It's approaching that time of year . . . again!

2006 All Arizona Messier Marathon

The site is the same, south of Arizona City, Arizona.

Site: Arizona City, Arizona
Date: March 25/26, 2006
Solar Data:
(all times are MST)

March 25:   Sunset 6:46 PM
  Twilight8:05 PM
Moonset2:38 PM
March 26: Twilight 5:00 AM
  Sunrise 6:19 AM
Moonrise   4:45 AM
March 29:   New Moon  

This year we are lucky, very lucky as we will be able to observe the entire Messier Catalog on this one night.   At twilight Saturday, with no moon in the sky, the closet object to the horizon will be M74 at about 7° above.   Next in order will be the Andromeda Galaxy at 11.2°;   M77 at about a degree higher;   M33 14.4° and M52 at 14.7°.   All others will be more than 15° above the horizon.   Noteworthy is M39 at 4° "BELOW" the horizon, so don't try for this one as you will have plenty of time in the morning.

Once twilight begins Sunday morning M103 is 10.5° above the horizon, giving plenty of time to pick this one off - if you have been keeping a good pace.   The Andromeda Galaxy can again be had at about 5° above the horizon.   Finally, our tormentor and frustrator M30, is 2.3° above the horizon.   But, and you just knew there would be a but here, the moon is 3° above the horizon about 7° left of M30.   At 12.15% illuminated this isn't expected to be much of a problem.   Both rise around 4:47 PM but this doesn't take into account the mountain range towards Tucson.

So after this review it definitely appears we will be able to observe all 110 entries in Charles Messier's catalog - weather permitting.   And the weather has been favoring us for some time!

Your observing will not go unnoticed.

There will be awards in recognition of effort
  • People observing 50 or more objects will receive a printed certificate.
  • For first, second and third place: a small plaque suitable for mounting on a telescope.
  • Duplicate awards will be made for tying totals.

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.   If you're not affiliated to a supporting club, you may pay for the plaque in the morning after completing the marathon.   There is no charge for the certificates.

Before continuing be sure to have read and signed the waiver (PDF).
The text is readable in the box below.

Basically SAC only provides the site and gathers the totals.   It is not responsible for loss, theft, broken items, nor for any bodily injuries you might sustain.

Please turn in the signed waiver at the event.
Preferably turning in at the sunset meeting.

Previous award participants are listed at:

Feel intimidated?
Don't think you can reach high counts?
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 the objects
  • 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.

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.

Non-Payment -
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 Marathon Order (PDF). 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.
For more information on star party etiquette Click here!

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.

As in the last few years, Jack Jones will again be assisting with this year's marathon. Thanks Jack, your help is appreciated.

A special thanks, as always, to Ray Farnsworth for permitting us to use this site free of charge.

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.

Additional Questions should be addressed to:
AJ Crayon
Jack Jones
2006 All Arizona Messier Marathon Organizers
Saguaro Astronomy Club

Required Marathon Waiver

     I acknowledge that bringing children (especially young children) and pets to the marathon is not a good idea and if I do so I shall be responsible for their actions and safety. I will keep any pets on a leash away from telescopes.

     I am aware that the site is unimproved and that there are aspects of it beyond the control of the marathon coordinators who I will not hold responsible for such aspects, to include among others, animals (some poisonous), plants (such as cacti) and the natural layout of the terrain at the site. I also understand that this is a desert environment and I have taken care of at least the minimal requirements for this site (including, but not limited to: a gallon of water per person; sturdy, enclosed shoes; and proper clothing for hot days and cold nights).


     I know that I will be in an extremely light restricted environment after sunset. I will use the dim red light observing protocol so as to not ruin my own night vision as well as the vision of those around me. I will park my vehicle conducive to when I plan on leaving (parking to avoid backing up after dark; early leavers near the entrance, all-nighters the furthest away from the entrance). I will announce my departure before I leave and will seek assistance for exiting the observing field.

     I am responsible for having and following a plan for my safe arrival and return home. I will arrive while it's still light and will only leave the paved roads if they are dry and it does not look like it will rain. I know this is a marathon and there is a high likelihood that I will not sleep during the night.

2006 All-Arizona Messier Marathon Liability Release

     By attending the 2006 All-Arizona Messier Marathon (hereinafter referred to as the "Marathon"), regardless of whether I participate or not, I hereby affirm that I and all members of my family and any and all guests I bring are releasing Saguaro Astronomy Club, the organizers, Ray Farnsworth, JetRay Farms, and the State of Arizona (hereinafter all referred to as the "Providers") from any and all claims, liens and complaints or the like for injuries, losses or damages of any kind received or sustained arising out of or occasioned by the events or any acts of the Providers in the execution or performance of the Marathon.


     I further waive any claim, lien or complaint that I, my heirs, assigns, or personal representatives, may have against the Providers for all accidents, injuries or losses I may incur while attending the Marathon.

     I agree to indemnify and hold harmless the Providers for any costs incurred (including attorneys fees) in defending any action brought against the Providers as a result of my attendance of the Marathon.

     My signature upon this form establishes agreement and acceptance of behalf of all attendees registering by this form, and for all minor children attending while in my care.

Printed Version Requiring Signing (PDF)

If you decide to participate be sure to read this entire notice.

This notice should be read by all that plan on participating.

For those have GPS, here are the coordinates:

North32°27 min45.2 sec
West111°43 min53.2 sec
Elevation:  1800 ft  548.6 m