Messier Catalogue

Charles Messier, a French astronomer, during the mid-18th century began observing with his telescope a number of objects that were visible from France. Although Messier was a “comet hunter”, in scanning space he was attracted by some particular “objects” that did not look like stars. Some objects had already been “recorded” by other astronomers, but Messier decided to start noting them by indicating their position and describing what he was able to see. Many notes made by Messier, in our day, are very superficial, sometimes quite inaccurate or completely wrong. Some globular clusters were noted as “nebula” but it is more than forgivable, considering the instruments of the time.

What must be said is that Charles Messier created what was the first Catalog of non-stellar objects for that time. In 1774 he published the first edition of the Catalog des Nébuleuses et des Amas d ’Étoiles (Catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters) which contained only 45 objects. The final version was published in 1781 and contained the 110 objects of the current catalog. The objects in the catalog are now known and indicated with the initials M followed by the number (Ex. M1)

A brief note on the M102 object in its catalog. Object M102 has been cataloged as a “Galaxy” but there are many disputes about this object. It is thought that it may be an “oversight” of Messier and that it may be a duplicate of the Pinwheel Galaxy, already cataloged as M101, but other hypotheses indicate that it was the “Spindle Galaxy” or some nearby galaxies.

However, the most accredited theory is that it is the “Spindle Galaxy” – NGC 5866 as it is only about 5 degrees from the galaxy M101 and Messier’s maps had a 5o grid. It is very likely that Messier noted the wrong position.

