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Run the Messier Marathon

It's time for the annual Messier Marathon. Instead of lacing up their Nikes, amateur astronomers will be hauling telescopes, star charts, and a hefty pot of coffee in an all-night vigil hunting the Messier objects.

Messier objects are stellar objects, classified by astronomer Charles Messier in the 18th century, ranging from distant galaxies to star clusters to stellar nebula. March is the only month in the year in which all 110 Messier objects are in the sky. Unfortunately, if you want to see all of them, you have to start looking right after sunset and continue until just before sunrise — hence the term, "marathon."

Ironically, Charles Messier wasn't all that interested in his objects. He made the list in order to avoid seeing them. Messier was more interested in discovering new comets and these beautiful stellar objects were often mistaken for comets before Messier made his list.

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