Monday, March 29, 2010

A Night at the Mountain Tops of Valencia

Last night, Mar 29, me and some friends of kuya Moe went up to the mountaintops of Valencia to have a stargazing session. They've been doing it for quite some time, but never really knew how to maximize their stargazing - that's why they hauled me in.

The place had a perfect view of the eastern horizon, overlooking Dumaguete city and the sea. The skies were cloudy though for that night, but that didn't stop us. They had two refracting telescopes that haven't been used effectively. Some of the adjustment screws were missing and the tripod wasn't stable. I brought my binoculars along only to find out it was damaged and my eyepiece fell off.

Anyways, I managed to set up both scopes and targeted the most visible object at that time - the moon. The moon was almost full so the brightness was kinda a pain in the eye. We were able to view the craters of the moon and observe the mares. I also showed them Sirius, Procyon and Mars in the sky, forming like a giant Orion's belt. Later, Saturn came to view and I worked on getting the telescope to focus on it. When I was able to focus on Saturn using a 10mm eyepiece, we were able to see Saturn and its bright rings, as well as two of its moons.

The event would have been better with clear skies, but I'm happy to have pleased and amazed others with the Wonders of the Night Sky! :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Armed and Ready :)

Last Thursday, me and my 1st year research assistants were preparing for doing my thesis. We had nothing to do for the mean time so we sat down and ate Mr.Chips. Suddenly, we saw Jupiter clear out from the clouds, so we immediately rushed to assemble the department's Celestron 8 (which we call Big Bertha).

When we focused on Jupiter, we were able to notice the Great Red Spot (Whoa!). After Jupiter, we looked around and trailed on to the Orion nebula. I recalled the view of the Trapezium from UP, and wanted to share it to them. Our telescope wasn't able to resolve the image well enough, but still we could distinguish the four baby stars surrounded by a cloud of interstellar gas.

Later that evening, Saturn came out and we all enjoyed looking at its rings (We even forgot about the thesis). Unfortunately, clouds began to cover up our view. So we began doing nothing.

I decided to check on the old telescopes that were in the cabinet (talk about dusty). I looked around for their mounts and found three equatorial mounts, I don't know which mount was for which telescope. Later, I was able to figure out which telescope belonged to which mount. Unfortunately, they were quite rusty and dusty. We set up one of the old telescopes and I thought my assistants how to do tracking.

We were all excited about having all 5 department telescopes functional that my assistants gave the old ones names after big bertha. One was given Berting, the other was called Bertot (i actually called it Milk shake).

Now that all 5 telescopes are ready, we are excited for our next stargazing session! :)