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by Peter Benedict Tubalinal & James Kevin Ty

Images by Jett Aguilar and Rich Pijuan

The Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP) in partnership with the SM Science Discovery Center (SDC) opened its National Astronomy Week 2008 last Sunday, February 17, 2008, 4:30pm, at the SM Mall of Asia's Science Discovery Center. This year's ALP NAW theme was "Rediscovering the Universe" but both ALP and SDC later rename the theme for the event as "Starry Starry Night."

ALP members who attended were: President James Kevin Ty, Vice President Jett Aguilar, PRO Rich Pijuan, NAW 2008 Chairman Peter Benedict Tubalinal, Membership Head Angie Tan, Treasurer Henry So, Auditor Brian Davis, Ways and Means Committee Head Melisa Bata, Alfonso Uy, Michelle Lampa, Kristy Ann Abello, Bel Pabunan, Planetarium staff  that includes Junelyn Alacapa , Nel Lagda, Liza Quitlong, Mary Ann Ramirez, Roberto Silvestre & Maximo Zabanal , Elena Moya, Roland Moya, Jonathan & Ellen Alcartado, Nathaniel Custodio, Irving Raymundo, Sheri Mae Domingo, Alexander Loinaz, Omar Turqueza, and Janice Ponce.

The event started off with the Registration at around 3:30pm. GMA 7 lead by reporter Meann Los Banos came and covered the event. Earlier, they interviewed ALP President James Kevin Ty regarding astrophotography, and about the NAW '08, while waiting for people to fill up the seats inside the lecture room. PRO Rich Pijuan was also interviewed about how she took the image of the Moon. Member Elena Moya was also interviewed. The exhibit area was just right next to the lecture area. Those who arrived earlier had the time to move around and observe the images posted on the exhibit. There were 102 images used, all of them courtesy of ALP. They are grouped accordingly: planets, galaxies, nebulae, solar, astronomical events, ALP in action, the Moon, and the Discovery of Red Spot Jr.

People who attended the planetarium show had the privilege to attend the lecture entitled "Basics of Digital Astrophotography" . The lecture started at around 5:30pm, where James used his laptop connected to a multimedia projector for the presentation. The objective was to show participants that astrophotography can be done also with the use of a simple digital camera. James introduced the types of cameras used from the old technology to the digital age. He showed the audience the ways of imaging some of the astronomical objects, the simplest of which, is the Moon. He explained thoroughly, that by the use of even the simplest digital camera, one can take an image of our nearest neighbor in space. He showed them the proper way of holding it right in front of the eyepiece. Later, he presented some of the images that were taken from a simple point and shoot digital camera, and also those taken using a better digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera.

The opening of the exhibit followed after his lecture ended at around 6:30pm. People who were not able to come early took time to roam around and view the exhibit. Members of the ALP who were present assisted the participants in explaining what they are looking at, and how the images were taken. The interests and smiles on the faces of the participants was very obvious, as various people had their own interests. Some wanted to learn how to image the stars, others wanted to image the planets, likewise with other objects. They were so much interested that they even inquired on how to join the ALP. In addition to an enjoyable discussion, snacks and coffee were also served courtesy of Bo's Cafe.   Aside from the astrophotography exhibit and lecture, the Science Discovery Center also has a 
planetarium Show entitled "Search for Life" at SM SDC’s very own Digistar Planetarium – the most advanced 360 degree 15meter dome screen technology in the Philippines! This is a sure fun way of learning more about the stars and the skies.  A planetarium lecture was followed  inside the dome area.

After the lecture and exhibit, they all proceeded outdoors, where ALP had set up their telescopes amidst a very cloudy sky. Though uncertain of the possibility of the skies to clear up, ALP members proceeded in putting up their respective telescopes. Telescopes that were used for the public viewing
are: a 4-inch TV101 refractor, an 8-inch Meade SCT, (both courtesy of James Kevin Ty), 8-inch Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope (Jett Aguilar), 6-inch Dobsonian (Edgar Ang), Skywatcher 80mm ED  refractor (Brian Davis), 8-inch Schmidt Cassegrain (Manila Planetarium) , and an Orion 80mm ED refracting telescope by Jon Alcartado. Not all telescopes were placed because of the weather. But despite cloudy skies, heavenly bodies played hide and seek all throughout the session. People were able to observe the Moon, its craters that really caught their attention. Bright stars also popped into view: Sirius from the constellation Canis Major; and Rigel from the Orion constellation.

Viewers were captivated by the bright twinkling effects of these stars. Then, the finale -- the appearance of the ringed planet, Saturn. The public rushed in line to get a glimpse of what has always been the most beautiful planet in the solar system. They took their moment viewing Saturn through the telescopes, for at least a minute for each one. Then moments later, clouds started to close in again. A little entertainment was also presented by Science Discovery Center who invited the great singer Sofia  to add spice to the public viewing session.

The observing session ended at around 10:30pm, where a series of group pictures were taken, with the theme logo as its background. Group picture-takings had always been one of the most enjoying parts of any event of the ALP.

ALP  would like to thank those who help make this event a successful one. To the ever-energetic James Kevin Ty, from Rich Pijuan, Angie Tan, Bel Pabunan, Edgar Ang, and Nel Lagda who spend unselfish time and devotion to make the astrophoto exhibit an enjoyable event! Our great thanks also to SM Science Discovery Center (SDC) specially SDC Marketing Manager Lara Marie Lua, Marketing Officer Jeffrey Cifra , Operation Manager Ronwell Bete as well as SDC Senior Marketing and Communication Managers Ampy Crisostomo and Senior Assistant Vice President Dexter Deyto for their great support to make the opening activity of the National Astronomy Week 2008 a successful and memorable one!

For more NAW activity images , click here.


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