Stargazing Report


December 29, 2005

by James Kevin Ty


After a long dry spell for a good stargazing session since June, ALPers, which include James Kevin Ty, Jett Aguilar, Francisco Lao Jr., Brian Davis, Michael John Lopez, Joseph Torres and his nephew Wary Maca , Irving Raymundo and his friend Nathaniel Custodio, Raymund Sarmiento and his daughter Natasha Francesca "Franky" Sarmiento and Rafael Lunar,  finally were able to had a group stargazing amid a long drought of observation under a dark observing site!

The group gathered at McDonald's Katipunan at around 051229-b.jpg (28506 bytes)4:30pm and depart to Touch of Glory Prayer Mountain (TGPM) in Buso-Buso, Antipolo.  They arrived at the site at around 7:30pm and had a delicious dinner before they start setting up at the top of the hill.

James brought along his TV-101 refractor on Vixen GP-D equatorial mount ;  Jett Aguilar with his Celestron C8 also on Vixen GP-D equatorial mount ; Brian Davis brought 2 telescopes namely a Celestron C8 on EQ-5 SGT mount and a Nexstar 80GT refractor which he later lend to Mike Lopez to use at the site ;  Irving Raymundo with his new Orion giant SkyQuest XT10 Intelliscope Dobsonian reflector ; Joseph Torres with his Celestron C114 Newtonian reflector ; and Raymund Sarmiento 's daughter Franky brought his new 60mm Tele-Science refracting telescope.  They started setting up at around 8:45pm and started taking advantage of the clear skies amid some visible thick clouds hovering the eastern horizon.

Since Irving''s scope is in its maiden first light under a dark site, majority of the group members gathered around the new scope to get a feel on the quality of the new scope on the block  :)  (ALP now has 5 members owning a 10 incher Newtonian reflector namely Allen, Orly, Dr Torres, Raymund and Irving). Some of the objects they were able to observe were M45 Pleiades star cluster and M1 Crab Nebula  in Taurus ; M35 and smaller nearby star cluster NGC 2158 in Gemini ; M42 Great Orion Nebula , M43, NGC 2024 Flame Nebula and M78 planetary nebula in Orion ;  M31 Aandromeda Galaxy and companion galaxy NGC 205 in Andromeda   ;  M36, M37 and M38 open star clusters in Auriga ; NGC 2244 Rosette Nebula in Monoceros , the wonderful pair of NGC 884 / 869 famously known as the Double Cluster in Perseus.  Last bu not the least the already shrinking red planet Mars.

Jun Lao who brought along a simple setup of just a Sony DSC F717 digital camera with a tripod capture the 2 images below setting his camera at f/2, 25 secs, and ASA 800.

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Constellation Orion

The Bright stars Sirius and Canopus

But of all the Deep Sky Objects (DSOs) viewed, majority of the members were hooked on the ever fascinating M42 , better known as the Great Orion Nebula.  This nebula never fail to impress anyone , whether you are a newbie or a veteran, because of its beauty and vast complex of tendrils and twirls which one can easily see even with a small scope.   Inside this magnificent nebula is also a good multiple star system also known by the name Trapezium.  It was name after that, because the 4 main stars of this group forms a trapezoid thus the given name :)  The Trapezium can be resolve with a good small scope even at low power :)  The "fish mouth" gap in this nebula is also easily viewed.

051229-a.jpg (64727 bytes)As for the astro-imagers of the group like James, Jett and Brian, lady lucky still doesn't give them a break as although the sky was partly clear, the main star for astro-imagers, Polaris or the  North Star, hides throughout the whole night thus frustrating them to get a chance to image the beautiful DSOs :(  Nevertheless, they all convert their astroimaging setup into observational  mode instead as they join the others in observing the objects with their own  built-in camera, their EYES :)

As good things must come to an end, the thick clouds that were hovering the eastern horizon earlier in the evening started to creep up fast and in a matter of less than an hour, the entire sky was clouded out again at around 10:45pm. 

Then Brian log in to the weather sat update from his PDA and after weighing their options, the veterans of the group decided that the sky won't open up anymore so they start packing up their stuffs after they had a group shot.  But one can notice joy in their eyes as it was worth it and at least they were able to end the lousy 2005 observing year with a BANG!  The group will,like to greet all of you a Happy New Year in advance and may the year 2006 blessed us all with numerous clear skies for all of us to enjoy!

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For more images taken in this activity, click here.




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