Fr.: catalogue de Messier
A catalog of more than 100 nebulous-appearing astronomical objects, initially established to avoid confusion with comets. These objects are now well known to be among the brightest and most striking gaseous nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies. The designations of the catalog are still used in identification; e.g. M1 is the Crab Nebula (in Taurus).
In honor of the French astronomer Charles Messier (1730-1817), who compiled the list between 1760 and 1784 in order to avoid confusion with comets; → catalog.