Omid Ghadrdan of Zavare in Isfahan Province in Iran wrote:
On Thursday and Friday morning ( March 7 and 8, 2019), I attended a Messier Marathon. Over 150 stargazers started this dusk-to-dawn competition to look for the Messier objects with their telescopes in the small holy monument near the city of Zavare in Isfahan Province (33.4739632 N, 52.6184811 E). During this contest, around 4:40 a.m. in the Friday morning, Hubble Space Telescope passed above us. It was amazing how NASA joined our competition with its Telescope in the final hour before dawn.
Here’s an explanation of the Messier Marathon, from University of Arizona’s SEDS group (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space), an active group of astronomy enthusiasts, under the auspices of the UA’s Lunar and Planetary Lab:
Messier Marathon is a term describing the attempt to find as many Messier objects as possible in one night. Depending on the location of the observer, and season, there is a different number of them visible, as they are not evenly distributed in the celestial sphere. There are heavily crowded regions in the sky, especially the Virgo Cluster and the region around the galactic center, while other regions are virtually empty of them … This chance effect leads, at considerably low northern latitudes on Earth (best around 25 degrees north), to the chance to observe all 110 Messier objects in one night! This opportunity occurs once every year, around mid- to end-March; the best time to try is of course when the moon is near its new phase.
Check out the best Messier Marathon dates for the coming years, via SEDS.
SEDS also keeps a Messier Marathon results page; here are the results for 2019.
Thank you, Omid, and thank you, SEDS!
Bottom line: Photo of the Hubble Space Telescope, streaking above a Messier Marathon, March 2019, in Iran.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.