Posted tagged ‘Messier Marathons’

Observing The Entire Messier Catalog, But All In One Night?

March 8, 2015


The Astronomical League Messier awards certificate book, offers an excellent visual description of each of the entire 110 object Messier catalog, by two experienced observers.   It includes many pencil sketches as well as some excellent images. The book can be purchased from the AL for only $10.00 plus shipping. 

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced amateur, this is an excellent book for either. The author’s, Kathy Machin and Sue Wheatley did an excellent job in documenting their observations with detailed notes, plus a lot of supporting information.

I like the following quote from the introduction: “We hope you will not rush through the objects, saying, yep, that’s one. What’s next? The Messier List is not a race.”  

With so many astronomy clubs sponsoring Messier Marathons, it would be a great opportunity for each club to promote the Astronomical League Messier Awards certificate.

As I’ve mentioned in published articles, emails, presentations and other:  “Observing with a purpose” is seemingly the most important thing any amateur can do to continue with that passion we all had when we first started.

Astronomy Magazine contributing editor Glen Chaple quoted me on this in his “Observing Basics” article in the March 2015 Astronomy Magazine.

What if only two or three amateurs in each of the clubs across the country, sponsoring a marathon would use the night for something else:  To advocate careful observing of as many Messier’s as possible, making visual notes, maybe even a few rough sketches.  Not being concerned with the number of objects observed, but beginning a lifetime of serious amateur astronomy?  

I’m betting that the number of serious amateur astronomer’s over time and years would increase dramatically!  

Maybe even: using the night as a start for achieving their Messier Awards Certificate and pin, and finding their “observing with a purpose”  for many years to come.  

Roger Ivester