Charles Messier (fr. Charles Messier, IPA (fr.): [Ʃaʁl me.sje]; June 26, 1730, Badonwiller, Lorraine - April 12, 1817, Paris) - French astronomer.
Member of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1770, adjoint astronome), the Royal Society of London (1764), foreign honorary member of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1776).
Messier systematically searched for new comets. In 1763-1802 he discovered 13 comets, including the short-period comet D / 1770 L1 (old designation 1770 I), later named after Lexel. He also compiled a catalog of nebulae and star clusters, named after the astronomer. The first edition of the catalog was published in 1774 and contained 45 objects. The second edition of the catalog (1781) contained 103 objects. Its modern version contains 110 objects, of which more than 60 were discovered by Messier himself.
The Messier crater on the Moon in the Sea of Abundance and the asteroid 7359 Messier are named after Messier.
Childhood and adolescence
Charles Messier was born on June 26, 1730 in Badonwiller, which at that time belonged to the County of Salm. His father was the court bailiff Nicolas Messier (1682-1741), and his mother was Françoise Messier. Messier was the tenth child in the family. The Messier family possessed considerable wealth, as well as connections in high circles, which largely determined Charles's career.
Nicolas Messier died when Charles was 11 years old. The eldest of Messier's children, Hyacinth, who was 13 years older than Charles, took care of the family. At that time he was working as an auctioneer and took Charles as an apprentice in his office. Charles Messier's tasks mainly included working with documents. His apprenticeship gave Charles many skills that were useful in his future career: good writing and drawing skills, accuracy and meticulousness. At the same time, Charles's interest in astronomy awakened: in 1744 he observed the comet Chezot, which had six tails, and in 1748 - an annular solar eclipse.
In 1751, the Principality of Salm became part of the Duchy of Lorraine, which also soon lost its independence and became part of France. A family friend helped Charles Messier, then 21, get a job as an assistant at the newly established naval observatory in Paris; it was not Messier's interest in astronomy that played a decisive role, but his calligraphy skills.
1751-1757. Naval Observatory