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2006 All Arizona Messier Marathon Results

Site: Arizona City, Arizona
Date: March 25/26, 2006

Missed or Comments
108 Larry Brown LX-200 TAAA M74 M110
108 Keith Schlottman LX-200 TAAA/SAC M74 M110
107 D Turner & G Golden LX-200 MO M74 M110 M33
107 Jimmy Ray 8″ SCT SAC M74 M110 M33
107 Rick Tejera ETX 60 f5.8 SAC M74 M110 M33
106 Deborah Cooper Nexstar 11 TAAA M74 M110 M33 M32
106 Randy Peterson 10″ SCT EVAC M74 M110 M31 M32
106 Russell Peterson 10″ SCT EVAC M74 M110 M31 M32
106 Chuck Shields 8″ LX200 EVAC M74 M110 M33 M32
105 Bob Christ 9.25″ SCT SAC M74 M110 M31 M32 M33
105 Gilbert A. Esquerdo 6″ f3.6 PSI M110 M31 M32 M33 M73
105 Tim Jones 9.25″ SCT SAC M74 M110 M31 M32 M33
105 Tom Polakis 70mm Pronto SAC M74 M110 M31 M32 M30
105 Dick Tobiason Nexstar 8 OR M74 M110 M31 M32 M33
104 Andrew Cooper 6″f5 Newt TAAA M74 M110 M32 M33 M75 M72
104 Ken Shaver 16″ DOB TAAA M74 M110 M32 M33 M75 M72
103 John Moeschinger 8″ Newt AZ M74 M110 M32 M31 M33 M72 M30
103 Carter-Thaxton Smith 10″ DOB TAAA M74 M110 M32 M33 M75 M72 M73
102 John Holmquist 8″ SCT EVAC M74 M110 M31 M32 M33 M76 M34 M40
102 Don Machholz 6″f8 Criterion Clf M74 M110 M31 M32 M33 M72 M73 M30
101 Butch Miller LX-90 EVAC M74 M110 M31 M32 M33 M77 M79 M72 M30
100 Kevin Jones 8″ SCT TAAA M74 M110 M31 M32 M33 M77 M55 M72 M73 M30
100 Jeremy Perez 6″ Newt CAS M74 M110 M31 M32 M33 M76 M75 M72 M73 M30
100 George Robinson 10″F4.7 DOB AL M74 M110 M31 M32 M75 M15 M2 M72 M73 M30
99 Dan Gruber 12″ DOB AZ
97 David & Katie Kroeppler 80mm ref AL
95 Brian Jackson Nexstar 8 CA
93 James & Delia Brix 16″ DOB AZ
93 Marie Bruhns 11″ SCT NAU
93 Rick Rotramel 10″f5.8 Newt SAC
88 David Trogan LX-200 EVAC
85 Bill Loftquist 12.5″DOB TAAA
84 Melvin Harrison 10″ DOB EVAC
82 Thomas Watson 8″ Newt TAAA
75 Scott & Heather Saari 8″ DOB SAC
74 Steve & Rosei Dodder C8 SCT SAC/TAAA
74 Randall Stark LX-90 EVAC
72 Michael Douglas 10″ DOB AZ
71 Brent Archinel 6″ f10 ref CAS
70 Tony Velasques 8″ SCT AZ
68 Joan McGue 8″ DOB SAC
66 Stewart Cramer Nexstar 11 SAC
63 Brian Davis 10″ DOB EVAC
63 Audrey Evelan 11″ Meade NAU
60 Anne Marie Cooper LX-200 EVAC
59 David Hardinger LX-200 EVAC
53 Wayne Thomas 14X70 binos EVAC/SAC
51 Greg & Mandy Kettell 8″ Newt AZ
50 Jack Jones 20″f5 SAC
40 Robert Gilroy 10″f5 TAAA
36 Gale Cumberledge 8″ Newt SAC
36 Vito Pontarelli 120mm ref SAC
29 Kyle Sikes 8″ f6 Newt EVAC
19 Stephen Perry 8″ SCT SAC

Notes: No formal organizational ties:

AL Astronomical League
AZ Arizona
CA Santa Monica, California
CAS Coconino Astronomical Society, Flagstaff, AZ
MO Weatherby Lake, Missouri
NAU Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ
OR Cental Oregon Astronomical Association, Bead, OR
PSI Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, AZ

A few comments from some of our attending members!

Even though we missed AJ, we managed to have fun without him.I counted 107 vehicles in twilight on Saturday evening, we had
25 on Friday!

So, plenty of folks showed up to take in the activities, I understand
someone managed 108 objects between the cloud banks, I know Rick
Tejera did 107. I know that Jack Jones will have the official
count at the club meeting.

I took some astro-images with the help of Al Steiwig, thanks again
Al. I will see how those turned out in daylight. We hooked up
Al’s Canon camera to my old Pentax thread lenses and got some
decent results.

I had a chance to walk around and chat with lots of folks, as
usual a fun bunch of people.

