Messier Catalog

Charles Messier was an 18th-century French astronomer whose primary goal was to discover new comets. In the process of his comet searches, Messier occassionally found objects that appeared comet-like in the small telescopes he used, but which were not comets. They appeared to be permanent parts of the night sky (like the stars), but he was unaware of the true nature of most of them. To avoid confusion in future comet searches, Messier compiled a catalog of these non-cometary objects.

Today, we recognize the Messier Catalog to consist of a collection of deep sky objects that all lie far beyond the Solar System. Well over 1/3 of them lie outside our own Milky Way Galaxy. The catalog contains 27 open clusters, 29 globular clusters, 6 diffuse nebulae, 4 planetary nebulae, and 40 galaxies (24 spiral, 8 elliptical, 4 barred, and 4 lenticular). There are several one-of-a-kind objects in the catalog including 1 supernova remnant, 1 Milky Way patch, 1 double star, and 1 asterism.

The table below lists details about every deep sky object in the Messier Catalog.

Messier Catalog
Distance (ly) Right
DeclinationConViewing SeasonCommon Name _______________
M11952Sn8.46x46300 5h 34.5m+22° 01′Tau winterCrab Nebula
M27089Gc6.512.937900 21h 33.5m+00° 49′Aqr autumn
M35272Gc6.216.233900 13h 42.2m+28° 23′CVn spring
M46121Gc5.626.37200 16h 23.6m-26° 32′Sco summer
M55904Gc5.617.424500 15h 18.6m+02° 05′Ser summer
M66405Oc4.2251600 17h 40.1m-32° 13′Sco summerButterfly Cluster
M76475Oc3.380800 17h 53.9m-34° 49′Sco summerPtolemy's Cluster
M86523Di6.090x405200 18h 03.8m-24° 23′Sgr summerLagoon Nebula
M96333Gc7.79.326700 17h 19.2m-18° 31′Oph summer
M106254Gc6.615.114400 16h 57.1m-04° 06′Oph summer
M116705Oc6.3146000 18h 51.1m-06° 16′Sct summerWild Duck Cluster
M126218Gc6.714.516000 16h 47.2m-01° 57′Oph summer
M136205Gc5.816.625100 16h 41.7m+36° 28′Her summerGreat Hercules Globular
M146402Gc7.611.729000 17h 37.6m-03° 15′Oph summer
M157078Gc6.212.333600 21h 30m+12° 10′Peg autumnGreat Pegasus Globular
M166611Oc6.477000 18h 18.8m-13° 47′Ser summerEagle Nebula
M176618Di7.0115000 18h 20.8m-16° 11′Sgr summerOmega Nebula
M186613Oc7.594900 18h 19.9m-17° 08′Sgr summer
M196273Gc6.813.528400 17h 02.6m-26° 16′Oph summer
M206514Di9.0285200 18h 02.6m-23° 02′Sgr summerTrifid Nebula
M216531Oc6.5134250 18h 04.6m-22° 30′Sgr summer
M226656Gc5.12410400 18h 36.4m-23° 54′Sgr summerSagittarius Cluster
M236494Oc6.9272150 17h 56.8m-19° 01′Sgr summer
M24-MW4.69010000 18h 16.9m-18° 30′Sgr summerSagittarius Star Cloud
M25IC4725Oc6.5402000 18h 31.6m-19° 15′Sgr summer
M266694Oc8.0155000 18h 45.2m-09° 24′Sct summer
M276853Pl7.48.0x5.71250 19h 59.6m+22° 43′Vul summerDumbbell Nebula
