International competition features live races among the stars, aims to introduce stuck-at-home stargazers to the joy of astronomy
MOUNTAIN VIEW AND MARSEILLE – February 25, 2021 – Astronomers across North America, Europe and Japan have joined forces for a friendly competition to observe iconic deep-sky objects—all in hopes of getting stargazers curious about astronomy in March.
Messier Marathon Week, hosted by Unistellar and now in its second year, challenges stargazers to observe as many Messier objects as possible in one night. Events take place March 10 – 16, 2021, the only time of year that all Messier objects are visible in one night. If enough stargazers participate, Unistellar hopes to set a world record for the largest Messier Marathon event.
Some of the world’s leading astronomy institutions have signed up for the Unistellar Marathon, giving stargazers across multiple contents and languages access to diverse perspectives on space. Organizations including the SETI Institute plan to participate, either by attempting a Messier marathon or by sharing their best Messier observations.
A Powerful Partner for Astronomy’s Most Challenging Race
A full Messier marathon is a rigorous, all-night stargazing adventure across 110 galaxies, nebulae, star clusters and more. It’s an extreme test of skill and fortitude that can take decades to master—unless you have a powerful digital telescope by your side.
“The eVscope has unmatched speed, ease of use and light sensitivity that make it possible for novice astronomers to complete a Messier marathon, even from the heart of the city,” said Laurent Marfisi, chief executive officer of Unistellar. “A scout earning her space badge can join the same space race as a professional astronomer at the SETI Institute. The eVscope is bringing an entirely new astronomy experience to stargazers around the world.”
From March 10 – 16, Unistellar’s global network of eVscope users will livestream their Messier race attempts, alongside numerous observatories, planetariums, astronomy clubs, science centers and higher education institutions. Anyone can tune in by using #UnistellarMarathon on social media, and Unistellar’s Community Map will be updated with virtual event information.
Race Options for All Experience Levels
For those who can’t pull an all-nighter, Unistellar offers more approachable Messier race options, such as the Messier ‘til Midnight, Messier 6K and the Galaxy Sprint. Races can be completed in as little as one hour, using any telescope or even a powerful set of binoculars.
Everyone who registers and participates in a Messier race from March 10 – 16 will be counted toward Unistellar’s attempt to set a world record for the largest Messier Marathon event.
“Last year’s Messier Marathon Week attracted participation from the United States, Canada, France, Finland, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, and sparked a global Astronomy From Home movement,” said Marfisi. “We’re excited to see what we can accomplish this year, through the power of international collaboration.”
Anyone curious about participating is encouraged to download Unistellar’s free eBook, The Unistellar Guide to the Messier Marathon, for helpful tips, race options, a recommended observing order, and more.
Cheer the Cosmic Competitors from the Comfort of Home
Throughout Messier Marathon Week, stargazers can tune into free, virtual observation events hosted by eVscope users and official partners. Learn about Charles Messier and the fascinating objects he catalogued. Enjoy spectacular images and videos of galaxies, nebulae, star clusters and more. Hear from amateur and professional astronomers offering insight into this fascinating hobby and profession.
To learn more or register to participate, visit Unistellar.com.
Unistellar Messier Marathon Questions & Answers
- What is it? It is a week of virtual astronomy outreach events, Messier marathons, and deep-sky observations.
- When is it? Unistellar’s 2nd Annual Messier Marathon Week runs from March 10 – 16, 2021.
- Where is it? It is across the Northern Hemisphere, largely virtual.
- Who is the intended audience? Events are intended to inspire stargazers and space-lovers of all ages and backgrounds to consider astronomy as a hobby, source of entertainment or profession.
- What devices can be used to participate? Anyone (individual or institution) can participate. Simply observe some or all of the Messier catalog, using any telescope, camera, binoculars, smartphone or other optical device, during the Unistellar Marathon (March 10 – 16, 2021).
- Is this really a competition? Messier marathons are known to be friendly competitions, with astronomers who support and encourage their fellow participants. The true prize is attracting new audiences to astronomy by showcasing some of the dark sky’s most majestic objects.
- Are there prizes? Honors will be awarded in categories such as “Outstanding Observation,” “Messier 6K” and “Galactic Sprint.” Beyond bragging rights, prizes include a marathon t-shirt, Messier poster, enamel pins, and more.
- What is the world record attempt? Help Unistellar set a world record for the largest Messier Marathon event by formally registering at the Unistellar website and participating in one or more of the Messier-themed races between March 10 – 16, 2021. Participating as a team, from multiple geographies and/or relay style, is allowed.
- How do I help set the world record? Every individual observer must formally acknowledge their participation in Unistellar’s Messier Marathon via the Unistellar website. All registered participants will receive a certificate acknowledging their important role in setting a world record. You do not need to finish the full Messier marathon to be counted as a participant.
Unistellar is the start-up behind the eVscope, a powerful, simple-to-operate consumer telescope that brings the wonders of the universe to life in seconds — even in urban settings. Thanks to a partnership with the SETI Institute, this game-changer in consumer telescopes also allows its users to become citizen scientists and contribute to cutting-edge research on exoplanet transits, asteroid occultations, comets, and much more.
The Unistellar eVscope received a CES Innovation Award in 2018 in the category Tech for a Better World and was nominated for a SXSW 2019 Innovation Award. Nearly 4,000 digital telescopes are now operating in Europe, Japan, and North America, participating in an unprecedented observing experience.
Ludovic Nachury, Head of Communication
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