Charles Messier

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

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
Hôtel de Cluny in Messier’s Days. Credit: web “messier.seds.org/xtra/history/cluny.html”

Charles Messier was a huge fan of kite hunting.

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.

Nebula
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.

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