Each spring, amateur astronomers around the world compete 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 helps observers hone their hunting skills.
This autumn, why not host another challenge? I updated my list of 109 deep-sky objects to correspond with the New Moon closest to Halloween. In deference to the time of year, it’s still 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.
I’ve made five substitutions: Out are M3, M53, NGC 3242, NGC 4699, and NGC 4725. In their places are M10, M12, NGC 1931, NGC 4656, and NGC 6426. You’ll find these entries as numbers 70, 68, 57, 66, and 67, respectively. I apologize that they’re slightly out of order. It was much easier than reordering the list.