SEDS Messier Database





Start with M1

Index of Messier objects with

image icons or in text mode

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

nebulae, star clusters,

and galaxies.

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

original list.

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

generate interest in astronomy,

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


see explanation of the terms used here).

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),

IBM’s OS/2


(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);

please complain

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,

Mark Elowitz,

Hartmut Frommert

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

e-mail me.

Any constructive feedback is highly appreciated!


**** Magellan

* * Editor's Choice *

Griffith Observatory Star Award

Netguide Goldsite

ez Connect Best of the Web

ZIA Review 5-ball Award

Other Options

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 !


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

similar collections

suitable e.g. for the amateur.

Learn How these pages were created.

The materials in these pages (especially the images) may be freely used for

private purpose only; please read

our usage regulations page

if you intend any other kind of (especially for-profit) usage.

The SEDS icon in these pages always leads to the

SEDS homepage,

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]

complete icon reference):


or Icon sheet,

Quick Browser,

DSSM image browser

Last Modification: 19 Jul 1999, 22:30 MET

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