In hopes of observing the Geminids again, I stayed over at a friend and fellow U.P. AstroSoc member’s house which has a roof deck in Marikina City.
As soon as we were at the roof deck, we immediately looked for the constellation Gemini. Even though the eastern sky was partly covered by thin, hazy clouds and the waxing gibbous Moon shone bright in the night, we were still able to find the stars of Gemini along with the stars of neighboring constellations. My friend, Bea who had her Canon 400D DSLR with her, began taking images of the night sky. You may click on the images to see a higher resolution.
In the northwest, our attention was also caught by the stunning Cassiopeia which was in a slanted “M” position above a dormitory building.
We scanned the rest of the sky for several more minutes and found not a single meteor. About half an hour later, we noticed that the cloud cover was getting worse and it was getting too cold outside. As we were starting to pack up and go inside the house, a lunar corona formed around the setting Moon.
According to Atmospheric Optics site, a corona may be seen when thin clouds partially veil the sun or moon. They are produced by the diffraction of light by tiny cloud droplets or sometimes small ice crystals.
The night sky is really full of surprises.
Clear skies, everyone!
The night sky on August 26 will be dominated by Jupiter and the waning gibbous moon. They can be seen in the east by mid-evening, after brilliant Venus has disappeared beyond the western horizon. Rising just an hour or two after sunset, Jupiter and the moon can be viewed for the rest of the night among the faint stars of the constellation Pisces the Fish.
With a bright moon passing near them, Pisces’ dim outline might not be visible except from very dark locations. Still, a prominent asterism – or noticeable pattern of stars – can be glimpsed near Jupiter and the moon on that night. It’s called The Circlet in Pisces.
Jupiter, is slowly increasing in brightness as it heads towards its opposition and closest approach to Earth in 12 years just next month, September 21 . This time is the best chance to view and photograph Jupiter and its moons. The giant planet will be as big and bright as it gets in the night sky. A medium-sized telescope should be able to show some of the details in Jupiter’s cloud bands.
Many astronomy enthusiasts gathered last Friday, August 13 to observe the peak of the annual Perseids Meteor Shower as well as the beautiful display of planets after sunset.
My astronomy organization here in the Philippines, the UP Astronomical Society (UP AstroSoc), held a public observation for this event at the Sun Deck of PAGASA Astronomical Observatory in the University of the Philippines – Diliman. It was attended by around 30-40 guest who patiently waited for the Perseids despite the partly cloudy sky before midnight. The org’s telescopes were also set up so the attendees could view the planets Venus and Jupiter (with 4 of its moons!) which were visible during that night.
This observation was even featured in a news report of GMA’s Saksi, a local news program. Below is the video containing interviews by some of the attendees:
Note: It was mentioned in the report that the planetary conjunction (planets appear near one another in the sky) is difficult to see without the use of telescopes. This is not true because seeing planetary groupings require a wider field of view (extent of the observable area) of the sky. Telescopes offer more details but have smaller field of view than our eyes.
I and two of my colleagues, Andre Obidos and Bea Banzuela, chose to observe from Marikina City. The skies were also cloudy there but we were still lucky enough to see and capture the ghostlike Moon with the planet Venus an hour after sunset in the west. Mars and Saturn however, were too dim to shine through the clouds.
We waited for the constellation Perseus (where the meteors would seem to radiate from) to rise around midnight but the sky was still full of clouds. We went out again around 3am but we saw nothing except for an overcast night sky with just a few bright stars like Altair, Vega and Deneb and the planet Jupiter which was nearly overhead. Following are some our images which were taken using Canon PowerShot SX 20:
Other members of the organization went to different locations to help facilitate the other public observations of the event.
Below are photos taken by some UP AstroSoc members* during the observations.
Due to the coming of the rainy season here in the Philippines, having a clear night sky this month was almost impossible. Nonetheless, observers were still thankful that the clouds cleared up for even a short while, allowing them to see 4 or more of those beautiful bright streaks of light with the planets.
According to the IMO measurements the 2010 Perseid meteor shower was above normal with a peak activity of over 100 meteors per hour under optimal viewing conditions but not spectacular. In the coming nights the Perseids will still be visible, but with fewer and fewer meteors night by night.
Ana Geronimo (in UP Diliman)
Regyn Avena (in UP Los Ba ños)
Zal Gerente (Seven Suites Hotel in Antipolo)
All photos were used with their permission.
