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Messier Program Thread

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:44 pm
by sfast
Who out there is working on the Messier Program? http://www.astroleague.org/al/obsclubs/messier/mess.htmlLet us know what your experience has been. Has something got you stumped? How many have you got? What's been the most fun one so far? The most disappointing?

If you're just getting started on it, I would strongly recommend Harvard Pennington's The Year-Round Messier Marathon Field Guide available from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Year-Round-Messier-Marathon-Field-Guide/dp/0943396549/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357091201&sr=8-1&keywords=harvard+pennington+messier He's got the most practical advice to help you get from zero to 110. He explains the geometric method (what others call point-and-hope) and has charts for each object. And he tells you what object to look for next in each month, so you're never at a loss what to do next.

Here's also a list by season to get you started: http://mysite.verizon.net/vze55p46/id10.html/

I started on the Messier list in February and finished it in December. At the beginning it was fun but really, really difficult. I remember struggling for a couple hours to find the open clusters in Auriga, but they were such gems when I finally found them. But now I can just go right to them. When I started the Virgo galaxy cluster in summer, it was a real challenge, and I would get lost star-hopping to those little fuzzballs. Finally the cluster set before I could get the last seven galaxies. In December when it had risen high enough for me to come back to it in the early morning, I got the remaining seven in 30-40 minutes, so I felt really good about that.

Who else is working on the Messiers? What has your experience been? Hopefully my experience will motivate some others to do the list.

Steve

Re: Messier Program Thread

PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:55 pm
by rene-gedaly
I would strongly recommend Harvard Pennington's The Year-Round Messier Marathon Field Guide


Amen to that! My copy is dog-eared and coffee-stained. I'm planning to work the Messier (telescope) club along with the HAS Texas 45 program. A number of objects also appear on other AL lists and I've often wondered how folks keep track. The author of SkyTools has an active Yahoo group where he and other observers have uploaded object lists of the various astroleague observing clubs. Naturally they're in SkyTools .stx format, though.

Re: Messier Program Thread

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:12 am
by sfast
It seems to me that each observing list has a little different logging requirements, so it would take some real intentionality to log them right for each list the first time you see them. Besides I decided it's fun to go back and see stuff again because my observing skills are so much better now than a year ago.

Re: Messier Program Thread

PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 7:32 am
by stephen-jones
sfast wrote:It seems to me that each observing list has a little different logging requirements, so it would take some real intentionality to log them right for each list the first time you see them. Besides I decided it's fun to go back and see stuff again because my observing skills are so much better now than a year ago.


I'm with you on this, Steve. Going through all the trouble to make sure I know what's required for each object on every list it's on just so that I don't have to view it more than once almost seems counterproductive, even.

Re: Messier Program Thread

PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:06 pm
by stephen-jones
I think it's high time this thread gets resurrected.

Who's working their Messier objects? Are you having fun? Finding it challenging?

I finished the Messiers last year. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's definitely a collection of some of the best objects available at our latitude. Starhopping through Virgo without getting lost was an adventure though. At one point I got really frustrated trying to find one of the galaxies (M99?) until finally it dawned on me that it was the galaxy I had just looked at and had misidentified as a different galaxy!

Re: Messier Program Thread

PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:58 pm
by steve-fung
I've been doing this slowly by myself before joining HAS, but it's been frustrating - mainly because I have limited views from my backyard and no dark skies. I try to find by star hopping but would cheat with my GoTo if I can't find an object (hope that's not blasphemy to fellow HAS members).


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Re: Messier Program Thread

PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 6:09 pm
by stephen-jones
It's not necessarily blasphemy, but it is against the rules of the AL Messier Program. So, if you want to be official you'll need to start over. If not, then just keep having fun!

Re: Messier Program Thread

PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 6:32 pm
by steve-fung
Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.


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Re: Messier Program Thread

PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 2:51 pm
by steve-munsey
I may start on this today at George Bush Park.

I will use my 6" Reflector since there is no go to on it.
M42
M45 should be easy but I'm sure some will have to be done at the Dark Site.

Re: Messier Program Thread

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 1:52 pm
by pdouvry
I started on it last year but have been more focused on finishing up the Urban Observing program. Plus, from my backyard it's just tough to see very much of these beautiful objects. When the weather warms up a bit I'll head to the dark site and hopefully knock them out.