Subject: Messier Marathon from Ottawa, March 16-17, 2002
Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2002 08:32:31 -0500
From: Marie-Josť Tison <mjtison@videotron.ca>

After driving 2 and half hours from Montreal. I met my fellow OAOGers at the local Harvey's where we
talked strategy with the more seasoned observers of our group. I then proceeded to Beckwith Park (South West
of Ottawa) to set up my equipment, a 8" LMDA (Sky-Watcher) F/6 Dob. The evening began with a great site: a
beautiful comet. This was only my third comet seen from my telescope but it is the brightest so far. Pierre's
description is exactly what it looked like to me: a cosmic searchlight.

As this was my very first marathon, I wasn't expecting much, maybe 75 objects with luck. I caught my first
object at 19:30 EST, M79. Then a few minutes later M74. This galaxy was tough but with the help of Denis I
was able to successfully identified it. I then putted along without any problems until I got to the galaxies in Virgo
and Coma Berenices. I was worried since I had never tried to chase those little fuzzies before (having received
my scope in May last year). Armed with Denis' list, a couple of slices of warm and yummy pizza delivered by a
crazed Heavy Rock blasting delivery women and my SkyAtlas maps I was ticking them off one by one. It wasn't
easy, you had to hop from one galaxy to another to be sure that you got the right one, sometimes going back to
previous targets when going off track. Let just say that I was happy to start looking for those clusters
afterwards. I was also glad to have my eyepiece/Telrad heaters. In our climate they should be standard
equipment. Finally I couldn't see anything since the sun was getting up. My last object, M70 was clocked at 4:55
EST. The count: 104!! Not bad for my first marathon. I missed M2, M72, M75, M73, M55, M30.

Luc Coulombe
Vaudreuil-sur-le-Lac, PQ
Ottawa Valley Astronomy and Observers Group