Subject: Messier report
Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2002 01:57:05 -0500
From: "Michael F. Vasseur" <mvasseur@videotron.ca>

Here is my Messier report from my observing session with OAOG on March
16-17.

Well, what can I say: it's was fun. Saturday night's Messier
Marathon was a first for me, and most important, I have never seen
most of the objects before. So it was a double challenge, compounded
by a third one only discovered later. So here the list of objects
observed and their times:

Timestamp (UT), Object Name, Description

2002-03-17, 00:12 Comet Ikeya-Zhang Nice comet, w/3-4 bluish tail
2002-03-17, 00:25 M79 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 00:36 M77 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 01:00 M33 Pinwheel Galaxy, Very faint
2002-03-17, 01:04 M31 Andromeda Galaxy
2002-03-17, 01:07 M32 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 01:07 M110 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 01:13 M52 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 01:23 M103 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 01:31 M76 Little Dumbell Nebula
2002-03-17, 01:37 M34 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 01:38 M45 Pleiades Cluster
2002-03-17, 01:40 M1 Crab Nebula
2002-03-17, 01:43 M42 Great Orion Nebula
2002-03-17, 01:43 M43 Nebula
2002-03-17, 01:47 M78 Nebula
2002-03-17, 01:51 M41 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 01:55 M93 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 01:59 M46 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 01:59 M47 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 02:04 M50 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 02:15 M48 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 02:21 M35 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 02:33 M36 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 02:36 M37 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 02:40 M38 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 02:42 M44 Praesepe (Beehive) Cluster
2002-03-17, 02:49 M67 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 03:11 M95 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 03:11 M96 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 03:11 M105 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 03:13 M65 Leo Triplet Galaxy
2002-03-17, 03:13 M66 Leo Triplet Galaxy
2002-03-17, 03:37 M81 Bode's Nebula
2002-03-17, 03:37 M82 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 03:46 M108 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 03:49 M97 Owl Nebula
2002-03-17, 03:51 M109 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 03:57 M40 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 04:00 M101 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 04:16 M102 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 04:19 M51 Whirlpool Galaxy
2002-03-17, 04:23 M106 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 04:23 M94 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 04:26 M63 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 04:32 M3 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 04:36 M53 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 04:40 M64 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 04:45 M85 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 04:55 M100 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 05:01 M98 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 05:13 M99 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 05:22 M88 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 05:27 M84 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 05:27 M86 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 06:20 M68 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 06:23 M83 Galaxy
2002-03-17, 06:31 M5 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 06:35 M13 Hercules Cluster
2002-03-17, 06:37 M92 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 06:42 M57 Ring Nebula
2002-03-17, 06:44 M56 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 07:18 M29 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 07:18 M39 Open Cluster
2002-03-17, 07:26 M12 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 07:31 M10 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 07:33 M14 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 07:35 M107 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 07:37 M80 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 07:39 M4 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 07:49 M27 Dumbbell Nebula
2002-03-17, 07:56 M71 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 07:58 M9 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 08:11 M19 Globular Cluster
2002-03-17, 08:20 M17 Swan or Omega Nebula
2002-03-17, 07:21 M18 Open Cluster

After the first hour or so, I gave up on the Autostar because it
wasn't giving me the usual accuracy in finding objects. I later found
out that if I had TIGHTENED THE CLUTCH it would have been up to par
with expectations.

Nonetheless, I reverted to manually starhopping to my targets, and to
my surprise, it took me just as much time, or even less, than asking
the GOTO to find the object.

I got lost in the Virgo cluster of galaxies, and after M18, I gave up
due to an aching back and fatigue. Nonetheless, I bagged 75 Messier
objects, not the 52 I had initially thought. It pays to keep a
written log for later reference. Not bad for a first marathon,
considering that I had never seen about 60 of them before.

I used my Meade ETX-125 for all observations, using a Plossl 40mm,
26mm, and 13.8 UWA mm. Frost was a problem, as I had to warm up the
corrector plate several times, and the entire telescope once during
the night because of humidity in the drive base.

Lessons learned?

1. Replace the power connection on the telescope. I find that by just
touching it it brifly disconnects, thus making the Autostar lose it's
alignment.

2. Get a dew remover for the corrector plate. With the Dew shield on
it's way, it would be a time-saving addition.

3. Prepare more precise star-hopping maps for each object. I only had
a set of Telrad maps to use with my Rigel Quickfinder, and even with
the laptop, I needed to have a map with me at the eyepiece (and no, I
don't plan to bring my printer out as well at observing sessions!)

All in all, quite the enjoyable evening, with a huge turnout for such
an event (see Pierre,s report for those details).

Cheers!

Michael



Michael F. Vasseur, B.Sc.