Deep Sky Companions: The Messier Objects



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Date: NA
Price: $34.95 
Author: Stephen James O'Meara
Description: Hardcover book with 306 pages covering all of the Messier objects.


Charles 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.

The 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!

I 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 - - Zagreb, Croatia 

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