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March 24-25, 2007

by Peter Benedict Tubalinal & James Kevin Ty 

Images by James Kevin Ty  and Joel Paul Munoz

The Astronomical League of the Philippines held its second batch of the ALP Messier Marathon 2007 in the dark skies of Ecosaddle Camp in Caliraya, Quezon last March 24-25, 2007. 

The second batch of participants consisted of Tommy Tan, Kristy Ann Abello, Christopher Lee, Ma. Belen Pabunan, Rafael Lunar, Roberto Silvestre, Irving Raymundo, Nathaniel Custodio, Victor Espartero, Aileen Lynelle Espina, Analyn Grace Domingo, Lawrence Esteban, and Mae Nassr.

Others who were also present during the event were ALP President James Kevin Ty, Peter Benedict Tubalinal, Dr. Armando Lee and his dad Joe, John Nassr, Dondi Esteban, Cris Sabijon, Wilbert Palma, Dr. Jett Aguilar, Matthew Esteban, Joel Munoz, Theodore Gutierrez, and George Toribio.

They started to setup early before sunset.  For the Messier participants, Christopher Lee uses a 10x50mm binoculars , Kristy Anne Abello  brought her 6"f/8 truss type Dobsonian reflector; Rafael Lunar with Jett's 80mm f/6 Stellarvue refractor on Televue Tele Pod mount ; Ma. Belen Pabunan uses a 7x50 binoculars; Roberto Silvestre uses a classic C8 on fork mount ; Irving Raymundo with his Orion XT-10 10" f/4.5 dobsonian reflector ; Nathaniel Custodio with his homemade 8" f/6 dobsonian reflector and William Optics 80ED refractor on CG-5 equatorial mount ; Mae Nassr uses a Borg 77ED refractor ; Tommy Tan with his 16x70mm binoculars ; Aileen Lynelle Espina with a 7x50mm binoculars ; Analyn Grace Domingo with 7x50mm binoculars ; Victor Espartero with 10x50mm binoculars.

For the non-participants, James Kevin Ty again brought his TV-101 refractor on Vixen GP-D equatorial mount; Jett Aguilar with his Takahashi TSA-102 refractor on Vixen GP-D equatorial mount ; Armand Lee again with his C11 SCT William Optics Zenithstar 80ED refractor both on ASGT equatorial mount ; Joel Paul Munoz with his Vixen R100S Newtonian reflector and Vixen A80SS refractor on Skywatcher HEQ-5 equatorial mount.

ALPers start to set up their equipment before the sky gets dark.

PAS members were also there to join the Messier Marathon as well as have a great time observing and imaging under a dark sky.

The event started at sundown. Amidst the presence of the first quarter moon , participants patiently try to search the messier objects according to the order of their preference. The skies were almost perfectly clear, with some haze that seem to spread the moonlight across the entire sky thus  giving the last batch of  participants of the event quite a challenge as they search for the fainter messiers. 

Astronomers who were planning to do imaging that night were also hampered by the stray light coming from the quarter Moon and had to wait patiently till it sets at around 11:00pm :( As Mr. Murphy is always there to ruin the event ,  clouds covered the entire sky after moonset and they participants as well as the imagers had to play hide and seek with the clouds almost the entire night and almost everyone took the opportunity to take a rest as well as some time to sleep for at least 2-3 hours. At around 3:00am, the skies cleared up again and James was like  an alarm clock and practically walking  across the field to wake up some participants who were still sleeping so that they wont waste time and start to catch up with lost time and continue to  locate the messiers present at the time. Although there was still some traces of thin haze, it didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the participants and most of the participants were still able to get a good score out of the session amid a not so good sky condition during the event.

Quarter Moon @ Joel Paul Munoz , Vixen R100S Newtonian reflector on Nikon D40 1/25sec exposure at ISO 400.

M42 - Great Orion Nebula in constellation Orion @ Joel Paul Munoz , Vixen R100S Newtonian reflector on Nikon D40 , 30sec exposure at ISO 1600.

M95 / M96 Galaxy Cluster Region in constellation Leo @ James Kevin Ty, TV-101 refractor  with Canon 300D , 6 mins manual guided exposure (2 x 3mins) at ISO 1600.

Summer Milky Way centered on Sagittarius / Scorpius Region @Joel Paul Munoz Nikon D40 with 18mm f/3.5 lens , 60 sec exposure at ISO 1600.

When morning came, a group photo was taken. Everybody congratulated one another for that successful event and are looking forward for next year's Messier Marathon wherein they promised themselves that they will fare better than this year's results. 

The official results of this year's Messier Marathon are as follows:


Peter Benedict Tubalinal 110
Rafael Lunar 92
Dennis Llante 81
Kristy Anne Abello 58
Irving Raymundo 54
Nathaniel Custodio 41
Victor Espartero 40
Tommy Tan 30
Christopher Lee 30
Ma. Belen Pabunan 27
Roberto Silvestre 26
Analyn Grace Domingo 20
Aileen Lynelle Espina 14
Mae Nassr 2



For more images of this event, click here.





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