Messier Marathon March 13, 1999

As you may know, Rosie and I ran the Messier Marathon this last Saturday night. The skies were clear, with just a few instances of hazy seeing throughout the night. There were quite a few scopes there, with the final count being 54, but some veterans seemed to think this wasn't very many. Go figure.

We thought it was an absolutely beautiful night, and got right to work after sunset. I soon found I had a slight malfunction-my setting circles wouldn't rotate with the scope! What this meant was that I had to set them on some known object, then quickly move to and locate the next, before the scope drifted too much for the circles to be useful. I'd then observe and log the object, Rosie would confirm it, I'd reset the circle and go to the next object. Mostly, this worked well, if the object was bright/large enough to find easily. If it was really faint or small, sometimes I'd have to try a couple extra times.

Well, be that as it may, We pressed on, with Rosie reading off the coordinates and size and magnitude, and I running the scope. Everything went smoothly. We got all the way through the first 55 or so objects without much trouble, considering. After finishing the Virgo cluster of galaxies around midnight, some 13 objects in a single constellation, we did a little socializing and took a nap until about 2 am.

Leo was getting lower in the east, as we started off on a journey that I call, "Globular Central"-Scorpius, Ophiuchus and Sagittarius. Lots of nice big hairy ones, and a ton of tiny, faint barely perceptible ones.

Anyway, our final count was 107 of a possible 110! We were ecstatic! The last three were M72, 73 and M30. M30 was impossiple, being only 11 from the sun and M72 and 73 were lost in the twilight, moon glow and atmospheric turbulence right along the horizon. I only heard of a couple people with large, computer driven scopes that saw those two anyway, so we were very satisfied.

Well, I hope you can make plans to join us next year, if you'd like. We had a ball, and I'm sure you would, too!

Clear skies!

Steve and Rosie Dodder
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