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by James Kevin Ty 

Last January 20, ALPers went to Touch of Glory Prayer Mountain (TGPM) at Buso-Buso, Antipolo to have their first stargazing session for the year 2007.  ALPers who were present on that session were James Kevin Ty, Jett Aguilar, Brian Davis and his friend Zelda Reyes, Kristy Anne Abello, Irving Raymundo, Rafael Lunar, Dante Noche and his wife Rosie,  Michelle Lampa and her brother Michael, and John Lawrence Uy.

James brought along his trusty TV-101 refractor on Vixen GP-D equatorial mount; Jett with his new Takahashi TSA-102 on Vixen GP-D equatorial mount; Brian with his Celestron C8 SCT with Skywatcher 80ED refractor on ASGT  equatorial mount; Dante brought his homemade 8" dobsonian reflector; Kristy with her truss type dobsonian reflector ; Irving with his Orion XT10  dobsonian reflector ; John Lawrence with his Celestron C8 SCT on ASGT equatorial mount ; guest Zelda Reyes brought his new Celestron C114 Newtonian reflector.

ALPers depart from their meeting place at McDonald's Katipunan at around 7:00pm and arrive at TGPM at around 8:30pm.  They had dinner there and coffee before they went up the hilltop to setup their telescopes there at around 9:00pm.

Initial surprises amid a long hibernation from observation at TGPM were:

1) The long grasses along the road to the hilltop had covered up the entire road and ALPers had to use their cars to plow through the tall grass to reach the hilltop. Although it doesnt  interfere that much but trimming the grass down will surely lessen the chance for the cars to get some minor scratch paint from twigs and grasses.

2) The eastern horizon view had been compromised by the previously shorter trees which had grown quite tall and obstruct about 65 degree high from the horizon.  That means observation can only be done after the selected objects will pass that high.  Although there are some holes through the trees, it is really frustrating specially when one has polar aligned their mount already.

3) The same also is to the western horizon view by the trees but the obstruction is lesser at around 40 degrees high.  These issues were raised by ALP president to Secretary Alice Villa-Real and she told him she will look into it and might be able to trim the top part of the tall trees to lessen the obstruction.

4) North and South is still ok with Polaris easy to locate specially for those wanting to align their scope for astrophotography.

5) the observation field's grasses are a a bit tall in some areas so observers had to setup on areas which has shorter grasses.  Some trimmings should be done before next session will be conducted here.

Nevertheless, members were able to setup their scopes and started to observe a bit  at around 10:00pm.  But the early clear skies in the afternoon had become cloudy and covered most of the sky that time :(  Members used that opportunity to chat around and setup each one's observation and imaging plans for the night.

At around 11:30pm, the clouds started to disperse 070120-l.jpg (19012 bytes)part by part and the western sky become the first targets by members to observe the Orion Nebula and Pleaides star clusters. It was Kristy', John Lawrence and Michelle's first stargazing session at TGPM and she was very excited and started to observe first the brighter deep sky objects.   Dante, Irving also trained their scopes at various objects that night and they moved from one scope to another to look through different objects.  Imagers James, Jett and Brian were also doing visual first as it was very hard to take long exposure image with clouds passing by now and then. Also the night's transparency is not that good and skyglow is obvious if one try to image around 45 degree elevation although zenith is still very good .

Jett was trying to tame his new toys, a Tak TSA-102 refractor and Atik 16HR  CCD camera that night and was contend to use that opportunity to learn the basics of CCD imaging.  Jett, like James and Brian do most of his DSO imaging with their Canon DSLR and it is his first time to moved into an unfamiliar imaging field.   With Jett's known fast learning skills, James and Brian had concluded it will just a take  a session or two before Jett will start showing the group what his new toys will offer.

As the night progresses, James used that opportunity to 070120m45.jpg (101731 bytes)start doing DSLR prime focus imaging with his old setup.  He had some problems with alignment as the soil was a bit soft and tripod legs tend to sink a bit everytime the telescope system was slewed to the next object thus, some of his images were not that good but for love to share to people what he had image, he continues to image through out the  night and among the images he took that night were some old friends like M42 Orion Nebula, M45 Pleiades star cluster, NGC 2244 Rosette Nebula , M64 Black Eye Galaxy, M104 Sombrero Galaxy, M86 Virgo Galaxy cluster , Leo Triplet , M51 Whirpool Galaxy and lastly M81/M82 Galaxy Pair.  Below are his images:



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M42 Great Orion Nebula in Orion

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NGC2244 Rosette Nebula in Monoceros

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Leo's Triplet NGC 3628 (left) , M65 (top) and M66 (bottom)

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M86 and the Virgo Realm of Galaxies - How many galaxies can you find in the pic? :) LOL

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M64 Black Eye Galaxy in Coma Berenices

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M104 Sombrero Galaxy in Virgo

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M51 Whirpool Galaxy in Canes Venatici

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M81(left) / M82 (right) Galaxy Pair in Ursa Major


Brian, on the other hand is testing his autoguiding setup and was able to image M51 Whirpool Galaxy with his 80ED refractor.  He also managed to image Saturn but the seeing was bad so the end result was not that satisfactory but doable still.  Below are his images:

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M51 Whirpool Galaxy in Canes Venatici


As for the rest of the members, most of them had a great time observing the whole night as the last time a real whole night stargazing session was made since last year's May!!!  Below are some of the member's list of objects that they were able to observe that night.

Brian Davis M1, M42, M43, M81,M82, M51, M83, M10, M63, M94, NGC5139
Kristy Anne Abello M45, M34, M35, M81, M82, M36, M37, M38, M1, M42, M41, M65, M66, M79, M108, M97, M109, M50, M51, M63, M104, M93, M3, M67

Double Cluster, Omega Centauri, Keyhole Nebula, NGC 3532, NGC 3114, NGC 3628, Jewel Box Cluster

Saturn and Jupiter

Irving Raymundo

Messier 1, 3, 35, 36, 37, 38, 41, 42, 45, 45, 46, 47, 51, 53,  63, 64, 65, 66, 68, 81, 82, 84, 86, 93, 97, 101, 104, 108, 109

NGC 2244, 2392, 3114, 3115, 3132, 3242, 3532, 3628, 4038, 4361, 4435, 4473, 4477, 5128

Flame Nebula, Eta Carina Nebula, Omega Centauri, Jewel Box, Double Cluster

Saturn and Jupiter

John Lawrence Uy Many Messier Objects (not able to list down )
Michelle Lampa M42 , M44, M81, M82, M36, M37, M38, M41, M97, Jewel Box Cluster, Omega Centauri

Saturn and Jupiter

Dante Noche M1, M51, M42, M45, M35, M36, M37, M38, NGC 4755, NGC 5139

Saturn and Jupiter


Overall, the session give hope to all ALPers that this will be the start of a new and better observing season than in 2006.  The group started to pack up at around 5:15am and had a group picture taken before they went home feeling good.   The group are already setting their sights on the next stargazing session in February 17  at the dark skies of Caliraya, Laguna.

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For more images during the stargazing session, click here.




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