Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

Posts tagged “dark skies

My First Image of our very own Milky Way Galaxy!

Last April, I was invited along with some fellow UP AstroSoc members to join the 2011 Philippine Messier Marathon organized by the Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP). The event was held on the shore of Lake Caliraya at the Eco Saddle Campsite in Laguna.

It was a really nice opportunity for an amateur astronomer like me to be part of an event like this –  a trip away from the light polluted city to observe in perfectly dark skies. However, I found it hard to decide whether or not to join the observation because I was also supposed to attend the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) in Davao City. My heart was torn between my obligation and mission as a student leader and my love for the heavens.

Fortunately, the circumstances changed just in time for me to be able to join in the overnight observation.

I would finally see the Milky Way for the first time  in all its grandeur.

And I DID! 🙂

My image of the Milky Way Galaxy 🙂 Camera used: Canon EOS 1000D DSLR on a tripod. 90-second exposure at 1600 ISO. Using a powered motor equatorial (tracking) mount of some kind is necessary to compensate for the earth’s rotation when doing long-exposure photography. This is to avoid producing star trails and blurs just like those in the image above.

I was lucky to have with me a borrowed DSLR camera to capture images of the mesmerizing dark skies above Lake Caliraya. From the northern hemisphere, the best views of the Milky Way are in the summer -with the brightest parts in the southern sky.

It was a very cold and windy night by the lake. Dew kept forming on my laptop, and every gust of wind threatened to topple my camera and tripod. Nevertheless,  I stayed in the cold to take images. Such is the life of an amateur astronomer but it is always worth the effort. 🙂

Since I cannot take a single picture showing the expanse of the Milky Way, what I did was I took several shots of it and stitched those images together in Photoshop to produce a wide field photo.

Stitching Pictures Together with Photoshop's Photomerge Tool - This panoramic (sort of) view of the Summer Milky Way was created by merging 12 individual shots (all taken at 90 sec. exposure) of the Milky Way (spanning from the northeast to southwest). Click on image to enlarge.

I must admit that I still lack the skill in doing long-exposure photography. It was my first time to do that, haha. Every image that I took was a product of trial-and-error attempts, but thanks to the incredibly dark skies of Caliraya, my fellow orgmate’s useful tips, and the opportunity that God gave me, that I was able to produce my first images of our home galaxy. 🙂

I probably have to practice more on astrophotography and read tutorials to prepare for the next opportunity of taking pictures of the Milky Way. Hopefully, I could have my own DSLR camera (plus some real decent astro equipment) by that time. *I still have to save a lot of money for this.* 😛

Ad astra per aspera!

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Go Beyond the Hour – Earth Hour 2011

At 8.30pm on Saturday 26 March 2011, Earth Hour will celebrate a worldwide commitment to ongoing change for the betterment of the one thing that unites us all – the planet.

Your journey can start here by signing up and adding your voice to the hundreds of millions across the globe who have already spoken with their actions.

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change. Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries participating. Global landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, CN Tower in Toronto, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Colosseum, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

 

In March 2009, hundreds of millions of people took part in the third Earth Hour. Over 4000 cities in 88 countries officially switched off to pledge their support for the planet, making Earth Hour 2009 the world’s largest global climate change initiative.

On Saturday 27 March, Earth Hour 2010 became the biggest Earth Hour ever. A record 128 countries and territories joined the global display of climate action.

This Earth Hour 2011, we are all encouraged to go beyond the hour, so after the lights go back on think about what else you can do to make a difference.

Check out the inspiring Earth Hour 2011 video below to see what the planet’s voice looks like.

For more information, please visit http://earthhour.org/.

Remember, together our actions add up. 😀

 

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To my fellow Filipinos, let’s join the campaign! Check out Earth Hour Pilipinas.


Get ready for the Great Worldwide Star Count! – Oct. 29 to Nov. 12, 2010

Mark your calendars and plan on joining thousands of other students, families, and citizen scientists counting stars this season! 😀

The Great World Wide Star Count encourages everyone to go outside, look skyward after dark, note the stars in certain constellations, and report what they could see online. Star Count is designed to raise awareness about the night sky and encourage learning in astronomy. All the information needed to participate is available on the Star Count Web site.

Five Simple Steps to Star Count:
1. Determine which constellation to observe
2. Find that constellation at night an hour after sunset (about 7-9pm local time)
3. Match your nighttime sky with one of our magnitude charts
4. Report what you see online
5. View results of this international event

For complete steps, be sure to  download the 2010 Activity Guide (available in 8 languages).

Participation involves use of a simple protocol and an easy data entry form. During the first three years, over 31,000 individuals from 64 countries and all 7 continents participated in this campaign to measure light pollution globally.

What can you see when you look up at the nighttime sky? Do you see stars, constellations, satellites, or the Milky Way? For many people around the world, the Milky Way is something known only through books and pictures, not something visible in their nighttime sky. Astronomers have long known that light pollution impairs our ability to clearly see the night skies and now the general public is also experiencing this phenomenon. Light pollution is often described as an undesirable byproduct of our industrialized civilization. It is a broad term that refers to multiple problems, all of which are caused by inefficient, annoying, or arguably unnecessary use of artificial light. But making it hard for astronomers and amateur skywatchers to view the stars is just one of the problems it causes. According to the website:

  • The energy used to produce the light that escapes into space is wasted.
  • The change in natural patterns of light and dark can impact animal behavior in the wild.
  • Medical research suggests excessive indoor light can cause headaches, fatigue, and stress.

At the conclusion of the event, maps and datasets will be generated highlighting the results of this exciting citizen science campaign.

Taking part in this event is free and open to everyone. 😀 

 

Light pollution occurs when artificial illumination washes out our view of the night sky. But making it hard for astronomers and amateur skywatchers to view the stars is just one of the problems it causes. According to the website:

  • The energy used to produce the light that escapes into space is wasted.
  • The change in natural patterns of light and dark can impact animal behavior in the wild.
  • Medical research suggests excessive indoor light can cause headaches, fatigue, and stress.

Read More http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2008/10/great-world-wid/#ixzz13PWpY5Dl