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EAAS Messier Marathon Report!

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EAAS Messier Marathon Report! was created by martinastro

Hi all

On Friday 3rd March the EAAS held there Messier Marathon from Killylane reservoir outside Larne. This was my own first time observing from this new location and the environment left a deep impression on me. This was a very dark site surrounded by snow coated hills and pine trees and we set up our equipment over looking the frozen lake which made a beautiful scenic location for a nights observing. The night was dry, calm and VERY cold with a clear sky and good trans. The waxing crescent moon with earthshine was a stunning sight in Pisces and I could see its shimmering reflection on the lake itself! There was between 13 - 14 observers in all using a wide range of equipment from cameras, Binoculars, Refractors, SCTs and Reflectors both with and without GO-TO technology. I used my Meade 8" LX10 deluxe F/6.3 at 49X and upgraded later to a 2" Diagonal and 2" 32mm SWA eyepiece for a wider field.

As the sky slowly darkened we spotted a brilliant passage of the ISS silently blaze across the sky passing near Orion’s Belt and skirting the bright star Procyon in Canis Minor. This has to be one of the brightest ISS passages I have ever seen! I got a text message from Kevin Black who was then observing from Belfast informing me that he had observed a beautiful Aurora for 45 mins duration however we could not see anything from here possibly due to the pine trees that blocked the low northern sky...thanks for the text kevin.

I then began my own Messier Marathon before twilight ended...

M77 19.30 - Obsv made in twilight, Galaxy located approx 20* SE of Moon. Compact fuzzy spot with brilliant stellar nucleus with sharp edges near a similarly bright field star. Slightly hazy sky illuminated by moonlight. Easy object which I showed to others.

M79 19.35 - Located low in the south in poor trans. A circular fuzzy spot with bright core. No stars resolved within cluster. Shown to other observers.

M41 19.40 - Nice large bright cluster with 2 red stars at centre. Shown to others. Not seen with naked eye due to haze.

M39 - 19.50 - Loose scattered open cluster with white suns. Also seen with naked eye over a distant hill.

M31, M32, M110 19.52 - Beautiful galaxy trio. M31 filled low power field, suspected outer spiral arms and dark dust lanes. Shown to others. Stephen Mc Govern and I agreed that M110 was our favourite. M31 seen with naked eye.

M93 19.55 - Rich open cluster in Puppis. Low in south in haze and poor trans. Member stars seemed clustered towards west.

M42, M43 19.59 - Both nebulae in same FOV. M42 a beautiful blue object with vivid 3D like structure and well defined dark fish mouth. Shown to other observers. Everyone was impressed with this object.

M78 20.00 - Blue wedge shaped puff of mist with 2 bright stars of same mag at centre. Shown to others.

M1 20.02 - Nice object well placed in sky. Definite filament like structure observed . Shown to others.

M76 20.07 - Cousin of infamous M27. Small in size and easy to see in rich star field.

M45 20.30 - Examined at 49X in 8”. Tried for Merope nebula however trans prevented detection. Best seen with 10X50 bin and naked eye.

M37, M36, M38 20.45 - All 3 clusters seen within same field of Conor’s 10X50 bin. Seen M37 + M36 with naked eye. All three observed in 8” with M37 the most spectacular of the trio. Conor also observed M37 through the 8” and was impressed.

M74 20.55 - Moon very close to this object. Was not detectable in 8”. Observed it using Marks Meade 10” Go -To. A VERY difficult object in the bright haze and barely brighter than the back ground sky. Seen using averted version.

M34 20.55 - Weak, spread out open cluster. Unimpressive in 8”. Seen with naked eye and best in binoculars. Also shown to Conor.

M35 21.10 - Very nice, compact rich cluster. NGC companion cluster also observed . Seen with naked eye.

M44 21.10 - Loose concentration of blue stars in 8”. Observed this cluster along with Saturn in same field using Jonathans 10X50 bin. Looks like large tailless comet with naked eye.

M67 21.12 - Very nice compact dense beautiful open cluster . Best open cluster in cancer and much more spectacular than its famous Beehive cousin to the north.

