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TOKUSHIMA (Kyodo) College students and fellow stargazers in Tokushima Prefecture have invented an astronomy-based card game aimed at raising interest in viewing space.

Messier Cards, named after French astronomer Charles Messier (1730-1817), were developed using his catalog of space objects as a reference, as well as photos of the Andromeda Galaxy, the Pleiades star cluster and other astronomical bodies taken at a local science facility. Descriptions of them are printed on the cards.

“I hope people will talk about familiar stars with their friends through the game,” said Daisuke Oda, a 39-year-old amateur astronomer in the prefecture who came up with the original idea for the game.

Space exploration has been a hot topic recently, particularly after the return of the Hayabusa unmanned probe from the asteroid Itokawa last June.

As the rules of the game are similar to those of the popular card game Uno, players have to match the category of cards, such as the names of constellations and the seasons when they can be observed, when they discard them. The player who is the first to use up all the cards dealt wins.

“After playing with the cards, please take a look at the stars in the sky. It will help lighten your mood, as well,” said Daisuke Yamada, a 22-year-old student at the University of Tokushima’s faculty of engineering.

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