From Bangalore, 4 of us members of the Bangalore Astronomical Society (BAS) had been to our dark observing site, Hosahalli, 70 km North of city. BAS are among those Marathones who are situated quite low, being close to the Equator at latitude only +13 deg North. Yet we got excellent results!!
The telescopes we had were two 8" f/8 equatorial mounts and one 5" Celestron telescope, with two 10x50 Olympus binoculars.
PARTICIPANTS: Amar A. Sharma, Akarsh Simha, Naveen Nanjundappa, Chetan Reddy.
1) We had our friend Naveen Nanjundappa who's an intermediate observer, and with his 5" scope could finish around approximately 68 objects including Virgo cluster for the very first time. This is good results for a first-timer!
2) We proudly had with us Chetan Reddy who's just 13 yrs of age and a very young marathoner..very few kids from a young age group like that have done it!! Chetan without any prior experience could find 56 Messiers in his first very attempt..something unbelievable for that age and level of experience!!! He used his 8" f/8 equatorial telescope which has good optics.
3) Akarsh Simha, an experienced observer in our group did something unbelievable and inspiring this time, he attempted his first Messier Marathon by memory...this involves finding all Messiers without refering to star chart to find it's position..and this involves even entire Virgo region! He did it successfully and astonishingly could get 97 Messiers missing out all the others, either because they were low evening or morning objects. Congrats to Akarsh for this really great achievement!
4) Me, Amar A. Sharma, an experienced observer got 100 Messiers in my second attempt. This was a personal "very bad" result for me, it wasnt as expected! Some technical problems in the evening with the telescope's mount made all of us loose quite a lot of objects like M33, M74, M76, M32, M110 and shockingly even Andromeda galaxy itself!!! It was a helpless situation with the telescope. In the morning we tried our best to get M30, M72 and M73 and missed these along with M52. That makes it 6+4=10 Messiers clearly for me making it unfortunately only 100 Messiers..this time results should have instead gone better than the first time and I was very sure of going to 105 or so atleast after doing 101 in my first attempt on 15th March!!! I'm pretty dejected!
But I also did Virgo central region by memory refering to the star chart just once minutes before going for it. With a 10x50 binoculars, just handheld with all the shakes I could find lots of new objects with the binocs. The surprising inclusions would be globular M68 in Hydra, M95/96/105 galaxies in Leo, and unbelievably the small and faint globular M75 in Sagittarius which was barely discernable, and many more!! I confirmed the positions of all the objects what I saw including M71 in Sagitta and M56 in Lyra! I am extremely shocked as to how were all these objects visible with a 10x50 binocular..that really shows the power of aperture!! In all I could see 81 confirmed binocular messiers in both the days, including many faint ones, this is sure an exciting number!!
So the final Marathon results here are as follows :
1) Naveen Nanjundappa (first time) - 68
2) Chetan Reddy (first time) - 56
3) Akarsh Simha (first time and the whole thing from memory!) - 97
4) Amar A. Sharma (second time) - 100
We just hope to improve our results next year in 2008 and the 2 experienced observers Akarsh and me have decided to do the following innovative inclusions in our Marathon : 10x50 binoc marathon, probably a 25x100 binoc marathon, entire marathon by memory, memorizing the marathon order too completely and performing the marathon! We have also realized looking at sky-softwares that our latitude offers all the 110 messier objects if horizons are perfectly clear and dark! We both hope to cross beyond 105 in any case next time! Wishing us good luck :-)