Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects
is subtitled “A New Look at the Most Famous Deep-Sky Wonders in the Heavens,” which accurately sums up the book. It was written by Stephen James O’Meara, a contributing editor to Sky and Telescope
magazine and has a foreword by David Levy. Published in December of 1998, this hardback contains 318 9.7” x 7.4” pages, 110 halftone photos, and 220 line diagrams.
The Messier Catalog, compiled by Charles Messier, the famous comet hunter in the late 1700s, is the best-known list of deep sky wonders available. While Messier listed the objects to keep from confusing them with the comets he sought so avidly (did he consider them the pests of the sky, always getting in his way while he searched for comets?), the galaxies, star clusters, and nebulas he cataloged are still the most widely observed celestial wonders in the heavens, They are the favorite targets of amateur astronomers, with such rich variety and detail that they never cease to fascinate.
This book provides both new and experienced observers with a fresh perspective on the Messier objects. The author has prepared a visual feast for the observer. Using the finest optical telescopes available for amateur work, he describes and sketches the view in the telescope eyepiece as never before. There are new drawings, improved finder charts, and new astronomical data on each object, including findings from the Hubble Space Telescope. You can expand your universe and test your viewing skills with this truly modern Messier Guide. It is a must for budding night watchers, both as a guide at the telescope and as a fascinating read when the skies are cloudy.
A review in Choice magazine said, “This delightful observing companion by veteran astronomical observer, photographer, and writer O’Meara summarizes the basics of observing (including definitions, concepts, and sky descriptions), and methods and equipment involved . . . amateur observers . . . will find this book to be exceptionally useful because it also gives one of the best approaches to observing. Coordinates, size and brightness, distance, excellent description, finding chart, photograph, and a drawing are listed for each object . . . Highly recommended.” And New Scientist magazine said, “All the essentials are here . . . O’Meara’s book will be an invaluable guide to some of the finest showpieces in the heavens.”
The author, Stephen J. O’Meara, has spent much of his career on the editorial staff of Sky & Telescope magazine. His many astronomical achievements include being the first person to sight Halley’s Comet on its 1985 return, noticing the dark “spokes” in Saturn’s B ring before the Voyager 1 spacecraft imaged them, and determining the rotation period of the distant planet Uranus. He received The Texas Star Party Omega Centauri Award for “advancing astronomy through observation, writing, and promotion, and for his love of the sky,” and the International Astronomical Union named asteroid 3637 O’Meara in his honor.