M286626Gc6.811.218600 18h 24.5m-24° 52′Sgr summer
M296913Oc7.174000 20h 23.9m+38° 32′Cyg summer
M307099Gc7.21126100 21h 40.4m-23° 11′Cap autumn
M31224Sp3.4178x633 million 0h 41.8m+41° 16′And autumnAndromeda Galaxy
M32221El8.18x63 million 0h 42.8m+40° 52′And autumn
M33598Sp5.773x453 million 1h 33.9m+30° 39′Tri autumnTriangulum Galaxy
M341039Oc5.5351400 2h 42m+42° 47′Per autumn
M352168Oc5.3282800 6h 08.9m+24° 20′Gem winter
M361960Oc6.3124100 5h 36.1m+34° 08′Aur winter
M372099Oc6.2244400 5h 52.4m+32° 33′Aur winter
M381912Oc7.4214200 5h 28.7m+35° 50′Aur winter
M397092Oc4.632825 21h 32.2m+48° 26′Cyg autumn
M40Win4Ds8.40.8510 12h 22.4m+58° 05′UMa springWinnecke 4
M412287Oc4.6382300 6h 47m-20° 44′CMa winter
M421976Di4.085x601600 5h 35.4m-05° 27′Ori winterGreat Nebula in Orion
M431982Di9.020x151600 5h 35.6m-05° 16′Ori winterDe Mairan's Nebula
M442632Oc3.795577 8h 40.1m+19° 59′Cnc winterBeehive Cluster
M45-Oc1.6110380 3h 47m+24° 07′Tau winterPleiades
M462437Oc6.0275400 7h 41.8m-14° 49′Pup winter
M472422Oc5.2301600 7h 36.6m-14° 30′Pup winter
M482548Oc5.5541500 8h 13.8m-05° 48′Hya winter
M494472El8.49x7.560 million 12h 29.8m+08° 00′Vir spring
M502323Oc6.3163000 7h 03.2m-08° 20′Mon winter
M515194Sp8.411x737 million 13h 30m+47° 11′CVn springWhirlpool Galaxy
M527654Oc7.3135000 23h 24.2m+61° 35′Cas autumn
M535024Gc7.612.659700 13h 12.9m+18° 10′Com spring
M546715Gc7.69.188700 18h 55.1m-30° 29′Sgr summer
M556809Gc6.31917600 19h 40m-30° 58′Sgr summer
M566779Gc8.37.132900 19h 16.6m+30° 11′Lyr summer
M576720Pl8.81.4x1.02300 18h 53.6m+33° 02′Lyr summerRing Nebula
M584579Ba9.75.5x4.560 million 12h 37.7m+11° 49′Vir spring
M594621El9.65x3.560 million 12h 42m+11° 39′Vir spring
M604649El8.87x660 million 12h 43.7m+11° 33′Vir spring
M614303Sp9.76x5.560 million 12h 21.9m+04° 28′Vir spring
M626266Gc6.514.122500 17h 01.2m-30° 07′Oph summer
M635055Sp8.610x637 million 13h 15.8m+42° 02′CVn springSunflower Galaxy
M644826Sp8.59.3x5.419 million 12h 56.7m+21° 41′Com springBlack Eye Galaxy
M653623Sp9.38x1.535 million 11h 18.9m+13° 05′Leo spring
M663627Sp8.98x2.535 million 11h 20.2m+12° 59′Leo spring
M672682Oc6.1302700 8h 50.4m+11° 49′Cnc winter
M684590Gc7.81233300 12h 39.5m-26° 45′Hya spring
M696637Gc7.67.128000 18h 31.4m-32° 21′Sgr summer
M706681Gc7.97.829400 18h 43.2m-32° 18′Sgr summer
M716838Gc8.27.212700 19h 53.8m+18° 47′Sge summer
M726981Gc9.35.955400 20h 53.5m-12° 32′Aqr summer
M736994As9.02.82000 20h 59m-12° 38′Aqr summer
M74628Sp9.410.2x9.535 million 1h 36.7m+15° 47′Psc autumn
M756864Gc8.5661300 20h 06.1m-21° 55′Sgr summer
M76650Pl10.12.7x1.83400 1h 42.4m+51° 34′Per autumnLittle Dumbbell Nebula
M771068Sp8.97x660 million 2h 42.7m+00° 02′Cet autumn