A lot of Filipino amateur astronomers including me are excited for this month’s sky display.
For Philippine observers, the annual Perseids Meteor Shower which often shows 50 meteors per hour will be observed with its peak on the late night of August 12-13. The Perseids appear to radiate out from the constellation Perseus, which is located in the eastern horizon during August.
2010 is a great year for the Perseids. This year, the slender waxing crescent moon will set at early evening, leaving a dark sky for this year’s Perseid show.
The Perseids tend to strengthen in number as late night deepens into midnight, and typically produce the most meteors in the wee hours before dawn. These meteors are often bright and frequently leave persistent trains. The Perseid Meteor Shower is famous for its Earthgrazers –meteors that approach from the horizon and skim the atmosphere overhead like a stone skipping the surface of a pond. Earthgrazers are long, slow and colorful; they are among the most beautiful of meteors.
The source of the shower is Comet Swift-Tuttle. Although the comet is nowhere near Earth, the comet’s tail does intersect Earth’s orbit. We glide through it every year in August. Tiny bits of comet dust hit Earth’s atmosphere traveling 132,000 mph. At that speed, even a smidgen of dust makes a vivid streak of light–a meteor–when it disintegrates.
Friday the 13th will never be unlucky for sky observers on this night. Those who plan to watch the Perseids will also have the chance to see a beautiful planetary grouping before the radiant rise in the East.
Coincidentally, on August 13 at around 7pm the crescent Moon will join the groupings of Mars, Venus, Saturn and Mercury in the western horizon.
Happy observing and Clear Skies to all!
Preserve and protect the night sky above your observing site, home, business, school or town. Take a stand against the encroachment of the light.
Join the global campaign to reduce light pollution and reclaim the beautiful starry night sky I just did.
Reclaim the night sky: One star at a time
Register pledge at:
• 1 million pledges this year and
• 1 thousand observing sites registered as part of the Global StarPark Network
Please accept Astronomers Without Borders (http://www.gam-awb.org) invitation to be part of the collaborative effort to reduce light pollution on a global scale.
First, pledge to reduce light pollution from your own home or business site.
Host a StarParty (big or small) to inaugurate your public observing site as part of the Global StarPark Network. Commit to protect the patch of sky above it. Raise public awareness of light pollution and solutions.
The goals are:
#1. An impressive reduction of light trespass between neighbors.
• house to house,
• business to business,
• business to homes, and
• streetlamps to homes
#2. Creation of at least one StarPark* in every community (*an oasis within even a horribly light-polluted community where thoughtful lighting practices permit the best public viewing of the night sky within the community.)
• A tennis court or sports field by day can be used as a StarPark at night if the lighting is addressed.
• New parks could incorporate a StarPark in the original concept design.
• Good neighbor businesses and churches can offer their parking lots as a StarPark at night for great family activitiy.
• Community nature areas can include a StarPark.
• All currently used areas for public observing sessions, including those hosted by local astronomy clubs, are encouraged to register to help build critical momentum.
Group Training can be offered for the new hosts of these StarParks as to how to conduct a Fun community StarParty. Local astronomy clubs a huge asset here.
Signage encouraged and logos offered free.
Interpretive signage downloadables offered free.
Blueprints and permission to duplicate gigantic permanent outdoor planisphere offered free.
#3. Bring back the Milky Way over every national and state park!
Vast reduction of SKYGLOW over national and state parks coming from neighboring communities unveiling the Milky Way.
Community commitment can put back the crown of the Milky Way over treasured national and state parks where intrusive sky glow appears now by taking responsibility for the sky glow their community produces.
#4 A StarPark in every national & state park and nature reserve across the globe.
#5 Stargazing/observing listed on all recreational maps along with canoeing, hiking, swimming, fishing, etc.
Intensified across-the-board, across-the-planet, distinctly global at the core~ increased public awareness and activism ~ even if only in it’s simplest form, is the greatest step we can achieve towards a starrier night sky… and profound beginnings.
- The night sky is a natural treasure and should be protected as a natural resource for future generations
- Light pollution is one of the few reversible forms of pollution. We can end it through proper action
- Light pollution affects humans, animals, and entire ecosystems—including in ways we don’t yet fully understand
- We have a right to see the Milky Way. Someone stole it and we want it back!
- Register at http://www.onestar-awb.org/