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2014 All Arizona Messier Marathon Results

Site: Hovatter Airstrip (south of I-10 at exit #53)
Date: March 29, 2014

80 Rosita Dodder 8″ SCT SAC
79 Jimmy Ray 11″ SCT SAC
76 Paul Lind 14½” Dob SAC
66 Donald Rothfuss 8″ SCT EVAC
64 Wayne Thomas 8″ SCT SAC
64 Tyler Bryan 10″ SCT EVAC
62 Joan McGue 8″ Dob SAC
62 Kevin Kozel 10″ SCT SAC
61 Doug Wiese 80mm Finder Scope HDAC
61 Eric Rumps 14½” Dob none
60 Don Maccholz 6″ Newt none
60 Rick Tejera 8″ Dob SAC
60 Paul Bennet 10″ Mak none
60 AJ Crayon 14½” Dob SAC
59 Steve & Andrew Perry 90mm Mak SAC
59 Michael Poppre 10″ Dob SAC
59 Rick Rotramel 10″ Newt SAC
58 Keith & Erik Favreau 8″ SCT SAC
57 Ya-Lin Wu 4.5″ Orion Starblast TAAA
55 Dan Oppenheim 14″ Dob EVAC
54 Clare Abel & Claude Haynes LX200 / Celestron First Scope EVAC
52 Shane Eigell 80mm Refractor EVAC
52 David Hatch 13″ Newt EVAC
51 David Trogan & Bob Bartner 8″ SCT EVAC / none
48 David Princehouse 9.25″ SCT SAC
43 Jim Williams Nexstar 6se EVAC
5 Molly Wiese (age 8) 80mm Finder Scope HDAC
60 Shane Eigell 8″ Astrograph / Canon 550D EVAC

1 – Auburn, CA; Astronomical League – Member at Large
2 – 1964 Edmund Scientific “Palomar Jr.” with 25mm Kellner (his grandfather’s scope)

The 2014 All Arizona Messier Marathon Report

The 2014 All Arizona Messier Marathon is in the books. As in the past several years the event was held at the Salome Emergency Airfield off Hovatter Rd., 100 miles west of Phoenix. As usual, many folks arrived on Friday to enjoy an extra day of observing and camaraderie. I arrived about noon on Friday to find the airfield already well populated by tents & campers & RV’s & of course, telescopes. By sunset, I estimated about 45 vehicles and 60ish observers. The sky was clear of clouds but the dust in the air from recent winds a few days earlier had not settled, so the transparency was not the best. Still it was good enough to get some observing in. Most folks observed well past midnight, some working their observing lists, others practicing for the Marathon. Either way, it was all good.

Saturday dawned and as luck would have it, while I had gone into Blythe to get a real breakfast, I found that an intrepid pilot had landed his small homebuilt plane on the north end of the north south runway. He just did a touch & go and didn’t stop to find out what all people were doing there. I wonder what he thought…. Seems I always miss these things, years ago another plane landed at Farnsworth Ranch in Arizona City in one of the few marathons I missed.

As the afternoon progressed Jennifer Polakis & Lori Prause, aided by their sous chefs Tom & Mitch, set up for what I hope will become an AAMM tradition, a Community Dinner. We all gathered at 1700 for nice meal of hero sandwich, Fruit, Chips, Drick & Cake. I believe we had about 75-80 folks join in for the dinner. The meal was quite filling and an enjoyable way to socialize.

While finishing up, I conducted a little trivia Q&A, or was it A&Q, (since I did it Jeopardy Style J). After the quiz, we held a raffle with some nice prizes generously donated by Lowell observatory (, photon instruments ( ), SAC ( & Starizona ( ). Please be sure to support these generous donors when you feel the need to spend your disposable income.

And please also give thanks to Jennifer & Lori for their hard work to put the dinner together. Their efforts were well appreciated by all who partook.

So, once done with dinner & the raffle, it was time for the twilight pep talk. This year we had the usual contingents from SAC & EVAC. Also joining us was a group from the NAU Astronomy Club in Flagstaff, several observers from Tucson & Lake Havasu City. We also had a few out of staters, Overland Park, KS and it was great to have back with us after a few years absence, Don Machholz, from Colfax, CA. As most of you know, Don, in addition to discovering 11 comets, was one of the pioneers of this astronomical version of March madness. I’ve always considered it a privilege & honor to have Don observe with us.

Our furthest traveled was Tim Foerster, who resides in Tegernsee, Germany. Tim is an exchange Student who came out with his host family. Also notable was our youngest ever observer, Molly Wiesse at 8 years old. Molly also helped out by pulling the winning raffle tickets. It’s always good to see some young blood in the hobby. Hopefully, Molly will join us for many years to come.

So, twilight talk done, it was time to get down to business. Unfortunately, Mother Nature was, as a friend of mine puts it, “off her meds”. As twilight deepened, the clouds rolled in, rendering the evening early setters unattainable. The sky was open above, but the thin clouds & dust made for difficult, if not uninspired views of our targets. By midnight, as usual most observers, who turned in sheets, had gotten all there was to get. It’s is around this time, the Snack table, sponsored by EVAC and provided by Claude Haynes got busy with folks looking for a quick pick me up or more likely a quick warm me up. I, like most, took a nap at this point. Upon waking at 0200, found the sky pretty much a solid overcast, with the glow of Aurora Phoenicia readily apparent in the east. I pretty much figured that by the time the objects yet to be seen rose high enough to have chance to be seen, it would be daylight, so I went back to bed. I was not alone in that assumption.

When all was said and done 27 observers turned in observing sheets and one Photographic marathon sheet was turned in. The results are not yet official, but it looks like our top observer this year was Rosie Dodder, who managed to see 80 objects. Most observers saw numbers in the 60’s.

While some may think the event was not successful due to the weather, I would beg to differ. The All Arizona Messier Marathon is more than just an observing event; it is a social event as well. We draw astronomers from all over for a weekend of Camaraderie & fellowship with some telescoping thrown in for good measure. I got to see some folks I haven’t seen in quite a while and it was good to catch up and see they are doing well. It was also nice to get away from the daily routine for a few days and enjoy the passion of astronomy. I’m already looking forward to next year, are you?

Clear Skies
Rick Tejera
2014 All Arizona Messier Marathon Coordinator