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Further Musings About
The Messier Catalogue
By Greg Bryant

Published in the September 1998 issue of Universe

Making his long-awaited return to the ASNSW's Writers Guild, Steve Mencinsky's article "Ilford Messiers Down To The Far North" in the June issue of Universe discussed a selection of Messier objects that lie north of declination +45 degrees and south of an approximate northern horizon limit of +57.5 degrees.

What Messier objects are we assured of not seeing from Ilford or other locations further south? A perusal of the Catalogue gives the following offering:

That leaves a lot of Messiers that are potentially observable from our observing areas. To sight the entire Messier Catalogue, one would have to travel to northern Australia. On the other hand, consider the Northern Hemisphere astronomers who can not observe south of -57.5 degrees. Can you imagine being deprived of the Magellanic Clouds, or never being able to see the starfields of Carina?

The skies of winter reveal a multitude of Messier targets to track down, from the galaxies of Leo, Virgo, and Coma Berenices, through to the globulars, open clusters, and diffuse nebulae of Ophiuchus, Scorpius, and Sagittarius. If you haven't begun an exploration of the Messier Catalogue, do so, as it offers a great selection of the best deep sky objects in the northern half of our sky.

To conclude on an interesting challenge : the Messier Catalogue contains a bounty of deep sky objects rich and diverse in nature and brightness. How many can you see with your naked-eye : from home, Bowen, or Ilford? What matters is not how your eyesight compares to other people, but rather the effort you put into seeing what YOU can achieve.