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The Messier Marathon presents an opportunity to view the entire Messier List in one night. Each Spring, the period around the Spring Equinox on March 21 allows observers to view all 110 of the Messier objects in one observing session. In 2023, the new moon weekends fall on March 18 and April 15, allowing for a full night of observing. During other weekends in March and April, the appearance of the moon during part of the night will hinder observers from viewing the whole list.
You may use any size telescope or binoculars for the Marathon, since the object is to SEE the object, rather than to OBSERVE and LOG it. For this reason, it is OK to use setting circles and other electronic devices, even though such observations would not qualify you for the Astronomical League’s Messier Certificate. This packet contains a check list and observing sheet for you to use to keep track of your observations. This is intended to be a fun project, so observing and recording on the checklist is done on the honor system. Finding objects and sharing observations with other observers is OK.
The attached map is intended to help you find the relative positions of the Messier Objects across the sky and in the constellations in which they are located. Start with M77 right after sunset, and continue on to M30 just before dawn. Use your own star charts and maps to help you find the individual objects if you do not already know where they are.
You will find there will be periods of inactivity while you wait for the next object to come up, and periods of frantic activity trying to find that one last object before it sets. While the objective is to see all 110 objects, a very difficult project, whatever total number of objects you observe will be a successful night. And if you do not see all of the objects in one night, you can always try again next year!
You do not have to conduct you own Messier Marathon on the dates indicated. These are just the ideal weekend dates for this year. But you can observe anytime during March or April that you have an opportunity to be out. The objects will be up! This is a great club project for any astronomy club.
Get you friends together and get out and observe!
Once you have completed the Messier Mrathon and have filled out
the log sheets logs, send your observations to:
When sending in your log sheets, please include your name and address. We will then send you your Messier Marathon Telescope Observing Program lapel pin. Good luck, clear skies, and good observing.
For more information about the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas, or to request an Information Packet and Membership Application, contact TAS at: