Messier Marathon from Memory (M-Cubed)

by Stephen Saber

Running the M-Cubed is an advanced approach to the Messier Marathon requiring the observer to already be very familiar with each target’s position.
Sharpshooting the Messiers for a few seasons before even hearing of the M-Cubed, my approach included committing the entire sequence to memory.
For easier memorization the 110 Messier objects are broken down into 10 groups, each corresponding to a specific area of the sky. Numeric patterns are added whenever possible while still following the basic search sequence.
I have used this technique to manually hunt and observe all 110 Messiers from Arizona, and 109 on four occasions from 41°N latitude without the aid of starcharts, notes, or red light. Very liberating.
Begin by memorizing the first string of numbers while visualizing their positions. As you become comfortable with these, repeat the process for the subsequent groups.

Evening Rush
74, 77, 33, 31, 32, 110, 52, 103, 76, 34, 45

Southern Comfort
79, 42, 43, 78, 50, 41, 93, 46, 47, 48

Early Ecliptic
1, 35, 37, 36, 38, 44, 67, 95, 96, 105, 65, 66

The Big Bear
81, 82, 97, 108, 109, 40, 106, 94, 63, 51, 101, 102

Downtown Virgo
98, 99, 100, 85, 84, 86, 87, 88, 91, 90, 89

Virgo and the ‘Burbs
58, 59, 60, 49, 61, 64, 53, 3, 104, 68, 83

Easy East
5, 13, 92, 57, 56, 39, 29, 27, 71

Got Globulars?
12, 10, 14, 107, 9, 4, 80, 62, 19

Cruising the Milky Way
11, 26, 16, 17, 18, 24, 25, 23, 21, 20, 8, 28, 22

Homestretch
6, 7, 69, 70, 54, 55, 75, 15, 2, 72, 73, 30

With repetition the individual strings will eventually link together as the entire search sequence is committed to memory. (note: the strings’ titles are by no means written in stone, and can be substituted for any phrase the observer finds mnemonically helpful. also, the classic m-cubed only requires memorization of the target positions- not the search sequence.)

I encourage those interested in attempting this method to practice with mini-M-Cubes throughout the year, going over each leg in sections.
Many end up suprised by the number of object locations that are already familiar outside of their chart and starhopping routine.

[Left Ascension, Feb ’04]

*****

saber does the stars (vol 2: the index catalog)
www.c14isawesome.blogspot.com
www.saberdoesthestars.wordpress.com

seds messier marathon homepage  http://messier.seds.org/xtra/marathon/marathon.html

all contents within are free use with author/website acknowledgement

*m1 (the crab nebula) courtesy of seds*



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