When you look at the night sky, you notice the brighter stars, the Moon and the nearer planets first. However, on very clear nights some blurry, milky-looking regions will also be noticed in the sky. Our Milky Way is immediately obvious on dark clear nights, but other, much smaller, objects can also be easily seen with the naked eye. In the late 18th century to early 19th century, the Frenchman Charles Messier put together a catalogue of these faint objects. His intention was to avoid confusing these objects with comets - which were the astronomical phenomena of more interest at that time. The Messier catalogue contains some 110 objects, but which have not been systematically categorised. These mainly include galaxies, star clusters, nebulae and novae remnants. Since Messier included only the brightest and most conspicuous objects, his catalogue contains some of the most impressive objects for amateur astronomers to observe. Even today these objects are marked with an 'M' for Messier and with their historical number.
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