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Charles Messier (1730-1817), French astronomer. After the 1759 return of Halley's Comet, Messier became an avid comet seeker. He himself discovered 13, in the processing mapping 103 unmoving nebulous objects which he could discard. These were known by the prefix M followed by their catalogue number, a system still used. They comprise nebulae, galaxies and star clusters. King Louis XV referred to him as the 'ferret of comets'. He was elected to the Paris Academy of Sciences in 1770.
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