Charles Messier

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Biography of Charles Messier, who is known for being the creator, in 1774, of the catalog of 110 objects from deep space: nebulae, galaxies and star clusters.

Biography of Charles Messier French astronomer

Charles Messier was born on June 26, 1720 in the city of Badenville (France).

After a life devoted entirely to astonomy, he died at the age of 86, in Paris, on April 12, 1817.

His body is buried in the Pére Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

He worked for many years as an assistant at the Marine Observatory, installed in the Hotel de Cluny, in the heart of Paris, from where he had made all his discoveries.

Hotel. Biography of Charles Messier
Hôtel de Cluny in Messier’s Days. Credit: web “”

Charles Messier was a huge fan of kite hunting.

Comets have been known from the most remote antiquity the sporadic appearance of strange celestial bodies that crossed the beautiful night skies of those times.

Initially they appeared as a luminous point that moved in the middle of the stars.

Then, after a few nights, that point began to develop a tail, which sometimes extended considerably and with a variety of colors that gave them a fantastic appearance.

The Greeks called them “comets”; In Greek, kome means “hair.” Aristotle popularized the name “kometes” to refer to these “stars with hair.”

Their origins are in the outer solar system, and they are intensely affected by the approaches to major planets; Therefore, some are transferred to orbits very close to the Sun that destroys them when they approach, while others are sent forever outside the solar system.

In fact, it appears that while searching the sky for Halley’s Comet, he discovered the Crab Nebula (in his catalog it is M1). The English astronomer Halley had predicted that this comet would make its appearance again in the year 1758.

The Crab Nebula is the remnant of a supernova explosion witnessed over 900 years ago. Credit: Jeff Hester and Paul Scowen (Arizona State University), and NASA/ESA

Despite his fondness for comet hunting, Messier’s fame and his passing to posterity is due to his catalog of non-comets.

Messier was interested in cataloging fixed celestial objects, in order to distinguish them from wandering comets, which was the task that interested him most.

A crater on the Moon and an asteroid were named Messier.

Crater >Messier
Crater Messier (left) and Messier A (right) from Apollo 11. Credit: Photo NASA.

Both craters are located in the Sea of Fertility.

Since the 16th century, the Moon has continued to be the star that arouses the most curiosity to those who can observe it through a telescope.

In July 1969, a historical event occurred that completely changed our perception of the Moon: man managed to step on the Moon.

On the occasion of the Apollo 17 Mission, in 1972, the astronaut and geologist Harrison Schmitt was able to analyze some rocks on the Moon.



Crater Messier. Biography of Charles Messier
Location of craters Messier on the Moon. Credit: NASA.