The Messier Catalog - Deep Sky Objects

Messier objects are celestial bodies that were observed by Charles Messier throughout his career. During his lifetime, any person who found a new comet became well known amongst their peers, but, also became a celebrity. Messier lived in what could be considered precarious times for professional astronomers. There were few jobs, so if you did make new discoveries you did not have a job.

Each Messier object is a body that first appeared to be a comet, but is not. Messier compiled a list of these objects in several additions; eventually ending with a total of 103 objects during his lifetime. His work was limited by the fact that he lived in the Northern Hemisphere, so could only observe objects that appeared in the night sky above 35.7° latitude.

 

It can be difficult to observe the entire Messier list. In addition to the 103 Messier compiled, his assistant and other researchers followed up on his side notes and astronomers now believe his list should contain a total of 110 objects. These objects are an interesting challenge for amateur astronomers to find, so there are several astronomical associations that offer rewards to anyone who observes them. A simple web search will garner you the information you need to participate.

 

Below is a set of links to an introduction to Messier objects as well as a link to an article about each of the individual Messier objects. Enjoy your research, then enjoy your observations

Charles Messier

Charles Messier

Charles Messier (June 26, 1730 – April 12, 1817) was a French astronomer most notable for publishing an astronomical catalogue consisting of nebulae and star clusters that came to be known as the 110 "Messier objects". The purpose of the catalogue was to help astronomical observers, in particular comet hunters such as himself, distinguish between permanent and transient visually diffuse objects in the sky.

M-1 - Crab Nebula

M-1 - Crab Nebula

Object Name: Messier 1 Alternative Designations: NGC 1952, M1, Sharpless 244, Crab Nebula Object Type: Supernova Remnant Constellation: Taurus Right Ascension: 05 : 34.5 (h:m) Declination: +22 : 01 (deg:m) Distance: 6.3 (kly) Visual Brightness: 8.4 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 6×4 (arc min)

M-2

M-2

Object Name: Messier 2 Alternative Designations: NGC 7089, GC 4678, Bode 70 Object Type: Class II Globular Cluster Constellation: Aquarius Right Ascension: 21 : 33.5 (h:m) Declination: -00 : 49 (deg:m) Distance: 37.5 (kly) Visual Brightness: 6.5 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 16.0 (arc min)

M-3

M-3

Object Name: Messier 3 Alternative Designations: NGC 5272 Object Type: Class VI Globular Cluster Constellation: Canes Venatici Right Ascension: 13 : 42.2 (h:m) Declination: +28 : 23 (deg:m) Distance: 33.9 (kly) Visual Brightness: 6.2 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 18.0 (arc min)

M-4

M-4

Object Name: Messier 4 Alternative Designations: NGC 6121 Object Type: Class IX Globular Cluster Constellation: Scorpius Right Ascension: 16 : 23.6 (h:m) Declination: -26 : 32 (deg:m) Distance: 7.2 (kly) Visual Brightness: 5.6 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 36.0 (arc min)

M-5

M-5

Object Name: Messier 5 Alternative Designations: NGC 5904 Object Type: Class V Globular Cluster Constellation: Serpens Right Ascension: 15 : 18.6 (h:m) Declination: +02 : 05 (deg:m) Distance: 24.5 (kly) Visual Brightness: 5.6 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 23.0 (arc min)

M-6 - Butterfly Cluster

M-6 - Butterfly Cluster

Object Name: Messier 6 Alternative Designations: M6, NGC 6405, Lac III.12, Butterfly Cluster Object Type: Type “E” Open Star Cluster Constellation: Scorpius Right Ascension: 17 : 40.1 (h:m) Declination: -32 : 13 (deg:m) Distance: 1.6 (kly) Visual Brightness: 4.2 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 25.0 (arc min)

M-7 - Ptolemy’s Cluster

M-7 - Ptolemy’s Cluster

Object Name: Messier 7 Alternative Designations: M7, NGC 6475, Lac II.14, The Scorpion’s Tail, Ptolemy’s Cluster Object Type: Type “E” Open Star Cluster Constellation: Scorpius Right Ascension: 17 : 53.9 (h:m) Declination: -34 : 49 (deg:m) Distance: 0.8 (kly) Visual Brightness: 3.3 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 80.0 (arc min)

M-8 - Lagoon Nebula

M-8 - Lagoon Nebula

Object Name: Messier 8 Alternative Designations: M8, NGC 6523, Sharpless 25, RCW 146, Gum 72, Lagoon Nebula Object Type: Emission Nebula Constellation: Sagittarius Right Ascension: 18 : 03.8 (h:m) Declination: -24 : 23 (deg:m) Distance: 5.2 (kly) Visual Brightness: 6.0 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 90×40 (arc min)