Including Don Machholz, one of the first Messier Marathoners.

Clear skies to us all;
Steve Coe


The night turned out to be about 75% cloudy, but that didn’t stop quite a few of us from running the marathon. Somebody counted 110 or so vehicles, which isn’t bad for such an obviously murky night. I heard a couple reports of 107, but no perfect scores yet. I would not be dubious, though, as somebody could have looked at M74 or M30 at the right instant as it passed between clouds.

Here’s my personal account. I saw 105 Messier objects last night. It was one of my most challenging nights of observing.

I failed to see M74, but it was in the clear for a few minutes when it was dark enough, so maybe a larger aperture than 70mm would have pulled it in. In the early evening, it was apparent that the north was going to go away fast, so I worked on sweeping up all of the object of high declination through Ursa Major before even going after Orion through Puppis, where it was very clear. M33 was extremely difficult and fleeting, and I bet a lot of folks missed it. I wonder if anybody got M31 and its two companions. I had to wait until morning, when I failed to see it again.

I did all of my viewing at 18x in the Pronto, so some objects like M76 took real effort to detect. And some galaxies between clouds were tougher than I was expecting. All of the open clusters in Messier’s catalogue were beautimous in the little refractor.

At 10:20, it had cleared completely, and stayed good for a couple hours, when I was able to cruise through the galaxies in Virgo and Coma. At 11:00, I had 61 objects, and napped through 3:00, when I was greeted by more mostly cloudy. I took on the last dozen objects in a strange order, dictated entirely by local clearings. I managed to see M73 but not M72, doing the same for M55, while missing M75. I was able to get M72 and M75 just before twilight, and just barely.

I could believe that M30 also became visible at some point, but I was messing with M72 at the time and didn’t get to it. So I wound up with 105, missing M74, M31, M32, M110, and M30. Glad I made the trip, as it was an enjoyable night.

I hope some other observers had a chance to point the scope at the rising crescent moon, which looked great when the bands of clouds were passing in front of it.



It was truly one of the more challenging marathons I’ve done. To start things off on the wrong foot, my Telrad on Gert (the 8″) broke, one of the collimation screws broke off. Not sure how or when but that was quite a rude surprise.
It took me quite a while trying to find two decent alignment stars while the cloud are creeping in on M74 & co. I thought I had finally gotten a decent alignment on the Sky Commander but Nooooo.I punched up M42 just to check the alignment and it was pointing me about 25 degrees off, somewhere in Eridanus. Tried again, same result. Much silent cursing ensued. Finally just shut the whole thing down and aligned the Meade ETX 60, which I used exclusively for the rest of the night. Like Tom, 60mm was probably just not enough aperture to pull in M74. M77 was tough, but it was there.

The Andromeda trio & M33 were well behind clouds at this point. Cassiopeia was partially visible and I got M 52, but missed M 103. I later learned many folks had just the opposite problem. I also finished off the high Dec objects as that was were the cloud cover was heading. Next up was the southern winter objects.

I was able pick off everything through Leo by 2100. By now the sky looked like the roof was closing at BOB (Sorry, just can’t call it Chase Field yet). I took the opportunity to sit and chat with Steve Coe, Dave Fredericksen & several other folks while we waited for better conditions. An hour & a 1/2 later it looked like we would get a break as things were breaking up. And there were again stars in the sky. I then finished up the Virgo cluster & a few other eastern objects that had risen in to Hercules. By 2300 it was nap time. Got up at 0130, changed batteries in Polly (the ETX), realigned and got back to it. Easy pickings through Scorpius with the teapot of Sagittarius just rising. Now
it was wait for stuff to rise. This is were it got interesting.

As Tom mentioned previously you had to adapt your routine to the whims of the weather. More than once I went to an object when the sky was clear there only to have it cloud up by the time my eye made it to the eyepiece. Picked off a few objects as they rose. Saw M6 with the hills in the eyepiece. Grabbed M 103 on the upswing through a sucker hole. I got M73, and quickly slewed
up to M72. Caught sight of it just before it disappeared into the clouds for good. Just plain dumb luck. When the Andromeda trio rose high enough, I was able to see M 31 & M32, but M110 would elude me as we were now in increasing twilight. I did stop and look at the rising moon through the streaks of cloud on the way to M30, which was rather difficult. I finally called
it after several taps on the eyepiece showed the same slight brightening
at the same spot with averted vision three times.

My final tally was 107, missing M74, M110 & M33, which would not rise in the am until after Sunrise. Although 110 still eludes me, It was definitely a fun marathon. The challenge of seeing 107 in 60mm was definitely satisfying. But I think the best part was the large turnout of folks looking for a good timeĀ  under the sky. I spoke with many folks as they were turning in the sheets to Jack and they all thanked Sac for a great event. Glad we could oblige, I just wish AJ was there to enjoy it as well. It just wasn’t the same without him. I hope I did a credible job subbing for the pre-event briefing:)

Rick Tejera