This weekend was the Messier Marathon. I forgot, so I was unprepared to stay up all night and try, once again, to image all 110 object. What is the marathon all about you ask, well let me tell you.
The marathon happens around this time every year. It is when you can view all 110 objects that Charles Messier (26 June 1730 – 12 April 1817) published in his astronomical catalog. The catalog listed deep sky objects, such as nebulae and star clusters, that came to be known as the 110 “Messier objects.” The purpose of the catalog was to help comet hunters such as himself, distinguish between permanent and transient objects in the sky. The telescope optics back in the day were…how would you say it…terrible. Charles would have killed for that cheap Walmart telescope that they sell every Christmas for children. Even with one of those scopes you can clearly make out galaxies and nebula.
I am not denigrating these scopes. I have one and use it at outreaches all the time. Cheap, yes. Educational, yes. Get kids and adults alike interested in science and astronomy, big yes. Doesn’t break my really good (ie. expensive) telescope, YES!
But this year, I figured why try? I have attempted the marathon for the past six years and the closest I have ever gotten was 102. You would think I was so close, that I would try again. Well, every time I have gotten close, Mother Nature has seen fit to end my night-long aspirations with a frustrating array of clouds, rain, wind or a combination thereof!
So this weekend, I was actually going to go for it once again….then PANSTARRS fever struck. Everyone was frantically searching the Western sky for a glimpse of the elusive comet, when it was spotted! Just about to enter a cloud bank. This also happened to be the location of the 1st object on the list M74
So, it looked as if she was once again telling me, in a loud screaming voice, NOT THIS YEAR, AH HA HA HA HA HA…..
So I decided to watch some brave souls at the Riverside Astronomical Society (my astronomy club) do the marathon whilst I imaged other objects and prepared to try the marathon next month. Some of our members have attempted to do the marathon using Capella, our 22″ Dobsonian telescope. You have to be a really good visual astronomer to push that monster around, but the views are spectacular. Especially if you pop in a very nice Ethos or a good 40 eyepiece.
Wish me luck. If you have been successful doing a marathon, leave a comment below, or a link to your accomplishment. I love to see people’s success stories about the marathon. Share yours.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +. If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.