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Night-sky marathon draws hardy enthusiasts

Orion nebula. Photo © NASA

Orion nebula. Photo © NASA

Ring Nebula. Photo © NASA

Ring Nebula. Photo © NASA

Next weekend, a few hardy members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Victoria chapter will mark the start of spring with a little-known ritual. Clear skies willing, they will stay up until dawn on Sunday to participate in an astronomical test of endurance, knowledge and night-sky navigation skills.

Their marathon differs from most. Instead of running long distances, participants will spend the night hunched over their telescope eyepieces, twiddling knobs and adjusting their instruments by hand.  They seek not to cover territory on the ground, but in the sky. Their goal is to locate 110 very specific heavenly objects before dawn. The objects were first catalogued by a French astronomer named Charles Messier more than two centuries ago….

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

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