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The Fall Messier Marathon Guide

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1 The Fall Messier Marathon Guide
Please feel free to modify this presentation to your needs. -Ed Ed Ting, NHAS, CMP Oct 17th 2008

2 Messier Marathon An informal competition to locate the most Messier objects by a single observer during a dusk-to-dawn Marathon.

3 How Many Can You Expect To See?
March: June: 90-95 October: From Harvard Pennington’s book

4 From Southern NH Daylight lasts approx 11 hours and 30 minutes
Everything is “shifted” by 6 hours compared to a conventional March MM Stats are for 42 degrees north (NH)

5 What Doesn’t Change You still have to stay up all night long
The average time to find each object goes up – about 7 minutes, 25 seconds per object The busiest times are the beginning and the end, with a lull in the middle

6 Your New Problem Objects Are…
M4 and M80 are right on the western horizon M104, M68, and M83 are lost in the morning sun

7 M3 M3 is also a problem (18 deg above horizon at 6 PM)
M3 is bright enough that it may overcome this problem from your location.

8 What Does Change M30, M72, and M73 are no longer difficult
Scorpio is now the early problem March – The Sun is in Capricorn October – The Sun is in Virgo

9 One Big Change The Virgo Cluster must be tackled while the sun is rising Thus, the VC is now a Bonus Object M64, M53, M61, etc become problems also I am not sure you can get the Virgo Cluster. It will depend largely on when you hold your fall MM. The later the better. The clearer your eastern horizons, the better.

10 For Experienced Observers
You have to readjust your thinking Beginners have the upper hand here!

11 Your New Goal 91 Objects 5 Objects are not visible
The Virgo Cluster galaxies (14 objects) become “Bonus Objects.”

12 The Sky at 6:00 PM Note Scorpio setting in the west. The handle of the Big Dipper is going to start heading for the horizon too.

13 The First 2 Hours Goal – Get 20 Objects (22% of total)
M62, M19, M6, M7, M5, M97, M108, M109, M81, M82, M101, M102 (NGC 5866), M51, M3, M53, M63, M94, M107, M12, M10

14 The Sky at 10 PM Sagittarius is going to start disappearing on you soon, turn your efforts there and to Ursa Major.

15 9 –11 PM Sagittarius Sagittarius, Scutum, Ophiucus
M10, M23, M24, M25, M69, M70, M54, M9, M14, M8, M20, M21, M28, M22, M55, M16, M17, M11, M26 Goal: Get 19 Objects (20%, 42% of total) Lots of showpiece objects

16 Sagittarius/ Scorpius Area

17 The Sky at Midnight The sky begins to look like early winter.

18 Midnight to 2 AM Goal: Get 22 objects (25%, 67% total)
M40, M106, M75, M13, M92, M57, M56, M27, M71, M2, M72, M73, M30, M29, M39, M15, M74, M77, M31, M32, M110, M33

19 The Sky at 4 AM There’s lots of big winter showpiece objects but you’re tired. Try binoculars or a small spotting scope to break up the monotony.

20 4 AM – Winter Objects Goal: Get 31 objects (33%, 100%)
M103, M52, M34, M76, M79, M1, M45, M37, M36, M38, M50, M47, M46, M93, M41, M35, M41, M42, M43, M78, M48, M44, M67, M105, M96, M95, M65, M66, M61, M64, M85

21 The Virgo Cluster The bad news – You have to find 14 dim objects (15% of the total MM) The VC is rising in the east, along with the sun! These are all Bonus Objects I am not sure you can get the VC objects from your location. The later you hold the MM, the better.

22 The Virgo Cluster All of the objects discussed ahead will fit in the rectangular box, above. It is about the size of your outstretched hand held at arm’s length.

23 Work From Left To Right This is a closeup of the rectangular box from the previous slide. Start from the left and work your way right. Thus, M60 is first, then M59, then M58, etc. End at M84/M86.

24 From Skymap Here’s an actual plot from Skymap with more background stars. Can you still find all of the Messier objects? If so, move on to the next slide!

25 This one is harder. Locate M60 and work your way right, as before.

26 You’re Done! How did you do?
Don’t forget to report your results to the club for the newsletter. If you followed the “Goals” you should have 91 objects (82%)

27 Tips & Tricks (p. 1 of 2) Use a scope with a short focal length
Consider using an alt-az scope Bring a pair of binoculars Have a method for dealing with dew Eat light snacks throughout the evening Once in a particular area, stay there until you get all the objects there I never wind up following all this advice, but I put it out there…

28 Tips and Tricks (p. 2 of 2) Work West to East, South to North
Work from a list Bring a chair Don’t forget to have fun!

29 Books For Further Reading

30 Good Luck! I hope this has been of some help to you. Write me and let me know how you did! -Ed Ting.

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