The Messier marathon Page

 What’s a Messier marathon? Well in the 1700’s a French astronomer was looking for comets. He kept track of every fuzzy thing that he found in the sky that did not move and was not a comet. As viewed through modern telescopes, these have turned out to be some of the most spectacular deep space objects that can be seen from earth. Every year, usually in the spring – when the timing is right – there is a weekend or two near the new moon when it is possible for the observer in North America to attempt to see all 110 objects found by Charles Messier in his entire career … in one night! It’s an all night astronomy marathon. Are you ready for the challenge? Time is of the essence. Your search must be organized in order to catch the first few before they dip below the horizon. It slows down for a bit and then picks up a frenzied pace as the galaxcies in the Virgo cluster appear. One must fight dew and fatigue … and hope that nature cooperates.


In 2000, at the first annual messier marathon, David Tolley set the record for our group with 40 objects found.

This Year, at the second annual messier marathon, David out did himself. Setting a goal of 60 objects, he broke his previous record, exceeded his goal, and raised the bar to 103 objects found!

Congratulations Dave!

What was it like? Cold, clear and early on windy. Later the ground froze but the wind stopped. Dave Tolley was there with his TV101, Jeff Ball brought the AP 130 and took pictures, Don Kemper had the OVAS 10" Cave, Larry Oyster brought the C8 and some 70mm binoculars. I (Rodger Blake) brought the 20" Obsession. Jeff brought a shelter which we set up as a wind break. Inside were a table, books, charts, snacks, and a poster of the Messier Objects that one could use to compare to the EP view. There was an early rush to find the twilight objects, a slower period, a burst period as we probed the Virgo Galaxy cluster, a quiet time from 2-4, then a frenzy of activity as we searched for the "Summer" objects. Larry had to go at about 2 AM, but the rest of us stayed out all night. I think that all of us got to see messier objects that we had never seen before. What a treat, a "tour de sky". We searched for objects, shared views in our scopes, shared snacks and had warm fellowship on a cold night. After we took down the scopes and broke camp, we headed for Tudor’s for breakfast. Want to read Dave’s report or Don’s report or Larry’s report or Jeff’s report or Rodger’s report? Dave led the pack with 103 Objects found, I had 95, Larry over 30, Don over 20 and Jeff ? Well Jeff was taking pictures. I figure that he snapped at least 2 or 3 M’s. I can’t wait to see the Pictures! At least he can show us what he saw.


Here is a link to Phil Harrington’s Messier Marathon Planing Page. It gives the order that he uses to go after the objects.

Here is a link to a page with last years Sky and Telescope Messier Marathon Checklist reproduced as a "jpg" file.

Here is the link to the SEDS site for the 2001 Messier Marathon. This is the link to their "generic" Messier Marathon site. .