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March 17-18, 2007

by Peter Benedict Tubalinal & James Kevin Ty 

Images by James Kevin Ty and Armando Lee 

The ALP Messier Marathon 2007 pushed through as scheduled, March 17, 2007. The first batch of Messier Marathon participants were Peter Benedict Tubalinal, Rafael Lunar, and Dennis Llante. There were others present for the purpose of digital imaging. They were: ALP President James Kevin Ty, Brian Davis, and a guest from the Philippine Astronomical Society (PAS) Dr. Armando Lee. 

There were two vehicles on convoy. One is led by James, and the other by Dr. Lee. The meeting place was in Shell Magellanes station, where James, Rafael, and Dante met. Peter and Doc Lee were in Las Pinas at the time and opted to proceed on the road from where they are and suggested that the two groups meet at Jollibee Pansanjan.

They arrived at the ALP official observing site, the Ecosaddle Camp in Caliraya, Quezon at 4:50pm. Before everything else, they scouted the area for the best observing spot, and for the imagers too. They were able to find a good site inside the area where the obstruction on North and East were only 2 degrees, while West and South had about 5 degrees obstruction only! It was indeed, the best observing site. Shortly, Brian Davis together with friend Zelda Reyes arrived at the site to join them.


(L-R) Messier Marathoners Rafael Lunar, Dennis Llante and Peter Benedict Tubalinal start to set up their equipment for the event.

Brian Davis all set with his imaging setup.


Armando Lee posed beside his huge C11 SCT setup.

James Kevin Ty beside his trusty astrophoto setup

Participants started setting up their equipments on one side of the site, and the imagers were likewise doing so on another spot separated from the participants. Peter brought along a pair of 12x50 and Jett's 20x80mm zoom binoculars to hunt the M objects ;  Rafael brought Jett's 80mm  f/6 Stellarvue refractor on Televue Telepod mount; Dennis brought along his trusty Orion 80mm f/5 refractor on tripod.  For the imagers, James brought along his trusty TV-101 refractor on Vixen GP-D equatorial mount ; Brian with his Skywatcher 80mm ED refractor piggybacked on Celestron C8 SCT on ASGT equatorial mount. Zelda Reyes brought her C114 Newtonian reflector to do some visual observing of the bright deep sky objects such as Orion Nebula and planet Saturn. Last but not the least, Armando brought  the big Celestron C11 SCT on ASGT equatorial mount.  Armand was supposed to join the Messier Marathon but had to beg off because he had to finish a thesis in his astronomy class on imaging so he instead use the opportunity to do imaging together with James and Brian.

As the sun went below the horizon, the marathon began. Participants started to see the constellations amongst a perfectly dark sky. Imagers started to do what they planned on imaging . However, the strong winds besides the dropping temperature created  problems for of them whether visual or imaging. The imagers used their cars to act as wind breaker but this was nearly useless since the wind was constantly strong. Brian and Armand complained that they couldn't do any imaging as their setup was shaking thus most of their images were ruined.  James, on the other hand did not experience the wind problem as being a veteran to the site, he knows how to get around Uncle Murphy who is always there to ruin a perfectly good weather :) LOL 

Peter informed his co-marathoners not to elevate their tripods because it will surely get knocked off by the strong winds. As early as 6:30pm, everyone were already in jackets and sweaters because of the cool air and strong winds. When the night fell deeper, temperature drops from a hot 34 deg C in the afternoon to around 22 deg C after midnight. the marathoners decided to move to the parked vehicles and used it as wind-shields as they resume their hunt for the messier objects. 

At around 10:30pm, Brian called it quits and decided to packup and return to Manila as he gave up on the wind that make his setup look like a wind sail :(  Likewise, Zelda joined Brian back to Manila.

As the night progressed, the sky was becoming better! Clouds come and go but most of the time it was almost clear. The winter Milky Way during the evening hours was really fascinating. Likewise, the beautiful Eta Carinae emission nebula in the constellation of Carina. During the dawn hours when the summer Milky Way was up, and everybody stared at it with excitement.  During those good moments , Armand finally was able to shoot NGC 3372 Eat Carina as well as its neighboring galactic star cluster NGC 3532.  James, on the other hand was able to take portraits of old friends NGC 3372 Eta Carina in Carina, IC2944/8 in Centaurus, and Coal Sack Dark Nebula in Crux. 

NGC 3372 Eta Carina emission nebula in constellation Carina  @ James Kevin Ty , TV-101 refractor with Canon 300D , 30mins manual guided exposure (10x3mins) at ISO 1600.

IC2944 / 8 Emission Nebula in constellation Centaurus  @James Kevin Ty , TV-101 refractor with Canon 300D , 30mins manual guided exposure (10x3mins) at ISO 1600.

Coal Sack Dark Nebula in constellation Crux  @ James Kevin Ty , TV-101 refractor with Canon 300D , 30mins manual guided exposure (10x3mins) at ISO 1600.

NGC5139 Omega Centauri Globular Cluster in Centaurus  @ James Kevin Ty , TV-101 refractor with Canon 300D , 6 mins manual guided exposure (2x3mins) at ISO 1600.

NGC 3372 Eta Carina emission nebula in constellation Carina @ Armando Lee , C11 with f/7 reducer on Canon 350D, 45 sec exposure at ISO 1600.

NGC3532 Galactic Star Cluster in constellation Carina @ Armando Lee, C11 with f/7 reducer on Canon 350D, 30 sec exposure at ISO 1600.

When morning came, Doc Lee had a spare time in fishing near the site. Afterwards, a group shot was taken and everybody left the site with smiles on their faces. The participants were very much fulfilled with their accomplishments. The result of the 1st batch of participants of the Messier Marathon were as follows:

Peter Benedict Tubalinal - PERFECT 110!!! Congrats!!!

Rafael Lunar - 92

Dennis Llante - 81





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