Blast! My wife reminded me a short time ago why I haven't been been able to attempt the Messier Marathon in recent years. The best weekend to try for it is the weekend around the end of March. Well, our wedding anniversary is March 28th. That would explain it... :-|
So, this time I am going to attempt it the prior weekend, on the night of the 21st, weather permitting. This happens to coincide with the club's members' only night at the observatory site so there may be a few other folks trying it. It's my understanding that the moon will rise at about 4:00 am, so I'll need to look extra hard for the last few remaining objects in the marathon.
I am going to use my 12" Lightbridge and a series of star charts. I guess you can use a GOTO scope for this but I think that's cheating! The challenge should be to seek out and find all 110 objects with just a star map or ten! (Then again, at least these folks are taking part in the event and hopefully they are learning the positions of these objects throughout the night sky) I'm up for the challenge and have the motivation so we'll see how it goes.
For those of you who don't know, the Messier Marathon is an astronomical observing challenge that entails viewing and logging your observations of all 110 Messier objects in one sitting. Late March is the optimum time to attempt this as all objects can be seen during the course of the entire evening (literally between sunset and sunrise). There is also the "year round" Messier Marathon where people can view all objects and log their observations throughout the course of the year. The one-night Marathon is more for folks who are up for a challenge and REALLY enjoy drinking copious amounts of coffee all night long! Anyway, more information about this event can be found at the Students for the Explorations and Development of Space website.