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Observing >> Deep Sky Observing

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MessierScott
sage


Reged: 06/18/07

Re: First Attempt at the Messier Marathon new [Re: okieav8r]
      #5754256 - 03/24/13 03:10 PM

Quote:

Here's my take, for what it's worth. I think the whole spirit and premise of the Messier marathon is to test the observer's skill at finding the objects on their own, using nothing more than their memory or a chart and their ability to use them, and the telescope, to find them. In my mind electronic charts are ok, because you still have to look up the object and interpret and tranfer what you are seeing to the scope. I just can't see giving anyone a certificate for letting a goto scope do all the work finding an object. But, if they're just doing it for fun, and not an oberving certificate, then more power to them. Just my opinion.




Yup, and that's exactly what we are doing in our club. I tell them straight away that this counts nothing towards the League's Messier Program. For us, it usually marks the beginning of another observing season (maybe not this year though since we just got another 8 inches of snow).

The certificate we hand out is our own club's and it even states exactly how they achieved it. ie:

- Astronomical Society of Kansas City recognizes Joe Blow for successful observation of 102 of the 110 Messier Objects
using a 14” Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with GO-TO automation during the 2012 ASKC Messier Marathon

or
- Astronomical Society of Kansas City recognizes Jill Smith for successful observation of 31 of the 110 Messier Objects
using a 4" Dobsonian telescope and manual location during the 2012 ASKC Messier Marathon

or even
- Astronomical Society of Kansas City recognizes John Doe for successful observation of 110 of the 110 Messier Objects by borrowing the views from others during the two nights of the 2012 ASKC Messier Marathon


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Astro One
member
*****

Reged: 02/20/13

Loc: San Bernardino County, CA.
Re: First Attempt at the Messier Marathon new [Re: MessierScott]
      #5754348 - 03/24/13 04:01 PM

I hardily agree with Scott and Mike on using Go-To, or as in my case DCS's. I started out years ago before DSC's, back in the late 60's. At that time, as a teenager I learned how to do some star hopping, albeit I couldn't find a lot of the more obscure stuff. I took a 35 year break from astronomy and started up again 10 years ago using DSC's. The DSC's aren't perfect and things do occasionally go haywire so I fall back on charts and star hopping. Due to this lack of complete reliability I even added an 80mm Stellarvue finder to my scope. The finder is also great for things like Kimble's cascade, the Pleiades, etc. Friends I have who are very good at star hoping like having me around so they can verify that what they are seeing is indeed the object they were looking for! Or if they get completely confused they have me dial in the object and look through my Telrad to get orientated. I really admire those who can star hop way better than I can, but to me it is more about viewing than struggling to locate stuff. But, still as I often go out alone I never let some glitch with the DSC's ruin my night!
Steve .


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IVM
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 01/07/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: First Attempt at the Messier Marathon new [Re: Sarkikos]
      #5755463 - 03/25/13 03:01 AM

Quote:

Of course, without GPS, many of them wouldn't know where the dark site is or how to get there!

Mike




Well said. It is pertinent. If ever humans actually do a Messier marathon by visiting the objects physically, you can bet they will not be navigating there manually by star charts.


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okieav8rAdministrator
I'd rather be flying!
*****

Reged: 03/01/09

Loc: Oklahoma!
Re: First Attempt at the Messier Marathon new [Re: Astro One]
      #5755697 - 03/25/13 09:10 AM

Quote:

I hardily agree with Scott and Mike on using Go-To, or as in my case DCS's. I use them extensively. I started out years ago before DSC's, back in the late 60's. At that time, as a teenager I learned how to do some star hopping, albeit I couldn't find a lot of the more obscure stuff. I took a 35 year break from astronomy and started up again 10 years ago using DSC's. The DSC's aren't perfect and things do occasionally go haywire so I fall back on charts and star hopping. Due to this lack of complete reliability I even added an 80mm Stellarvue finder to my scope. The finder is also great for things like Kimble's cascade, the Pleiades, etc. Friends I have who are very good at star hoping like having me around so they can verify that what they are seeing is indeed the object they were looking for! Or if they get completely confused they have me dial in the object and look through my Telrad to get orientated. I really admire those who can star hop way better than I can, but to me it is more about viewing than struggling to locate stuff. But, still as I often go out alone I never let some glitch with the DSC's ruin my night!
Steve .




