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Charles Messier's Observations of New Nebulae and Star Clusters since the Printing of his 1783 Catalog.

This is the translation of Charles Messier's personal notes of his observations of new objects observed after the printing of the 1983 version of his catalog in 1780, i.e. his original notes and remarks on the newly discovered objects M69-M97, plus M108 and M109 (labeled here with numbers 98 and 99). The present author was lucky to obtain a photo copy of these Messier's personal notes, including some of his personal notes, which is part of the Bibliotheque de Camille Flammarion; this copy was generously provided by Dr. Donald J. Greeley, who had obtained it himself from Adoin Dollfus.

This is a presentation close to the original work and without much further discussion. For discussion of these observations see the Messier Catalog homepage.

New Nebulae and clusters of Stars.
observed since the printing of this Catalog.

69. 18h 16m 47s (274d 11' 46") -32d 31' 45"
(August 31, 1780) `Nebula without star, in the Archer [Sagittarius], below his left arm near the arc, near it is a star of 9th magnitude: this nebula is very faint, one can only see it under good weather and the least light for illuminating the micrometer wires makes it disappear: its position has been determined from Epsilon Sagittarii. observed by M. de La Caille.' (diam 2')
70. 18h 28m 53s (277d 13' 16") -32d 31' 07"
(August 31, 1780) `Nebula near the preceding [M69] and on the same parallel, it has the same light and doesn't contain any star: near it is a star of the nineth magnitude and 4 small telescopic stars, almost on the same straight line, very close to one another, [they] are situated above the nebula in a telescope which reverses [i.e., to the South]; the [position of the] nebula was determined from the same star Epsilon of Sagittarius.' (diam 2')
71. 19h 43m 57s (295d 59' 06") +18d 13' 00"
Méchain: 296d 00' 04" +18d 14' 21"
(October 4, 1780) `Nebula discov[ered] by M. Méchain on June 28, 1780 between the stars Gamma and Delta of the Arrow [Sagitta]. Its right ascension determined by him as 296d 00' 04" and its declination as 18d 14' 21" N. On October 4 following, I have looked for this nebula: Its light is very faint and it contains no star: the least light makes it disappear. It is placeed about 4 degrees below [south of] that which I have discovered in the Fox [Vulpecula]. See the No. 27 of this catalog. I have compared [the position of] this nebula with Gamma and Delta of the Arrow [Sagitta] of the 4th magnitude. The position of Gamma according to the Catalog of Flamsteed, reduced for the 4th October 1780 has been [..] at 297d 14' 31" right ascension and 18d 54' 0" Northern declination. I have reported this nebula on the chart of the Comet of 1779.' (diam 3 1/2')
72. 20h 41m 23s (310d 20' 49") -13d 20' 51"
Méchain: (310d 21' 10") -13d 21' 24"
(October 4, 1780) `Nebula discovered by M. Méchain in the night of August 29-30, 1780: its right ascension was determined by him by comparing it with the stars Gamma and Alpha of Capricorn, as 310d 21' 10" and its southern declination as -13d 21' 24". On the 4th and 5th October following, I have observed this nebula with the achromatic refractor; its light is as faint as the preceding [M71], near it is a small telescopic star; I have compared the [position of] the nebula with [that of] a star of the 6th magnitude which one doesn't find in the catalogs. I have [..] its position by comparing with the star Nu of Aquarius, of 5th magnitude, by [..] of an intermediate Star. Its right ascension has been 309d 38' 38" and its southern declination 13d 20' 51". The nebula has the same declination as this star.' (diam 2')
73. 20h 46m 52s (311d 43' 04") -13d 28' 40"
(October 4 & 5, 1780) `Cluster of 3 or 4 small stars, which resembles at first sight a nebula, containing a little nebulosity; placed on the same parallel as the preceding nebula [M72]: its position was determined from the same star.'
