Messier object

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Messier Catalog
Pictures of all messier objects
All Messier objects, photographed by an amateur astronomer
Alternative namesMessier Catalogue
Survey typeAstronomical catalogue
Named afterCharles Messier
Published1774 (preliminary version)
Related media on Wikimedia Commons

The Messier objects are a set of 110 astronomical objects catalogued by the French astronomer Charles Messier in his Catalogue des Nébuleuses et des Amas d'Étoiles (Catalogue of Nebulae and Star Clusters). Because Messier was only interested in finding comets, he created a list of those non-comet objects that frustrated his hunt for them. The compilation of this list, in collaboration with his assistant Pierre Méchain, is known as the Messier catalogue. This catalogue of objects is one of the most famous lists of astronomical objects, and many Messier objects are still referenced by their Messier number. The catalogue includes most of the astronomical deep-sky objects that can easily be observed from Earth's Northern Hemisphere; many Messier objects are popular targets for amateur astronomers.

A preliminary version first appeared in 1774 in the Memoirs of the French Academy of Sciences for the year 1771. The first version of Messier's catalogue contained 45 objects which were not yet numbered. Eighteen of the objects were discovered by Messier, the rest being previously observed by other astronomers. By 1780 the catalogue had increased to 70 objects. The final version of the catalogue containing 103 objects was published in 1781 in the Connaissance des Temps for the year 1784. However, due to what was thought for a long time to be the incorrect addition of Messier 102, the total number remained 102. Other astronomers, using side notes in Messier's texts, eventually filled out the list up to 110 objects.

The catalogue consists of a diverse range of astronomical objects, from star clusters and nebulae to galaxies. For example, Messier 1 is a supernova remnant, known as the Crab Nebula, and the great spiral Andromeda Galaxy is M 31. Further inclusions followed, the first addition came from Nicolas Camille Flammarion in 1921, who added Messier 104 after finding Messier's side note in his 1781 edition exemplar of the catalogue. M 105 to M 107 were added by Helen Sawyer Hogg in 1947, M 108 and M 109 by Owen Gingerich in 1960, and M 110 by Kenneth Glyn Jones in 1967.

Lists and editions

The first edition of 1774 covered 45 objects (M1 to M45). The total list published by Messier in 1781 contained 103 objects, but the list was expanded through successive additions by other astronomers, motivated by notes in Messier's and Méchain's texts indicating that at least one of them knew of the additional objects. The first such addition came from Nicolas Camille Flammarion in 1921, who added Messier 104 after finding a note Messier made in a copy of the 1781 edition of the catalogue. M 105 to M 107 were added by Helen Sawyer Hogg in 1947, M 108 and M 109 by Owen Gingerich in 1960, and M 110 by Kenneth Glyn Jones in 1967. M 102 was observed by Méchain, who communicated his notes to Messier. Méchain later concluded that this object was simply a re-observation of M 101, though some sources suggest that the object Méchain observed was the galaxy NGC 5866 and identify that as M 102.

Messier's final catalogue was included in the Connaissance des Temps pour l'Année 1784 [Knowledge of the Times for the Year 1784], the French official yearly publication of astronomical ephemerides.

Messier lived and did his astronomical work at the Hôtel de Cluny (now the Musée national du Moyen Âge), in Paris, France. The list he compiled contains only objects found in the sky area he could observe: from the north celestial pole to a celestial latitude of about −35.7° . He did not observe or list objects visible only from farther south, such as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

Observations

The Messier catalogue comprises nearly all the most spectacular examples of the five types of deep-sky objectdiffuse nebulae, planetary nebulae, open clusters, globular clusters, and galaxies – visible from European latitudes. Furthermore, almost all of the Messier objects are among the closest to Earth in their respective classes, which makes them heavily studied with professional class instruments that today can resolve very small and visually spectacular details in them. A summary of the astrophysics of each Messier object can be found in the Concise Catalog of Deep-sky Objects.

