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Charles Messier, “Catalogue des Nébuleuses et des Amas d’Étoiles,” Memoires Academie Royale des Sciences pour 1771 (Paris, 1774), pp. 435ff.

Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy

This is the first edition of Messier’s catalog of cloudy spots or “nebulae,” numbered from M1 to M45. In 1781, Messier published a final catalog of 103 nebulae, which are now called “Messier objects.”  The Great Orion Nebula is M42.

Comet watching required an ever more complete mapping of the sky. In multiple articles, Messier traced the routes of comets through various constellations, mapping the nebulae along the way so as not to confuse them with the comets.

Earlier in this same volume, Messier published an article, with a star map, describing the second comet of 1770-1771, which passed near Orion. See the Linda Hall Library website for Messier’s star map of a comet that passed near Coma Berenices in 1779.

Galileo's World Exhibition Location

Source: History of Science Collections

Section: Space

Section Number: 3

Object Number: 13

Subject Area(s): Astronomy

Time Period: 18th Century

Region(s): Europe, France

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Constellation tubes | Six constellations

Six constellations

Identify six common constellations by their star patterns.

Urania's Mirror was a set of 32 constellation cards designed to aid in identifying the constellations by distinguishing between star patterns and constellation figures. This set includes six constellations, selected so that at least one of them is visible (in the northern hemisphere) at any time of the year. Holes punched in the positions of bright stars allow one to hold any card up to a light and compare the star pattern with the constellation figure.

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Coma Berenices Learning Leaflet

Coma Berenices Learning Leaflet

Coma Berenices is the only one of the modern 88 official constellations named after a historical figure. It represents the hair of Berenice, Queen of Egypt (267 221 BCE), who reigned with Ptolemy III Euergetes. Learn more about this in this learning leaflet.


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Urania's Mirror: Constellation Cards

Urania's Mirror Learning Leaflet

What are your favorite constellations?

Urania's Mirror was a set of constellation cards designed to aid in the teaching and learning of constellations. This set includes 32 cards, each focused upon one or a few constellations. Holes punched in the positions of bright stars allow one to hold any card up to a light and compare the star pattern with the constellation figure.

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