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by James Kevin Ty


The Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP) in partnership with the SM Science Discovery Center (SDC) had its closing activity of National Astronomy Week 2008 last Saturday, February 23, 2008, 4:30pm, at the SM Mall of Asia's Science Discovery Center.

ALP members who attended were: President James Kevin Ty and Charito Ty,  PRO Rich Pijuan, Membership Head Angie Tan, Treasurer Henry So, Auditor Brian Davis, Secretary Alice Villa-Real, ALP Directors Alfonso Uy & Jomar Lacson, Bel Pabunan, Planetarium staff  that includes Junelyn Alacapa , Nel Lagda, Liza Quitlong, Mary Ann Ramirez, Roberto Silvestre & Maximo Zabanal , Maximo Sacro, Elena Moya, Roland Moya, Jonathan & Ellen Alcartado, Nathaniel Custodio, Irving Raymundo, Omar Turqueza, Janice Ponce, Edgar Ang, Joseph Gutierrez, Aldrin Palacio, and Alfonso Sy .

The event started off with the Registration at around 3:30pm. The 2nd ALP Astrophoto Exhibit was still at the  area beside 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. 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.

People who attended the planetarium show had the privilege to attend the lecture entitled "Basics of Digital Astrophotography" . The lecture started at  around 4:30pm wherein ALP President  James Kevin Ty presented the lecture through a powerpoint 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.

After the lecture and exhibit, they all proceeded outdoors, where ALP had set up their telescopes.  Compared to last week's session which was marred by partly cloudy skies, this time the weather was very good! Telescopes that were used for the public viewing were: ALP's  8-inch Meade SCT,  Planetarium's Celestron C8 SCT, Edgar Ang's Orion XT6 6" Dobsonian reflector, Alice's Orion ST-80wide field refractor, Jon Alcartado's Skywatcher 6" Newtonian reflector and Orion 80ED refractor, Brian Davis' Celestron C8 SCT and Skywatcher 80ED refractor, Nathaniel Custodio's William Optics Zenithstar 80mm refractor.

More than am estimated 2000+ queued without a break along the telescopes that were setup at the site! Among the objects that were observed were the magnificent Saturn, still bright  but smaller Mars, the Great Orion Nebula in constellation Orion, the beautiful Pleiades star cluster in Taurus, brightest star Sirius, and last but not the least, the beautiful Gibbous Moon! Saturn was also a stunner as most of the viewers cant believe that they would be able to see it's majestic rings!  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. Mars , although a bit smaller now than during December was still a sight to behold with its beautiful bright orange color as well as show some martian features such as Syrtis Major and small polar ice cap at high magnification.

At around 9:00pm, the Gibbous Moon had risen above the SM building obstruction for ALPers to point some of their telescopes to it.  Some of the scopes were setup for whole disk viewing while the other s were setup to view at high power to show better views of the magnificent craters and beautiful mares.

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.   Lastly , the weather that week was marred by clouds but with God's blessings, the closing of the NAW 2008 came out with a blast with a surprising clear night for members to share the beauty of the heavens to the public!  Thick clouds and as well as mild rain later came after the event was over already! :) LOL

ALP would also like to welcome Rodney Jovin Velasco , Jaizel Valerie Pilapil and Michael Manriquez as  ALP newest members !

ALP  would like to thank those who help make this event a successful one. To everyone from setting up the astrophoto exhibits such as 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! Also to ALP members such as Jett Aguilar, Brian Davis, Jon Alcartado, Alice Villa-Real, Edgar Ang, Nathaniel Custodio, Planetarium Staffs who put extra effort and energy to bring their telescopes to the  event.  Also to the numerous ALP members who help assists  during the 2 days event with their presence. and last but not the least, our heartfelt thanks  and gratitude to the 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 this year's National Astronomy Week 2008 a successful and memorable one!

For more NAW activity images , click here.


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