2011 All Arizona Messier Marathon

The marathon this year is at a new, completely different, site: the Hovatter Airstrip.

Please go here for directions and here for a map. We have had to make this change because of problems with the old site. The new land owner does not want us crossing his property to gain access to the site. There are also problems with things that go bump in the night and they are armed. So you "MUST" stay away from the old site! DO NOT GO THERE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!

Come out and enjoy extra night of observing prior to the marathon.
This is NO April Fool's joke. This year the day before the marathon has been set aside for you to observe from your own list at the new Hovatter Airstrip site. This is not the marathon.
Friday, April 1, 2011
sunset 18:57
twilight 20:19
moon set 17:36
Reminder the Friday date is NOT the marathon. It has been set aside for more time to observe from your personal observing list. It will also provide more time for socializing during the day on Saturday.


Site: Hovatter Airstrip (south of I-10 at Exit #53)
2011 Messier Marathon: Saturday, April 2, 2011

Solar Data:
(all times are MST)

Sunset Meeting at 19:00 on April 2 at the intersection of both runways

April 2:   Moonset 18:51

 Saturday twilight chart

Sunset 19:25
Astro Twilight 20:45
April 3: Astro Twilight 05:14

Sunday twilight chart

Moonrise 06:22
Sunrise   06:32
April 3:  New Moon  07:32

If you decide to participate be sure to read this entire notice. This notice should be read and followed by all that plan on participating because it contains new information.

Before continuing, be sure you have read and signed the waiver for the 2011 event. Basically SAC is not responsible for loss, theft, broken items, nor for any bodily injuries you may sustain. Sorry for the legalese but it is a sign of the times. Please turn in the signed waiver at the event, preferably at the sunset meeting if not before.

The site is new for the 2011 Marathon, and is the same site used last fall for the All-Arizona Star Party: The Hovatter Airstrip. The site is located approximately 100 miles west of central Phoenix. It is accessible by all vehicles via exit #53 on I-10. For those having GPS the coordinates are:

33° 34' 50" North

113° 35' 53" West

elevation: 1,378 feet (420 meters)
Hopefully the weather will continue to favor us.

Early Setters at the beginning of Astronomical Twilight:

Object Elevation Above Horizon
M74 7° BELOW horizon - not available
M77 3° BELOW horizon - not available
M76 17º
M34 21º
Early Risers at the end of Astronomical Twilight:
Elevation Above Horizon

Your observing will not go unnoticed; there will be awards in recognition of effort. People observing 50 or more objects will receive a certificate. For first, second and third place there will be plaques suitable for mounting on a telescope. Duplicate awards will be made for ties; there will be no sudden deaths observe-offs.

Registration in advance is not required. The event is free and open to all, but we will need either your or your clubs support to purchase the plaques, which in the past have cost under $10.00. Please pay by check or money order. There is no charge for the certificates.

For previous participants see the Messier Marathon Observer's Results

Feel intimidated? Don't think you can reach high counts? DON'T WORRY! ENJOY!

Set your own goals and don't bother with those high counts.

The marathon is for having fun!

Set your goals in order for you to have fun!

The guidelines are pretty simple, please read them over if you plan on participating.

It's an honor system.

No one is going to be looking over your shoulder to verify your observations.

Have an observing list to keep track of observations. There will be lists available at the site, but if you want one prior to the event click here for an official checklist. If you print your own form, please print on both sides of the page to make it easier for the onsite coordinators.

Fill out the heading.

Find an object.

Observe it with your eye through the main eyepiece of your telescope.

Mark off the entry.

Go to the next object.

Start observing when you are ready, presumably some time after sun set. It is up to you to decide when you are finished observing. Some conditions could be when you have reached a set goal or some time after morning twilight.

Here are some additional guidelines you should be aware of, some that haven't been published very often and others that haven't been published at all. These cover situations and conditions that have occurred in the past, but in no way do they cover the myriad of possibilities that may happen.

