2012 All Arizona Messier Marathon
The marathon this year is at the same site as the event last year: Hovatter Airstrip.
The other announcement has to do with an imaging marathon. We will try it this year and see what happens.
Come out and enjoy extra night of observing prior to the marathon.
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.
As for the imaging part of the marathon it will take place along with the observing. It will be a different marathon with similar awards and similar requirements. We need to inform imagers about stray light. Please humor me on this as it can be more subjective than objective. Some laptops splash more light than others and it is up to you to determine how best to minimize this. Using a red light mode, or taping the screen with a ruby red covering are two methods. There are other possibilities and it is up to the imager to determine what is best to stop light trespass so observers dark adaption isn't impacted. If a fellow observer strolls over to you and says your laptop screen is affecting his night vision, please be a sport and minimize the laptop's light pollution by either repositioning your laptop or in some way shielding its glow. Another alternative is to use the north part of the north runway. If so it shouldn't be necessary to go to the end of the runway. It is a long walk there and back. For more information about light trespass and how to minimize see She Blinded Me with Science by Mike Wiles, http://www.saguaroastro.org/content/SACNEWS/newsindex.htm and select either PDF or ZIP version as you desire. It's good stuff.
Before continuing, be sure you have read and signed the waiver for the 2012 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)
Early Setters at the beginning of Astronomical Twilight:
Your marathoning activities will not go unnoticed; there will be awards in recognition of effort. People observing or imaging 50 or more objects will receive a certificate. For first, second and third place there will be plaques suitable for mounting on a telescope. This means similar awards for both imaging and observing, i.e. first place for observing and first place for imaging. Duplicate awards will be made for ties; there will be no activities to determine tie-breakers.
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 or images. 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 or image it with your equipment and verify it is visible on the screen of your laptop.
Mark off the entry.
Go to the next object.
Start observing or imaging when you are ready, presumably some time after sunset. It is up to you to decide when you are finished. 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.
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.
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. For imaging the situation is similar. Two people per telescope and each should find and image one-half the objects, both must observe all objects.
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 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. The meeting will be held at the intersection of both runways.
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 assisted wuth the marathon 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, it belongs to the BLM, 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.
2012 All Arizona Messier Marathon Coordinators
1378 ft 420 m