Monday, March 13, 2006

Messier Marathon 2006

Our club is gearing up for Messier Marathon season. I'm just hoping the weather cooperates and that I actually have the time to get out. Every year I swear I'm going to spend more time stargazing and it never happens.

Part of the problem is that I have a new interest that seems to conflict with stargazing: cycling. You wouldn't think it, since cycling happens during the day, but of course, the nicer the weather, the more likely I am to go for a long ride on the weekends. And after a long ride, I'm usually too pooped to contemplate getting up off the couch, never mind loading up all my gear into the car, driving for over an hour to the wilds of Virginia, and standing around in the cold for hours, then driving back in the middle of the night. You kinda want to be well-rested and fresh for that sort of thing.

Anyway, my only previous recorded attempt at the Messier Marathon was several years ago, when I just got started in the hobby -- a grand total of 29 objects. I think I can probably do better than that this time, since now I know you can use binoculars to find some of the easy objects, which ought to speed things up. I know the Virgo cluster is going to kill me, though. I made it through this mess one night many years ago, but it took me 4 hours to find 16 galaxies. The main problem is knowing which ones you're looking at. Some of them are NGC objects and not Messiers at all.


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