Since these objects could be observed visually with the relatively small-aperture refracting telescope (approximately 100 mm ≈ 4 inches) used by Messier to study the sky, they are among the brightest and thus most attractive astronomical objects (popularly called deep-sky objects) observable from Earth, and are popular targets for visual study and astrophotography available to modern amateur astronomers using larger aperture equipment. In early spring, astronomers sometimes gather for "Messier marathons", when all of the objects can be viewed over a single night.

Messier objects

  Galaxy
  Other
Messier number NGC/IC number Common name Picture Object type Distance (kly) Constellation Apparent magnitude Right ascension Declination
M1 NGC 1952 Crab Nebula Supernova remnant 4.9–8.1 Taurus 8.4 05h 34m 31.94s +22° 00′ 52.2″
M2 NGC 7089 Globular cluster 33 Aquarius 6.3 21h 33m 27.02s −00° 49′ 23.7″
M3 NGC 5272 Globular cluster 33.9 Canes Venatici 6.2 13h 42m 11.62s +28° 22′ 38.2″
M4 NGC 6121 Globular cluster 7.2 Scorpius 5.9 16h 23m 35.22s −26° 31′ 32.7″
M5 NGC 5904 Globular cluster 24.5 Serpens 6.7 15h 18m 33.22s +02° 04′ 51.7″
M6 NGC 6405 Butterfly Cluster Open cluster 1.6 Scorpius 4.2 17h 40.1m −32° 13′
M7 NGC 6475 Ptolemy Cluster Open cluster 0.65–1.31 Scorpius 3.3 17h 53m 51.2s −34° 47′ 34″
M8 NGC 6523 Lagoon Nebula Nebula with cluster 4.1 Sagittarius 6.0 18h 03m 37s −24° 23′ 12″
M9 NGC 6333 Globular cluster 25.8 Ophiuchus 8.4 17h 19m 11.78s −18° 30′ 58.5″
M10 NGC 6254 Globular cluster 14.3 Ophiuchus 6.4 16h 57m 8.92s −04° 05′ 58.07″
M11 NGC 6705 Wild Duck Cluster Open cluster 6.2 Scutum 6.3 18h 51.1m −06° 16′
M12 NGC 6218 Globular cluster 15.7 Ophiuchus 7.7 16h 47m 14.18s −01° 56′ 54.7″
M13 NGC 6205 Great Globular Cluster in Hercules Globular cluster 22.2 Hercules 5.8 16h 41m 41.24s +36° 27′ 35.5″
M14 NGC 6402 Globular cluster 30.3 Ophiuchus 8.3 17h 37m 36.15s −03° 14′ 45.3″
M15 NGC 7078 Globular cluster 33 Pegasus 6.2 21h 29m 58.33s +12° 10′ 01.2″
M16 NGC 6611 Eagle Nebula H II region nebula with cluster 7 Serpens 6.0 18h 18m 48s −13° 49′
M17 NGC 6618 Omega, Swan, Horseshoe, or Lobster Nebula H II region nebula with cluster 5–6 Sagittarius 6.0 18h 20m 26s −16° 10′ 36″
M18 NGC 6613 Open cluster 4.9 Sagittarius 7.5 18h 19.9m −17° 08′
M19 NGC 6273 Globular cluster 28.7 Ophiuchus 7.5 17h 02m 37.69s −26° 16′ 04.6″
M20 NGC 6514 Trifid Nebula H II region nebula with cluster 5.2 Sagittarius 6.3 18h 02m 23s −23° 01′ 48″
M21 NGC 6531 Open cluster 4.25 Sagittarius 6.5 18h 04.6m −22° 30′