Locating Objects

Participants may use a variety of means to locate objects. This includes memorizing positions; using binoculars, books or star charts for star hopping. The use of setting circles, either analog or digital is also permissible. GoTo telescopes can also be used.

Multiple Observers

In a small number cases there have been teams of two observers per telescope. This will still be allowed, subject to the same conditions as has been followed in the past. The condition is that each observer should find one-half the objects and both must observe all objects. There is an option in the case of an award. Either one award can be presented with both names or two awards can be presented - one with each name. Please let us know which you select by noting this on the observing list that is turned in at the conclusion of the event. In either case, if the award is for a plaque, you or your club will be expected to pay for one or both. It is recommended, that when paying by mail, to pay for the award by check or money order. Please avoid sending payment by cash. Three or more observers per telescope can't qualify for an award. It is possible to do the marathon this way, but none are eligible for awards.

Multiple Instruments

Participants using two or more instruments are eligible for only one award. This is not to be construed as one award for each instrument, it is one award for the observer.


Individuals or clubs that haven't paid for prior awards are not eligible for awards until paid up. However, it is still possible to do the marathon. The only form of registration is an observing list that is used to record your observations and a signed waiver. Be sure to get one, either from one of the local astronomy clubs, and one of the coordinators or at the site. You can also print one from our web site, see Marathon Order above. If you plan on using this or your personal printed version at the marathon, please use both sides so only one sheet is used and turned in to the coordinators. This helps greatly with recording the event because multiple sheets from many observers can get mixed up, possibly causing errors in recording the event and determining awards. Be sure to fill in the top portion so awards and reference can be accurately accomplished. The observing list will be returned with your award. It is important to remember that your list must be turned in to one of the Coordinators before they leave the site. One of us will stay - at least until sunrise - so be sure to get yours in before then. This procedure is followed in order to provide the awards in a timely fashion. Again, don't forget to fill out the top.

The results will be posted, after some verification, on the Messier Marathon Observer's Results web page referenced above as well as the SAC site.

Now, getting back to marathon information

A description of the object is not necessary, especially since it will take precious time needed to find the remaining objects.

Study the list sequences, or use your own. Be prepared for the extremely unlikely case it should become cloudy and the selected sequence cannot be followed.

Although it is possible to do the marathon with a 4-inch telescope, or smaller, or binoculars, it is not suggested; unless you are an experienced observer.

Plan on arriving at the site at least 30 minutes before sunset to provide time to setup your telescope and for it to reach thermal equilibrium. This will also give you time to meet old friends and make new ones.

If you are NOT going to stay all night:

Park near the entrance so you don't disturb others when you depart.

Please give a shout a few minutes before leaving and then again as you are about to depart.

This will give observers time to hide so the light doesn't interfere with night vision.

A port-a-Jon will be on-site. Remember this is a primitive site and we strive to make your stay as comfortable as possible.

Signs will be posted at the entrance to remind drivers to keep the speed down because of the high dust levels. We are on the Sonoran Desert!

Please ensure your red filtered flashlights are in good working order and PLEASE no white lights between sun set and sun rise. Click here for more information on star party etiquette.

We will have a very short meeting just before sunset for final announcements and words of encouragement.

If you plan on participating, then doing some homework ahead of time will pay dividends. If interested the observing list can be made available prior to the marathon for your reference.

Still not interested in the marathon? COME ANYWAY; enjoy a night of observing, astro-photography or just plain old socializing.

Last year Rick Tejera took care of business in my absence and will, again, be assisting with this year's marathon. Thanks Rick, your help is appreciated.

Please keep in mind this observing site is not our property, is rather primitive; which means if you need something, bring it with you and be sure to take it back with you. Let's leave the site at least as clean as it was when we arrived.

2011 All Arizona Messier Marathon Coordinators

AJ Crayon

Rick Tejera

Saguaro Astronomy Club

34 min
50 sec
35 min
53 sec
1378 ft  420 m

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