From Pierre Martin: - April 2011

Hello all,

Here's my belated observing report for the very successful Messier Marathon event, that was held on Saturday April 2 at the beautiful Pit Road observing site in Oscella, just south of Cobden.

In attendance:

- Joe Silverman (with 12.5" dob)

- Chris Thuemen (with two scopes) + two local guests

- Ivan Zuger (with refractor)

- Nicholas Zuger (with refractor)

... and myself (with 12.5" dob)

Upon arriving at the site early enough to setup well before the Sun went down, I was greeted by Joe who had just arrived himself. The others would soon follow. A gorgeous sunset and mild temperatures made way for clear and transparent skies (around 3 to 4 out of 5 all night), a very bright zodiacal light and best of all, deep dark skies overhead! I kicked off my session shortly after 8:30PM and finished just after 5:00AM, for a total of 8.5 hours :) For many of the objects, I opted not to "race" and instead take the time to really take in and enjoy the views, whenever time allowed. Besides, for me, this challenge is mainly an exercise to freshen my star hopping skills. It had been several months since I've last been out with my scope under dark skies, so it sure felt great to be there. The excellent company on this night was the icing on the cake. Here's how the night went using 12.5" dob. I used mainly the 22mm Panoptic, 14mm Denkmeier and 10mm Pentax XW. The last few morning objects were spent with my scope aimed almost horizontally to the horizon, but the Portaball's amazing ergonomics makes even such an awkward viewing angle a pleasure :) All in all, a terrific night, with 107 Messiers that I managed to spot (missing M74, M77 in the evening and M30 in the morning)...

 

8:42PM - M79 (Lepus, small GC, fuzz patch in twilight, just 8 degrees from the horizon, and even closer to the treeline)

8:49PM - M77 (Cetus, *not seen*, too low, lost in twilight, some stars visible in FOV where galaxy should be, but nothing else there)

9:05PM - M74 (Pisces, *not seen*, searched for several minutes, sky too bright and found that the galaxy was lurking behind a low lying cloud, and was about to set, saw 2-3 stars in FOV at best)

9:09PM - M33 (Andromeda, just a large blur in 14mm Denk, 9 degrees from horizon)

9:19PM - M31, M32 (Andromeda, both prominent & bright despite just 9 degrees from horizon)

9:37PM - M110 (Andromeda, faint smudge in 14mm Denk, took a while to

see)

9:43PM - M52 (Cassiopeia, pleasant dispersed OC with a single brighter star near its edge)

9:45PM - M103 (Cassiopeia, compact OC, few dozens stars, "triangular"

shape)

9:48PM - M76 (Perseus, little Dumbbell, dim but easy to spot, good in 22mm Pan)

9:52PM - M34 (Perseus, large bright OC in 22mm Pan)

9:52PM - M45 (Taurus)

9:56PM - M42, M43 (Orion, always great - spectacular view!)

9:58PM - M78 (Orion, "comet shaped" nebula)

10:02PM - M1 (Taurus, Crab nebula, good with 14mm Denk)

10:05PM - M35 (Gemini, with nearby NGC 2158 resolving well in 14mm Denk)

10:08PM - M37 (Auriga, Gorgeous OC, fills up the 14mm Denk FOV)

10:10PM - M36 (Auriga)

10:11PM - M38 (Auriga, OC also fills up FOV, seems to have "branches"

of stars)

10:20PM - M41 (Canes Major)

10:26PM - M93 (Puppis)

10:31PM - M47, M46 (Puppis, gorgeous in 22mm Pan, with the planetary nebula NGC 2438 near the cluster's center)

10:35PM - M50 (Monoceros)

10:37PM - M48 (Hydra, large OC, bright in 22mm Pan)

10:43PM - M44 (Cancer, Beehive Cluster)

10:45PM - M67 (Cancer, nice small OC)

11:00PM - M95, M96, M105 (bright Leo 1 group, two other much fainter smudges also seen)

11:04PM - M65, M66 (plus Hamburger Galaxy NGC 3628 forming Leo Triplet, definitely one of the nicer views tonight!)

