Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects

Books 2
Image Credit: Tom Hermans

When you have an advanced or high quality beginner’s telescope, you are able to see things beyond the bright sky objects that are readily visible using lower priced telescopes and binoculars. These objects are often referred to as deep sky celestial bodies, because they are located at a greater distance from Earth. For those who are new to stargazing, identifying these deep sky objects can be very challenging. Sometimes, they are difficult to see, making it hard to use a reference book to look them up, and even then, many beginners astronomy guides won’t even list these rarely seen objects because they are so uncommon. That’s where ‘Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects‘ comes in handy as a guide for everything that the basic beginners book neglects to mention.

Deep-Sky Companions was written by Steve O’Meara who is an amateur astronomer known around the world for creating amazingly accurate drawings of the night sky. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree and spent much of his career writing for Sky & Telescope magazine. While he is an authoritative expert on astronomy, he is not an academic, and this actually proves to be to the reader’s benefit when turning the pages of this book. The guide is written in a very approachable way that makes it simple for beginners without any formal education in astronomy to understand. Those who already know a thing or two about deep sky objects will also find the book to be helpful, though, as it does provide an in-depth look at many celestial objects.

Between the covers of Deep-Sky Companions, you’ll find a listing of 109 celestial objects that include galaxies, nebulae, star clusters and emissions. All of these objects were originally cataloged by astronomer Charles Messier between the years 1757 and 1784. The guide includes information about each of the objects to help those viewing them better understand precisely what they’re seeing.

In addition to providing information about the deep sky objects cataloged by Messier, Deep-Sky Companions includes some of O’Meara’s highly detailed, impressive drawings of the objects. To ensure uniformity, O’Meara used a single telescope for gazing at the night sky and creating the images. He personally looked for each of the 109 objects and created sketches. There are also photographs of many of the celestial bodies and information on precisely how to find them.

For those who want a jump-start on deep sky viewing, the final chapter of Deep-Sky Companions is particularly useful. Here, O’Meara discusses 20 of the most impressive objects that Messier cataloged and provides even more information about them than is included in the chapter devoted to all of the objects. By reading the second chapter that details how to see the Messier objects, and then turning to the final chapter, astronomers can begin deep sky stargazing with the utmost of ease. The book can also be used as a reverse guide to quickly find out what types of unknown objects are being viewed through a telescope’s eyepiece.

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