Saturday, April 27, 2013

ALP Global Astronomy Month (GAM) 2013 MoonWatch

Last April 27, 2013 , some members of the Astronomical League of the Philippines proceeded to Rajah Sulayman Park , Baywalk , Manila to conduct their participation of the Global Astronomy Month (GAM) 2013 celebration by holding a free public viewing of the Waning Gibbous Moon (MoonWatch) despite the early evening's very cloudy weather! They started to setup their telescopes way past 9:30pm as the Moon was still quite low in the SE horizon around 8:00pm. More than 100+ people were able to get a chance of observing not only the Moon but also the planet Saturn as well. They stayed up to around 11:30pm before they ended the session with a group shot. A very successful GAM celebration by the Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP) !

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Partial Lunar Eclipse Imaging Session - April 26, 2013

On the early morning of April 26, 2013 ,  a very subtle partial lunar eclipse was visible for all of us to see here in the Philippines as well as whole of Europe, Africa and Asia. The Earth's umbral (dark) shadow will only cover less than 1.5% of the Moon's northern surface area but it will be totally immersed on the penumbral (light) shadow nevertheless.

I started to image the penumbral stage of the eclipse at around 2:31am at home as I prepare myself to drive to Rajah Sulayman Park in Baywalk to get an unobstructed view of the western horizon. I then drop by 7-11 convenient store to get myself a hotdog and soda for me to consume while waiting for the eclipse stages.  I brought along my Canon EOS 500D DSLR with Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS L lens set at 400mm f/5.6 mounted on Vixen Polarie Star Tracker.

Unfortunately, clouds started to interfere after 3:00am and I had to shot through cloud openings before I got totally shut down by clouds after I image the beginning of umbral phase at 3:54am.  I patiently waited till around 5:00am and seeing my poor chances of imaging the rest of the duration of the eclipse.  I packed up and called it a day and went home still satisfied as I initially thought I wouldn't be able to image the eclipse because of very thick clouds last night :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Deep Sky Imaging Session - April 20-21, 2013

I went again with fellow ALPers to Caliraya , Laguna last April 20, 2013 to do some practice and testing of my CCD imaging setup which was still at infant stage as I tried to do a lot of exposure experiments to gibe me a optimal exposure ratio for either LRGB or RGB.

The sky was a bit hazy and bright die to the Waxing Gibbous Moon which we all expected to encounter before the said trip.  We intend to image Comet PanSTARRS C/2011 L4 before dawn as well use the small window after moonset at around 1:38am to do some deep sky imaging work while waiting for the comet.  Unfortunately, we encountered seeing a Moon Halo which for me spells bad for the session as there are high clouds that evening,  With that on hand, I wasn't expecting anything good to come out of it as lots of clouds and haze were ruining our chances to get some decent shots of deep sky objects,

While waiting for the clouds to break up, there were some small window of opportunity for me and others to view the Summer Milky Way in between clouds but still, most of us had no regrets over the session.  At around 3:30am, a small opening for me to once again retake Lagoon and Triffid Nebula so I quickly set up my portable Kenko Sky Memo star tracker with ATIK 16HR ccd camera and started to image them.  With weather not that good, I opted to take short exposures to try to get as many RGB using 2x2 binning so that I will leave the rest of the clear sky time to image in luminance channel.  But once again.  I got frustrated as I wasn't able to complete my RGB colors as sky was already bright before I could get the blue channel :(  Oh well, maybe next time again. .As for comet PanSTARRS, clouds in the NE horizon once again prevented us from seeing the comet.  To compensate for the lack of deep sky objects imaged, I was able to get a nice pre sunrise shot which shows a cloud pattern that resemble Orion Nebula and Horsehead Nebula :) LOL

After a short rest and sleep, the group took the customary group shot before we passed by McDonald's Los Banos to had our breakfast and went home.  I do hope to get more productive image data next session :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Deep Sky Imaging Session - April 13-14, 2013

Last April 13 evening, I joined members of the Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP) to have a deep sky imaging session under the dark skies of Caliraya , Laguna.  It was a simple celebration of ALP in celebration of the International Dark Sky Week as ALP do serious observation and imaging work at our observing site there under dark skies.  Some foreign guests of ALP were also present namely Patrick Schmeer of Germany as well as Sky Wei of China.

The sky was fair although we got some occasional mild drizzle from time to time.  I brought along my usual deep sky imaging setup with ATIK 16HR ccd camera on  Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS L lens on Vixen GPDX mount as well as the highly ultra portable star tracker in Vixen Polarie Star Tracker with Canon EOS 500D DSLR with Canon EFS 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 lens.

I had some difficulty imaging that evening as wind was a bit strong and ruin several subexposures of my LRGB channels when I try to image M8 Lagoon & M20 Triffid Nebula in Sagittarius,  I wasn't able to also get my Blue channel before I got clouded out at around 4:30am thus I could only share the luminance channel of the 2 nebula with slight  star elongation due to strong winds :(  Well, CCD imaging is new field for me so it's  still a good experience for me to still share with with no regrets. But I will try to redo the whole process again next weekend if weather permits and hope to get better guided image.

As for my ultra wide angle image of the Milky Way, I had to play cat and mouse with the clouds whole night as the 10mm is so wise that it is very difficult to get a nice set of frames without any clouds on it :) LOL

Better luck next time I guess :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Solar Imaging Session - April 7, 2013

I wake up late this morning after a tiring but fruitful celebration of StarPeace with Global Astronomy Month's Jupiter and Saturn Watch last night at Rajah Sulayman Park. The sky was clear and seeing was good as well but since I wake up late, I was only able to get a shot of AR11711 and AR11710 Sunspot Groups together with a huge eruptive prominence as well as numerous twisted long dark filaments before my solar views got obstructed by our roof :( 


ALP StarPeace with GAM 2013 Jupiter & Saturn Watch - April 6, 2013

Last April 6, I ,together with my family , joined Astronomical League of the Philippines in celebrating StarPeace with Global Astronomy Month's Jupiter and Saturn Watch at Rajah Sulayman Park at Baywalk Luneta. I brought along the Meade 8" f/10 Schmidt Cassegrain on Vixen GP-DX mount to share some high magnification views of gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. Numerous telescopes were setup and more than 250+ people were able to get good views of Saturn at 510x for free! It was a happy evening as we could hear the numerous ohhhs and ahhhs after they got to view the 2 planets up close and personal. The StarPeace and Global Astronomy Month's Jupiter and Saturn Watch will be followed by April 7th GAM SUNday solar observation at Rajah Sulayman Park. These are one of the many projects that will be promoted by ALP with free public views in line with the Global Astronomy Month.