[AZ-Observing] The 2009 All Arizona Messier Marathon Recap

  • From: "Rick Tejera" <saguaroastro@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <sac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <az-observing@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2009 19:46:48 -0700

OK, folks, sorry about taking s long to get his out, but It's taken a while
to get back to "human" status.
Anyway, the 2009 AAMM was again a huge success. Approximately 25 Vehicles
Showed up on a windy Friday afternoon hoping the wind would die down for an
extra evening of observing. The wind did calm after sundown and the Skies
turned out better than we expected given the wind that had passed through.
Many of the folks there on Friday practice looking for M74 & M77, Myself
included. The actual hunt the next night would be much different!
Among the folks in attendance Friday were Don Machholz & George Robinson
from northern California. As Most of you know, Don is considered by many to
be one of the driving forces behind the Messier Marathon concept. Don
actually marathoned his way down to Arizona, having stopped for the night in
CA, he set up and found 109 objects. He did it again on Friday. When he
sleeps is beyond me:-). 

With 110 objects possible the crowd started to roll in around 1500 and
continued through twilight. BY the time of the Twilight talk, Jimmy ray had
counted 90 vehicles. I estimated about 140 folks in attendance. For the 3rd
year in arrow I filled in for the Marathon Coordinator, AJ Crayon, who
unfortunately is recovering from recent surgery. AJ's doing well, but it was
just to soon for him to take on a trip to the desert. 

During the talk, we found out we had observers from Colfax, & Auburn CA (Don
Machholz & George Robinson), Jim Shedlowsky
Came from Waterford, MI (Detroit Area). Dr Salvadore Aguirre from
Hermosillo, Mexico came up for his 3rd visit. The furthest traveled was Greg
Kettel, from Clifton Park, NY, near Albany. This in addition to the usual
representation from al the major Arizona Clubs.

After the talk, those marathoning manned their telescopes to begin the hunt
for the elusive M74. Unlike the previous night, when I found M74 fairly
easily, the moon made the sighting challenging. The Moon also seemed to play
havoc with many of the evening setter, judging by the checklists turned in.
Myself, I did manage to find M74 and the evening setters and thought that It
would be an easy coast to 110. I took a 2 hour nap at midnight and upon
waking up, I was greeted by an eastern horizon obscured by clouds! Curse you
Meteora! As it turns out, Patience & perseverance paid off for those who
stayed up. All 110 Objects eventually poked through the clouds and around
0430 the clouds lifted off the horizon, enabling the sighting of the morning

As Morning dawned, 5 1/2 observers, including myself had seen all 110
objects, more about the ½ later. 5 Observers found 109 and 3 more found 108.

27 observers found 100 or more objects and a total of 42 Observers turned in
checklists with 50 or more objects.

Now, How can you have ½ an observer? Well, Jimmy Ray turned in his checklist
with 110 objects. He later called me to say after much thought, he really
couldn't be sure he saw M74 and he'd rather have a solid 109, than a maybe
110. Based on his honesty and the fact what he described to sure sounded
like he saw it, I'm quite prepared to give him the ½ ;).

As folks left I received many compliments & thanks for a fun event. I
accepted on behalf of the club, but the real thanks need to be given to
those who truly earned it:

AJ Crayon, who although not there physically, was there in spirit. His
tireless efforts over the years have made this the premier event of it's
kind. Having filled in for him, I realized how much work he puts into
organizing this year after year. He can't be thanked enough. 

Jack Jones. Jack has for as long as I can remember fulfilled one of the most
important job that ensures the marathon's Success: He orders the
porta-potties! This year he also had designed Screened & printed the 2009
marathon T-Shirts, which came out really great. The Shirts design honors the
founders of the Messier Marathon, Including Don Machholz, who graciously
autographed shorts for those who asked. Jack managed to get the shorts done
in three weeks time. Great Job Jack!

Claude Haynes from EVAC: Claude offered to set up, on behalf of EVAC a
hospitality tent at 2300. He had Coffee, Tea, Cocoa and lots of light snacks
to help get us through the night. I'll tell you, the Cocoa sure hit the
spot. Thanks again Claude and EVAC.

Ray Farnsworth: Ray has allowed us the use of the observing field for as
long as I've been with the club. He's always made us feel welcome and his
generosity is appreciated.

Most of all, I'd like to thank all who participated, whether you marathoned
or worked on your own observing projects. Without you, it's just an empty

I'll be publishing a preliminary list of counts shortly. 

Clear Skies

Rick Tejera
Editor SACnews,
Public Outreach Coordinator
Saguaro Astronomy Club
Phoenix, Arizona
www.saguaroastro.org <http://www.saguaroastro.org/> 

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