Stargazing Report


October 25-26, 2003 


The first successful Out of Town Stargazing Session for ALPERS was held on October 25-26 at Touch of Glory Payer Mountain (TGPM) in Buso-Buso, Antipolo. It started out conservatively with cloudy skies in the early part of the night and yet ended with a bang till the first rays of sunlight the next day. Although attended only by a handful, the group made good use of exceptional transparent skies of Buso-buso. Even though Metro Manila's glare rendered the western sky less desirable yet observable.

ALP members Rich Pijuan, Allen Yu, James Kevin Ty and Edward Tan took their dinner first at the TGPM canteen and discussed fanfare, jokes, Philippine politics, showbiz to release the stress of their travel to the site. 

The surprise of the night was the presence of Edmund Rosales, who took goodwill with him to them by bringing a bounty of Sisig and local delicacies manta ray for their midnight snack during observing session. His presence was a big help as the staff of TGPM were well entertained by his delightful antics. They were able to glimpse from the scopes of the members some deep sky objects that were aimed by the members. They were specially delighted to view through James'TV-101 refractor the jewel like Double Cluster. They exclaimed that they had never saw that many stars in a single view! The sky cleared up at around 2:00am when Edmund left them to fetch his family in Marikina.

ALP member Henry So took a gallant ride after attending a party to join them at the TGPM. Although his weary legs prevented him from setting up his telescope at the observing site, he was able to look through the other member's scope nevertheless. He called it a night after getting very tired and he went home later at around 3 am not after feasting on some rarities first

Due to personal reasons, ALP members Joel Munoz, Elena Moya, Russell Limcangco, and Atty. Rosemarie Gonzales were not able to attend and take advantage of this rarely generous sky. Rare celestial treasures were unearthed, as one by one the DSOs fell victims to their telescopes attesting to the exceptional transparency which made star hopping (during hunt for deep sky objects) and zeroing in on targets chicken feed. Transparency, as we already noted was exceptional by standards of neighboring
towns of Metro Manila, one can still find better transparencies perhaps as far as Mt. Banahaw or Caliraya (across Laguna de Bay) as they hope to see when they spend our their 3 days 2 nights OOTOS on Dec 27-29, 2003.

Seeing is another story though, as for reasons  Allen don't fully understand, planets were terrible chunks of celestial carcasses, even when Saturn reached the zenith! This buried chances of farewell views to Mars, and Jupiter was sucked off its majesty even though it cleared the treetops before sunrise. Allen said that he never seen such worst seeing in his entire lifea Although expectation was great as transparency nearly fooled him completely into anticipating such a perfect condition . As they say, Oil and water don't mix, remember the yin and yang. 

Edward impressed everyone by finding the crab  nebula with such ease, and it appeared with gusto in his eyepiece. To Allen's surprise was to see M33 in the western sky, where the constellation Triagulum is ready to set. He say this because the glow of city lights from Metro Manila extended up to about 25 or 30 degree altitude in the western sky. The Andromeda Galaxy M31 is all too lengthy for member's ordinary plossls, and Allen borrowed from James his 22mmPanoptic , which has an apparent field of 68 deg , to appreciate the view even more, and sketched it too. Companion galaxies M32 and M110 were also observed with ease. The Great Orion Nebula M42, on the other hand, loomed large and presented good definition. M78 appeared comet-like with 2 stars embedded on it that look like a pair of eyes that is looking back at you from the eyepiece field of view! NGC 2024 , commonly called the Flame or Christmas Tree Nebula in Orion exhibited a definite branch like split. It appeared as a burning bush so close to Alnitak. It would have been easier to see it if one kept Alnitak out of the field of view, but to Allen's surprise, He saw it still even with Alnitak in the field with averted vision. 

NGC 2392, the Eskimo nebula maintained good surface brightness, it appeared as a star with a hint of nebulosity on it. James, on the other hand, is concentrating the whole night imaging and testing his new toy, a Canon EOS 300D digital SLR camera which he attached to his TV-101 refractor to imaged several objects such as M42, M45, M35, M41, etc. James also allowed Allen to image prime-focus on his TV101 (sans the headache of proper polar aligning and guiding!) and he came up with 2 shots, his first shot of deep sky objects after all these years! Rich was using a pair of binoculars to observe the DSO. She was also able to observe 14 meteors, of which 5 are Orionids.

Going towards the break of dawn, James and Allen found Edward and Rich dozing off soundly in their respective chairs and sleeping bags. Cold? Yes indeed, its not advisable to dozed off especially with this kind of special evenings, it makes our body even more vulnerable to cold weather. One got to keep on moving and keep busy. Perhaps next year, when all of them will be equipped visually and photographically, and with a proper observing program, the only excuse to sleep is a cloudy sky! LOL (of course we know that sleeping is simply too comfortable to resist!) 

Allen suggest a good afternoon nap or a 10 hours night sleep prior to an OOTOS for an uninterrupted vigil. ALP next scheduled out of town stargazing session will be held on November 22-23, 2003 again under the dark skies of TGPM, Buso-Buso, Antipolo!!! That time around, they expect ALP PRO Alice Villa-Real would have returned and join us in our next stargazing session!!!


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2003 Astronomical League of the Philippines Inc.