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" Spotting comets was all the rage in the middle of the 18th century, and at the forefront of the comet hunt was a young French astronomer named Charles Messier. In 1774, in an effort to help fellow comet seekers steer clear of astronomical objects that were not comets (something that frustrated his own search for these elusive entities), Messier published the first version of his “Catalog of Nebulae and Star Clusters,” a collection of celestial objects that weren’t comets and should be avoided during comet hunting. Today, rather than avoiding these objects, many amateur astronomers actively seek them out as interesting targets to observe with backyard telescopes, binoculars or sometimes even with the naked eye. Hubble’s version of the Messier catalog includes eight newly processed images never before released by NASA. The images were extracted from more than 1.3 million observations that now reside in the Hubble data archive. Some of these images represent the first Hubble views of the objects, while others include newer, higher resolution images taken with Hubble’s latest cameras. Image credit: NASA/ESA + others
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