STARGAZING SESSION IN CALIRAYA , LAGUNA
May 7-8, 2005
by James Kevin Ty
Last May 7, a small group of ALPers namely James Kevin Ty, Jett Aguilar, Raymund Sarmiento and first time Caliraya trip ALPer Edgar Ang meet and ventured again to have another overnight session under the dark skies of Caliraya.
At around 4:00pm, James and Edgar went to Shell Alabang and meet with fellow ALPers Jett and Raymund there. As they arrived, the sky was a tad cloudy and it give some doubts on Jett's enthusiam but James told him that Caliraya weather is much different from the weather here in Manila so probably there is a good chance to get a good sky still there. Then suddenly, light rain came falling down but that didn't hamper the group's desire to proceed.
James then give Jett a home made dew heater for his C8. Jett had earlier been hampered with his imaging sessions because of heavy dewing there at Caliraya so he had asked James to help him built a dew heater suitable for his need. Raymund, an electronic expert, then get a close view of the heater and was asking on the materials that James used to make the unit. But since it is already getting late, they have decided to discuss on the technique of building the heater later at Caliraya over dinner time.
They started their trip at around 4:30pm and the traffic was light so they arrived at the site at around 6:50pm. Whne they arrived , they were quite happy as the sky was clear with some small patchy clouds, but nevertheless, they were very optimistic about the weather at the site. They then had a heavy dinner first before setting up their scopes later at around 8:30pm. As they were waiting for their food to be prepared, Jett , Raymund and James then check out the dew heater. Since James made the heater without the need to solder the resistors, Raymund was a bit worried about it. After James explained to him why he didn't solder them because they were inserted into a tight wire cord, that gives Raymund a good sigh of relief :) LOL Nevertheless, Raymund then use James' multi-meter to check the ohms as well as wattage to his liking :) They then tested the unit by plugging it to Jett's brand new car battery to test the unit in real time and the unit work fine indeed much to Jett's delight. Jett said that he will finally be worry free for the first time here in Caliraya if the unit James made for him will be effective later in the field.
At around 9:00pm, the group started to set up their scopes in the area near the bridge. James brought along his TV-101 refractor on GP-D mount while Jett brought his C8 on GP-D mount as well. Edgar, on the other hand, used Jett's extra scope, a Stellarvue AT-1010 refractor on Televue Telepod mount. Last but not the least, Raymund brought his huge 10" Hardin reflector on Atlas mount.
Afterwards, they started to do their stuff asap. Jett then started to image M104, Sombrero Galaxy with this C8. With the newly acquired NGF-S focuser, Jett had an easy time getting a good focus with his scope as the motorized focuser free his hand from the scope's main focuser knob to lessen vibration. James, on the other hand, is imaging M4 globular cluster for his first object in his long list of DSOs to be imaged that night. Raymund can be seen also testing his modified webcam for DSO imaging with a newly installed Peltier Cooling system to lessen the noise of the webcam.
Although the air was humid and hot, dew was very bad that night as even in the early evening , dew was already evidently present on their scope and suitcases! Luckily, the heaters already installed on their scopes, dew was not present on their optics except on their tubes only :)
Scorpius was already a bit high by 11:00pm so James set his target on M16, the Omega Nebula and the details on his image came out with much details! He also later started to image other DSOs like M8 (Lagoon Nebula), M20 (Triffid Nebula), M22 globular cluster NGC6231 open cluster, NGC7000 North American Nebula, Cocoon Nebula and Helix Nebula. Since Cocoon and Helix Nebula are still situated low in the eastern sky, the images were not good :( James plans to image the two of them again next month if weather is ok. Lagoon and Triffid were easy to compose and image as both of them are bright even at the viewfinder of his 300D.
Edgar then started to observe the might sky with his 10x50 binoculars and was being guided by Jett and James to observe bright DSOs such as Lagoon, M4 globular cluster, M22 open cluster, etc.
In between rest times, James would go back and forth to Jett and Raymund to see how they were doing. Jett was having a field day imaging the his DSO list without any dew problem. Raymund, on the other hand, have tried to image M51 Whirpool Galaxy with his new modified webcam and it indeed show lesser noise than the one he previously image without the Peltier cooling which shows lots of hot pixels and noise. But the worst thing that James was anticipating on his modified webcam getting condensation into the CCD chip was evident when Raymund was wondering why the CCD's sensitivity was getting bad. He then open up his webcam and saw his chip fully condensed! James then reco to him that maybe he need to sealed off his CCD chip with cork dessicant to eliminate condensation from creeping again to his chip. Unfortunately in the early morning hours, Raymund's laptop's battery had died so he ends his experiment with his webcam and thus concentrate on observing visually with his 10" scope. Edgar joined him as both of them explore the Sagittarius region with his scope. When Raymund pointed his scope toward Lagoon Nebula, he called the attention of James to see its details. The nebula almost filled up the field of view with his 32mm Plossl. James then lend his 2" Deep Sky Filter to Raymund and wow! Lagoon's detail almost filled the entire field with lots of wisp and nebulosity to Raymund's delight.
At around 4:15am, James and Jett were finalizing their last image of the night by imaging M27, the Dumbbell Nebula in Vulpecula before packing up their scopes. Before they pack up their stuffs, they posed for a group shot.
They then had an early breakfast before checking in to the hotel to get some good rest before heading back to Manila. Raymund didn't rest anymore and left for Antipolo after having breakfast. All of them are already preparing for next month's session again here for another exciting and fruitful session at the dark skies of Caliraya.
Below are the complete unedited personal observational reports of the following members:
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