M782068Di8.38x61600 5h 46.7m+00° 03′Ori winter
M791904Gc7.78.742100 5h 24.5m-24° 33′Lep winter
M806093Gc7.38.932600 16h 17m-22° 59′Sco summer
M813031Sp6.921x1012 million 9h 55.6m+69° 04′UMa springBode's Galaxy
M823034Ir8.49x412 million 9h 55.8m+69° 41′UMa springCigar Galaxy
M835236Sp7.611x1015 million 13h 37m-29° 52′Hya springSouthern Pinwheel
M844374Ln9.1560 million 12h 25.1m+12° 53′Vir spring
M854382Ln9.17.1x5.260 million 12h 25.5m+18° 12′Com spring
M864406Ln8.97.5x5.560 million 12h 26.2m+12° 57′Vir spring
M874486El8.6760 million 12h 30.8m+12° 24′Vir spring
M884501Sp9.67x460 million 12h 32.1m+14° 26′Com spring
M894552El9.8460 million 12h 35.7m+12° 33′Vir spring
M904569Sp9.59.5x4.560 million 12h 36.8m+13° 10′Vir spring
M914548Ba10.25.4x4.460 million 12h 35.5m+14° 30′Com spring
M926341Gc6.411.226700 17h 17.1m+43° 08′Her summer
M932447Oc6.0223600 7h 44.6m-23° 52′Pup winter
M944736Sp8.27x315 million 12h 50.9m+41° 08′CVn spring
M953351Ba9.74.4x3.338 million 10h 44m+11° 42′Leo spring
M963368Sp9.26x438 million 10h 46.8m+11° 49′Leo spring
M973587Pl9.93.4x3.32600 11h 14.8m+55° 01′UMa springOwl Nebula
M984192Sp10.19.5x3.260 million 12h 13.9m+14° 55′Com spring
M994254Sp9.95.4x4.860 million 12h 18.9m+14° 26′Com spring
M1004321Sp9.37x660 million 12h 23m+15° 50′Com spring
M1015457Sp7.92227 million 14h 03.2m+54° 21′UMa springPinwheel Galaxy
M1025866Ln9.95.2x2.340 million 15h 06.5m+55° 46′Dra summer
M103581Oc7.468500 1h 33.2m+60° 42′Cas autumn
M1044594Sp8.09x450 million 12h 40m-11° 37′Vir springSombrero Galaxy
M1053379El9.3238 million 10h 47.8m+12° 35′Leo spring
M1064258Sp8.419x825 million 12h 18.9m+47° 19′CVn spring
M1076171Gc7.91020900 16h 32.5m-13° 03′Oph summer
M1083556Sp10.08x145 million 11h 11.5m+55° 40′UMa spring
M1093992Ba9.87x455 million 11h 57.6m+53° 23′UMa spring
M110205El8.517x103 million 00h 40.4m+41° 41′And autumn

Messier Catalog
Column Descriptions
Heading Description
M Messier Catalog Number
NGC New General Catalog Number
Type Celestial Object Classification (see table below)
Mag. Apparent Visual Magnitude
Size Angular Size in Arc-Minutes
Distance Distance from Solar System in Light Years
RA Right Ascension (J2000) in Hours and Minutes
Dec Declination (J2000) in Degrees and Minutes
Con IAU Constellation Abbreviation
Best Season for Viewing Messier Object
Informal or Colloquial Name of Messier Object

Messier Catalog
Object Classification
Type Description Type Description
Oc Open Cluster Sp Spiral Galaxy
Gc Globular Cluster Ba Barred Galaxy
Pl Planetary Nebula Ln Lenticular Galaxy
Di Diffuse Nebula El Elliptical Galaxy
As Asterism Ir Irregular Galaxy
Ds Double Star Sn Supernova Remnant
MW Milky Way Patch