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Who are the amateur astronomers who have discovered many comets ?

French amateurs Charles Messier and Jean-Louis Pons and American amateurs E.E. Barnard and W.R. Brooks are legendary figures in comet hunting. Messier was such a dedicated comet hunter that he made a list of all nebulosities that looked like comets, in order not to be confused by them. Today he is better known for this catalogue of Messier objects that include the supernova remnant Crab nebula and the galaxy Andromeda than for the comets he discovered! E.E. Barnard built a comet house for his bride financed entirely by the many $200 Warner prizes he won for discovering comets. Brooks was still discovering and photographing comets at the age of 79 when he died in 1921! In the past fifty years besides Shoemaker and Levy, the Japanese amateurs Ikeya, Seki and Hyakutake have been keen comet hunters.

Charles Messier
Charles Messier

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