M22 NGC 6656 Sagittarius Cluster Globular cluster 9.6–11.6 Sagittarius 5.1 18h 36m 23.94s −23° 54′ 17.1″
M23 NGC 6494 Open cluster 2.15 Sagittarius 6.9 17h 56.8m −19° 01′
M24 IC 4715 Small Sagittarius Star Cloud Milky Way star cloud ~10 Sagittarius 2.5 18h 17m −18° 33′
M25 IC 4725 Open cluster 2.0 Sagittarius 4.6 18h 31.6m −19° 15′
M26 NGC 6694 Open cluster 5.0 Scutum 8.0 18h 45.2m −09° 24′
M27 NGC 6853 Dumbbell Nebula Planetary nebula 1.148–1.52 Vulpecula 7.5 19h 59m 36.340s +22° 43′ 16.09″
M28 NGC 6626 Globular cluster 17.9 Sagittarius 7.7 18h 24m 32.89s −24° 52′ 11.4″
M29 NGC 6913 Cooling Tower Open cluster 7.2 Cygnus 7.1 20h 23m 56s +38° 31′ 24″
M30 NGC 7099 Globular cluster 27.8–31 Capricornus 7.7 21h 40m 22.12 −23° 10′ 47.5″
M31 NGC 224 Andromeda Galaxy Spiral galaxy 2,430–2,650 Andromeda 3.4 00h 42m 44.3s +41° 16′ 9″
M32 NGC 221 Small Andromeda Galaxy Dwarf elliptical galaxy 2,410–2,570 Andromeda 8.1 00h 42m 41.8s +40° 51′ 55″
M33 NGC 598 Triangulum/Pinwheel Galaxy Spiral galaxy 2,380–3,070 Triangulum 5.7 01h 33m 50.02s +30° 39′ 36.7″
M34 NGC 1039 Open cluster 1.5 Perseus 5.5 02h 42.1m +42° 46′
M35 NGC 2168 Open cluster 2.8 Gemini 5.3 06h 09.1m +24° 21′
M36 NGC 1960 Open cluster 4.1 Auriga 6.3 05h 36m 12s +34° 08′ 4″
M37 NGC 2099 Open cluster 4.511 Auriga 6.2 05h 52m 18s +32° 33′ 02″
M38 NGC 1912 Starfish Cluster Open cluster 4.2 Auriga 7.4 05h 28m 42s +35° 51′ 18″
M39 NGC 7092 Open cluster 0.8244 Cygnus 5.5 21h 31m 42s +48° 26′ 00″
M40 Winnecke-4 Star System 0.51 Ursa Major 9.7 12h 22m 12.5s +58° 4′ 59″
M41 NGC 2287 Open cluster 2.3 Canis Major 4.5 06h 46.0m −20° 46′
M42 NGC 1976 Orion Nebula H II region nebula 1.324–1.364 Orion 4.0 05h 35m 17.3 −05° 23′ 28″
M43 NGC 1982 De Mairan's Nebula H II region nebula (part of the Orion Nebula)
1.6 Orion 9.0 05h 35.6m −05° 16′
M44 NGC 2632 Beehive Cluster or Praesepe Open cluster 0.577 Cancer 3.7 08h 40.4m +19° 59′
M45 Pleiades Open cluster 0.39–0.46 Taurus 1.6 03h 47m 24s +24° 07′ 00″
M46 NGC 2437 Open cluster 5.4 Puppis 6.1 07h 41.8m −14° 49′
M47 NGC 2422 Open cluster 1.6 Puppis 4.2 07h 36.6m −14° 30′
M48 NGC 2548 Open cluster 1.5 Hydra 5.5 08h 13.7m −05° 45′
M49 NGC 4472 Elliptical galaxy 53,600–58,200 Virgo 9.4 12h 29m 46.7s +08° 00′ 02″
M50 NGC 2323 Open cluster 3.2 Monoceros 5.9 07h 03.2m −08° 20′
M51 NGC 5194, NGC 5195 Whirlpool Galaxy Spiral galaxy 19,000–27,000 Canes Venatici 8.4 13h 29m 52.7s +47° 11′ 43″
M52 NGC 7654 Open cluster 5.0 Cassiopeia 5.0 23h 24.2m +61° 35′
M53 NGC 5024 Globular cluster 58 Coma Berenices 8.3 13h 12m 55.25s +18° 10′ 05.4″