Messier Catalog Objects

Common NameNGC CaltalogApp.
Distance LYObject TypeConstellationPhoto(*)
M1Crab NebulaNGC 19529,06300Supernova RemnantTaurusYES
M2NGC 70897,536000Globular ClusterAquarius no
M3NGC 52727,031000 Globular Cluster Canes Venatici no
M4NGC 61217,57000 Globular Cluster Scorpius no
M5NGC 59047,023000 Globular Cluster Serpens no
M6Butterfly ClusterNGC 64054,52000Open ClusterScorpius no
M7Ptolemy ClusterNGC 64753,51000 Open Cluster Scorpius no
M8Lagoon NebulaNGC 65235,06500Nebula with ClusterSagittariusYES
M9NGC 63339,026000 Globular Cluster Ophiuchus  no
M10NGC 62547,513000 Globular Cluster Ophiuchus  no
M11Wild Duck ClusterNGC 67057,06000 Open Cluster Scutum no
M12NGC 62188,018000 Globular Cluster Ophiuchus  no
M13Great Globular Cluster in HerculesNGC 62055,822000 Globular Cluster HerculesYES
M14NGC 64029,527000 Globular Cluster Ophiuchus  no
M15NGC 70787,533000 Globular Cluster Pegasus no
M16Eagle NebulaNGC 66116,57000 Nebula with Cluster Serpens YES
M17Omega, Swan, Horseshoe, or Lobster NebulaNGC 66187,05000 Nebula with Cluster Sagittarius no
M18NGC 66138,06000 Open Cluster Sagittarius no
M19NGC 62738,527000 Globular Cluster Ophiuchus  no
M20Trifid NebulaNGC 65145,05200 Nebula with Cluster Sagittarius YES
M21NGC 65317,03000 Open Cluster Sagittarius no
M22Sagittarius ClusterNGC 66566,510000 Globular Cluster Sagittarius no
M23NGC 64946,04500 Open Cluster Sagittarius no
M24Small Sagittarius Star Cloudincludes
NGC 6603
310000AsterismSagittarius no
M25Nessuno4,92000 Open Cluster Sagittarius no
M26NGC 66949,55000 Open Cluster Scutum no
M27Dumbbell NebulaNGC 68537,51250Planetary NebulaVolpeculaYES
M28NGC 66268,518000 Globular Cluster Sagittarius no
M29Cooling TowerNGC 69139,07200 Open Cluster Cygnus no
M30NGC 70998,525000 Globular Cluster Capricornus no
M31Andromeda GalaxyNGC 2244,52500000Spiral GalaxyAndromeda YES
M32Small Andromeda GalaxyNGC 22110,02900000Dwarf Elliptical GalaxyAndromeda no
M33Triangulum GalaxyNGC 5987,02810000 Spiral Galaxy Triangulum YES
M34NGC 10396,01400 Open Cluster Perseus no
M35NGC 21685,52800 Open Cluster Gemini no
M36NGC 19606,54100 Open Cluster Auriga no
M37NGC 20996,04600 Open Cluster AurigaYES
M38Starfish ClusterNGC 19127,04200 Open Cluster Auriga no
M39NGC 70925,5800 Open Cluster Cygnus no
M40Winnecke-4Nessuno9,0500AsterismUrsa Major no
M41Little Beehive ClusterNGC 22875,02300 Open Cluster Canis MAjor no
M42Orion NebulaNGC 19765,01600Diffuse NebulaOrionYES
M43De Mairan NebulaNGC 19827,01600 Diffuse Nebula Orion no
M44Beehive Cluster or PraesepeNGC 26323,1600 Open Cluster Cancer YES
M45PleiadesNGC 14321,4400 Open Cluster Taurus YES
M46NGC 24376,55400 Open Cluster Puppis no
M47NGC 24224,51600 Open Cluster Puppis no
M48NGC 25485,51500 Open Cluster Hydra YES
M49NGC 447210,055000000Elliptical GalaxyVirgo no
M50NGC 23237,03200 Open Cluster Monoceros no
M51Whirlpool GalaxyNGC 5194
NGC 5195
8,037000000 Spiral GalaxyCanes Venatici YES
M52NGC 76548,07000 Open Cluster CassiopeiaYES
M53NGC 50248,556000 Globular Cluster Coma Berenice no
M54NGC 67158,583000 Globular Cluster Sagittarius no
M55NGC 68097,017000 Globular Cluster Sagittarius no
M56NGC 67799,532000 Globular Cluster Lyra no
M57Ring NebulaNGC 67209,52300 Planetary Nebula LyraYES
M58NGC 457911,068000000Barred Spiral GalaxyVirgo no
M59NGC 462111,560000000 Elliptical Galaxy Virgo no
M60NGC 464910,555000000 Elliptical Galaxy Virgo no
M61NGC 430310,560000000 Spiral Galaxy Virgo no
M62NGC 62668,022000 Globular Cluster Ophiuchus  no
M63Sunflower GalaxyNGC 50558,537000000 Spiral Galaxy Canes Venatici no
M64Black Eye GalaxyNGC 48269,012000000 Spiral Galaxy Coma Berenice no
M65Leo TripletNGC 362310,535000000 Spiral Galaxy Leo no
M66Leo TripletNGC 362710,035000000 Spiral Galaxy Leo no
M67NGC 26827,52250 Open Cluster CancerYES
M68NGC 45909,032000 Globular Cluster Hydra no
M69NGC 66379,025000 Globular Cluster Sagittarius no
M70NGC 66819,028000 Globular Cluster Sagittarius no
M71NGC 68388,512000 Globular Cluster Sagitta no
M72NGC 698110,053000 Globular Cluster Aquarius no
M73NGC 69949,02500AsterismAquarius no
M74Phantom GalaxyNGC 62810,535000000 Spiral Galaxy Pisces no
M75NGC 68649,558000 Globular Cluster Sagittarius no
M76Little Dumbbell NebulaNGC 650
NGC 651
12,03400 Planetary Nebula Perseus no
M77NGC 106810,547000000Spiral GalaxyCetus no
M78NGC 20688,01600 Diffuse Nebula Orion no
M79NGC 19048,540000 Globular Cluster Lepus no
M80NGC 60938,527000 Globular Cluster Scorpius no
M81Bode’s GalaxyNGC 30318,512000000 Spiral Galaxy Ursa Major YES
M82Sigar GalaxyNGC 30349,511000000Starbust GalaxyUrsa Major YES
M83Southern Pinwheel GalaxyNGC 52368,510000000 Spiral Galaxy Hydra no
M84NGC 437411,060000000Lenticular GalaxyVirgo no
M85NGC 438210,560000000 Lenticular Galaxy Coma Berenice no
M86NGC 440611,052000000 Lenticular Galaxy Virgo no
M87 Virgo A GalaxyNGC 448611,052000000 Elliptical Galaxy Virgo no
M88NGC 450111,047000000 Spiral Galaxy Coma Berenice no
M89NGC 455211,550000000 Elliptical Galaxy Virgo no
M90NGC 456911,060000000 Spiral Galaxy Virgo no
M91NGC 454811,563000000 Spiral Galaxy Coma Berenice no
M92NGC 63417,526000 Globular Cluster Hercules YES
M93NGC 24476,54500 Open Cluster Puppis no
M94Croc’s Eye or Cat’s EyeNGC 47369,514500000 Spiral Galaxy Canes Venatici no
M95NGC 335111,038000000 Barred Spiral Galaxy Leo no
M96NGC 336810,538000000 Spiral Galaxy Leo no
M97Owl NebulaNGC 358712,02600 Planetary Nebula Ursa Major no
M98NGC 419211,060000000 Spiral Galaxy Coma Berenice no
M99NGC 425410,560000000 Spiral Galaxy Coma Berenice no
M100NGC 432110,552000000 Spiral Galaxy Coma Berenice no
Pinwheel Galaxy
NGC 54578,524000000 Spiral Galaxy Ursa Major YES
M102Spindle GalaxyNGC 586610,540000000 Lenticular Galaxy Draco no
M103NGC 5817,08000 Open Cluster Cassiopeia no
M104Sombrero GalaxyNGC 45949,550000000 Spiral Galaxy Virgo no
M105NGC 337911,038000000 Elliptical Galaxy Leo no
M106NGC 42589,525000000 Spiral Galaxy Canes Venatici no
M107NGC 617110,020000 Globular Cluster Ophiuchus  no
M108NGC 355611,045000000 Spiral Galaxy Ursa Major no
M109NGC 399211,055000000 Barred Spiral Galaxy Ursa Major no
M110NGC 20510,02200000 Elliptical Galaxy Andromeda no
(*) If Yes, it means that it is part of the collection of photos I took