10 February 08

Astronomical Big Year

Having the fun that I am with our Bigby birding year, the idea came to me this morning that maybe I should do an astronomical equivalent. More precisely, I would attempt to see all the 110 Messier objects by the end of the year. The Messier objects are the most famous set of deep-sky objects in astronomy. They were catalogued in 1774 by French comet hunter Charles Messier, who wanted to have a list of fuzzy objects that could possibly be confused with comets.

I’ve never actually seen all these objects; I’ve gotten to about 80 or so back when I was more active in astronomy. Before moving to Davis, we lived halfway up the mountains behind Santa Barbara and had great dark skies there. Living at 45 feet elevation in the middle of the Central Valley there is a lot of light pollution and the skies are much hazier, both of which discourage my astronomizing. The Messier objects however are relatively easy to see, and I think all of them are within reach from our house with my 7” Dob. For now the rules of this venture are the same as for the Bigby — observations only count if I get to the observation site under my own power.

Tonight I got started by looking at Orion, seeing M42, M43, and then M78, followed by the Pleiades (M45), and then the open cluster M41 in Canis Major. A good start.

Posted by at 10:32 PM in Nature and Place | Link |
  1. I think this summer is the time for you and Pica to come visit me and Karen up in Sisters. Not any light pollution to speak of up there!

    Chris    11. February 2008, 16:57    Link

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