74. 1h 24m 57s (21d 14' 09") +14d 39' 35"
Méchain: (21d 17' 00") +14d 36' 00"
(October 18, 1780) `Nebula without stars, discovered by M. Méchain at the end of September 1780: he gives its approximate position, its ri.as. as 21d 17' and its N declin. 14' 33". [sic!] and reports, this neb. doesn't contain any Star, it is fairly large, very obscure, and extremely difficult to observe; one can recognize it out with more certainty in fine, frosty conditions. I perceived it as M. Méchain has described it: he [... 2 lines difficult to read ...] it was very difficult to perceive in the telescope and the faintest light employed to illuminate the wires of the micro.[meter] makes it disappear: I have compared it directly with the star Eta in the band of the Fish [Pisces], having approximately its ri. ascens. of 19d 56' 39" and its N declination of 14d 12' 38".'
75. 19h 53m 10s (298d 17' 24") -22d 32' 23"
Méchain: (298d 17' 30") -22d 32' 00"
(October 18, 1780) `Nebula without star, [..] faint, reported by M. Méchain who has observed it on August 27 & 28, 1780. Its position which he has determined is 298d 17' 30" approximate ri. ascens. and 22d 32' 0" approximate southern declination. The following October 5, I have looked for this nebula, and I have determined its position by comparing it directly with the star No. 4, of 6th magnitude, of Capricorn, according to Flamsteed: having supposedly the right ascension of this star as 301d 17' 9" and its south. declination as 22d 28' 51". I could not judge about the appearance of the nebula because of the great [bright] light of ths Moon which has been nearby: but on the 18th of the same month, before the Moon was rising, I have examined it and it seemed to me that it is cluster of small stars, containing nebulosity.'
76. 1h 28m 43s (22d 10' 47") +50d 28' 48"
Méchain: (22d 10' 26") +50d 28' 12"
(October 21, 1780) `Nebula at the right foot of Andromeda, seen by M. Méchain on September 5, 1780, & he reports: "This nebula contains no star; it is small and faint". On the following October 21, M. Messier looked for it with his achromatic telescope, & it seemed to him that it was composed of nothing but small stars, containing nebulosity, & that the least light employed to illuminate the micrometer wires causes it disappear: its position was determined from the star Phi Andromedae, of fourth magnitude.' (diam. 2')
77. 2h 31m 30s (37d 52' 33") -0d 57' 43"
Méchain: (37d 52' 58") -0d 57' 44"
(December 17, 1780) `Cluster of small stars, which contains some nebulosity, in Cetus & on the parallel of the star Delta, reported of the third magnitude, & which M. Messier estimated to be hardly of the fifth. M. Méchain saw this cluster on October 29, 1780 in the form of a nebula.'
78. 5h 35m 34s (83d 53' 35") -0d 01' 23"
Méchain: (83d 53' 02") -0d 00' 31"
(December 17, 1780) `Cluster of stars, with much nebulosity in Orion & on the same parallel as the star Delta in the belt, which has served to determine its position; the cluster follows [is east of] the star on the hour wire at 3d 41', & the cluster is above [north of] the star by 27'7". M. Méchain had seen this cluster at the beginning of 1780, & reported: "On the left side of Orion [Glyn Jones has, erroneously, the right]; 2 to 3 minutes in diameter, one can see two fairly bright nuclei, surrounded by nebulosity".' (diam. 3')
79. 5h 15m 16s (78d 49' 02") -24d 42' 57"
Méchain: (78d 47' 10") -24d 44' 46"
(December 17, 1780) `Nebula without star, situated below Lepus, & on the same parallel as a star of sixth magnitude: seen by M. Méchain on October 26, 1780. M. Messier looked for it on the following December 17: this nebula is beautiful; the center brilliant, the nebulosity a little diffuse; its position was determined from the star Epsilon Leporis, of fourth magnitude.'
