Suggestions for celebrating astronomy during Messier Marathon

The Messier Marathon season means there’s opportunities for everyone to share in the excitement, regardless of what their goals are. Search for Messier objects in the night sky, create your own challenges with friends and family, or share your telescope and love of the cosmos with others by hosting an astronomy-themed event! Consider partnering with your local astronomy clubs, museums, or other organizations.

We’ve got lots of ideas for how to make this event extra special!

Celebrate With Style

There are lots of options for fun astronomy-themed gatherings. You can host a Star Party — a fun gathering where you serve as both party host and night-sky guide — or its culinary-themed cousin, the Star-B-Que. Your friends can come prepared with night-sky targets and challenges of their own, or you can set up an impromptu telescope demo for people curious about the night sky and skygazing.

Take it to the Sidewalk

One of the best ways to share astronomy with others is simply to go outside and start observing. That’s the idea behind sidewalk astronomy, a movement encouraging amateur astronomers to do their observing in a public place, whether that’s a parking lot, sidewalk or somewhere else, and be ready to share their telescope with curious passerby. Often, it’s simply enough to be excited about what you’re seeing, and willing to pass that on to others. Show them a few prominent Messier objects, explain the different parts of a telescope, or just answer their questions about the universe!

Don't have a telescope? No problem!

Many people all over the world livestream their hunt for Messier objects, so you can have a Messier Marathon party even if you don’t know anyone with a telescope! Dim the lights, break out the popcorn, and enjoy a conversational evening with friends as a Messier Marathon stream provides the evening’s primary entertainment from a projector or large TV. If you do have a telescope, consider hosting your own livestream for people to use at their astronomy-themed parties!

Events in Your Area

If you want to get more involved, or you want to see through a telescope in person, you can also visit local planetariums, astronomy clubs, museums, universities, and even parks for events centered around the Marathon. Messier Marathon events are usually open to the public, and they’re often organized as an introduction to astronomy. If you’re already a skilled observer, consider getting involved with a local event and lending a hand, or create your own!

Bingo!

Can you get five Messier objects in a row? Make your observing even more fun with Messier Bingo. Check off objects on your card as they’re found — the first person to line up a row of five wins! There are a number of places to find Messier Bingo cards on the internet, which you can print off.

Astronomy for Kids

Space eBook Cover Image

An exciting event like the Messier Marathon is a chance to introduce children to astronomy, too. Let them pick objects from the catalog to find, or show them some of the most stunning sights. For kid-friendly resources, check out our 60 Ideas for Space Discovery eBook. You’ll find astronomy-themed games to play, as well as books, apps, videos and more that will take your child on a whirlwind tour of the cosmos.

Lace Up for a Messier Marathon

Even if you’re not taking on the full Messier Marathon, there are plenty of ways to take on a new challenge this year. You can try out a half or quarter Marathon, or do a Messier relay by working with a team. Or, try out a different kind of challenge by trying one object from each category in the Messier catalog, for six objects in total. Alternatively, focus on just one type of deep-sky object and see if you can sprint to find every star cluster or nebula in the Messier catalog by dawn. Find these challenges and even more ideas on our Messier Race Tracks page.