The Ultimate Messier Object Log (TUMOL)

What is TUMOL?
What's New?
Download TUMOL
TUMOL Tour (screen shots)



- Introduction
- What is a Messier Object?
- Layouts
- Buttons
- Printing
- Technical Notes
- Credits



The Ultimate Messier Object Log (TUMOL) is a FileMaker Pro 4.0 database that contains relevant information for all 110 Messier objects. It contains various layouts to assist amateur astronomers in documenting their search for deep sky objects.

The most recent version of the database has been compiled as a standalone application for both Mac and Windows. FileMaker Pro is not required to run this version. For your convenience, a non-interactive version (Acrobat PDF) and a non-graphical version for the Palm OS are also available.

I derived much of the information in this database from a variety of sources, including the Internet. In particular, SEDS (Students and Educators for the Discussion of Space), was helpful in this task.


What is a Messier Object?

The Messier Objects are 110 astronomical objects that werecatalogued by Charles Messier in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They include globular clusters, open clusters, galaxies and nebulae. They do not include individual stars or planets.Because they are out of our solar system, they are considered "deepsky" objects. Messier Objects are some of the most interesting, and some would say, exciting, objects for the amateur astronomer to view. They range from easy-to-find with the naked eye, to challenging even with a medium-sized scope.

For many amateur astronomers, it is a worthwhile challenge to attempt to view all the Messier Objects over a period of time.However, there are few convenient source materials that list all the information in a single, convenient format. The online SEDS database is extensive, but few astronomers can access the Internet while they are viewing, and the SEDS database doesn't allow one to add his or her own personal notes and viewing comments.

That's why I created the Ultimate Messier Object Log.

The Ultimate Messier Object Log puts all of the relevent data onMessier Objects into a single place. It is sortable by multiple criteria, printable, and contains information for finding, as well as logging your viewing sessions. It includes some information for binocular viewing, as well as layouts and sorts to aid in a Messier Marathon--that magical night in late March when all the objects maybe viewed in a single session.

I've tried to make it so it has everything, but of course, some people may want more, or different features. The beauty of doing the database in FileMaker Pro is it is very easy for almost anyone to modify the database to suit their needs.



Like any FileMaker database, the Ultimate Messier Object Log is constructed of a number of layouts. Each of these layouts contain"fields," into which data may be entered. Some of these fields contain common information, such as the Messier number and name of the objects, others are for you to enter your own notes and observing info.

- The first layout is the Startup screen. This is a special layout that contains no fields, just buttons. It serves as a "hub"--a convenient place from which you may access the other layouts andfeatures of the database.

- Next in importance is the Master Page layout. This is an entry layout, not as useful for printing out. It contains ALL of the fields that are available in the database, and is THE place for you to enter data as you view objects.

- The next layout is the Notes View. It is a reports layout, designed for printing. It doesn't show all of the possible fields,but has places for you to enter your observing notes. This is the ideal layout for you to print for use in the field, as you can write your observing notes through an evening viewing session.

- The Atlas View is another reporting layout. It is useful for seeing the maximum amount of object information as you plan your viewing session.

- The Marathon View is a special view to assist in Messier Marathons. It lets you sort by Marathon Order, to assist you in viewing the most objects possible in an evening.

- The Picture View shows all of the objects, with their associated pictures.

- The Find view has all fields unlocked, so you can use FileMaker's"Find" command.

Most of the fields in the database are self-explanatory. A few fields on some of the layouts require additional explanation:

- Binocular Difficulty. This is the relative difficulty of the objects in binoculars. There are separate Easy, Tough and Challenging ratings for both 7x50 binoculars and for 11x80 binoculars. These ratings are from the Astronomical League's Messier Club listing at:

In general, I rated each object using the rating for the smaller binoculars; if the object is not visible with smaller binoculars,then I used the rating for larger binoculars.

- Seen? This is a simple checkbox you can check when you've seen an object. The Ultimate Messier Object Log lets you then sort your reports for seen or unseen objects.

