Saturday, June 26, 2010

June 26, 2010 Partial Lunar Eclipse Imaging Session

Last June 26, there was a partial lunar eclipse that was visible in the country. ALP President James Kevin Ty went to Trinoma Mall in Quezon City at around 4:00pm and park my car at the roof deck of Mindanao Parking Area, Fellow ALPer Andrew Ian Chan had scouted the area already before and told me that the ESE position at the roof deck has a clear out area for me to observe and image the eclipse. Unfortunately, Andrew cannot join me there because he had a prior commitment to attend his best friend's debut, James was supposed to have Zed Contractor joined him there also but had to beg off because he was worry that the weather will not cooperate with us that evening :(

For this eclipse, James opted to brought along my Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS L lens to image the Moon that evening. I brought along my portable setup Sky Memo mount as well as a sturdy tripod to use whichever is practical to use that time. The sky memo is so portable that it can fit into a camera backpack easily as compared to his workhorse Vixen GP-DX mount which is bulky and heavy as well.

While waiting for the eclipse to start at around 6:24pm, he was able to get an opportunity to meet a new ALP member Jenine Rochelle Yee, whom use the opportunity to fill up her application as well to join us officially as get to meet me and ask him some info on buying a telescope for a beginner. He was also able to meet up with fellow ALPer Lea Visaya at the roof deck at around 6:30pm to give her ALP ID as well as use the opportunity to observe the eclipse altogether,

Unfortunately, the weather was so cloudy in the ESE horizon that they missed observing the eclipse at moonrise :( At around 7:15pm, rain started to fall and both of them had to use James' car trunk door as rain shield for them. With the weather getting worst, Lea opted to go down to the lower floor and try to observe the eclipse there. James opted to stay put and waited till around 8:25pm before he saw a faint Moon glow from the thick rain clouds! He quickly brought out his Sky Memo and tripod and camera lens to the side of the concrete roof and started to image the eclipse Moon through thick clouds :(

Lady uck then started to smile on him as the Moon started to show up despite the rain and he was able to start imaging the eclipse despite continued rains. The Moon image was a little soft at the start and gets better and better at around 8:35pm and the rain stopped and James brought out his mount and set it beside his car and was able to image the latter part of the eclipse from 8:30pm till 9:26pm clearly before the clouds started to roll in again :( As he was imaging the eclipse, he was also able to show the partial eclipse in between exposures to a batch of Trinoma security guards who were at the roof deck getting their orientation from their security head. They were delighted as well as surprised to know that there was an eclipse ongoing and commented to James that the eclipse view was beautiful and they were amazed at the setup he had that evening. Very portable indeed!

James packed up at around 9:30pm and went home very happy and glad that he was able to observe the eclipse nevertheless and still not come out with an empty hand :)


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

First Test Image of the Crescent Moon using Canon 500D DSLR with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS L lens set at 400mm f.5.6.


After I return home from work, the sky was a bit clear and the crescent Moon in the western horizon. So I brought out the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS L lens and tested on it. Image was not bad and no chromatic aberration can be seen in the image. I use the autofocus system and turn off the Image Stabilization (IS) and focus IMHO is ok. Exposure was 1/250sec at ISO 400.

I use only a photo tripod to mount the Canon 500D together with the said lens and the result is satisfactory for me. I hope to be able to retest my portable system next time on the deep sky objects maybe next weekend if sky is ok.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

June 13, 2010 Comet McNaught C/2009 R1 Imaging Session


Last June 13, ALPers James Kevin Ty and Andrew Ian Chan proceeded to Caliraya, Laguna to try to recover Comet McNaught C/2009 R1 as they think this weekend is the best chance fir them to see it before it gets too close the glare of the Sun next weekend. Despite a very bad weather in Manila as well as an earlier news of some drizzle in the afternoon at Caliraya. They left Manila at around 8:30pm and arrived at the site at around 11:30pm.

The weather was hazy but most of the zenith object are clear .Milky Way region in the Scorpius / Sagittarius region was clearly visible as it stretched to the constellation of Cygnus! Unfortunately, Polaris was covered by clouds thus they were not able to do any serious astrophotography. James use that opportunity to use a binocular to observe the DSOs found in the Scorpius / Sagittarius region while Andrew use his camera on sturdy tripod to image the Milky Way with short and wide field imaging .

James brought along his new portable system which include Canon 500D DSLR on Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS L lens mounted on Kenko Sky Memo tracking mount. This is quite light and portable compare to the usual imaging workhorse that he uses over the years. Andrew, on the other hand, brought along his 80mm ED Skywatcher refractor on Vixen GP mount with Sky Sensor 2000-PC system.

While waiting for Polaris to appear, both of them took time off to get some rest and wake up at around 3:30am and saw Polaris faintly coming out of the clouds. They didn't waste any time and quickly setup their equipment. They scan the ENE area for the stars Mirfak and Algol as the comet was calculated to be between the 2 fairly bright stars of Perseus. With slight haze near the horizon that hamper their search for the comet, they were able to recover the comet roughly around 3:26am when the 2 helped each other out pointing to the possible location of the comet with the aid of a green laser that James brought. As James checked the image of the field that they think the comet is situated, they were delighted to see its small greenish glow with short faint 1.5 degree tail pointing upwards away from the east horizon. Unfortunately for them, the sky started to get brighter and brighter until they cannot image anymore because there succeeding images were all washout :( Nevertheless, they were quite satisfied with the session.

Comet McNaught C/2009 R1

As they were packing up their equipment, the nice Sun pillar was visible for them to image as well. They left Caliraya at around 6:30pm feeling satisfied that they were able to see Comet McNaught.

Andrew Ian Chan beside his Skywatcher 80ED refractor on Vixen GP mount.James Kevin Ty beside his Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS L lens on Kenko Sky Memo mount.
Group Shot
Canon EF 100-400mm lens set at 100mm focal length.
Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS L Lens set at 400mm focal length.
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS L lens system on Sky Memo up close.
Anti-Crepuscular Ray (it's a dark shadow cast by a cloud against the sun's rays).