M33 21.28 - This large low surface brightness galaxy could not be seen in 8” due to haze and moon light. Central region observed through Marks 10”. Also seen bright HII region within outer spiral arms.

M52 21.40 - Observed through Stephen Mc Governs 4” Celestron GO-TO refractor. Lovely object in rich Milkyway star field. Conor also observed it.

M46, M47 21.40 - Spotted both these open clusters with naked eye as two fuzzy spots side by side through car windscreen while warming up inside!

Total Messier Objects Observer = 26/110

As the body of Leo rose higher into the eastern sky I faintly spotted the Gegenschein as a + 10* oval grey patch of light to the east of Regulus. It was a difficult object due to week moonlight in the west (16th Observation). I was feeling very sick due to the cold so I spent a little time warming up in the car. I had a good chat with various people about Comets, telescopes and possible life in the Universe then I headed back outside for another session. A very bright blue double flash lit up the entire sky and ground which got every ones attention ..I believe this was distant lightning. I seen a nice number of swift meteors and a lovely golden Mag 0 sporadic meteor zip over head. I was about to make a start on the rest of the Messier objects when clouds soon moved in to create overcast conditions followed soon after by snow. We all gathered around and had a great chat waiting for clear skies however the snow got very heavy and so it was decided that we should retire for the night otherwise we would never make it out of here. The drive home was very scary at times due to low visibility and very heavy snow which rendered even the cats eyes on the road invisible. Overall it was a fantastic night and we are planning a 2nd attempt later in the month and I also hope to observe a number of Meteor showers from this stunning location. Thanks very much to Stephen Mc Govern for the much needed lift!

This is my own personal account of the night and I am sure others will produce there own in the near future.

Clear Skies!
Martin Mc Kenna

coruscations attending the whole length of the luminosity, giving to the phenomena the aspect of a wrathful messenger, and not that of a tranquil body pursuing a harmless course..comet of 1680
16 years 10 months ago #25233

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Replied by martinastro on topic Re: EAAS Messier Marathon Report!

I hope you dont mind Conor but i want to share some of the images you captured on the night in question...













Martin Mc Kenna

coruscations attending the whole length of the luminosity, giving to the phenomena the aspect of a wrathful messenger, and not that of a tranquil body pursuing a harmless course..comet of 1680
16 years 10 months ago #25234

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  • DaveGrennan
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  • IFAS Astronomer of the Year 2010
  • IFAS Astronomer of the Year 2010
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Replied by DaveGrennan on topic Re: EAAS Messier Marathon Report!

Martin,

What a fantastic report and such lovely images by Conor. You know although you got the IFAS astronomer of the year award, I think we really dont say enough just how good your reports are. Your attention to detail in your record keeping and your sheer dedication shines as a light for the rest of us. In truth you put many of us to shame.

Keep up the fantastic work Martin!
Regards and Clear Skies,

Dave.
J41 - Raheny Observatory.
www.webtreatz.com
Equipment List here
16 years 10 months ago #25237

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Replied by martinastro on topic Re: EAAS Messier Marathon Report!

Thankyou kindly for those encouraging words Dave!

I am very happy that you liked the report which is an edited version of a much larger write up i have done in my own observing log book.

Thanks again...you have motivated me to keep observing and recording.

All best and good luck with your A&S column!!
Martin Mc Kenna

coruscations attending the whole length of the luminosity, giving to the phenomena the aspect of a wrathful messenger, and not that of a tranquil body pursuing a harmless course..comet of 1680
16 years 10 months ago #25240

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Replied by Matthew C on topic Re: EAAS Messier Marathon Report!

WOW! That last image is SPECTACULAR! Love the landscape! What time was it taken at?
What a report!
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. . . .
T. S. Eliot
A wise man....
16 years 10 months ago #25241

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Replied by martinastro on topic Re: EAAS Messier Marathon Report!

Thanks Matthew!

Conor took that image sometime during the night but i am not sure of the time..it was dark anyway and needed a time exposure. Maybe Conor could supply more details.

All best
Martin Mc Kenna

coruscations attending the whole length of the luminosity, giving to the phenomena the aspect of a wrathful messenger, and not that of a tranquil body pursuing a harmless course..comet of 1680
16 years 10 months ago #25242

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