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Messier Marathons

Birmingham Astronomical Society Messier Marathon 2020

Primary Date: Saturday, March 21, 2020

Secondary Date: Saturday, March 28, 2020

NOTE: Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), ALL Members must be healthy and comply with SOCIAL DISTANCING but it is up to each member whether to attend/or not.


Birmingham Astronomical Society Club Observatory

Chandler Mountain

Steele, AL

33.55 North, 86.17 West (Measured in Degrees Minutes)


Welcome to the 2020 Birmingham Astronomical Society Messier Marathon!

This is a very informal event where the intent is to have a good time and see as many of the 110 Messier Objects as possible in a single night. You can use any size telescope/binoculars and any means you want to locate the objects (goto is accepted) and we do consider NGC5866 as Messier 102. :-)

Imagers please bear in mind that one of the purposes of this is to get people familiar with navigating the night sky and there will be some use of green lasers and maybe a drone or two. This will not be a good night to get that two hour exposure of the Horsehead.

We'll have someone to show you the way if you've never been there before and we'll be meeting up at 5PM at the Texaco Gas Station at exit 166 off of I59.

Sunset is 7PM/7:05PM on the primary/secondary dates and sunrise the next morning is 6:47AM/6:38AM. Astronomical twilight ends at 8:23PM/8:29PM and begins at 5:24AM/5:14AM the next morning on the primary/secondary dates.

Be mindful of your neighbor’s time. 110 objects in one night require a steady pace with few interruptions. Club members will be located on the porch of the roll-off roof observatory (near the coffee!) if you have any questions. Club members will also have the observatory's C14 available if you would like to see a particular object.

Rules are simple:

  1. Sign in upon arrival. We'll have sequence sheets available or you can use your own.
  2. Log the time of observation and any notes you like (notes not required) for as many Messier Objects as you can before sunrise.
  3. Record the type of telescope/binocular, aperture, and eyepiece/magnification used.
  4. Use any way to find the objects you want: star hop, setting circles, goto, push-to, etc..
  5. Green lasers/drones are permitted but please use them sparingly.
  6. Be mindful of your neighbors/no white lights and keep any red head lamps pointed down
  7. If you leave while it is still dark please give fair warning to the folks around you before you open the vehicle door and the running lights come on. Please do the same if you get in your car to warm up during the night.
  8. Have your observation sheet reviewed by a club member and your results recorded before you leave. Include your email so a certificate can be sent to you!
  9. Sorry, no pets.
  10. No alcohol, discharging of firearms, fireworks, campfires, loud music, or other disturbances.


  1. The club site is adjacent to an honest-to-goodness 100 foot cliff. Know where this is and have a red flashlight to use when moving around the area. If you bring young children they must be with an adult the entire time.
  2. Arrive while it is still light enough to park.
  3. If you leave before sunup remember to check for equipment/people in your car's path!
  4. Watch for extension cords and other trip hazards.


There is limited power available so plan accordingly.

The restroom facilities are very basic (outhouse)

We will have bottled water, coffee, and snacks available through the night. There are no nearby restaurants so bring something to eat.

Check the expected temperature for the night. It can be cold and windy. Dress accordingly. We will have a warm room if you get chilly.

More Information

We recommend you look the following reference material over and get some practice. :-)

Messier Marathon Page: 

Hints and How to's: 

Search Sequence: 

Good luck!

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