11:06PM - Break to go eat tasty tarts :)

11:47PM - M81, M82 (Ursa Major, spectacular with 14mm Denk)

11:49PM - M97 (Ursa Major, Owl nebula, two dark "eyes" visible)

11:50PM - M108 (Ursa Major, edge-on galaxy)

11:52PM - M109 (Ursa Major)

11:53PM - M40 (Ursa Major, double star)

11:58PM - M106 (Canes Venatici, bright oval galaxy in 14mm Denk)

12:01AM - M94 (Canes Venatici, compact galaxy with bright core)

12:02AM - M63 (Canes Venatici, Sunflower galaxy)

12:07AM - M51 (Canes Venatici, Whirlpool galaxy, awesome in 10mm Pentax, spirals & knots)

12:09AM - M101 (Ursa Major, Pinwheel galaxy)

12:13AM - M102 (Draco, Spindle galaxy, lenticular shaped)

12:19AM - M53 (Coma Berenices, gorgeous GC!)

12:23AM - M64 (Coma Berenices, Black Eye galaxy, great view in 10mm

Pentax)

12:26AM - M3 (Canes Venatici, gorgeous GC!)

12:29AM - M68 (Hydra, rather faint GC)

12:43AM - M83 (Hydra, southern Pinwheel)

12:45AM - M104 (Virgo, Sombrero galaxy, awesome view!)

12:48AM - M61 (Virgo, barred spiral)

12:52AM - M49 (Virgo, five other galaxies seen in vicinity of main one)

12:57AM - M84, M86 (Virgo)

1:34AM - M87 (Virgo)

2:12AM - M98, M99, M100, M85, M89, M90, M88, M91, M58, M59, M60 (Virgo)

2:16AM - M5 (Serpens, gorgeous, definitely my favorite GC)

2:17AM - M13 (Hercules)

2:20AM - M92 (Hercules)

2:20AM - M57 (Lyra)

2:22AM - M56 (Lyra, compact GC, a bit faint)

2:24AM - M29 (Cygnus)

2:25AM - M39 (Cygnus, bright scattering of stars, fills up 14mm Denk)

2:26AM - M27 (Vulpecula, Dumbbell nebula)

2:30AM - M71 (Sagitta, low in east)

2:31AM - Break for hot cup of coffee (thanks Ivan!)

2:43AM - M107 (Ophiuchus)

2:49AM - M12, M10 (Ophiuchus)

2:52AM - M14 (Ophiuchus, large but dim GC)

2:55AM - M9 (Ophiuchus, nice compact GC)

2:56AM - M4 (Scorpius, nice GC, a "bar" of stars seems to form its core)

2:58AM - M80 (Scorpius, bright appealing GC)

3:05AM - M19 (Ophiuchus, plus another smaller fainter GC seen a few degrees away)

3:10AM - M62 (Ophiuchus, just 8 degrees over SE horizon, fairly bright even that low)

3:20AM - M6 (Scorpius, Butterfly cluster)

3:35AM - M7 (Scorpius, Ptolemy Cluster, seen just 2 degrees over SE

horizon)

3:37AM - M11 (Scutum, Wild Duck cluster, gorgeous!!)

3:39AM - M26 (Scutum)

3:43AM - M16 (Serpens, Eagle nebula, dim nebulosity)

3:47AM - M17 (Sagittarius, Swan nebula)

3:50AM - M18 (Sagittarius)

3:54AM - M24 (Sagittarius, Star Cloud)

3:57AM - M25 (Sagittarius, OC)

4:02AM - M21 (Sagittarius)

4:06AM - M20 (Sagittarius, Trifid), M8 (Sagittarius, Lagoon, nice view even low in the SE)

4:07AM - M28 (Sagittarius, compact GC)

4:09AM - M22 (Sagittarius, bright GC)

4:11AM - M69 (Sagittarius)

4:14AM - M70 (Sagittarius, seen just 3 degrees over SE)

4:16AM - M54 (Sagittarius, seen just 4 degrees over SE)

4:33AM - M75 (Sagittarius, seen just 4 degrees over SE)

4:38AM - M15 (Pegasus, bright GC!)

4:43AM - M2 (Aquarius, seen 8 degrees over E)

4:50AM - M72 (Aquarius, seen 7 degrees over SE, very faint, morning

twilight)

4:52AM - M73 (Aquarius, seen 6 degrees over SE, morning twilight)

5:06AM - M55 (Sagittarius, seen just 4 degrees over SE, morning

twilight)

M30 (Capricornus, *not visible* due to morning light)