I agree with you whole-heartedly Steve. I'm all for DSC's, GOTO, all of that--I use them a lot. I think they make observing more fun and the evening more productive, although I enjoy star hopping equally as much--thrill of the hunt, and all that. I should have made clear that my comments were strictly aimed at the Messier marathon, the spirit of what its about, and the awarding of certificates, particularly by the AL, for its completion.

Edited by okieav8r (03/25/13 12:29 PM)


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Bill Barlow
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 12/03/07

Loc: Overland Park KS
Re: First Attempt at the Messier Marathon [Re: MessierScott]
      #5757192 - 03/25/13 10:58 PM

Hi Scott,

A little off topic, but I am also a member of the ASKC and go down to Powell frequently when the moon is not bothersome. Do you ever go down there to observe? I am a star-hopper and use mostly my Meade 12" ACF or a nice C14 on an altaz mount, my S+T Sky Atlas, a 10x60 finder and a pair of 10x50 binoculars.

I like to hunt for the Arp and Hickson galaxy group's and have found about 25 of the Hickson's so far in the last 10 months or so.

Bill


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MessierScott
sage


Reged: 06/18/07

Re: First Attempt at the Messier Marathon new [Re: Bill Barlow]
      #5771912 - 04/01/13 10:51 PM

Quote:

Hi Scott,

A little off topic, but I am also a member of the ASKC and go down to Powell frequently when the moon is not bothersome. Do you ever go down there to observe? I am a star-hopper and use mostly my Meade 12" ACF or a nice C14 on an altaz mount, my S+T Sky Atlas, a 10x60 finder and a pair of 10x50 binoculars.

I like to hunt for the Arp and Hickson galaxy group's and have found about 25 of the Hickson's so far in the last 10 months or so.

Bill




No, I don't get to Powell very often. Usually I only show up there on First or Last Quarter Moon weekends during the public night season.

Otherwise, during New Moon weekends, I can be found at the DSS. Come on down!

I completed the Arp Catalog and the Hicksons a couple years back.

Get on the yahoo group. It's the place to find out who is going down and when.


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davebuechler
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 08/21/11

Loc: Red River Gorge Kentucky
Re: First Attempt at the Messier Marathon new [Re: MessierScott]
      #5798300 - 04/14/13 01:21 PM

Great accomplishment Mike and a great thread you started. It actually was the final motivation that pushed me to give it a shot albeit a little late. Here's my story....