80. 16h 04m 00s (240d 59' 48") -22d 25' 13"
Méchain: (241d 00' 26") -22d 27' 58"
(January 4, 1781) `Nebula without star, in Scorpius, between the stars g. [now Rho Ophiuchi] and Delta, compared to g to determine its position: this nebula is round, the center brilliant, & it resembles the nucleus of a small Comet, surrounded with nebulosity. M. Méchain saw it on January 27, 1781.' (diam. 2')
81. 9h 37m 51s (144d 27' 44") +70d 07' 24"
Méchain: (144d 27' 00") +70d 04' 00"
(February 9, 1781) `A nebula near the ear of the great Bear [Ursa Major], on the parallel of the star d, of fourth or fifth magnitude: its position was determined from that star. This nebula is a little oval, the center clear, & one can see it well in an ordinary telescope of 3.5 feet [FL]. It was discovered by M. Bode at Berlin on December 31, 1774, & by M. Méchain, in the month August 1779.'
82. 9h 37m 57s (144d 29' 22") +70d 44' 27"
Méchain: (144d 28' 13") +70d 43' 05"
(February 9, 1781) `Nebula without star, near the preceding [M81]; both are appearing in the same field of the telescope, this one is less distinct than the preceding; its light faint & [it is] elongated: at its extremity is a telescopic star. Seen at Berlin, by M. Bode, on December 31, 1774, & by M. Méchain in the month August 1779.'
83. 13h 24m 33s (201d 08' 13") -28d 42' 27"
(February 17, 1781) `Nebula without star, near the head of Centaurus: it appears as a faint & even glow, but it is difficult to see in the telescope, as the least light to illuminate the micrometer wires makes it disappear. One is only able with the greatest concentration to see it at all: it forms a triangle with two stars estimated of sixth & seventh magnitude: [its position was] determined from the stars i, k and h in the head of Centaurus: M. de la Caille has already determined this nebula. See the end of this Catalog.'
84. 12h 14m 01s (183d 30' 21") +14d 07' 01"
(March 18, 1781) `Nebula without star, in Virgo; the center it is a bit brilliant, surrounded with a slight nebulosity: its brightness & its appearance resemble that of those in this Catalog, No.s 59 & 60.'
85. 12h 14m 21s (183d 35' 21") +19d 24' 26"
Méchain: (183d 35' 45") +19d 23' 00"
(March 18, 1781) `Nebula without star, above & near to the ear of the Virgin [Virgo], between the two stars in Coma Berenices, No.s 11 & 14 of the Catalog of Flamsteed: this nebula is very faint. M. Méchain had determined its position on March 4, 1781.'
86. 12h 15m 05s (183d 46' 21") +14d 09' 52"
(March 18, 1781) `Nebula without star, in Virgo, on the parallel & very near to the nebula above, No. 84: their appearances are the same, & both appear together in the same field of the telescope.'
87. 12h 19m 48s (184d 57' 06") +13d 38' 01"
(March 18, 1781) `Nebula without star, in Virgo, below & very near a star of eighth magnitude, the star having the same Right Ascension as the nebula, & its Declination was 13d 42' 21" north. This nebula appears at the same luminosity as the two nebulae Nos. 84 and 86.'
88. 12h 21m 03s (185d 15' 49") +15d 37' 51"
(March 18, 1781) `Nebula without star, in Virgo, between two small stars & one star of the sixth magnitude, which appear at the same time as the nebula in the field of the telescope. Its luminosity is one of the faintest, & [it] resembles the one reported in Virgo, No. 58.'
89. 12h 24m 38s (186d 09' 36") +13d 46' 49"
(March 18, 1781) `Nebula without star, in Virgo, a little of distance from & on the same parallel as the nebula reported above, No. 87. Its light was extremely faint & pale, & and it is not without difficulty that one can distinguish it.'
90. 12h 25m 48s (186d 27' 00") +14d 22' 50"
(March 18, 1781) `Nebula without star, in Virgo: its light is as faint as the preceding, No. 89.'
91. 12h 26m 28s (186d 37m 00s) +14d 57' 06"
(March 18, 1781) `Nebula without star, in Virgo, above the preceding No. 90: its light is still fainter than that of the above.'

