Planning a messier Marathon

13 years 6 months ago #42088 by ftodonoghue
Planning a messier Marathon was created by ftodonoghue
Just wondering if anyone has done this in Ireland, and if there are any peculiarities in terms of the suggested order of targtets. Would we be ok to start with M74 and 77. we are planning to do the marathon on paddys weekend.
Thanks

Cheers
Trevor

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13 years 6 months ago #42091 by johnflannery
Replied by johnflannery on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
Hi Trevor,

Have a look at Mark Stronge's report of the East Antrim Astronomical Society's Messier Marathon in 2006. It's at http://www.eaas.co.uk/news/20060303_mm.html

I think about 100 objects is the best you'll get from here. I put up some MM software in the FILES section a good while ago but have forgotten where! It's a little program called messmara.zip (might be able to Google it) which calculates the number of Messier objects visible on a particular night from your selected location.

The SEDS web page at http://www.seds.org/messier/xtra/marathon/marathon.html has tons of information for Marathoner's.

Your plan to start with M74/M77 is ideal as they'll disappear quickly into the twilight. The SEDS pages give the sequence to follow but I'd also recommend Harvard Pennington's Messier Marathon book. I'll bring it down to Cosmos if you plan to be there and let you have a look through it.

Clear skies!

John

John Flannery ( aurorawatcher - at * gmail - dot * com ... remove hyphens/asterisks/spaces for email)
The chicken's motive for crossing the road would not be questioned in an ideal world

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13 years 6 months ago #42092 by ftodonoghue
Replied by ftodonoghue on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
Thanks John

As always a fountain of knowledge. I just ran that programme and it seems that on 18march we should be able to get 100. That programme also is using astronomical twilight as the cut off point so maybe a few more might be possible.

It also says that from 10th to 16th april 104 may be possible. However new moon occurs on 17th April, so another opportunity presents itself then.

Cheers
Trevor

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13 years 6 months ago #42098 by johnflannery
Replied by johnflannery on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
No problem Trevor.

You've got me tempted now to do a Marathon though all my plans came to naught in Turkey (that's more because of the great sessions in the pub near the Hillside Su!!!)

I never got around to dropping you a note about navigating the Virgo Cluster. Some good hints and links at http://www.seds.org/messier/more/virgo.html The best chart however that I've come across is that in Eric Karkoschka's "Observer's Sky Atlas". The star sizes are nice and small and the chart proved a breeze to use when star hopping with the 22x100s a year ago (until I kicked the tripod and lost the field!)

John

John Flannery ( aurorawatcher - at * gmail - dot * com ... remove hyphens/asterisks/spaces for email)
The chicken's motive for crossing the road would not be questioned in an ideal world

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13 years 6 months ago #42100 by ftodonoghue
Replied by ftodonoghue on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
Hi John

I think Virgo will be a head wrecker for me, I hope to at east have some practice at it before the night. I am also thinking about what instrument to use for the Marathon. I was thinking about using the 20X80's or the 90mm refractor for navigating virgo purely because I will not see as much as with the 8". What do you think.

Cheers
Trevor

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13 years 6 months ago #42102 by lunartic
Replied by lunartic on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
Hi Trevor

I think the binos will be ideal, I observed the entire Messier catalogue with 25x100s and from a clear site all will be visible.

What's the focal length of the 90mm?

Paul

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better programs, and the universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the universe is winning.

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13 years 6 months ago #42106 by johnflannery
Replied by johnflannery on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
Hi Trevor,

Definitely use the binoculars for the Virgo Cluster. You'll be surprised how easy the objects are to spot in the 20x80s. All will be a nice sized-fuzzball but being able to use the wider field of the binoculars will let you star hop without getting lost.

The key is knowing the field-of-view of your binoculars.

I set off from Rho Viriginis using Karkoschka's chart of the Vir-Com cluster region and initially hop to a pattern obvious on his chart.

I then check the field versus the chart to make sure I've identified the right pattern.

I then hop in half-field increments constantly checking the field of view against the chart. This works very well and what I see equates nicely to the little patterns I use to star-hop.

You'll find you will have to back-track on your path a couple of times because the galaxies actually appear to lie along a badly-distorted three-pronged fork. This is easier than trying to jump across to one prong from another.

Also, the binoculars will let you bag a couple of galaxies at a time (eg M84/M86 and M59/M60).

Bill Ferris has a nice chart of the region at http://members.aol.com/billferris/virgocluster.html

I'll see if I can mirror Karkoschka's atlas in Sky Map Pro (i.e. resize the star dots to something that doesn't overwhelm the plotted galaxies).

Talk to you later,

John

John Flannery ( aurorawatcher - at * gmail - dot * com ... remove hyphens/asterisks/spaces for email)
The chicken's motive for crossing the road would not be questioned in an ideal world

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13 years 6 months ago #42111 by ftodonoghue
Replied by ftodonoghue on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
Hi lads and thanks for the feedback.

What's the focal length of the 90mm?

It is around an f5 - f5.5 or so, I have a nice wide field of view with a 32mm about 3 degrees.

The Binoculars have an almost identical field of view, but i reckon they would be much easier to use to navigate with a star chart.

john you mentioned about starting at Rho Viriginis and Paul mentioned this in a previous post on a similar topic so I guess it is time to become familar with Rho Virginis and its environs.

