Astronomers from casual to the pros know of “deep-sky objects.” These objects, clearly neither stars nor comets nor planets, began to get notice in telescopes in the 17th to 18th centuries. At first, scientists struggled to explain them. Today, we have them figured out pretty well.
Charles Messier, left, assigned numbers to dozens. Many amateur astronomers keep them on a checklist for observation. Note this visual catalog made by one observer.
I don’t have a telescope these days, so I guess I’ll be satisfied with a series of brief essays on the objects and if they have any connections in religion, fiction, or some other area of personal interest.