Charles Messier (Mez-e-a) was a French Astronomer who lived from 1730 to 1817. He was a comet hunter and is credited with discovering 13 comets. Comets can look like fuzzy smudges, especially in the telescopes Messier had available at the time. As Messier hunted for more and more comets, he kept running into these other fuzzy objects that were not comets. Frustrated, he decided to make a list of these objects so that he and other comet hunters could avoid wasting time on them!
Today, we know the 103 objects that Messier cataloged (and 7 more added posthumously) are colorful star-forming gas clouds (nebulae), beautiful bubbles of gas expanding from a star that exploded (planetary nebulae), other galaxies outside of the Milky Way, groups of thousands of stars that are tightly held together in a ball by their gravity (globular clusters), and groups of stars that were born together and are loosely held together by their gravity (open clusters).
Obviously, these objects are far from a waste of time!! A couple of the objects are visible with the naked eye, many are visible with binoculars, and all are visible through small amateur telescopes. Messier himself only had a 4” refractor! In early Spring, many astronomers will try a Messier Marathon where they stay up all night and attempt to see all 110 Messier objects in one night!
Join us on Saturday July 7th to find out more about Charles Messier and the objects that he observed and cataloged, then head outside for a Star Party to see some of those objects yourself.
What to Bring if you can:
- Camera and a Tripod for Night Sky Photography
- Flashlight (covered with a red cloth or red balloon)
- Binoculars and/or telescope (if you have)
- Folding chair – one per person
- Star chart (if you have one)
Where: Hobbs State Park Visitor Center Located on Hwy 12 just east of the Hwy 12/War Eagle Road intersection
When: Saturday July 7, 2018 8:00 pm lecture: 9:00 pm for night sky viewing
For more information, call: 479-789-5000. To learn more about Hobbs State Park programs, go to: http://www.friendsofhobbs.com/ and www.ArkansasStateParks.com/hobbsstateparkconservationarea
Sugar Creek Astronomical Society’s Facebook Group is https://www.facebook.com/groups/143382315673668/