Having heard of the MM before, I never gave it much thought much other than “that’s cool”. When I first started viewing though a telescope there were sooo many wonders to discover and I spent most of my time bouncing from one “best” object tonight to the next. Quickly I discovered how much more the camera can see than our eye and decided to try my hand at AP. I spent most of my “viewing” nights over the next two years focusing on (pun intended) specific targets and improving my AP skills. Well this past winter conditions here in central KY were one of the worst since I started this hobby a short 3 years ago and I really missed time behind the ep. I started to think of how many actual MM objects I have seen. The list was less than 30 so I thought it would be fun to see how many I could find, (non go to), so why not give the MM a shot. I picked up a copy of Penningtons Year Round Messier Marathon Field Guide and started to get serious about a run through. Then I ran across this thread and although I missed my chance in March, thought April would be doable. Last night the weather was expected to cooperate so I set out to see how many of these famous 110 objects I could find with my AT106LE mounted on a Vixen Porta II with recently upgraded Oberwerk tripod, Pennginton's book and my PSA and some sky maps.
I set up early and awaited twilight with the hopes of plucking those tricky low hanging fruits 33,77, 74 before they set but much to my dismay was unable to locate them. By the time I was able to see any stars in the west, they had already set below my horizon line and only the tip of Andromeda was showing so I also missed 110, 31 & 32. Although I have seen all these before, that wouldn’t count when it came to my marathon night. It seems I was doomed to fail even before I got started. Oh well not to let it damper my evening I still wanted to get as many as I could so I skipped over to Orion and started in familiar territory. From M42 on, I stayed on track with Penningtons book and ticked off one after another often with surprising accuracy, speed and simplicity right up to Virgo. Then things slowed down a bit and I worked methodicly through the jumble of galaxies carefully confirming each until I had completed them all. Sometimes I had to go backward and reconfirm my position before making a positive ID and moving forward. By the time I got to Hercules it was 3 AM and my toes were about frozen so I decided to call it a night.
I totaled them up this morning and got 56 in a row. Not a bad start and I had such a great time learning and relearning some of the less looked at constellations. Not to mention I saw many M objects for the first time. I have definitely a better knowledge of the night sky and am anxiously waiting for the next clear night so I can pick up where I left off. So I won’t get them all in one night this year….but by the time next March rolls around I will know where they all are and have a better shot at next year!
Like Pennington’s book says, Anytime is a great time for a Messier Marathon!


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Sarkikos
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 12/18/07

Loc: Scotophobia, Maryland, USA
Re: First Attempt at the Messier Marathon new [Re: davebuechler]
      #6443574 - 04/02/14 01:31 PM

I gave the Messier Marathon another try this year, at the same dark site. I was all ready to go with my 10" f/4.8 Dob, 70mm finder, Telrad and SkySafari Pro on Android tablet. But it was not meant to be.

Right out of the chute I could not see M74, M77 or M33, the first objects on the list. These were pretty easy to pick up last year. But this year, March 31st, 2014, I was attempting the MM three weeks later than in 2013, so the evening objects were lower in the sky. Also, there was a crescent Moon in the west this year. It was close to M74, which pretty much killed my chance of picking that one up, as well as M77 and M33. In addition - or actually in subtraction - the sky was not as clear in the west as in March, 2013. There was a haze in that area of the sky.

So instead of the MM, I decided to do my usual thing of locating and observing DSOs I've never seen before. On this night, I looked for faint galaxies from the H400 II and Herschel 3 lists. I managed to view 31 galaxies that were new to me.

I finally left at around 2am. By that time, the sky was developing a thick haze and clouds were drifting in. I'm glad I'd tossed in the towel for the Messier Marathon earlier that evening.

Now I wish I'd gone for the entire MM back in 2013. The sky was clear all night long. Well, maybe next year!

Mike


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MessierScott
sage


Reged: 06/18/07

Re: First Attempt at the Messier Marathon new [Re: Sarkikos]
      #6485743 - 04/24/14 02:27 PM

A little late, but here is a quick report of our club's Messier Marathon Weekend.

We had 28 people out at our club's Dark Sky Site, many of whom were first timers out.

We had 2 big crock pots of chili, a big pot of homemade tomatoe soup, and lots of homemade cookies, cake, and brownies.

Of the 28, we had 11 people turn marathon logs back into me at the end of the weekend. The lowest count was 12 and the higest was 106.

We had a great night, good weather, awesome food, and lots of good company!


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Sarkikos
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 12/18/07

Loc: Scotophobia, Maryland, USA
Re: First Attempt at the Messier Marathon new [Re: MessierScott]
      #6487207 - 04/25/14 07:07 AM

Scott,

Good to hear about your successful MM! Maybe next year for me...

What night was your MM?

The latitude of Kansas City and my dark site on the Eastern Shore of Maryland are about the same, around 39 degrees. Is it possible to see all 110 M objects in one night at that latitude? Also, what would be the ideal date for the MM, assuming a moonless night?

Mike


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