LE GENTIL: 'While observing the Andromeda Nebula with a fine 18 foot telescope ... I saw another small nebula, about one minute in diameter which appeared to throw out two small rays; one to the right and the other to the left.'
C. MESSIER: '(Aug. 3rd, 1764) 'Small nebula without a star. Round, much fainter than M 31.'
Binoculars show M-32 as a fuzzy 9th magnitude "star" just to the south of the central mass of the Andromeda Galaxy, M-31. Messier said that it was first seen by Le Gentil in 1749.
Quote from K.G. Jones's Messier's Nebulae & Star Clusters:
"M-32 is an elliptical galaxy like the other companions M-31. The total mass of M 32 is about 3 billion solar masses and its diameter is about 8,000 light-years. Although probably formed at the same time as M 31, M-32 is at a much later stage of development. It appears to have lost most, if not all, of its interstellar gas and dust, after having passed more than once through the disc of the larger galaxy."
George Normandin, KAS
November 30th, 2008