In Search of Comet Catalina

•December 9, 2015 • 1 Comment

Looking for Comet Catalina in a light-polluted sky was a bit challenging. If it wasn’t for Venus, which I used as a guide, I would hardly recognize it. Through a 70mm refractor telescope, it appeared like a white fuzzy blob. Stars appear as pinpoints of light through a telescope and even without a telescope. With this in mind (and also there are no nebulas and galaxies in that part of the sky), I’m pretty sure I’m looking at the right object.

Here’s my image of Comet Catalina:

Comet Catalina by erika valdueza on

                                                         Comet Catalina
                                                8x30s (Polarie – tracked)
                                                    f/5.6, 163mm, ISO 400
                                           Canon EOS 70D, 55-250mm lens


And also an image of the beautiful waning crescent moon with earthshine and Venus:

Moon and Venus by erika valdueza on


The comet is not yet visible to the naked eye. I am hoping it will progress by early next year. However, comets are usually unpredictable so we don’t really know what will happen. Keep your fingers crossed that it will become very bright and develop long tails! 🙂

To the stars!

Hello there, Moon!

•October 30, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Finally, a prime focus shot of the moon. I haven’t done this for a long time. I used Skywatcher 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope and Canon EOS 70D to take this shot.

Hello there, Moon! by erika valdueza on

October 27, 2015 Planetary Trio: Venus, Jupiter, and Mars

•October 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I woke up too early today (Well, not just today. It’s been like this for weeks…) so I was hoping I could have a glimpse of the planetary conjunction. Thankfully, the sky cleared up and I was able to see this celestial view.

Planetary Trio: Venus, Jupiter, and Mars by erika valdueza on

Planetary Trio: Venus, Jupiter, and Mars (zoom-in) by erika valdueza on

You can still see the planetary conjunction of these planets until next week. Don’t forget to look up!

To the stars!

First Light of Hope

•October 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been waiting for a year to see a solar halo in my current location. Since it’s always cold here, I expect it to be more frequent.  I was terribly busy the past year so I might have missed a lot of opportunities to witness it. This time, I have more time to look up because I need to avoid stress as much as I can (Astronomy makes me happy!) while I undergo treatments to control the Lupus.

Sunrise was beautiful this morning. As soon as I saw the cirrus clouds in the sky, I knew there’s a chance to see a solar halo. I finally brought out my new DSLR which is a Canon EOS 70D and gave it a name “Hope”. The name somehow describes what I’m going through lately. I don’t want to lose hope and I trust God I’ll be okay soon. Anyway, I bought the camera for its video capability as I’ve never tried a DSLR with a video before. I also plan to use it for prime focus lunar photography.

Solar Halo by erika valdueza on

I also created a new blog where I share my story. The title of the blog is also related to hope. It is also a way for me to meet others who have the same illness and are also astronomy enthusiasts. Please, if you know anyone or if you’re one of them, it would be nice to have a chat and to keep in touch. I plan to share this blog in public when the right time comes (However, if you’re really interested to read it, you can send me a private message for request and I’ll send the link). In other words, as they say in Filipino, “sa tamang panahon”. Yes, I’m also an ALDUB fan, hahaha!

To the stars!

Planetary Delight: Waning Crescent Moon, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus

•October 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

After I was diagnosed with Lupus, I have to stay in the hospital for a few weeks. I missed a lot of astronomy related activities such as the observation of the Sept 28, 2015 total lunar eclipse and participation in any World Space Week celebration this year.

I don’t want to lose hope and get depressed because of my illness. All the more that I should think positive. And thanks to everyone who prayed for me, I have this inner strength to fight and live a normal life. I thank God for another chance to be alive!

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of pictures of the October 2015 planetary grouping of the moon and the four of the five naked-eye planets (yes, just missing Saturn!). I was discharged two days ago so I was hoping I could observe it from my room. Unfortunately, I was clouded out during those two days. I sort of gave up and didn’t expect to witness the planetary grouping.

I hardly slept today because of the cold. The temperature since last night was below 5 degrees! Then I woke up at 7 am and surprised to see the very thin waning crescent moon and the four planets hanging in the eastern sky. The celestial view was truly breathtaking!

October 11, 2015 Planetary conjunction by erika valdueza on

October 11, 2015 Planetary conjunction by erika valdueza on

I’m also amazed with the close pairing of the crescent moon and Mercury. Mercury is not easy to spot in the sky because it’s very near the sun. Moreover, it’s usually located near the horizon where the atmosphere is usually turbulent and makes it hard to see. But not today…

Mercury and Crescent Moon by erika valdueza on

Close pairing of the crescent moon and Mercury by erika valdueza on

Mercury and Crescent Moon by erika valdueza on

Mercury and the 3% lit crescent Moon by erika valdueza on

It’s indeed a delight to see such beauty from the heavens. I believe God is comforting me and telling me everything will be okay…

To God be the glory! To the stars!

Sept 10, 2015 Crescent Moon, Venus, and Mars

•September 10, 2015 • 2 Comments

I woke up at 5 am today in order to see a beautiful planetary conjunction of the Crescent moon, Venus, and Mars. The sky was a bit hazy but nevertheless, I managed to take a few pictures as remembrance.

I hope the sky will be clear a few weeks from now. I would like to witness again a total lunar eclipse!

To the stars!

Photograph Moon, Venus, and Winter constellations by erika valdueza on 500px

Moon, Venus, and Winter constellations by erika valdueza on 500px

Perseid Meteor Shower 2015

•August 13, 2015 • 3 Comments

As far as I can remember, I’ve never seen a Perseid meteor before because August is a typhoon season in the Philippines. I was fortunate last night to observe the meteor shower despite hazy skies and very strong light pollution in my current location. Here’s a plot of my observation this morning. The yellow arrows indicate fireball and the blue ones are streaks. Perseids are the fastest meteors I’ve seen. And they’re long and bright! No wonder they’re one of the best meteor showers here in the north.