Charles Messier (1730-1817) was a French astronomer who had an obsession with comets. Getting fed up with 'discovering' fuzzy blobs that turned out to be distractions, he made a catalogue of things to avoid in the night sky. His assistant and friendly rival Pierre Mechain assisted him in this task, and eventually he came up with a list of 103. Later astronomers added another 7 he listed (although number 102 was arguably 'bogus') and he was also aware of M110. So, 109 'Messier Objects' numbered 1-110, got it? Do keep up at the back...
Well that's almost ten times as many objects as comets, and the irony is that Messier's comets faded back into the obscurity of the outer solar system, while his list is a favourite guide to many of the best sights in the night sky!
The list includes several types of object, mostly globular clusters, open clusters, planetary nebulae and galaxies. Most are telescopic objects, but several can be seen with the naked eye, especially from 'dark sky' sites.
the first Messier Object I photographed was the Hercules Cluster - M13, a massive ball of stars, within our galaxy and bound together by gravity, just visible to the naked eye. My favourite image so far is the Pinwheel Galaxy, M101, because although it is big it is faint and real challenge to image well.
M101, also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy
My ambition is to photograph and observe as many of the objects as I can - and each time I 'tick off' another object I will post its image up here.
The numbers below link to a page for each Messier object, they range from missing, through poor to images I am very proud of. Some smaller globular clusters and most open clusters (typically among the lower numbers) tend to make less spectatcular images although they often look great through a scope! My favourites are the galaxies!