A Sweet Escape to Antipolo

August 29, 2008

Antipolo, Philippines

6:24 pm – 7:44 pm

A Few Minutes after Sunset

A Few Minutes after Sunset

Because of sadness, I went to Antipolo last Friday to seek solace with the night sky without telling anyone (except my dad of course) about it. I wasn’t sure if the venue was accessible but I took the risk and decided to go and try anyway. At times like this, I always wanted to be alone and go as far away as possible.

I arrived at 6:15 pm after a 75-minute drive from Quezon City. Because there was no one around at first, I immediately went to the sightseeing area and marveled at the mountain view and the setting Sun. Minutes later, a woman showed up and I talked to her about what I wanted to do there. I asked if I could use the place until 7:30 pm for a planetary observation. She smiled and nodded while saying that I could use the area for free. I was so surprised and happy when I heard that it was for “free”. Hahaha!

Venus in the Western Sky

Venus in the West

The area wasn’t new to me. I had been there last year for a special occasion. I knew then that I could use the sightseeing area for an observation someday, though I didn’t expect that I could use it for free.

I waited for the three planets to show up after sunset at 6:10 pm. I first saw Venus at 6:40 pm followed by Mercury at 6:45 pm. Both planets were visible to the naked eye. On the other hand, Mars was hardly visible and only viewable with an optical aid.

I noticed that the sky in general was moderately transparent, with little cloud cover. In the direction of the Metro Manila area, it was exceptionally hazy with thick brownish-orange cloud dust covering the district, making the sky near the western horizon a dead-end for viewing Mercury, Venus and Mars. I couldn’t believe that the air pollution was that worse. Fortunately, the planets were still way above this boundary at 6:40 pm. I still had a few minutes.

My Setup during the Observation

My Setup during the Observation

My target for the day was to take images of the three planets using my ATK-2C CCD camera through the Astroscan Telescope. I was able to image Venus but failed with Mars and Mercury due to clouds and the boundary.

As always, I pointed my scope at Jupiter and took images of it too.  The southern sky was also hazy but a lot better compared to the western sky.

My images were of poor quality because the webcam I used was one of the first model of ATiK astro-webcams. Nah, maybe it was just me. Hahaha! I didn’t use my NERT which made things harder. Bad Erika bad! Hahaha! It was obvious that I really haven’t mastered webcam astrophotography and the observation was really an eye-opener for me to practice.

 Images of Planets using the CCD camera

Astro-images using the CCD camera

The runaway observation experience melted away my sadness but was only replaced by frustration. Hahaha! Alas, it’s better this way than thinking of someone/something you could never bring back.

Ad Astra Per Aspera!

~ by Stella's Gaze on September 1, 2008.

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