ALP December 28, 2008 Stargazing Session
by James Kevin Ty
Images by James Kevin Ty, Dr. Armando Lee & Nathaniel Custodio


Last December 28, members of the Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP) went to Caliraya, Laguna to have their stargazing session.  Among the members who were present were ALP president James Kevin Ty, ALP VP Dr. Jett Aguilar, ALP NAW/Education Chairman Dr. Armando Lee, Nathaniel Custodio and Irving Raymundo.  Joining them were students of RTU Astro Tech namely Pauline Divinagracia, Antonette Icot, Rhyan Coronel and Frank Kelvin Martinez.  Also present were Dr. Lee's wife Mia and son Jason as well as Pauline's mom Fatima.

ALPers meet up at Shell Alabang at around 3:00pm en route to Caliraya while Dr. Lee as well as RTU students and Co. proceeded to the site from his house in Calamba.  They arrive almost at the same time at around 7:00pm and were greeted with good sky but very strong wind :)  Nevertheless, they proceeded to setup their tents and equipment at the grassy part of the site.

James brought along his TV-101 refractor on GP-DX mount while Jett setup his Takahashi TSA-102 refractor on GP-DX mount; Nathaniel with his William Optics Megrez 90 DFD refractor on GPD2 mount , Irving brought his Orion XT10 Dobsonian reflector while Armand brought his William Optics Zenithstar 80ED refractor on Atlas EQ-6 mount.

RTU students help Dr. Lee setup the tent for the night

Dr. Jett Aguilar beside his Takahashi TSA-102 refractor on GP-DX mount.

Irving Raymundo beside his Orion XT10 Dobsonian Reflector

Nathaniel Custodio beside his William Optics Megrez 90DFD refractor on GPD2 mount.

Dr Armando Lee beside his William Optics Zenithstar 80ED refractor on Atlas EQ-6 mount.

James Kevin Ty beside his TV-101 refractor on GP-DX mount.

(L-R) Fatima & Pauline Divinagracia & Frank Kelvin Martinez relaxed and gazed at the beautiful stars that evening

Dr. Armando Lee  and Antonette Icot stands their ground against the strong wind that evening :)

Well, the night started with Astro Gremlins making a havoc on all members with scopes :(  Armand had problems on his GOTO accuracy ; Nathaniel started out with good results only to find out that his camera battery run out on him after a few exposures ; James got into trouble with his RA motors after accidentally hitting the RA motor housing while adjusting the mount's altitude control thus has to disassemble the entire RA housing and only to find out clouds keep covering his target of the night , Horsehead Nebula after making the  system run smoothly again ; Jett also got trouble with his controller's cable as well.  Talk about luck :) LOL  But all of them got to get their system working again but the sky suddenly becomes cloudy again :(

NGC2024/ B33 Horsehead Nebula in Orion by Nathaniel Custodio


M42 Great Orion Nebula in Orion by Dr. Armando Lee

M45 Pleiades Star Cluster in Taurus by Dr. Armando Lee

NGC3293 Open Star Cluster in Carina by Dr. Armando Lee

Nevertheless, as the night progresses, most of them did visual observation most of the time as it was hard to image because of fast clouds passing through most of the areas being imaged :( Through Irving's 10" reflector, Saturn was a beauty and almost showing an edge on ring.  Wind was exceptionally strong that time, the strongest so far James had experienced in the 5 years of his Caliraya sessions.  Also it was also very cold that evening and all had to wear thick sweaters and drink coffee to warm themselves up.

At around 4:00am, Jett, Irving , Nathaniel and James had to go back to Manila because of early morning commitments, Dr. Lee and family as well as RTU students waited till morning before heading back home.  Amid the weird circumstances that hounded the group that evening, most of them still got time to enjoy the evening with observations, simple imaging and chat.

The group are expecting to go back to the site again this coming January with promises to get better imaging results the next time around :)


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