M-9

M-9

Object Name: Messier 9 Alternative Designations: M9, NGC 6333 Object Type: Class VIII Globular Cluster Constellation: Ophiuchus Right Ascension: 17 : 19.2 (h:m) Declination: -18 : 31 (deg:m) Distance: 25.8 (kly) Visual Brightness: 7.7 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 12.0 (arc min)

M-10

M-10

Object Name: Messier 10 Alternative Designations: M10, NGC 6254 Object Type: Class VII Globular Cluster Constellation: Ophiuchus Right Ascension: 16 : 57.1 (h:m) Declination: -04 : 06 (deg:m) Distance: 14.3 (kly) Visual Brightness: 6.6 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 20.0 (arc min)

M-11 - Wild Duck Cluster

M-11 - Wild Duck Cluster

Object Name: Messier 11 Alternative Designations: M11, NGC 6705, “Wild Duck” Cluster Object Type: Open Star Cluster Constellation: Scutum Right Ascension: 18 : 51.1 (h:m) Declination: -06 : 16 (deg:m) Distance: 6.0 (kly) Visual Brightness: 6.3 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 14.0 (arc min)

M-12

M-12

Object Name: Messier 12 Alternative Designations: M12, NGC 6218 Object Type: Class IX Globular Cluster Constellation: Ophiuchus Right Ascension: 16 : 47.2 (h:m) Declination: -01 : 57 (deg:m) Distance: 16.0 (kly) Visual Brightness: 6.7 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 16.0 (arc min)

M-13 - Great Hercules Cluster

M-13 - Great Hercules Cluster

Object Name: Messier 13 Alternative Designations: M13, NGC 6205, the “Great Hercules Cluster” Object Type: Class V Globular Cluster Constellation: Hercules Right Ascension: 16 : 41.7 (h:m) Declination: +36 : 28 (deg:m) Distance: 25.1 (kly) Visual Brightness: 5.8 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 20.0 (arc min)

M-14

M-14

Object Name: Messier 14 Alternative Designations: M14, NGC 6402 Object Type: Class VIII Globular Cluster Constellation: Ophiuchus Right Ascension: 17 : 37.6 (h:m) Declination: -03 : 15 (deg:m) Distance: 30.3 (kly) Visual Brightness: 7.6 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 11.0 (arc min)

M-15

M-15

Object Name: Messier 15 Alternative Designations: M15, NGC 7078 Object Type: Class IV Globular Cluster Constellation: Pegasus Right Ascension: 21 : 30.0 (h:m) Declination: +12 : 10 (deg:m) Distance: 33.6 (kly) Visual Brightness: 6.2 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 18.0 (arc min)

M-16 - Eagle Nebula

M-16 - Eagle Nebula

Object Name: Messier 16 Alternative Designations: M16, NGC 6611, Eagle Nebula (IC 4703) Object Type: Open Star Cluster and Emission Nebula Constellation: Serpens (Cauda) Right Ascension: 18 : 18.8 (h:m) Declination: -13 : 47 (deg:m) Distance: 7.0 (kly) Visual Brightness: 6.4 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 7.0 (arc min)

M-17 - Swan Nebula

M-17 - Swan Nebula

Object Name: Messier 17 Alternative Designations: M17, NGC 6618, Omega, Swan, Horseshoe, or Lobster Nebula Object Type: Open Star Cluster with Emission Nebula Constellation: Sagittarius Right Ascension: 18 : 20.8 (h:m) Declination: -16 : 11 (deg:m) Distance: 5.0 (kly) Visual Brightness: 6.0 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 11.0 (arc min)

M-18

M-18

Object Name: Messier 18 Alternative Designations: M18, NGC 6613 Object Type: Open Star Cluster Constellation: Sagittarius Right Ascension: 18 : 19.9 (h:m) Declination: -17 : 08 (deg:m) Distance: 4.9 (kly) Visual Brightness: 7.5 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 9.0 (arc min)

M-19

M-19

Object Name: Messier 19 Alternative Designations: M19, NGC 6273 Object Type: Class VIII Globular Star Cluster Constellation: Ophiuchus Right Ascension: 17 : 02.6 (h:m) Declination: -26 : 16 (deg:m) Distance: 28.0 (kly) Visual Brightness: 6.8 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 17.0 (arc min)