- Chart pg. #. If you use a star atlas or other chart to further help you find Messier Objects, this is a place where you can enterthe page number from that chart. That way, if you get stuck while viewing, you can easily find the info you need.

- Time comments. I find it useful before a viewing session to make notes of when in the evening an object rises, sets, or is at the optimum height for viewing.

- Search #. (Only in Marathon View.) This is the order to use for a Messier Marathon. Search for object #1, first, then #2, etc.

- Season. The season during which the constellation containing ornear the object is optimally viewed.

- The other fields all contain common astronomical data. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, reference a decent astronomy text!



When you open the database, you see the opening screen, which contains a number of buttons. The buttons work as follows:

Enter Notes: Takes you to the Master Page layout.

View Pictures: Takes you to the Picture View layout.

Atlas, Sort by Messier #: Takes you to the Atlas View, and sorts the objects by Messier #.

Notes, Sort by Messier #: Takes you to the Notes View, and sorts the objects by Messier #.

Notes, Seen, Sort by Messier #: Takes you to the Notes View, finds all the objects you've marked as Seen, and sorts the objects by Messier #.

Notes, Unseen, Sort by Messier #: Takes you to the Notes View, finds all the objects you've marked as Unseen, and sorts the objects by Messier #.

Notes, Sort by Seen/Unseen: Takes you to the Notes View, finds all the objects, and sorts the objects with Unseen objects grouped first, then Seen objects next, sorted by Messier Objects within each group.

Notes, Unseen by Constellation: Takes you to the Notes View, finds all the objects you've marked as Unseen, and sorts the objects by Constellation, then Messier number within the Constellation.

Notes, Sort by Constellation: Takes you to the Notes View, findsall the objects, and sorts the objects by Constellation, then Messier number within the Constellation.

Sort by Marathon #: Takes you to the Marathon View, and sorts by the Marathon Search order number.

Sort by Season: Takes you to the Marathon View, and sorts by the Season.

Credits and Copyrights: Displays some credits and copyrights for sources that were helpful in constructing this database.

Visit the SEDS database: Opens your Internet Web Browser application, and goes to the SEDS web site.



All of the sorts and layouts may be printed. The scripts attachedto each button should automatically set up your page layout to be optimal for the layout you are viewing. If you bypass the scripts, check the layout before printing by using FileMaker Pro's Preview mode.


Technical Notes

The standalone version of The Ultimate Messier Log, as its name implies, does not require any application to run. It should operate on either Mac OS or Windows machines.

The FileMaker version of The Ultimate Messier Log requires FileMaker Pro R4.0 or higher. It is compatible and has beentested with both Mac and Windows versions of FileMaker Pro. Note that Windows users may need Quicktime and a GIF display decompressor in order to see the graphics in the database.

The log will also work under FileMaker Pro R3.0, but the "Visit the SEDS database" button will not work. Other features should work.

The database itself is unlocked, and you may feel free to change ormodify it as you wish to suit your needs. However, to protect thedata in the database from unintentional changes, I've locked the fields containing star atlas data (name, messier #, size, etc.) todisallow entry. You can reset this if you need to, to modify data for your needs, or if you find an error in my data. (!)

If you make any really interesting changes to the database that you think might be helpful to other people, please send me a copy ofthe database or a detailed description of the changes, so I may include them in future versions of the log. I am also open to feature requests, but can't promise anything, due to time constraints.



Thanks to Hartmut Frommert and Guy McArthur at SEDS for permission to use the small Messier object images in this database.

This database was created with support to Space Telescope Science Institute, operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., from NASA contract NAS5-26555 and is reproducedwith permission from AURA/STScI.

Thanks to Doug Hoy for the PDF version of the database.

All materials in this database retain the copyright(s) of their respective owners.

All else, ©1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 by David Green.

The Ultimate Messier Object Log is "giveware." If you enjoy it, please give it to someone else.