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Beginning in 1758, French astronomer and comet-hunter Charles Messier catalogued deep-sky objects not to be mistaken for comets. By 1784 his list had grown to 103 objects, including those observed by other astronomers, notably colleague Pierre Méchain. Between 1921 and 1966, the final 7 objects were added to the catalogue by astronomical historians, mostly based on Messier’s original observing notes.

Here, then, are the 109 objects (M102, due to a recording error, is a duplicate of M101) in the Messier catalogue, representing some of the finest objects observable in the night sky.

At bottom right is NGC5866, which some believe to be the true M102, as it fits the general description from Messier and lies in the same general area of the sky if the original apparent error is rationalized. Although it remains a controversy, it is included here as a separate object in recognition of its possible status as the “real” M102.

All astrophotos taken February 2006 - March 2008 using Canon 20Da DSLR camera.

                                   Messier Objects Poster Copyright © 2008 by Patrick Freeman.  All Rights Reserved.