2012 All Arizona Messier Marathon

The marathon this year is at the same site as the event last year: Hovatter Airstrip.

Please go to here for directions and here for the map.

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.
The day before the marathon has been set aside for you and your observing friends to observe from your own list at the Hovatter Airstrip site. This is not the marathon.
Friday, March 23, 2012
sunset 19:14
twilight 20:12
moon set 20:08
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)
2012 Messier Marathon: Saturday, March 24, 2012

Solar Data:
(all times are MST)

Sunset Meeting at 18:15 on March 24 at the intersection of both runways

March 24:   Moonset 21:03

 Saturday twilight chart

Sunset 18:52
Astro Twilight 20:13
March 25: Astro Twilight 05:07

Sunday twilight chart

Moonrise 07:56
Sunrise   06:27
March 22:  New Moon  07:37

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)
Hopefully the weather will continue to favor us.

Early Setters at the beginning of Astronomical Twilight:

Object Altitude Above Horizon
M74 7° and 3.8º south of 2.47 day old moon
M77 12°
M33 14.5º
M31 11.8º
  Everything else is higher than 20º
Early Risers at the end of Astronomical Twilight:
Elevation Above Horizon
Well below horizon
1º Very difficult so be ready as soon as possible
15.3º (14.4º from M30, PA 138º)

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.

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. 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.
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 do not send cash for payment.
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 or images and a signed waiver. Be sure to get one, either from one of the local astronomy clubs, 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 or imagers 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. Either you or someone else you designate may turn in your list. 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. 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

AJ Crayon

Rick Tejera

Saguaro Astronomy Club

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

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