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Messier marathon 2010 India: Sky gazers gear up for Messier marathon

Sky gazers are set for a week-long celestial treat from Saturday with the start of Messier marathon, an annual astronomy event.

The event is named after French astronomer Charles Messier, who compiled a list of 110 relatively bright deep sky objects - galaxies, nebulae and star clusters. The list is known as the Messier Catalogue. During the "Messier marathon" an attempt is made to find as many Messier Objects as possible during one night.

Astronomers use the catalogue to identify the deep sky objects.

"Amateur astronomers across the globe wait for the month of March for this special marathon and this year the favourable days are between March 13-20 when there will be less hindrance from moonlight," said C.B. Devgun, director for Science Popularisation at the Association of Communicators & Educators (SPACE).

SPACE is an organisation working for spreading science awareness among people.

Amateurs need a dark site to observe the night skies and lot of patience and observational skills to catch all the objects in one night, he said.

"The observation can be done with a combination of astronomy equipment from binoculars to telescopes and some even with the naked eye," said Devgun.

Astronomica, a team of amateur astronomer's of SPACE, is going to Sariska in Rajasthan, one of the best spots to view the night sky, he said.

"We call upon all amateurs astronomers to watch the Messier objects and submit their data to SPACE, where it will be compiled into a report," he added.

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