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Messier Marathon?

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#1 Philler

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 04:34 PM

Ok, I know these Messier Marathons are coming up at the end of March and I'll admit it; I've been deep sky observing for quite a number of years, received a Messier 110 certificate in the early 1990s, had numerous opportunities to attend club Messier Marathons, but I decided not to attend either because of cloudy skies or lack of interest on my part.

When I go out scoping to a DSS, I have a list of DSOs, usually a few are Messiers, but a lot are NGCs, ICs or other designations. I love to include Messiers, but of my choosing, not someone else's. True, Messiers are often are the brightest DSOs and tend to show the most detail. BUT, I have observed the Messier objects lots of times over the years. So tell me, what should motivate me to devote one night, or nights, to just finding and verifying a group of objects that I have observed numerous times?
Now, I know there is the aspect of food and fellowship at these events, but you can have these at any star party.

When I go out to my DSS to observe DSOs or any type of objects, I am after quality time, and taking my time, and maybe sketching them, and getting the most out of the objects I observe. Sure, I would like to observe as many of the objects that I planned to, but, I am first after quality, not quantity.

Sorry, but the idea of seeing how many Messier's I can catch and confirm in my scope in a night really does not excite me.

#2 KenSikes

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 07:34 PM

Look at it this way....you are exercising your right to not go and be with others and have quality time by yourself

Ken Sikes

#3 Philler

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 08:18 PM

I wonder what would happen if I showed up for a M.M., but declined to participate in the marathon and just went about observing what I wanted to observe?

#4 Alex McConahay

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 09:05 PM

I do that sometimes. My club has a big Marathon every year. Fewer than half the people actually chase them all, or attempt to stay up all night. We have the food and things anyway.

You know, if you have ever been to a 5K/10K/Marathon, there are lots of people hanbging around not actually running.

Do what you like.

Alex

#5 KenSikes

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 10:13 PM

"I wonder what would happen if I showed up for a M.M., but declined to participate in the marathon and just went about observing what I wanted to observe? "


You would have a good time

Ken Sikes

#6 Philler

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 11:33 PM

Post deleted by Philler

#7 dmdouglass

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 11:53 PM

I think old Charles would absolutely love to look through todays telescopes at his list of objects. He would be amazed at what he discovered and documented !!

#8 Stacy

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 11:56 PM

I wonder what old Charles Messier would think of us and these Messier Marathons if he were around today? You think he would want to spend all night chasing down all of them?


More like avoiding them. After all, they were originally recorded as objects to avoid while looking for comets. :ubetcha:

#9 Philler

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 12:28 AM

I think old Charles would absolutely love to look through todays telescopes at his list of objects. He would be amazed at what he discovered and documented !!


I think he would be far more amazed at what all has been learned about the universe since his time.

#10 Alex McConahay

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 09:38 AM

>>>>> they were originally recorded as objects to avoid while looking for comets.

You know, that is an oft repeated piece of knowledge that we all know (and repeat). But that explanation did not come up until long after he started making his list. He had published his list, and it had been around for a long time. It included things like the Beehive and Pleiades--things that would never be mistaken for comets.

I wonder how true it is to say he was just trying to make a list of things that were not comets even though they looked like them.

(But yeah, he would be weirded out by all of us Marathoning him.--What he would have called a "Me Marathon.")

Alex

#11 Stacy

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 12:50 PM

>>>>> they were originally recorded as objects to avoid while looking for comets.

You know, that is an oft repeated piece of knowledge that we all know (and repeat). But that explanation did not come up until long after he started making his list. He had published his list, and it had been around for a long time. It included things like the Beehive and Pleiades--things that would never be mistaken for comets.

I wonder how true it is to say he was just trying to make a list of things that were not comets even though they looked like them.

(But yeah, he would be weirded out by all of us Marathoning him.--What he would have called a "Me Marathon.")

Alex


Yeah, I'm just regurgitating stuff I read somewhere. Who knows what was really in his head at the time? Would be nice to bring him back to life so we could pick his brain a bit. :)

#12 Bill Kocken

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 11:20 AM

I've done the Messier Marathon a few times. Due to our northern latitude it is impossible to see them all, but I usually manage to miss a few that are possible. My record is somewhere north of 100. This was in my first several years in the hobby. I found it to be a good learning exercise in star-hopping, because our club's rule for the purists is no goto or DSC.

I haven't attended for a few years because I've gotten older and it's just too darn hard to stay up all night, and then dangerous to drive home in the morning and be crabby the next day. Also, I've seen them all several times, I have my Messier certificate and there's so much else out there to discover. I may attend our MM, but I'll do my own thing and quit for the night when I feel like it. The best part about attending a MM would be to help some newbies and enjoy the camaraderie and atmosphere.

#13 Bill Weir

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 10:39 PM

I wonder what would happen if I showed up for a M.M., but declined to participate in the marathon and just went about observing what I wanted to observe?


Why not make it a game? See how many you can get without a chart, so just by memory of where they are. I did this a few years back. All I was armed with was the list of the order they should be tracked down. It didn't even have the constellation on it. It was on the correct night for the MM but I had to work the next day so I went to the best local spot in my community. I wasn't even with the rest of my club. Between twilght and 1100pm I was able to log 68 objects and only had to look up 2. It was fun. Then there is the next level of the challenge to even remember the order they need to be tracked down. In my mind it isn't run of the mill until I can do both of those challenges. Just a thought of how to take this to the next level.

Bill

#14 stevecoe

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 04:22 PM

Ken Sikes and I often attend the SAC Messier Marathon and enjoy just viewing the sky with over 200 of our closest friends.

I participated once and it was fun. But as the Original Poster said, I have a list of stuff to go and observe, draw or image.

Clear skies to us all;
Steve Coe

#15 bicparker

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 04:35 AM

To the OP:

Don't read too much into MM's. If you don't like the concept, don't do it. As was pointed out, many people attend MM's and don't actually do the Marathon, per se. I'm personally not crazy these days about actually doing a Messier Marathon, so instead, I have run a couple.

Messier Marathons are meant to be fun, not too serious, and they can be a great way for someone to hone their observing skills. I tend to think of it more of a training exercise, not necessarily an observing run. And I think training and practice are an important component of improving visual acquisition, star hopping, and many other skills we use in amateur astronomy.

Like I said earlier, I've run a few Marathons before and one thing I do with the Marathon is to add some game rules to make it more interesting (for those who want to participate) and compel finding objects that are outside the Messier list in the process (Herschel 400's, Arp galaxies, HCG's, et al). For the folks who did participate, they had the potential to win fun trinkets and bragging rights. And in a couple of instances, I saw relative newcomers start the first year learning the ins and outs of star hopping, learning what they needed to improve, and then show up the second year bagging big numbers (and in the process, morphing into serious, good observers outside of the Marathon).

MM's aren't necessarily for everyone, nor do they pretend to be. But like everything, you get out of it what you put into it.

#16 David Pavlich

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 10:42 PM

I've threatened to do one from my horizon challenged backyard to see just how many I could get. My big problem is to the south. Anything below 35° is a non-starter. Sagittarius comes to mind. :p But, it would still be fun to give it a shot!

David






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