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

Posts tagged “UP AstroSoc

U.P. AstroSoc’s Public Observation of the 2010 Geminids

It’ Geminids season again! 🙂

Join the University of the Philippines Astronomical Society (UP AstroSoc) as it observes the 2010 Geminid Meteor Shower at its peak on the night of Dec. 13 until dawn of Dec. 14, at the PAGASA Observatory Sundeck in U.P. Diliman, Quezon City. Click on this page to RSVP and also to see a map showing the location of the observation site.

The Geminids is described by the International Meteor Organization (IMO) as “one of the finest, and probably the most reliable, of the major annual showers presently observable”, and this year’s shower is set to put on a good show.

The Geminid meteor shower active from Dec. 7 until Dec. 17. Unlike many meteor showers, you can start watching for the Geminids around 9 to 10 p.m. – in years when the moon is out of the sky. The First-Quarter Moon interferes during the evening hours this year, and doesn’t set till around midnight. However, this shower tends to gain strength after midnight and to climax at roughly 2 o’clock in the morning, after moonset and when the shower’s radiant point is highest in the sky.

Meteors or “falling stars” can be seen at an average rate of sixty meteors per hour under a dark and cloudless night.

Studies of past displays show that this shower has a reputation for being rich in slow, bright, graceful meteors and fireballs as well as faint meteors, with relatively fewer objects of medium brightness. Many appear yellowish in hue. Some even seem to form jagged or divided paths.

If you trace the paths of all the Geminid meteors backward, they appear to radiate from the same point in front of Gemini. This point is called the meteor shower radiant, and is located near the star Castor. To see Castor, look fairly low in the east-northeast sky around 9 p.m. Castor and the Geminid meteor shower radiant swing upward through the night, and climb pretty much overhead by around 2 a.m. Here’s what is important about a meteor shower’s radiant point: the higher the radiant rises into in your sky, the more meteors you’ll likely to see. That means you can expect to see the most Geminids around 2 a.m., when Castor will be highest in the sky, and the meteors will be raining down from overhead.

But you don’t have to find the meteor shower radiant to see the Geminid meteors, for these meteors shoot all over the sky.

Most meteor showers come from comets, which spew ample meteoroids for a night of ‘shooting stars.’ The Geminids are different. The parent is not a comet but a weird rocky object named 3200 Phaethon that sheds very little dusty debris—not nearly enough to explain the Geminids.

Also on Dec. 13, Mercury and Mars will appear closest (1° apart) while very low in the southwest after sunset. A pair of binoculars would help you see these two objects better.  Jupiter and Uranus could as well be seen just 10 degrees away from the First Quarter Moon.

This event is open to all. Bring your family and friends and enjoy the most spectacular meteor shower of the year. 🙂 You won’t need binoculars or a telescope, the naked eye is usually best for seeing meteors.



Clear skies and happy viewing!




poster by Aaron Misayah of UP AstroSoc

2010 Orionids Meteor Shower and Comet 103P/Hartley 2 Chasing

The University of the Philippines Astronomical Society (U.P. Astrosoc) will be holding its public observation of the 2010 Orionids Meteor Shower on October 21, 6PM (until 6AM of the following day) at the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory Sun Deck in the U.P. Diliman.

This event is for everyone. 😀

The Orionids meteor shower usually reaches its peak around October 21, having an average of 20 meteors per hour. The Orionids are fast meteors and also have fireballs. These meteors radiate near the boundaries between the Great Hunter Orion and Gemini. Orion will rise high late at night and the moon will be near full. Orionids will be best watched after moonset and before dawn.

Also, get a chance to see the beautiful green comet, 103P/Hartley which has been  a brilliant target for backyard astronomers this month. This comet provides naked eye visibility in some parts of the country under normal dark sky condition. But this week this beautiful visitor will be in closest approach, crossing within 11 million miles of earth. It could be best spotted during predawn hours near the bright star Capella in the constellation Auriga.


Bring your friends and your wish list, and have fun counting meteors!

Clear skies! 😀


UP Astronomical Society is inviting everyone to its public observation of the Orionids Meteor Shower on Oct 21-22 at the PAGASA Observatory.

Also, get a chance to see the green Comet Hartley that could be found in the constellation Auriga before dawn of October 22.

Make your wish list and invite your friends to this event. Clear skies everyone!

Sunset and Moon Viewing by the Bay

For the celebration of the International Observe the Moon Night 2010, I decided to invite my fellow amateurs from UP AstroSoc to do our observation in an area behind the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City which was also facing Manila Bay. The place has a very nice view of the western sky and it is in fact, known as one of the best places to watch the sun set. 😀

We went to the mall as early as 4pm to visit a Book Fair which was ongoing then at the mall’s convention center. There were lots of good books  there which were in relatively lower prices including Astronomy books! I almost got tempted to buy one for myself. 😛 Haha.

By 5:30 PM, we went outside the mall to view the sunset. Luckily, the heavens granted my wish and it didn’t rain that day. As we were crossing a bridge on the way out, we saw the breath-taking view of the setting sun! (partly covered in clouds though)

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One of my friends, Bea Banzuela, created a time-lapse video of the spectacular view:

The moon then was already shining brightly near the zenith.

The Moon! 🙂

As the sky grew darker, we took advantage of our location by taking numerous landscape and wide-angle shots of the moon. After several hours, the moon was just about 40 degrees above the western horizon. Its reflection on the water was very nice. Surrounding constellations like Sagittarius and Scorpius were noticeable too despite the bright glare of the waxing gibbous moon.