(At the position Messier has given, no object is present which he could have seen, thus M91 was missing until 1969, when William C. Williams discovered that Messier had probably measured its position from M89, while he thought he used M58, and plotted it wrong.)

(Following the entry for M91 in the Connoissance des Temps for 1784, Messier added the note below:)
`Note. The constellation of Virgo, & especially the northern Wing is one of the constellations which encloses the most Nebulae: this Catalog contains thirteen which have been determined: viz. Nos. 49, 58, 59, 60, 61, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, & 91. All these nebulae appear to be without stars: one can see them only in a very good sky, & near their meridian passage. Most of these nebulae have been pointed to me by M. Méchain.'

(This notion is apparently the first impact of the Virgo cluster of galaxies into the scientific literature, i.e. the discovery of that galaxy cluster).

92. 17h 10m 32s (257d 38' 03") +43d 21' 59"
(March 18, 1781) `Nebula, fine, distinct, & very bright, between the knee & the left leg of Hercules, it can be seen very well in a telescope of one foot [FL]. It contains no star; the center is clear & brilliant, surrounded by nebulosity & [it] resembles the nucleus of a large Comet: its brightness, its size, approach much that of the nebula which is in the girdle of Hercules. See No. 13 of this Catalog: its position has been determined, by direct comparison with the star Sigma Herculis, fourth magnitude: the nebula & the star are on the same parallel.' (diam. 5')
93. 7h 35m 14s (113d 48' 35") -23d 19' 45"
(March 20, 1781) `Cluster of small stars, without nebulosity, between the Greater Dog [Canis Major] and the prow of the ship [Puppis of Argo Navis].' (diam 8')
94. 12h 40m 43s (190d 10' 46") +42d 18' 43"
Méchain: (190d 09' 38") +42d 18' 50"
(March 24, 1781) `Nebula without star, above the Heart of Charles [alpha Canum Venaticorum], on the parallel of the star no. 8, of sixth magnitude of the Hunting Dogs [Canes Venatici], according to Flamsteed: In the center it is brilliant & the nebulosity [is] a bit diffuse. It resembles the nebula which is below Lepus, No. 79; but this on is more beautiful & brighter: M. Méchain has discovered this one on March 22, 1781.' (diam. 2.5')
95. 10h 32m 12s (158d 03' 05") +12d 50' 21"
Méchain: (158d 06' 23") +12d 49' 50"
(March 24, 1781) `Nebula without star, in the Lion [Leo], above star l (53 Leonis): its light is very faint.'
96. 10h 35m 05s (158d 46' 20") +12d 58' 09"
Méchain: (158d 48' 00") +12d 57' 33" (March 24, 1781) `Nebula without star, in the Lion [Leo], near the preceding [No. 95]: this one is less distinct, both are on the same parallel of Regulus: they resemble the two nebulae in the Virgin [Virgo], Nos. 84 and 86. M. Méchain saw them both on March 20, 1781.'
97. 11h 01m 15s (161d 18' 40") +56d 13' 30"
(March 24, 1781) `Nebula in the great Bear [Ursa Major], near Beta: It is difficulat to see, reports M. Méchain, especially when one illuminates the micrometer wires: its light is faint, without a star. M. Méchain saw it the first time on Feb 16, 1781, & the position is that given by him. Near this nebula he has seen another one, [the position of] which has not yet been determined [M108], and also a third which is near Gamma of the Great Bear [M109 near Gamma Ursae Majoris].' (diam. 2')
98. [M108]
`Nebula near the preceding .. it is even fainter: it is 48 or 49' further north and 30 min .. following in RA: Found by M. Méchain 2 or 3 days after the preceding [February 18 or 19, 1781].'
99. [M109]
`Nebula near Gamma UMa, same right ascension a bit near this star and 1 deg .. more south. Discovered by M. Méchain on March 12, 1781.'

Hartmut Frommert
Christine Kronberg

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