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2019 Alishan Messier Marathon to kick off March 9

2019/03/06 19:28:23

Photo courtesy of Chiayi Forest District Office

Taipei, March 6 (CNA) An event for amateur astronomers will be held Saturday night in the Alishan Forest Recreation Area, with the participants seeking to spot as many objects as possible from a catalogue complied by French astronomer Charles Messier.

Some 17 amateur astronomers have signed up for the 2019 Alishan Messier Marathon at Xiaoliyuanshan Lookout on the mountain in southern Taiwan.

Over the last few years, it has become a hobby for sky watchers in the northern hemisphere to try to find the 110 objects in the Messier catalog in one night.

Lee Ting-chung (李定忠), deputy director of the Chiayi Forest District Office, said Wednesday that the marathon on the night of March 9 will begin with a search for Messier objects low in the western sky, which are best seen approximately 30 minutes after sunset.

The marathon will test the participants' observational techniques, astronomical knowledge and physical strength, he said, adding that it will end just before sunrise with a search for objects above the eastern horizon.

Lee said the sky over the Xiaoliyuanshan Lookout is unspoiled by light pollution, which makes it an ideal location for a Messier Marathon in clear weather.

In order to eliminate the impact of light pollution, the organizers will arrange for the nearby street lights to be turned off from 4:00 p.m. March 9 to 05:40 a.m. the next day and have banned the use of green laser pointers, he said.

The Messier Marathon is being organized by the Taipei Astronomical Museum, Taipei Amateur Astronomers Association and Chiayi Amateur Astronomers Association.

(By Chiang Chun-liang and Chung Yu-chen)