Happy InOMN! (click to enlarge image)

Moon and the Fountain

The planet Venus dropping by to join the celebration (click to enlarge)

Moon by the Bay (click to enlarge image)

We had planned to stay there until the moon set but, since that would happen at around 2 in the morning, we left earlier than planned.

The Moon behind us 🙂

I would like to thank and congratulate the international organizers of this first InOMN. This event was truly an amazing way for us to see the moon in a different light and appreciate our closest neighbor in space.

Hoping for another successful year for the InOMN in 2011!

To the moon and beyond! 😀

Astro Fact vs Astro Fiction

Are you tired of figuring out what’s real or not? Are you fed up with scientific hoaxes on Hollywood’s visions of warp speed and faster-than-light travel? Then,this is your chance to know what’s real and what’s not.

The UP Astronomical Society invites you to its Alternative Classroom Learning Experience (ACLE) for this year:


August 25, 2010 at 1pm, PH 114 Palma Hall, U.P. Diliman

See you there! 😀


image above:  The U.S.S Enterprise NCC-1701 (Star Trek) | Google Images

Lucky Friday the 13th! — Planet Parade and the 2010 Perseids

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:


Saksi: Astronomy enthusiasts await celestial alignment of 4 planets with Moon

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:

Moon and Venus

Crescent Luna

Venus (15-sec exposure)

Reddish Moon

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.

members while waiting for the Perseids

UP AstroSoc members and guests at the PAGASA Sundeck while waiting for the Perseids

members posing beside one of the org's telescopes

a member peeks into the telescope to observe the planet Jupiter with its moons

Moon and Venus (viewed from Seven Suites Hotel in Antipolo)

members who went to Los Banos, Laguna posed beside the UPLB AstroSoc banner

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.


*Photo credits:

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.

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Public Observations of the Perseids on the 13th

Wondering what to do on this Friday night? Dance with the meteors and the planets. 😀

The University of the Philippines Astronomical Society (UP Astrosoc) invites everyone to its public observation of the spectacular Perseid Meteor Shower and planetary grouping of Mars, Venus, Saturn and Mercury on August 13th (Friday) from 6pm to 6am of the following day at the PAGASA Observatory Sun Deck in the University of the Philippines Campus, Diliman.

Likewise, the UP-Los Banos Astronomical Society (UPLB Astrosoc) will hold an Astronomy Camp entitled “Astra La Vista: The First Encounter” also on the 13th at D.L. Umali Hall in UP Los Banos, Laguna. Aside from observing the Perseids and the planetary grouping, this event will be its launching activity as well.

So don’t forget to mark your calendars on this date, list down your wishes and watch these events from  your local areas.

Let’s pray for clear skies 🙂

Ad astra per aspera! – The UP Astronomical Society

The title above is a Latin phrase which means, “To the stars through difficulties..”. This phrase is also the motto of my beloved university-based astronomical organization, UP Astronomical Society which has just celebrated its 19th anniversary last week.

True to its objectives, the organization strive for years to promote astronomy among students and the general public. It partakes in several astronomy activities throughout the academic year. These include astronomy classes, observing sessions, public astronomy lectures, exhibits and forums.

I was once given a chance to serve as an officer of the organization and I was able to observe how it develops.  No activity or project must have come to fruition without the great efforts of its members who worked hard with dedication for its events. I would say that the diversity of its composition which was united with the common goal and interest helped UP Astrosoc to grow to what it is now.

UP Astrosoc members while observing the Partial Solar last January 15, 2010 near the Manila Bay (photo by Aaron Misayah)

In celebration of its 19th year, the organization opened its tambayan (headquearters) which is currently located at the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory in the University of the Philippines – Diliman in Quezon City. Free screening of the movie, “Contact” which was based on the novel by Carl Sagan was offered to everyone with free popcorn and refreshments 😀

As part of my tribute to the org, I would like to quote Mr. Bamm Gabriana, one of its founding members, who shared a tidbit of the UP Astrosoc history.

“The original UP Astrosoc started in Manila in 1935, and was founded by Professor Alejandro Melchor after whom the College of Engineering building in Diliman is named.

Their tambayan was the original Manila Observatory in Padre Faura. That observatory had a 19-inch telescope, an inch larger than the 18-inch PAGASA telescope in our tambayan. That telescope was destroyed during the war. Soon after, the original UP Astrosoc ceased to exist, and the UP system moved to Diliman,

I’d like to think that, in a way, the founding members including myself merely revived the original UP Astrosoc.

Counting from 1935, then the original UP Astrosoc is now 75 years old. Thus we can say that our 20th anniversary coincides with the Diamond anniversary of the original UP Astrosoc.”

Knowing this made me feel prouder of my org 😀 It’s nice to know that even before, people including the great Prof. Alejandro Melchor, have already made efforts in creating an astronomical organization in the university. Thus, maybe just like us now, they see astronomy as a very interesting field that’s why it should be widely promoted especially among students through an established astronomical organization which shall be dedicated to the job.

Happy 19th anniversary UP Astrosoc! 😀

Join UP Astronomical Society! :)

The University of the Philippines Astronomical Society is now open for application this 1st semester AY 2010 – 2011 🙂

Currently enrolled UP Diliman students are invited to join us in our mission to promote astronomy.

Visit our Sign up Booth at AS Walk from July 6-9, 2010 🙂

Applicant’s orientation will be on July 9 and 13, 6pm at the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory (near CHE).

For inquiries, please contact Julee at 09154927295 or email us at upastrosociety@gmail.com

Below is the org’s cool audio-visual presentation, featuring its members, for the applicant’s orientation last year.

Ad astra per aspera! 😀