Stargazing Report


December 20-21, 2003

by James Kevin Ty

Images by James Kevin Ty


The December stargazing session was held last Dec 20-21 under the dark skies of Touch of Glory Prayer Mountain in Buso-Buso , Antipolo.  ALP welcome the company of our US based board member Francisco "Jun" Lao, Jr. who attended his forst ALP stargazing session with fellow ALPers.  ALP also welcome to its growing family  Mr. Macario "Mac" Libid.  Other members who also attended the session were James Kevin Ty, Allen Yu, Alice Villa-Real, Rich Pijuan, Dr. Jett Aguilar, and Benjamin Jaramilla.

James once again brought his TV-101 refractor on Vixen GP-DX equatorial mount; Alice with her "Elisha" Nexstar 5 and Orion ST-80 on heavy duty tripod; Jett, on the other hand, brought with him Elisha's twin scope Nexstar 5i plus his Stellarvue AT1010 80mm refractor on Televue Tele-pod mount; Rich brought her 10 x 50 binoculars as well as Benjamin :)

The group first had dinner served  at the TGPM canteen.  They use this opportunity to chat on latest astro news and tips while they were having dinner.  At around 9pm, they went up the hilltop to set up their scopes.

Since the sky was clear that time, Jun Lao used this opportunity031220-d.jpg (37896 bytes) to point to the members the Winter Milky Way as well as M31, Andromeda Galaxy.  They were both visible to the naked eye but were even more magnificent in newly bought 10 x 50 binoculars of Benjamin Alice and Rich !   Benjamin was very excited to locate M31 with his new binocs as well as new member Mac who later requested to James if  he has extra binocs that he can acquire.

Allen borrowed Alice's ST-80 refractor and used it to view M31 in Andromeda, Double Cluster in Perseus, M1 Crab Nebula in Taurus, star clusters M36, 37 and 38 in Auriga, and M41 star cluster in Canis Major. 

Alice, on the other hand used her Nexstar 5 observe M42 Orion Nebula in Orion, M31 Andromeda Galaxy, M45 Pleiades star cluster in Taurus,   star cluster M35 in Gemini as well as the planet Saturn and Double Cluster ( NGC 884 / 869) whom Alice observed for a long time for its sparkling beauty!

Jett used his Nexstar 5i to observe Orion Nebula as well as the Trapezium and Crab Nebula.  He also use that opportunity to test his new toy , a TV 5x Powermate on the magnificent ringed planet Saturn.  But he wasnt able to make full use of its capability as clouds started to cover up the sky already around 11pm thus ruining the seeing condition.  The extra windy condition during the session was also an event spoiler as it hamper the use of high power observation on Saturn.

031220orionwide.jpg (66512 bytes)James took a while to setup his astrophoto system as he needs to polar align accurately but due to intreminent passing clouds, he was only able to image the Orion region only with his 28mm lens :(

After clouds covered up the entire sky at around 12am, they went downhill to have some snacks and coffee to warm up their stomach as it was starting to get clod and windy at the hilltop.

At around 1:30am, James and Jett went up ahead of the group to check the scopes if they are still ok.  Jett even jokingly told me that with the high whistling  wind we were below, maybe all our scopes and things were already blown away without us knowing it :) LOL  As we went near our setup site, we were quite surprised that both Nexstar 5s had fallen into the ground already!  Even the heavy tarpaulin was blown out of its original location.  Only James' scope setup was still standing firm to the ground because of its heavy weight.  James quickly radioed Alice to come up asap and Alice was quite worried when she arrived at the scene but lets out a sigh of relief when her Elisha was still in good shape and condition.  Maybe the good part of the tradegy was that the scope fell into grassy soil thus help eased out the hard impact to the ground.

As they were helping Alice with her fallen scope, Jett was also busy checking his scope as well.  James later was informed that something had gone wrong with his scope, thus takling away his attention from Alice's scope to Jett's scope.  The altitude slewing control was working ok except for the azimuth axis which seems to be stuck.  Although Jett was not showing any emotions then, James could feel he might be cursing the wind and also why he left the scope unattended. 

Since the wind and clouds is all over the site, the group finally called it quits at around 2am and started to packed up their stuffs.   James told Jett that he will try to check out his scope later downstairs.

After packing up all things and went downhill, James started to diagnose Jett scope and it seems the azimunth motors were running ok but something seems to be jamming up the movement.  He then started to do a surgery on the patient named Nexstar 5i by removing the screws that covered the azimuth housing of the scope.  When it was opened, James  found out that an extra bolt was jammed between the  drive clutch and its gear thus the reason why the azimuth axis was jammed and wont moved.  He carefully removed the small bolt and the patient was now out of harm's way  and is A-Ok :)

To sum up the session, it was still fun despite the tradegy hitting the twin Nexstars , but these 2 brother and sister were born with extra physique to came out with not even a bruise.

031220-n.jpg (40368 bytes)

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2003 Astronomical League of the Philippines Inc.