Brightest galaxies

Here are the brightest galaxies in the night sky, ordered by constellation. Brightness, when applied to extended diffuse objects like galaxies, can be a tricky word. Apparent magnitude is listed, but should be used cautiously when applied solely for brightness as perceived by the human eye. For galaxies, "brightness" is a function of magnitude, surface brightness, and apparent size. This is because apparent magnitude applies most accurately to brightness for point objects like stars. Galaxies have an apparent size in the night sky, so their magnitude is "spread out" across it. The larger the galaxy, the dimmer it appears, all other things being equal. See the sidebar for more information.

Also see 100 notable galaxies.

Top 10 best galaxies for telescopes

These are the 10 best and brightest galaxies for telescopes, ordered by approximate awesomness:

1. Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31)

Spiral galaxy in Andromeda
northern hemisphere  |  magnitude 3.4

2. Triangulum Galaxy (Messier 33)

Spiral galaxy in Triangulum
northern hemisphere  |  magnitude 5.72

3. Bode's Galaxy (Messier 81)

Spiral galaxy in Ursa Major
northern hemisphere  |  magnitude 6.9

4. Cigar Galaxy (Messier 82)

Irregular galaxy in Ursa Major
northern hemisphere  |  magnitude 8.4

5. Sombrero Galaxy (Messier 104)

Spiral galaxy in Virgo
southern hemisphere  |  magnitude 8.9

6. Cat's Eye Galaxy (Messier 94)

Spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici
northern hemisphere  |  magnitude 9

7. Large Magellanic Cloud

Dwarf spiral galaxy in Dorado
southern hemisphere  |  magnitude 0.9

8. Small Magellanic Cloud

Dwarf irregular galaxy in Tucana
southern hemisphere  |  magnitude 2.7

9. Leo Triplet (Messier 65, 66)

Spiral galaxy group in Leo
northern hemisphere  |  magnitude 8.9

10. Whirlpool Galaxy (Messier 51)

Spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici
northern hemisphere  |  magnitude 5.1

Bright Messier galaxies

Here are the brightest galaxies listed in the Messier catalog, ordered by constellation. Messier galaxies are predominately found in the northern hemisphere.

Edward Young Star
Messier M110
8.9 Andromeda
Le Gentil
Messier M32
8.1 Andromeda
Cat's Eye Galaxy
Messier M94
9 Canes Venatici
Sunflower Galaxy
Messier M63
9.3 Canes Venatici
Whirlpool Galaxy
Messier M51
8.4 Canes Venatici
Cetus A
Messier M77
9.6 Cetus
Blackeye Galaxy
Messier M64
8.5 Coma Berenices
Spindle Galaxy
Messier M102
10.7 Draco
Southern Pinwheel Galaxy
Messier M83
7.5 Hydra
Leo Triplet
Messier M65
10.3 Leo
Leo Triplet
Messier M66
8.9 Leo
Phantom Galaxy
Messier M74
10 Pisces
Triangulum Galaxy
Messier M33
5.7 Triangulum
Bode's Galaxy
Messier M81
6.9 Ursa Major
Cigar Galaxy
Messier M82
8.4 Ursa Major
Pinwheel Galaxy
Messier M101
7.9 Ursa Major
Surfboard Galaxy
Messier M108
10.7 Ursa Major
Sombrero Galaxy
Messier M104
8.9 Virgo
Virgo A
Messier M87
8.8 Virgo

Bright Caldwell galaxies

Here are the brightest galaxies listed in the Caldwell catalog, ordered by constellation. Caldwell galaxies are predominately found in the southern hemisphere.

Centaurus A
Caldwell C77
7 Centaurus
Fireworks Galaxy
Caldwell C12
8.9 Cepheus
Needle Galaxy
Caldwell C38
9.6 Coma Berenices
Antenna Galaxies
Caldwell C60
10 Corvus
Antenna Galaxies
Caldwell C61
13 Corvus
Perseus A
Caldwell C24
11 Perseus
Barnard's galaxy
Caldwell C57
8.8 Sagittarius
Sculptor Galaxy
Caldwell C65
7.1 Sculptor
Whale galaxy
Caldwell C72
7.9 Sculptor
Spindle galaxy
Caldwell C53
9.1 Sextans

Bright Milky Way satellite galaxies

Our Milky Way Galaxy has a number of dwarf galaxies that orbit it. These are the brightest, ordered by constellation. For a list of all satellite galaxies, see Milky Way Satellite Galaxies.

Large Magellanic Cloud
Large Magellanic Cloud
0.9 Dorado
Small Magellanic Cloud
Small Magellanic Cloud
2.7 Tucana
Sagittarius Dwarf
Sagittarius Dwarf
4.5 Sagittarius
Fornax Dwarf
Fornax Dwarf
9.3 Fornax