2013 March 16/17th – AAS Messier Marathon
My primary mirror became severely out of alignment between dismantling/traveling/and reassembling the telescope again at COE that the collimator’s laser wouldn’t return to the focuser drawtube after bouncing off the primary. Thanks to the help of Mike Krzywonski and Terry Phillips, the three of us were finally able to collimate the scope with time to spare before the event. It was a warm evening and other than a few clouds along the horizon, it would be a great night.
I started off with a few bright targets, M42/43, naked eye of M45, and M103. Next came a successful spotting of M74! It appeared nearly stellar and then eventually a faint halo appeared around it. I called Terry over for a look and for verification. So happy to have caught M74, I moved on to M52 and M77 and then grabbed sketches of M31/32 and 110, which I missed sketching in the prior marathon! I steadily made my way through the sky, taking my time and enjoying the company of Kass Brown while sketching and hunting down targets. The wind was atrocious to the point that I had to scrunch up the shroud around the base of the struts to minimize wind resistance. Too many times the wind pushed the scope up or swung it around during while sketching in between views, forcing me to find the target yet again. It was still a great night and time was on my side. I knew I would have no problems finding and sketching all the Messier objects until the morning when the large hills to the SE would block out a handful of morning targets.
Close to midnight while working through Ursa Major, the weather took a turn for the worse. It completely blindsided me. I didn’t bother with fresh weather updates during the course of the evening and was very disappointed that the sky became 90% overcast. I grabbed two more targets, M106 and M97 before the last few sucker holes closed up completely. It was time to put the clipboard down and make my way over to the small group of observers still in that part of the field. Drinks, snacks and good company were in order before tearing down and heading home! What a great night regardless of having to turn the event into a “mini” marathon.
Somehow, I had miscounted how many pages of templates I had sketched through and believed that I had bagged 62 objects up to that point. Yes, I know, it seemed pretty high for just after midnight. It’s funny how your mind can get you to ignore reason at times like that. This morning, I finished unpacking the last of the gear that I had drudged into my office. I should say it wasn’t surprising when I reviewed my sketches and found that I had only bagged 42. Ha!
Below are the links to the results.