I just had a look at Paul's previous post.

With a wide field eyepiece find Rho Virginis, from there go 1.5 degrees N and you'll find M59 & M60, M60 being the eastern of the pair. From M59 go 1 degree W to M58.
From M58 go 0.25 degrees W and 1 degree N to pick up M89 & M90, M90 being the northern galaxy.
From M90 go 1 degree W and 1.5 degrees N to M88. From M88 go 1 degree E and slightly N to pick up M91.
Go back to M89 and go 1.25 degrees W and slightly S to M87. From M87 go 1.25 degrees W and 0.5 degrees N to M84 & M86.
That's Virgo covered.

Find the 5th magnitude 6 Comae Berenices, 6 degrees east of Beta Leonis. 0.5 degrees W of 6 Comae lies M98. From 6 Comae go 0.5 degrees S and 0.75 degrees E to M99.
Go back to 6 Comae Berenices, go 2 degrees E and 1 degree N and there's M100. From M100 go 0.5 degrees W and 2 degrees N to the 5th magnitude star 11 Comae Bernices. From 11 Comae go 1 degree E and 0.25 degrees N to find M85.

and had a look at my sky and telescope pocket atlas and it looks manageable (fingers crossed). If it isn't I have a more detailed atlas and Cartes du Ciel so I should be ok, so John dont worry about trying to do up a chart for me.
If I have any further questions though, I will be sure to ask. As per yer advice I reckon I will use the Binocs for the Virgo cluster as these probably mean a much easier translation from atlas to sky.
Thanks again

Cheers
Trevor

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13 years 6 months ago #42465 by ftodonoghue
Replied by ftodonoghue on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
Hi all

I was out for an hour or so tonight, to see if I could start learning my way around the Virgo Cluster. I took the 20X80's to a semi dark site, but the sky was hazy so only limited success.

I started at Rho Virginis and managed to just about get M59 and M60. A line straight through these brings you to M58. This is longside a star at the point of a kite shaped asterism. North of this I reckon I just about picked up M89 and not so sure about M90. But off to the west M87 stood out even in hazy skies. The sky worsened so I had to pack up, but I reckon with darker skies, these 5 or 6 should be easy. The sky and Telescope pocket atlas chart of the region, is ok for navigation. Hopefully the rest of the cluster will be as easy.
Thanks for the help.

Cheers
Trevor

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13 years 6 months ago #42526 by EPK
Replied by EPK on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
Interesting stuff...
Thanks for the link above to our site.
The EAAS will also be having another go this year, like yourselves probably over Paddy's weekend, but this time from Castleward, near Strangford.
As you can see from last year pics, the weather got somewhat severe!
However, a great exercise for anyone wanting to have a go.

Meade 16" Lightbridge
Tal 6" Newtonian
Meade LXD75 6" Newtonian
Tal 4" Refractor
Panoptic and Nagler eyepieces.
Attitude and Smartassery

For forever and a day I shall chase that white whale - Captain Ahab

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13 years 6 months ago #42867 by ftodonoghue
Replied by ftodonoghue on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
Another clear night tonight and I finally got to nail down all the M's in the Virgo Coma cluster. I was frustrated by hazy skies the last few times I tried this in the 20X80's so tonight I set up the 8". It was slightly hazy but the aperture really helped. I started off using the instructions posted above, but I stumbled after the first 5 or 6 Galaxies.
I then resorted to star atlas and alternative means of finding the rest of the cluster. I managed to find a few easy galaxy and star hops that make it easy enough

Cheers
Trevor

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13 years 6 months ago #42868 by ftodonoghue
Replied by ftodonoghue on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
just had a quick run through all of the M's I bagged tonight, 58 in about three hours and that included learning the Virgo cluster. Not a bad nights work. although I didn't get to study any in detail, it is a solid base for the marathon.

Hopefully we get clear skies this weekend

Cheers
Trevor

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13 years 6 months ago #42904 by Seanie_Morris
Replied by Seanie_Morris on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
There were some fantastic clear skies last night - I noticed them on my way to and from work! Glad you got a productive night's observing Trevor. I wonder if your observing can offer aything to Michael's Messier Challenge Handbook?

Seanie.

Midlands Astronomy Club.
Radio Presenter (Midlands 103), Space Enthusiast, Astronomy Outreach Co-ordinator.
Former IFAS Chairperson and Secretary.

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13 years 6 months ago #43044 by ftodonoghue
Replied by ftodonoghue on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
Well, our planned messier marathon did not go ahead, I think it was the hail and the storm that put an end to it :(
And I behaved myself on Paddy's day and everything, so I would be bright as a button for today, aw well.
there is another opportunity during april's new moon to get a good few, so maybe we can give it another go then.

Cheers
Trevor

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13 years 6 months ago #43051 by Matthew C
Replied by Matthew C on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
Bad luck trevor! Im telling ya im seeing new signs of global warming everyday! We had HEAVY SNOW all day yesterday! :shock:

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....

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13 years 6 months ago #43076 by Seanie_Morris
Replied by Seanie_Morris on topic Re: Planning a messier Marathon
Still, Trevor, your determination is duly noted. We could all help each other by learning and 'observing' from others. :)

Midlands Astronomy Club.
Radio Presenter (Midlands 103), Space Enthusiast, Astronomy Outreach Co-ordinator.
Former IFAS Chairperson and Secretary.

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