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[CM.jpg] During the years from 1758 to 1782 Charles Messier, a French astronomer (b. 1730 d. 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 errrors, 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 seperate '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.

In addition to the images, we have also included some data on these objects such as celestial position (right ascension, declination), visual magnitude, apparent (angular) diameter in arc minutes, and approximate distance in thousands of light-years (please note that the decimal point in the distance does not represent true accuracy). 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 WebExplorer (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. 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. With the contributions of others we hope to soon have 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 Guy McArthur who developed their logic and design, and created the first working version. They were upgraded and extended, and are currently maintained by Hartmut Frommert <>, who is 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!

**** The Messier database has been reviewed and rated by The McKinley Group's online editorial team, and has been designated a Magellan 4-star resource, their highest possible rating.

Other Options

The Messier pages now have their first (partial) mirror ! German and other European users may enjoy a faster access to the SEDS Messier Database - MAA Mirror, at the Munich Astronomical Archive, which is maintained by Christine Kronberg. Moreover, Chris is working on a German version of the Messier pages; this service is currently under construction, but please enjoy the part which is now complete.


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 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):

Indexes or Icon sheet, Quick Browser, DSSM image browser