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Messier object

The Messier objects are a set of astronomical objects catalogued by Charles Messier in his catalogue of Nebulae and Star Clusters, first published in 1774. The original motivation behind catalogue was that Messier was a comet hunter and was frustrated by objects which resembled but were not comets and therefore compiled a list of these objects.

The first edition covered 45 objects numbered M1 to M45, the total list consists of 110 objects, numbered M1 to M110; the final catalogue was published in 1781 and printed in the Connaissance des Temps in 1784. Many of these objects are still known by their Messier number.

Some of the most famous Messier objects are:

NameApproximate distance
(light years)
M1: Crab Nebula 6,300
M13: Hercules Globular Cluster[?]22,000
M20: Trifid Nebula 2,200
M27: Dumbbell Nebula[?] 1,250
M31: Andromeda Galaxy 2,200,000
M33: Triangulum Galaxy 2,300,000
M42: Orion Nebula 1,600
M45: Pleiades 400
M51: Whirlpool Galaxy[?] 37,000,000
M57: Ring Nebula 4,100
M63: Sunflower Galaxy[?] 37,000,000
M82: (also known as NGC 3034) 12,000,000
M83: Southern Pinwheel Galaxy[?] 10,000,000
M87: Virgo A Galaxy 60,000,000
M97: Owl Nebula[?] 2,600
M100: (also known as NGC 4321) 60,000,000
M101: Pinwheel Galaxy[?] 24,000,000
M104: Sombrero Galaxy[?] 50,000,000
M107: (also known as NGC 6171)20,000

See also Deep sky object, New General Catalogue.

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