Stargazing, Starstruck

Posted: April 14, 2013 in and Explorations, Trips, Visits

UPDATE! – “Hoorah!” , shall I say because there’s an update? 🙂 –

Here’s my second tour. This one’s a bit more special, because of the new pics I got, courtesy of the GOTO Telescope, and my new toy, a Canon 1200D DSLR

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Check the pics here!

My Second Tour at the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory (04/21/2014)

My first ever trip to an astronomical observatory. I must say this is one of the many trips that I have gone for the first time that got me immediately fascinated with. Another childhood dream put into realization.

We were guided in the tour, with our resident Astronomer, Mr. Nico Mendoza, a City of Mandaluyong Science High School graduate of Batch 2007, who also happens to be one of the first three graduates of BS Astronomy Technology in the country. He invited us on a special, private tour inside the Philippine Atmospheric and Astronomical Administration (PAGASA – the G part, which stands for Geophysical is already removed from their administration and is now handled by PHIVOLCS, but they decided to put the letter in the acronym anyway. It would not sound good if they do remove it! LOL)

Was it special? In many ways, yes! 🙂

I have always been fascinated by the heavenly bodies. From my younger years, even when I was in preschool, looking at the pictures of galaxies, planets, and other heavenly bodies from encyclopedias (internet was not yet that available), up to  when I am already am already an adult, watching documentaries from Discovery Channel and Nat Geo, fascinated me.   Good thing I also graduated from a high school that focused on these sciences. There was even one time, during the 2010 Lunar Eclipse, that I stayed up all night, taking a screen shot from  a live video simulcast from an international astronomical website, to create a time lapse slide show of the lunar phases during an eclipse.

And I thought I was already in content with those photos and videos. Until last night.

Having  the chance to look at these amazing creations from the telescope with my naked eye is just an amazing, exhilarating experience. It kinda refreshed my fascination with the stars and whatever else is found there in the outer space. You guys have got to see it for yourselves, as the photos in my Facebook wall would not suffice.

Me and Nico arrived about an hour earlier than the others. While we were taking a look at the moon from the telescopes, I couldn’t help my self but ask him about the things that he does as an astronomer. He personally does not want to be called as an astronomer, as someone who uses telescopes, points them to the stars and assists tourists, who basically has not undergone and earned a degree can also be called one. Well, in fairness to Sir Nico, his credentials can put him on a higher level than some “astronomers”.

Me and Nico also happen to share a common ground of graduating college from the same University and mentored by the awesome Doctor Jesus Torres of Rizal Technological University – me on Political Science, and Nico on Astronomy Technology – a great coincidence, indeed.

And being a space fan that I am, I found myself finishing almost every sentence that Nico started while we were having a quick chitchat, as we were waiting for the others. We were two individuals sharing the same interests,and for me, it was a privilege to be given a lecture by one credible person who knows a lot about something you’d like to know a lot about.

Enter a caption

Here’s Nico, while adjusting the view of the telescope to check on Planet Saturn. The GOTO telescope is the only one, and biggest telescope in the country, with a 45cm diameter lens. It was donated to the Philippines by Japan about a decade ago.

We were also given a brief, yet very informative lecture about astrophotography, by one of our companions in the trip, who happens to have a lot of knowledge about cameras and DSLRs, with the help of Sir Nico’s modules – now I get to appreciate photos more, by understanding the technical stuff and how they affect the output of each photo.

Saturn and its moons

A more focused image of the ringed planet, Saturn

A view of the moon as seen from the observatory

This is one good way to bond with your friends. I guess I am just privileged to have a friend like Sir Nico that we are given the opportunity like this. Normally, you would need to ask permission from PAGASA Observatory for any visit, and they won’t be able to let you use any viewing equipment without enough supervision.

When sleeping over gets too overrated, you get to hang out with your friends (and new found ones) and experience a tour like this!

Here’s the album from our first visit, over four years ago:

Star Gazing – PAGASA Observatory, UP Diliman, Quezon City

Lastly, it could be a good place to date, too! Given that you are allowed all access to the observatory, or you may simply set yourselves outside looking at the stars, peeping from the scopes from time to time, strumming on your guitar while laying down on a makeshift mat beside a special someone looking straight up the stars.

A heavenly view matched with some acoustic music? Your date can never go wrong.

Okay, enough with me being such a romantic! 🙂

We promise to be back to the observatory, and hopefully, on a night when a special astronomical event will be taking place.


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