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Messier Objects Options
Daemon
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 12:00:00 AM
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Messier Objects

In 1784, French astronomer Charles Messier compiled a list of non-stellar celestial objects. He had no understanding of what these items—now known to be galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters—actually were; he just wanted to further the search for comets by listing the indistinct objects that might be mistaken for them. Designations from his catalog are still used to refer to some nebulae and star clusters—for instance, M1 is the Crab Nebula and M45 is the Pleiades. What is a "Messier Marathon"? More...
Westley Payne
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 7:40:37 AM

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I should list the objects in my room the same way then maybe my mother wouldn't throw them away.
curmudgeonine
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 8:00:03 AM

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Because these objects could be observed visually with the relatively small-aperture refracting telescope (approximately 100 mm, or four inches) used by Messier to study the sky, they are among the brightest and therefore most attractive astronomical objects (popularly called "deep sky objects") observable from earth, and are a popular targets for visual study and photography available to modern amateur astronomers using larger aperture equipment. In early spring, astronomers sometimes gather for "Messier marathons", when all of the objects can be viewed over a single night.
kenturner1
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 7:50:38 PM

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At first I thought they were talking about Mark Messier the hockey player. Very insightful and interesting article.
Absurdicuss
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 8:31:44 PM
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Here's a novel angle on starlight & time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g73iuRlfl8E
Marguerite
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 9:57:47 PM

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Typically an observer attempting a Messier marathon begins observing at sundown and will observe through the night until sunrise in order to see all 110 objects. An observer starts with objects low in the western sky at sunset, hoping to view them before they dip out of view, then works eastward across the sky. By sunrise, the successful observer will be observing the last few objects low on the eastern horizon, hoping to see them before the sky becomes too bright due to the rising sun. The evening can be a test of stamina and willpower depending on weather conditions and the physical fitness of the observer. Particularly crowded regions of the sky (namely, the Virgo Cluster and the Milky Way's galactic center) can prove to be challenging to an observer as well, and a Messier marathon will generally budget time for these regions accordingly.
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