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The 10th Iran Messier Marathon   -  By: Babak A. Tafreshi

The Moon shines above amateur astronomers when a long observing night comes to the end by the morning light. A group of 150 skygazers are gathered here in Seh Qaleh desert in eastern Iran (2011 April 29) to attend an annual observing competition known as the Messier Marathon. Completing the marathon requires viewing all 110 objects (galaxies, nebulae and star clusters) in 18th century French astronomer Charles Messier's catalog in one glorious dusk-to-dawn observing run. There are often favorable weekend dates for completing the task that fall on nearly moonless nights near the March equinox.


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