Maps and Recording Sheets
Based on the
Messier Marathon Observer’s Guide
by Don Machholz
The Messier Marathon presents an opportunity to view the entire Messier List in one night. Each Spring, the
period around the Vernal Equinox on March 21 allows observers to view all 110 of the Messier objects in one observing
session. In 2005, the new moon weekend falls on March 11, allowing for a full night of observing.
During other weekends in March and April, the appearance of the moon during part of the night will hinder observers from
viewing the whole list.
To make your Messier Marathon project more fun and rewarding, the AAAA has provided our Messier
Marathon Packet in Adobe Acrobat 3.0 PDF format. Our packet contains a check list and observing sheet for you to use to keep track of your observations. This is
intended to be a fun project, so observing and recording on the checklist
is done on the honor system. Finding objects and sharing observations with other observers is OK.
The PDF files
offered on this page were created using Adobe Acrobat Exchange Version 3.0. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader Version
3.0 or higher to read these files in your web browser. Adobe Acrobat Reader is a plug-in that works with both Netscape
and Microsoft Internet Explorer browser software. If you have an older version of Adobe Acrobat Reader, or need
to download this FREE software, click
You may use any size telescope or binoculars for the Marathon, since the object is to SEE the object, rather
than to OBSERVE and LOG it. For this reason, it is OK to use setting circles and other electronic devices, even
though such observations would not qualify you for the
Astronomical League’s Messier Certificate.
Start with M77 right after sunset, and continue on to M30 just before dawn. Use your own star charts and
maps to help you find the individual objects if you do not already know where they are. You will find there will
be periods of inactivity while you wait for the next object to come up, and periods of frantic activity trying
to find that one last object before it sets. While the objective is to see all 110 objects, a very difficult project,
whatever total number of objects you observe will be a successful night. And if you do not see all of the objects
in one night, you can always try again next year!
You do not have to conduct you own Messier Marathon on the dates indicated. These are just the ideal weekend
dates for 2005. You can observe anytime during March or April that you have an opportunity to be out. The objects
will be up!
This is a great club project for any astronomy club. Get your friends together and go out and observe!
A Photographic Messier Marathon
Several years ago, Dan Knauss and Tim Hunter of Tucson, AZ, did a Photographic Messier Marathon which is described at
You can review their results and get a head start on your Messier Marathon
Observing on the link to their web site.
Saguaro Astronomy Club
All Arizona Messier Marathon
I've posted a zip file containing the form used by the Saguaro Astronomy Club for the All Arizona Messier Marathon. It is in both
Word An RTF formats. The filename is
MessierM.zip and is on the files section of this list.
On word of advice. I checked Joe's files and they look great. The finder charts are nice. The only thing I would say is if your club is
giving awards and the scores need to be counted, you should have the sheet on one piece of paper, as ours is. Experience has proven that
this will make the judges life a lot easier. That said, happy marathoning.
Saguaro Astronomy Club
to download the Messier Marathon PDF file