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GAS Messier Marathon - Saturday/Sunday March 4/5th 2000

Report by Gavin Stacey.

The weather forecast was promising for an all-nighter. Attendance was high as is now usual for this event at Guildford. We had 7 telescopes in operation, 6 reflectors and one catadioptric. As well as the seven scope operators we had several other members and their friends and relatives on hand during the evening.

Gavin Stacey, the event organizer, was peering through the treetops at M74 long before most sane astronomers had even arrived, and he was to be the pace maker of the evening (he was being especially brave by turning off his NGC Max digital circles and doing it the hard way!)

The skies were very 'milky' at first, and this must have led to some frustration for some of the casual observers who perhaps hoped for more stunning views than we were able to offer. These were not to come until well after midnight when the skies had cleared somewhat. In fact many of our observers, as well as running up a healthy total of Messiers, spent some time later on many of the fainter challenges.

Notable among these were views of the Horsehead nebula through Gavin's marvelous 18" Obsession with a Hydrogen-Beta filter. Jon Laver happily zapped the sky with his newly-renovated Meade LX200 and Peter Ward finally bagged the 16th magnitude double quasar that everyone had been hopping up and down about for the past month. We were all treated to a stunning bright meteor in the South (for many of us the brightest ever seen) at about 1am, (nobody noticed exactly when, unfortunately) which must have been magnitude -9 at least.

Finally, a core of about 6 of us remained under clear and very cold skies. By this time the remaining scopes, heavily crusted with frost, were pointed crazily at all angles. While Gavin groveled for the Eagle nebula just above the heather, others perched precariously on step-ladders craning for the spiral arms in the Whirlpool.

Laurence Hall continued on his quest in the NBC* catalogue, no doubt 'bagging' several.

A band of cloud encroached from the North at about 4am, and it was over. A great night, and thanks to everyone for the company and friendly spirit which kept us all going. Gavin had the highest score, 84, with the Obsession, and all with only a Telrad finder!

Shame about Jon Laver's bumper.

The last word is Chance!

Scopes

Gavin Stacey 18 inch Obsession
Laurence Hall 12.5 inch Meade Toilet accessory
Peter Dean 10 inch
David Priestley 10 inch Dob
Peter Ward 18 inch Revelation Dob
Jon Laver 10 inch Meade LX200
Ed (USA) 12 inch home made DOB

Also present: Shelagh Godwin, Steve Battison, Tony Tedesco, Adrian Selby, Matthew Mallinson, Barrie Dennett and son Tim, Gavin's frozen friend!

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