Charles Messier Reference Libraries

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Virgo Cluster
2010-09-16 15:18:29

The Virgo Cluster consists of galaxies at a distance of around 59 Mly away in the constellation Virgo. Containing between 1300 to 2000 galaxies the Virgo Cluster is the heart of the Local Supercluster. Its mass is estimated at 1.2 × 1015 M☉ out to 8 degrees of the cluster's center or a radius of about 2.2 Mpc. Most of the brighter galaxies in the cluster were discovered by Charles...

Whirlpool Galaxy M51
2004-10-19 04:45:40

Whirlpool Galaxy -- Discovered 1773 by Charles Messier. The famous Whirlpool galaxy M51 was one of Charles Messier's original discoveries: He discovered it on October 13, 1773, when observing a comet, and described it as a "very faint nebula, without stars" which is difficult to see. Its companion, NGC 5195, was discovered in 1781 by his friend, Pierre Mchain, so that it is mentioned in...

Trifid Nebula
2004-10-19 04:45:40

Trifid Nebula -- Discovered by Charles Messier in 1764. Charles Messier discovered this object on June 5, 1764, and described it as a cluster of stars of 8th to 9th magnitude, enveloped in nebulosity. The Trifid Nebula M20 is famous for its three-lobed appearance. This may have caused William Herschel, who normally carefully avoided to number Messier's objects in his catalog, to assign...

Sunflower Galaxy M63
2004-10-19 04:45:40

Sunflower Galaxy (M63) -- Discovered 1779 by Pierre Mchain. M63 was the very first discovery of a Deep Sky object by Messier's friend, Pierre Mchain, who caught it up on June 14, 1779. On the same day, Charles Messier included it in his catalog. The Sunflower galaxy M63 is one of the early recognized spiral galaxies, listed by Lord Rosse as one of 14 "spiral nebulae" discovered to 1850....

Sombrero Galaxy
2004-10-19 04:45:40

Sombrero Galaxy -- Discovered by Pierre Mchain or Charles Messier in 1781. M104 is numerically the first object of the catalog which was not included in Messier's originally published catalog. However, Charles Messier added it by hand to his personal copy on May 11, 1781, and described it as a "very faint nebula." It was Camille Flammarion who found that its position coincided with...

Owl Nebula
2004-10-19 04:45:40

Owl Nebula -- Dicovered by Pierre Mchain in 1781. The Owl Nebula M97 is one of the fainter objects in Messier's catalog, discovered by Pierre Mchain on February 16, 1781. In his description of this object, Charles Messier also mentions two other nebulous objects that he (and Mchain) have seen at about the same time, but which he had not added in his printed catalog version of 1781 (in...

Orion Nebula
2004-10-19 04:45:40

Orion Nebula -- Discovered 1610 by Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc. Located at a distance of about 1,600 (or perhaps 1,500) light years, the Orion Nebula is the brightest diffuse nebula in the sky, visible to the naked eye, and rewarding in telescopes of every size, from the smallest glasses to the greatest Earth-bound observatories and the Hubble Space Telescope. It is the main part...

Messier Object
2004-10-19 04:45:40

Messier Object -- During the years from 1758 to 1782 Charles Messier, a French astronomer (1730 - 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...

Lagoon Nebula
2004-10-19 04:45:40

Lagoon Nebula -- The Lagoon Nebula was discovered by Le Gentil in 1747. As often for diffuse nebulae, the cluster of young stars which has formed from the nebula's material was discovered first. In this case the young open cluster NGC 6530 in the Eastern half of M8 was discovered by Flamsteed about 1680, and again seen by De Ch'seaux in 1746, before Le Gentil found the nebula in 1747....

Word of the Day
  • The horn of a unicorn considered as a medical or pharmacological ingredient.
  • A winged horse with a single horn on its head; a winged unicorn.
The word 'alicorn' comes from Italian alicorno, already associated with unicorns and reinterpreted, popularized by Bearing an Hourglass (1984) and other fantasy novels by Piers Anthony.