Galactic Explorers

By: Amir H. Abolfath


Region: Middle East

Site: Seh Qaleh - Iran

Date: April 2009

Amateur astronomers in Iran during the annual Messier Marathon observing competition. Completing the marathon requires viewing all 110 objects (galaxies, nebulae and star clusters) in 18th century French astronomer Charles Messier's catalog in one glorious dusk-to-dawn observing run. There are often favorable weekend dates for completing the task that fall on nearly moonless nights near the March equinox. This image has captured the Milky Way from Scorpius to Aquila from the competition site in Seh Qaleh desert in eastern Iran, with stunning starry sky away from lights of any major city. Amir Abolfath -

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