The Messier objects
are a set of astronomical objects first listed by French astronomer Charles Messier in 1771. The original motivation of the catalogue was that Messier was a comet hunter, and was frustrated by objects which resembled but were not comets. He therefore compiled a list of these objects, in collaboration with his assistant Pierre Méchain. Because Messier lived and did his astronomical work in France in the northern hemisphere, the list he compiled contains only objects from the north celestial pole to a celestial latitude of about −35.7°. Many impressive Southern objects, such as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are excluded from the list.
All of the Messier objects are visible with binoculars or small telescopes (under favorable conditions); therefore they are popular viewing objects for amateur astronomers. In early spring, astronomers sometimes gather for "Messier marathons", when all of the objects can be viewed over a single night.
Newcomers to astronomy invariably start with the Messier list and I am no exception. My ambition is to photograph all 110 objects.