Cover image for The observing guide to the Messier marathon : a handbook and atlas
The observing guide to the Messier marathon : a handbook and atlas
Machholz, Don, 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiii, 157 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QB64 .M234 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



The Messier Catalogue is a list of one hundred and ten galaxies, star clusters and nebulae, and includes many of the brightest and best-known objects in the sky. Amateur astronomers can challenge their abilities by attempting to find all the objects on the list in one night, and thus complete the Messier Marathon. This book contains over 90 easy-to-use star maps to guide the observer from one object to the next, and provides tips for a successful night of observing. The book also tells the story of the eighteenth-century astronomer, Charles Messier, and how he came to compile his extensive catalogue. This complete guide to the Messier Marathon will help the amateur astronomer to observe the Messier Objects throughout the year, using a small telescope or even a pair of binoculars.

Author Notes

Don Machholz is an amateur astronomer living in Colfax, California. He is an active comet hunter, and has discovered nine comets that now bear his name. He was the Comets Recorder for the Association of Lunar and Planetary Recorders for twelve years. A keen writer, Don was the author of a monthly astronomy column for twenty-two years, and has also written numerous astronomy articles for local newspapers and radio stations

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Machholz offers an excellent historical reference on the celestial objects that Charles Messier feared could be mistaken for comets about 200 years ago. The hook of the book is its how-to approach for observing all of the Messier objects on a single night--the so-called "Messier Marathon." Original credit for the idea is arguable, but readers will find in Machholz's book a plausible history of the concept. Basically, the distribution of Messier objects in the sky is not uniform, leaving open the possibility that all can be observed when the sun is in the part of the sky least populated by Messier objects. This book is in large format, with plenty of margin space for observing notes. It also includes charts and data tables for all the objects in Messier's original list, along with many useful references. The charts are a bit of a disappointment; they were made with commercial software that most amateurs probably already have and therefore do not add much value to an otherwise good reference. The book will be most useful to amateur astronomers and will take its rightful place among several other existing references on the Messier objects. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates; two-year technical program students. T. D. Oswalt Florida Institute of Technology

Table of Contents

Part I Handbook
1 Charles Messier
2 The Messier Catalogue
3 The Messier Marathon
4 Other Marathons
Glossary, Greek alphabet and further reading
Part II Atlas