Messier catalogue

astronomical objects catalogued by Charles Messier
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The Messier Catalogue is a list of astronomical objects made by French astronomer Charles Messier in 1771.[1] Messier was a comet hunter, and was annoyed by fuzzy objects which were not comets. He put together a list of these objects,[2] with his assistant Pierre Méchain.

The list uses numbers with an 'M' in front. Messier was limited by the objects he could see from France, so the list is incomplete by today's standards. It remains popular because people have used it for centuries and they are familiar with it.

The first edition covered 45 objects numbered M1 to M45. The total list published by Messier finally contained 103 objects, and the list was made up to 110 by modern astronomers working from Messier's notes..[3][4][5]

Other catalogues exist, most notably the New General Catalogue.

Items on the list


Almost all the items are either star clusters or nebulae. There are only three galaxies in the first fifty, starting with Andromeda at M31. Individual stars are not listed. The first ten in the list are:


  1. "Charles Messier's Catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters". SEDS. 15 June 2007. Archived from the original on 2000-12-03. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  2. "The Messier Catalog". SEDS Messier Database. SEDS. 25 February 2008. Archived from the original on 2011-09-04. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  3. Patrick Moore (1979). The Guinness Book of Astronomy. Guinness Superlatives. ISBN 09-00-42476-1.
  4. Charles Messier (1781). "Catalogue des Nébuleuses & des amas d'Étoiles". Connaissance des Temps for 1784. pp. 227–267. Bibcode:1781cote.rept..227M.
  5. "Original Messier Catalog of 1781". SEDS. Archived from the original on 2012-06-29. Retrieved 2010-05-08.