M54 NGC 6715 Globular cluster 87.4 Sagittarius 8.4 18h 55m 03.33s −30° 28′ 47.5″
M55 NGC 6809 Globular cluster 17.6 Sagittarius 7.4 19h 39m 59.71s −30° 57′ 53.1″
M56 NGC 6779 Globular cluster 32.9 Lyra 8.3 19h 16m 35.57s +30° 11′ 00.5″
M57 NGC 6720 Ring Nebula Planetary nebula 1.6–3.8 Lyra 8.8 18h 53m 35.079s +33° 01′ 45.03″
M58 NGC 4579 Barred Spiral galaxy ~63,000 Virgo 10.5 12h 37m 43.5s +11° 49′ 05″
M59 NGC 4621 Elliptical galaxy 55,000–65,000 Virgo 10.6 12h 42m 02.3s +11° 38′ 49″
M60 NGC 4649 Elliptical galaxy 51,000–59,000 Virgo 9.8 12h 43m 39.6s +11° 33′ 09″
M61 NGC 4303 Spiral galaxy 50,200–54,800 Virgo 10.2 12h 21m 54.9s +04° 28′ 25″
M62 NGC 6266 Globular cluster 22.2 Ophiuchus 7.4 17h 01m 12.60s −30° 06′ 44.5″
M63 NGC 5055 Sunflower Galaxy Spiral galaxy 37,000 Canes Venatici 9.3 13h 15m 49.3s +42° 01′ 45″
M64 NGC 4826 Black Eye Galaxy Spiral galaxy 22,000–26,000 Coma Berenices 9.4 12h 56m 43.7s +21° 40′ 58″
M65 NGC 3623 Leo Triplet Barred Spiral galaxy 41,000–42,000 Leo 10.3 11h 18m 55.9s +13° 05′ 32″
M66 NGC 3627 Leo Triplet Barred Spiral galaxy 31,000–41,000 Leo 8.9 11h 20m 15.0s +12° 59′ 30″
M67 NGC 2682 Open cluster 2.61–2.93 Cancer 6.1 08h 51.3m +11° 49′
M68 NGC 4590 Globular cluster 33.6 Hydra 9.7 12h 39m 27.98s −26° 44′ 38.6″
M69 NGC 6637 Globular cluster 29.7 Sagittarius 8.3 18h 31m 23.10s −32° 20′ 53.1″
M70 NGC 6681 Globular cluster 29.4 Sagittarius 9.1 18h 43m 12.76s −32° 17′ 31.6″
M71 NGC 6838 Globular cluster 13.0 Sagitta 6.1 19h 53m 46.49s +18° 46′ 45.1″
M72 NGC 6981 Globular cluster 53.40–55.74 Aquarius 9.4 20h 53m 27.70s −12° 32′ 14.3″
M73 NGC 6994 Asterism ~2.5 Aquarius 9.0 20h 58m 54s −12° 38′
M74 NGC 628 Phantom Galaxy Spiral galaxy 24,000–36,000 Pisces 10.0 01h 36m 41.8s +15° 47′ 01″
M75 NGC 6864 Globular cluster 67.5 Sagittarius 9.2 20h 06m 04.75s −21° 55′ 16.2″
M76 NGC 650, NGC 651 Little Dumbbell Nebula Planetary nebula 2.5 Perseus 10.1 01h 42.4m +51° 34′ 31″
M77 NGC 1068 Cetus A Spiral galaxy 47,000 Cetus 9.6 02h 42m 40.7s −00° 00′ 48″
M78 NGC 2068 Diffuse nebula 1.6 Orion 8.3 05h 46m 46.7s +00° 00′ 50″
M79 NGC 1904 Globular cluster 41 Lepus 8.6 05h 24m 10.59s −24° 31′ 27.3″
M80 NGC 6093 Globular cluster 32.6 Scorpius 7.9 16h 17m 02.41s −22° 58′ 33.9″
M81 NGC 3031 Bode's Galaxy Spiral galaxy 11,400–12,200 Ursa Major 6.9 09h 55m 33.2s +69° 3′ 55″
M82 NGC 3034 Cigar Galaxy Starburst galaxy 10,700–12,300 Ursa Major 8.4 09h 55m 52.2s +69° 40′ 47″
M83 NGC 5236 Southern Pinwheel Galaxy Barred Spiral galaxy 14,700 Hydra 7.5 13h 37m 00.9s −29° 51′ 57″
