Each spring, amateur astronomers around the world challenge themselves by competing in the Messier Marathon — a visual feat in which observers use their telescopes to view all 109 celestial objects catalogued by French comet-hunter Charles Messier in a single night. This dusk-to-dawn romp has been a popular annual event since the 1960s. The search is fun and gratifying, and it helps observers hone their hunting skills.
Why not double the fun by hosting a similar challenge in the autumn? I have created a list of 109 deep-sky objects that you can hunt down in a single night on or around the New Moon closest to Halloween. In deference to the time of year, and considering that many deep-sky objects appear as pale specters of fuzzy light, I decided to call this October treat the Ghost Hunt.
Like the Messier Marathon, the Ghost Hunt is intended to be a fun and challenging activity that lasts from dusk to dawn. But there’s one big difference: What you’ll search for in the Ghost Hunt are not just Messier objects but 109 targets carefully selected from several deep-sky object lists.
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