THE MESSIER CATALOG
Index of Messier objects with
Go, find the hottest stuff here !
Look at Nebulae
Look at Star Clusters
Look at Galaxies
During the years from 1758 to 1782
Charles Messier, a French astronomer
(1730 – 1817), compiled
a list of approximately 100 diffuse
objects that were difficult to distinguish from comets through the telescopes
of the day.
Discovering comets was the way to
make a name for yourself in astronomy in the 18th century — Messier’s aim
was to catalog the objects that were often mistaken for comets.
Fortunately for us, the Messier Catalog
became well known for a much higher purpose, as a collection of the most
beautiful objects in the sky including
It was one of the first major milestones in the
history of the discovery of Deep Sky objects,
as it was the first more comprehensive and more reliable list:
Only four objects were initially missing because
of data reduction errors, which could be figured out later though.
Today’s versions of the catalog usually include also
later additions of objects observed by Messier
and his collegial friend, Pierre Mechain, but not included in his
The study of these objects by astronomers has, and continues to,
lead to important, incredible discoveries such as the life cycles of stars,
the reality of galaxies as separate ‘island universes,’ and the possible
age of the universe.
The purpose of these web pages is to provide a complete guide to the 110
objects recognized as the standard Messier catalog.
More importantly, we would like to
the night sky and the universe beyond us, and to encourage a sense of wonder
and exploration. We also hope that these pages may be useful as a reference
for amateur astronomers.
For each object, an image is presented together with a short description;
click on the image to get a larger-format version.
In addition to the images, we have also included some data on these objects
such as celestial position (right ascension in hours and minutes [h:s],
declination in degrees and minutes [deg:s]), apparent visual brightness in
magnitudes [mag], apparent (angular) diameter in arc minutes [arc min],
and approximate distance in thousands of light-years (kilo-light years [kly]
please note that the decimal point in the distance does not represent true
Also, we have constellation images which show
Messier and NGC (New General Catalog) objects
down to 12th magnitude.
Our Messier database has been updated throughout to HTML 2.0,
and is steadily evolving into HTML 3.
In order to enjoy the full comfort of this HTML level, we recommend to
use the most recent release of Netscape (2.01 or 3.X),
(1.03, 1.1X, or 1.2), or other HTML 3 compliant browser to view these pages.
However, at least for now, we try to restrict ourselves to the strict and
pure HTML standards and don’t plan to add proprietary features of certain
browsers, e.g. Netscape’s extras (frames).
Moreover, we try to keep the pages appealing (or at least readable)
under less advanced browsers such as Mosaic (or even Lynx);
if your browser has certain problems !
We thank all who have expressed interest in these pages, and have sent us
e-mail with suggestions and corrections. The contributions of others have
significantly influenced what the pages are now. We hope to further
approach the state of a top-of-the line resource with in-depth information
including object descriptions, “star-hop” techniques to easily locate the
objects with small telescopes, and more.
If you’d like to help us to improve our database, please also check our
request for information list which contains those
data which most urgently need to be confirmed, improved, or contributed.
These pages were created, with the help of
many volunteers, by Guy McArthur,
and Christine Kronberg.
Hartmut Frommert <[email protected]>
is currently maintaining this service and responsible for the current
contents (especially any errors).
If you have anything to contribute, or find any errors, please
Any constructive feedback is highly appreciated!
- Messier Object Names
- Icon Sheet: Clickable icons
for all Messier objects in one screen,
or static Messier poster (195k gif)
- Various Messier posters
- View Messier objects by Constellation in
image icons or in
- View Messier objects by Right Ascension,
by Declination, or by
- View the Messier Datafile with image icons or
in text mode
- A List of other Messier Goodies
- Quick browser for our Messier images
- Messier Object Photo List in
image icons or in
(including world wide links –
- The Messier Marathon:
Observe all Messier objects in one night ! (or at least as much as you can;
- Tony Cecce’s
Twelve Month Tour of the Messier Catalog;
- Jeff Bondono‘s
Messier Object references in magazines and books (hosted at SEDS)
- Top Ten Messier Objects of last Month
- Messier Questions and Answers:
More interesting questions on Messier and his catalogs
- Messier Catalog Animations and
OS/2 Web Explorer users may enjoy our Messier related
The Messier pages now have mirrors and
translations to other languages
(notably a German, an
and a French
version); for fastest access, please look for your nearest mirror.
Note: Parts of this is still in the making !
- (dead links removed)!
- Messier Images from the Digital Sky Survey
(DSSM; collected by Bill Arnett)
- Messier info
on the SEDS ftp server
- The Hubble Space Telescope
and the Messier Objects
- Observations! Descriptions of the Messier objects
from observations by astronomers (mostly amateurs)
- More links to Messier related resources
- The Web Nebulae by
Includes many bright deep-sky objects not in the Messier Catalog
- AAO Astrophotos:
Premium astrophotos by David Malin, including some Messier objects
NGC Images on the Net
(from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, ASP)
- NGC Online:
Searchable index for the NGC 2000 catalog with some features
- SEDS Deep-sky Image FTP Archive:
UA Astronomy Club CCD Gallery
- Deep Sky Image Sites:
More links to astronomical internet sites with fine images, of Messier and
other Deep Sky objects. Some of them have served as sources for these pages
- Astro Maps and
[mirrored from her Munich Astro Archive,
- The Galaxy Page:
Links to Space-Related Web Sites
by Guy McArthur
- More Astronomy and Space:
Links to Astronomical and Space-Related Internet Resources
While Messier’s catalog was the first major reliable collection of deep-sky
showpieces, and without doubt the most famous and important, others have
followed since, including
suitable e.g. for the amateur.
The materials in these pages (especially the images) may be freely used for
private purpose only; please read
if you intend any other kind of (especially for-profit) usage.
The SEDS icon in these pages always leads to the
the MAA icon to the
MAA homepage, and
the icon with Charles Messier’s image to this Messier homepage.
In addition to this, and the other icons shown above,
icons occur in these pages for the following options
(in doubt, please check this [hopefully]
or Icon sheet,
Last Modification: 19 Jul 1999, 22:30 MET