2013 All Arizona Messier Marathon

The marathon this year is at the same site as the event last year: Salome Emergency Airfield (Hovatter Airstrip).

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

Site: Salome Emergency Airfield (south of I-10 at Exit #53)
2013 Messier Marathon: Saturday, March 16, 2013

Astronomical Data:
(all times are MST)

Sunset Meeting at 18:15 on March 16 at the intersection of both runways

March 15
Astro twilight ends
Astro twilight begins (Sat.)
Sunrise (Sat.)

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 on Saturday.

March 16
Sunset meeting
Astro twilight ends
Astro twilight begins (Sun.)
Sunrise (Sun.)


March 16

Moon at sunset

Phase 0.26

M74 at sunset
M74 at twilight
M74 sets
March 17
M30 at twilight
M30 rises
M30 at sunrise


Before continuing be sure you have read and signed the waiver for the 2013 event.  It is located here.  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.

Your observing activities will not go unnoticed; there will be awards in recognition of effort.  People observing or imaging 50 or more objects will receive an 8 1/2 x 11 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 death observe off (:

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 around $10.00.  There is no charge for the certificates.

For previous participants see the Messier Marathon Observer's Results at:

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.
  • Fill out the heading.
  • Find an object.
  • Observe/image it with your eye through the main eyepiece of your telescope.
  • Mark off the entry.
  • Go to the next object.

Start observing/imaging 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.  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, 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 certificates can given to all who earn them.  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.

More 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 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. For more information on star party etiquette click here: http://www.saguaroastro.org/content/Star-Party-Etiquette.htm!


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.

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.

This year Rick Tejera will be taking over as lead Coordinator. He and the Saguaro Astronomy Club wish to thank AJ Crayon for all he has done to make the All Arizona Messier Marathon the best Messier marathon anywhere.

Photographic Messier Marathon

Another interesting possibility is running a photographic Messier Marathon. This was, to our knowledge, first undertaken by Tim Hunter and Dan Knauss of Grasslands Observatory, Arizona in March 1988; see their report.

A Photographic Messier Marathon:
March 19-20, 1988
By Tim Hunter and Dan Knauss

Photographic Messier Marathon Details:

  • Take image - as long as you deem necessary
  • Visually validate on computer screen
  • No wide angle, fish eye
  • Mark check list
  • Save to file (optional but nice for later posting on YOUR web site)
  • Turn in check list same as visual check list, Indicate Photographic Marathon.
  • Awards similar to visual, but indicate for photography
  • Awards are separate from the visual marathon.

The Photographic Marathon will be the same night & at the same sight as the regular marathon.

Please try to set up away from visual observer and keep you screen splash to a minimum.
The Coordinators Suggest setting up along the north end of the North-South Runway.


2013 All Arizona Messier Marathon Coordinators
Rick Tejera: saguaroastro@cox.net
AJ Crayon: acrayon@cox.net
Saguaro Astronomy Club http://www.saguaroastro.org/content/messier.htm

Hopefully the weather will continue to favor us.

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

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