prevent mistaking the "faint fuzzies”, he frequently stumbled upon during
his observing sessions, as comets. He made a catalogue, which in the updated
form consists of 110 entries. It is widely accepted as the showpiece catalogue
and its members jewels of the heavens. O'Meara (who is one of the greatest
visual observers today) took the challenge of presenting this catalogue object
by object. He observed every object with a 4" Genesis refractor from a high
altitude on Hawaii. But don't be fooled by the small aperture of the Genesis!
With such an experienced observer in such conditions his sketches and comments
could translate to an intermediate amateur with an 8-10" scope! The main
part of the book are the 110 objects each discussed separately. For each object
there's a black&white photograph, Messier's original comments (naturally
translated to English), comments from the NGC catalogue, the usual information
such as the position, magnitude, constellation etc., a finder chart, O'Meara's
sketch, and his text concerning the object. Messier's and the NGC comments are
both useful and fun to compare to your own. The finder charts, although a little
bit too small, are really easy to use and are of great use for everybody without
a go-to scope. The sketches are really detailed but as I said above are not what
you will see with a 4". Instead if you have a small scope or, have
difficulty in seeing a lot of detail use them as a "map" as to what
details you can see. Maybe if you know what to look for you will see it! The
text's for the objects are very usefull and are full of "mini-quests".
At the beginning of the book there's a short introduction for the beginner
covering the techniques of starhopping and averted vision plus short
descriptions of galaxies, nebulae etc.
book is in hardcover and has 306 pages. It is printed on good paper. It is in
black & white. Some would say that that's a big mistake, but I would say a
definite plus! The book deals with observing the M. objects not photographing
them. While observing you won't see any colour so a black & white photo or
sketch will definitely give you a better picture of what you can see!
would recommend this book to anybody who would like to see the Messier catalogue
objects in another more thorough way. It's a great read and it's useful for the
beginner who is still having difficulty finding the Andromeda galaxy all the way
to the advanced amateur who observes all the faint galaxies for breakfast but
would still like to visit his old friends! Personally I find this book one the
most informative and the thing that counts most, most used of all my astronomy
related books! On a scale of 1-10 would give it a great big 10!
Submitted by Mario Pallua - firstname.lastname@example.org - Zagreb, Croatia