M-20

M-20

Object Name: Messier 20 Alternative Designations: M20, NGC 6514, Trifid Nebula Object Type: Emission Nebula and Reflection Nebula with Open Star Cluster Constellation: Sagittarius Right Ascension: 18 : 02.6 (h:m) Declination: -23 : 02 (deg:m) Distance: 5.2 (kly) Visual Brightness: 9.0 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 28.0 (arc min)

M-21

M-21

Object Name: Messier 21 Alternative Designations: M21, NGC 6531 Object Type: Open Star Cluster Constellation: Sagittarius Right Ascension: 18 : 04.6 (h:m) Declination: -22 : 30 (deg:m) Distance: 4.25 (kly) Visual Brightness: 6.5 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 13.0 (arc min)

M-22

M-22

Object Name: Messier 22 Alternative Designations: M22, NGC 6656 Object Type: Class VII Globular Star Cluster Constellation: Sagittarius Right Ascension: 18 : 36.4 (h:m) Declination: -23 : 54 (deg:m) Distance: 10.4 (kly) Visual Brightness: 5.1 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 32.0 (arc min)

M-23

M-23

Object Name: Messier 23 Alternative Designations: M23, NGC 6494 Object Type: Open Star Cluster Constellation: Sagittarius Right Ascension: 17 : 56.8 (h:m) Declination: -19 : 01 (deg:m) Distance: 2.15 (kly) Visual Brightness: 6.9 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 27.0 (arc min)

M-24 - Sagittarius Star Cloud

M-24 - Sagittarius Star Cloud

Object Name: Messier 24 Alternative Designations: M24, IC 4715, Sagittarius Star Cloud, Delle Caustiche Object Type: Star Cloud – contains Open Cluster NGC 6603 and NGC 6595, Barnard 92, Barnard 93, Collinder 469, IC 1283-1284, NGC 6589/90 and planetary nebula NGC 6567 Constellation: Sagittarius Right Ascension: 18 : 16.9 (h:m) Declination: -18 : 29 (deg:m) Distance: 10.0 (kly) Visual Brightness: 4.6 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 90 (arc min)

M-25

M-25

Object Name: Messier 25 Alternative Designations: M25, IC 4725 Object Type: Open Galactic Star Cluster Constellation: Sagittarius Right Ascension: 18 : 31.6 (h:m) Declination: -19 : 15 (deg:m) Distance: 2.0 (kly) Visual Brightness: 4.6 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 32.0 (arc min)

M-26

M-26

Object Name: Messier 26 Alternative Designations: M26, NGC 6694 Object Type: Open Galactic Star Cluster Constellation: Scutum Right Ascension: 18 : 45.2 (h:m) Declination: -09 : 24 (deg:m) Distance: 5.0 (kly) Visual Brightness: 8.0 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 15.0 (arc min)

M-27 - Dumbbell Nebula

M-27 - Dumbbell Nebula

Object Name: Messier 27 Alternative Designations: M27, NGC 6853, The Dumbbell Nebula Object Type: Planetary Nebula Constellation: Vulpecula Right Ascension: 19 : 59.6 (h:m) Declination: +22 : 43 (deg:m) Distance: 1.25 (kly) Visual Brightness: 7.4 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 8.0×5.7 (arc min)

M-28

M-28

Object Name: Messier 28 Alternative Designations: M28, NGC 6626 Object Type: Class IV Globular Cluster Constellation: Sagittarius Right Ascension: 18 : 24.5 (h:m) Declination: -24 : 52 (deg:m) Distance: 18.3 (kly) Visual Brightness: 6.8 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 11.2 (arc min)

M-29

M-29

Object Name: Messier 29 Alternative Designations: M29, NGC 6913 Object Type: Open Galactic Star Cluster Constellation: Cygnus Right Ascension: 20 : 23.9 (h:m) Declination: +38 : 32 (deg:m) Distance: 4.0 (kly) Visual Brightness: 7.1 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 7.0 (arc min)

M-30

M-30

Object Name: Messier 30 Alternative Designations: M30, NGC 7099 Object Type: Class V Globular Cluster Constellation: Capricornus Right Ascension: 21 : 40.4 (h:m) Declination: -23 : 11 (deg:m Distance: 26.1 (kly) Visual Brightness: 7.2 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 12.0 (arc min)

M-31 - Andromeda Galaxy

M-31 - Andromeda Galaxy

Object Name: Messier 31 Alternative Designations: M31, NGC 224, Andromeda Galaxy Object Type: Type Sb Galaxy Constellation: Andromeda Right Ascension: 00 : 42.7 (h:m) Declination: +41 : 16 (deg:m) Distance: 2900 (kly) Visual Brightness: 3.4 (mag) Apparent Dimension: 178×63 (arc min)

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© 2020 by Maxwell F.X. Paláu