Preparing for Messier Marathon
Comet hunter Charles Messier's 18th century list of deep-sky objects has long been the jumping-off point for exploration of the night sky. In the 1970s, astronomer Don Machholz discovered that it is theoretically possible to see all 110 Messier objects in one night, during the last two weeks of March every year. Running a successful “Messier marathon” is now considered a badge of honor for amateur astronomers. Jonathan Ward wondered if it was possible to take decent images of all 110 objects in one night, and not knowing any better, he decided to attempt the challenge in March 2019. He’ll share with us his overall strategy and how he developed his detailed plan. We’ll also hear what he went through in the field the night he put the plan into action, and we’ll see the images that he took during the attempt. We hope that you will leave the presentation inspired to try at least a mini-marathon of your own!
Guest Speaker Jonathan Ward
Jonathan H. Ward is the author of space history books, speaker on space-related and leadership topics, an avid astrophotographer, and an executive coach at the Center for Creative Leadership.
While he would not call himself a “thrill-seeker,” Jonathan does like to explore, re-invent himself, and push himself out of his comfort zone to broaden his personal knowledge in his areas of interest. This has led to such diverse experiences as taking a zero-G flight, skydiving, performing as a baritone soloist on stage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, playing banjo in a bluegrass band, riding a camel, and running in half-marathons.
Jonathan’s most recent book, “Bringing Columbia Home: The Final and Continuing Mission of a Lost Space Shuttle and Her Crew,” was released to rave reviews in January 2018.
Jonathan was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2018. He also holds accreditation as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) by the International Coach Federation.