Stargazing Report


January 24-25, 2004

by James Kevin Ty

Images by James Kevin Ty / Jett Aguilar


The first ALP stargazing session  for the year 2004 was held on January 24-25 at Touch of Glory Prayer Mountain (TGPM).  A handful of ALPers attended the session.  They were James Kevin Ty, Allen Yu, Rich Pijuan, Jett Aguilar and Mac Libid.

They arrived at the site at around 7pm and had a hearty dinner040124-a.jpg (21815 bytes) at the TGPM canteen. After having their dinner, they went out to check the sky but it was cloudy so they  spend the next 2 hours chatting at the canteen.  Mac Libid presented to the group his new toy, a Meade ETX-70, a 70mm f/5 rich field achromat refractor with GOTO capability.  The unit was bought by Mac 3 months ago but is just having his first serious testing of the scope under the dark skies of Buso-Buso, Antipolo.

Jett learned from ALP president James that he was able to successfully cleaned his Toucam webcam effectively so he brought it out for James to help him cleaned the CCD chip off the small dust specks that were residing at the window of the Toucam CCD chip. Allen, on the other hand, was colliminating his 4" f/6 Vixen reflector so that it can be used effectively in his plan to image the deep sky objects visible that night.

At around 10pm, the sky was starting to open up so the group hurriedly went up the hilltop to set up their telescopes. James brought along again his trusty TV-101 refractor on GP-DX mount; Allen brought his 4" f/6 Vixen Newtonian reflector on EQ-3 mount ;  Jett was with his Nexstar 5i SCT ;  Mac with his new ETX-70 achromat refractor while Rich brought along his 10 x 50mm binoculars.

As they were setting up the stuff, members of the TGPM went uphill also to take a look at what the group was observing.  Since Jett was the first one to set up his scope, he gladly show the guests  the wonderful view of M42, the Great Orion Nebula.  They were amazed on the amount of detail they can see on the bright diffuse nebula.

Afterwards, he also showed them M45, the Pleiades star cluster. What excited the TGPM staff members was the great view of the ringed planet Saturn and most of them were awed by the beauty of this wonderful ringed planet!   Then Jett slewed his scope to Jupiter as it was starting to rise from the eastern horizon. They were only able to glimpse the Jovian planet as well as its Galilean satellites before the clouds again covered the sky again :(

040125ngc2244-a.jpg (105609 bytes)As the clouds persisted for a while, the guests thanked the group for their time and went downhill with smiles on their faces as they were able to view the heavens even for a short period of time. Jett had an observation plans for the night but due to the stubborn clouds hampering their view, he gave up and concentrated instead on imaging the planet Jupiter as based on his JupSat 95 program, Io will be transiting Jupiter between 11:20pm to 1:39am January 25.  His problem with imaging the planet was complicated by the strong wind that was present that night and he was only able to image Jupiter with a short 30 sec duration with his Toucam as the image was jumpy due to the strong wind.  Mac, on the other hand was testing his new scope most of the night by viewing the M42, Saturn, Pleiades star cluster as well as Jupiter.  He was glad that the scope tracked Jupiter well at 175x :)

Rich  was using her binoculars to scan the sky as well as taking a peep on the scopes of  Jett as well as from Mac's new scope.   Allen was having a bad night as he was having a hard time polar aligning his scope! He later found out that his polar scope was loose!  He was also having some flexture problem with his setup that realy frustrated him most of the night! Although he had those problems, he finally was able to muster enough luck to be able to image M42 with his Nikon Coolpix 885.  He told the group later that he learned his lesson well that night to be more serious  with his stuffs as well as preparing his stuffs well in advance prior to observation sessions.  His  motto: "If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail!"

James, on the other hand, was having a great time imaging the 040124ngc2024crop-a.jpg (84780 bytes)night sky with his setup.  His setup was very sturdy that the strong wind was not enough to stop him from getting good images of the NGC2024 / IC434 (Flame Nebula / Horsehead Nebula) as well as NGC 2244/2239 (Rosette Nebula).  Only the pestering clouds that covered the entire sky did able to stopped him from trying to image more DSOs :(  As he was able to image the 2 objects, he called on Rich and the other members to share with them the raw images he tooked of the 2 objects with his Canon EOS 300D digital SLR at the prime focus of his TV-101 refractor..

At aorund 12:30am, the sky was entirely covered with thick clouds so thee group took that time to get some rest and sip some hot coffee before Allen and Rich went to sleep inside the tent while James, Mac and Jett lay on the sleeping mat chatting the time off till 3:30am before they decided to packed up their stuffs and went home at around 4:30am.

They hope that when the next February  21-22 stargazing session comes, the sky will be more cooeprative for them to enjoy the night skjy even more!!!

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2003, 2004  Astronomical League of the Philippines Inc.