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binocular messier observing program

The French astronomer Charles Messier was born in 1730. He became interested in astronomy during his early teens, and went on to become a professional astronomer. Between 1758 and 1782 he compiled a list of diffuse objects that were difficult to distinguish from comets through the telescopes of the day.


Discovering comets was the way to make a name for yourself in astronomy in the 18th century -- Messier's aim was to catalog the objects that were often mistaken for comets. Fortunately for us, the Messier Catalog became well known for a much better reason. It is a comprehensive list of some of the brightest and most beautiful objects in the night sky. The catalog, as it exists today, contains objects discovered by Charles Messier and Pierre Méchain.

The rules for this program are quite simple: log your observations of 50 or more of the Messier objects. You may use any pair of binoculars you choose. The Messier catalog is listed below for your convenience.

The Messier Catalog

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