Planning is underway for the 2015 KAS Messier Marathon. This is a great opportunity to view all the objects catalogued by Charles Messier that took him 24 years to observe. Messier catalogued objects that he originally thought were comets, but could not confirm them as such. Basically these objects appeared to him as “faint fuzzies” but unlike comets, they never moved. His list of 110 objects were almost considered a hinderance by him.
Messier Object Chart (click to view larger – credit tripod.com)
Today, this list of objects are the most accessible and easiest to view objects in and around our galaxy. About 10 of them can be spotted with the naked eye, and the rest are all findable with even a fairly modest telescope. Every year during the new moon dark window in March, all but a few of these great objects is observable in just one night. The window this year runs roughly between March 16th and March 24th. It takes the entire night to see them all, and we here in the upstate NY area can see all but 1-2 objects that rest on the extreme southern skyline.
The following images were taken by KAS members of the recent Venus, Mars and Moon event on February 20th, 2015. In the images, you can see the two planets and the moon, but also the part of the moon that is illuminated by the light reflected by the Earth, also known as Earth-Shine.
This is a great article by David Dickinson (Universe Today, occasional guest author in Sky & Telescope Magazine, primary blogger at astroguyz.com, and on twitter as @AstroGuyz) that highlights many observing events in 2015. This is well worth the read and great for mapping out your special 2015 observing plan!