M84 NGC 4374 Lenticular galaxy 57,000–63,000 Virgo 10.1 12h 25m 03.7s +12° 53′ 13″
M85 NGC 4382 Lenticular galaxy 56,000–64,000 Coma Berenices 10.0 12h 25m 24.0s +18° 11′ 28″
M86 NGC 4406 Lenticular galaxy 49,000–55,000 Virgo 9.8 12h 26m 11.7s +12° 56′ 46″
M87 NGC 4486 Virgo A Elliptical galaxy 51,870–55,130 Virgo 9.6 12h 30m 49.42338s +12° 23′ 28.0439″
M88 NGC 4501 Spiral galaxy 39,000–56,000 Coma Berenices 10.4 12h 31m 59.2s +14° 25′ 14″
M89 NGC 4552 Elliptical galaxy 47,000–53,000 Virgo 10.7 12h 35m 39.8s +12° 33′ 23″
M90 NGC 4569 Spiral galaxy 55,900–61,500 Virgo 10.3 12h 36m 49.8s +13° 09′ 46″
M91 NGC 4548 Barred Spiral galaxy 47,000–79,000 Coma Berenices 11.0 12h 35m 26.4s +14° 29′ 47″
M92 NGC 6341 Globular cluster 26.7 Hercules 6.3 17h 17m 07.39s +43° 08′ 09.4″
M93 NGC 2447 Open cluster 3.6 Puppis 6.0 07h 44.6m −23° 52′
M94 NGC 4736 Croc's Eye or Cat's Eye Spiral galaxy 14,700–17,300 Canes Venatici 9.0 12h 50m 53.1s +41° 07′ 14″
M95 NGC 3351 Barred Spiral galaxy 31,200–34,000 Leo 11.4 10h 43m 57.7s +11° 42′ 14″
M96 NGC 3368 Spiral galaxy 28,000–34,000 Leo 10.1 10h 46m 45.7s +11° 49′ 12″
M97 NGC 3587 Owl Nebula Planetary nebula 2.03 Ursa Major 9.9 11h 14m 47.734s +55° 01′ 08.50″
M98 NGC 4192 Spiral galaxy 44,400 Coma Berenices 11.0 12h 13m 48.292s +14° 54′ 01.69″
M99 NGC 4254 Spiral galaxy 44,700–55,700 Coma Berenices 10.4 12h 18m 49.6s +14° 24′ 59″
M100 NGC 4321 Spiral galaxy 55,000 Coma Berenices 10.1 12h 22m 54.9s +15° 49′ 21″
M101 NGC 5457 Pinwheel Galaxy Spiral galaxy 19,100–22,400 Ursa Major 7.9 14h 03m 12.6s +54° 20′ 57″
M102 NGC 5866 Spindle Galaxy Lenticular galaxy 50,000 Draco 10.7 15h 06m 29.5s +55° 45′ 48″
M103 NGC 581 Open cluster 10 Cassiopeia 7.4 01h 33.2m +60° 42′
M104 NGC 4594 Sombrero Galaxy Spiral galaxy 28,700–30,900 Virgo 9.0 12h 39m 59.4s −11° 37′ 23″
M105 NGC 3379 Elliptical galaxy 30,400–33,600 Leo 10.2 10h 47m 49.6s +12° 34′ 54″
M106 NGC 4258 Spiral galaxy 22,200–25,200 Canes Venatici 9.1 12h 18m 57.5s +47° 18′ 14″
M107 NGC 6171 Globular cluster 20.9 Ophiuchus 8.9 16h 32m 31.86s −13° 03′ 13.6″
M108 NGC 3556 Barred Spiral galaxy 46,000 Ursa Major 10.7 11h 11m 31.0s +55° 40′ 27″
M109 NGC 3992 Barred Spiral galaxy 59,500–107,500 Ursa Major 10.6 11h 57m 36.0s +53° 22′ 28″
M110 NGC 205 Dwarf elliptical galaxy 2,600–2,780 Andromeda 9.0 00h 40m 22.1s +41° 41′ 07″

Star chart of Messier objects

NOTE: Messier 102 is missing from this chart.

Star chart depicting the Messier objects plotted on a rectangular grid representing right ascension and declination

See also

External links