Southern Cross at Dawn

A constellation with a cross pattern is now visible in the early morning sky. This is the constellation Crux, or the “Southern Cross”. It has four prominent stars and can be seen very easily with the naked eye. The cross may tilt differently (to the left or to the right) depending on the time of observation. Crux is best viewed this month of January until May, visible from the Philippines and most parts of the world.

southern cross january 2019
Taken yesterday, January 16, 2019, from Bacoor City, Cavite, using a DSLR camera on a tripod. For more photos of constellations taken in the Philippines, click here.

To find the constellation, just face the southern horizon a few hours before sunrise.

For more constellation photos taken in the Philippines, click here.

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

 

 

Venus-Jupiter Conjunction (January 2019)

venus - jupiter pair january 19, 2019
Venus-Jupiter pair (conjuction) in the morning sky, visible from the Philippines and in most parts of the world (image taken on January 16, 2019, from Bacoor, Cavite). For more photos of celestial groupings, click here.

The Venus-Jupiter pair (or what astronomers refer to as conjunction) can now be seen in the early morning sky. The two planets, in reality, are separated by vast distances. It just so happened that currently, the two planets are found in the same general direction, creating the illusion that they are close to each other. The separation will be smallest on January 23, 2019 (best viewed from 4 am to 6 am). Another notable event occurs on January 31, when the moon joins the two planets to form a celestial triangle.

For instructions on how to observe this event, click here. For more photos of celestial groupings, click here.

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

 

 

 

Venus as Evening Star (December 2016)

venus_laser
A green laser points at Venus, currently visible in the western horizon about an hour after sunset. This photo was taken on November 30, 2016 from the observing deck of Seven Suites Hotel Observatory in Antipolo.

Lately, you might have noticed what appears to be a very bright star prominently visible in the western horizon about an hour after sunset. This ‘star’ is in fact the planet Venus.

Venus is the brightest among the five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) that can be seen with the naked eye. The planet will continue to be prominent in the sky until around March 2017.

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Zodiacal Lights in Calapan (July 7, 2016)

I have finally seen and photographed the zodiacal lights (diffused white glow in the night sky caused by the reflection of sunlight on dust particles orbiting the Sun) from Calapan City, in the island of Mindoro. Since the zodiacal lights’ glow is much fainter than the Milky Way and only visible in places with pristine dark sky, this phenomenon is very rarely observed by astronomy enthusiasts.

Zodiacal_Light_Calapan_July_2016
The zodiacal lights captured in this photo appears as a diffused white glow extending from the eastern horizon towards the plane of the ecliptic (in the direction of Pleiades and Aldebaran), as seen from the island of Mindoro, Philippines. This image was taken at around 4 am on July 7, 2016 (about 2 hours before the local sunrise), using a Canon 1100D DSLR, 18-55 mm lens f/3.5, at ISO 400 at 63 sec exposure.

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Ultra-Portable Tracker Setup

I have recently assembled an ultra-portable tracker setup. The intention is to build a simple yet fairly accurate sky tracker capable of capturing wide-field targets, particularly, the Milky Way.

tracker_eteny (1)
Ultra-portable tracker built from a telescope’s RA motor (geared stepper motor)

To learn more about this tracker, click here.

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Big Dipper and Mayon Volcano

I have always wondered how big Mayon volcano would be when framed against the night sky, as viewed from an easily accessible location such as Legazpi City. The photo below shows the apparent altitude (or its height measured in degrees) of Mayon, with the Big Dipper asterism framed in the background to provide a sense of scale.

Big_Dipper_Mayon
Mayon Volcano framed against the Big Dipper, taken on March 27, 2016 at around 3:48 am. As viewed from Legazpi, Albay, Mayon has an apparent altitude of only about 11.5 degrees (for comparison with Polaris, click here).

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines

Milky Way from Antipolo, Ph (March 2014)

Milky Way Bosoboso March 30, 2014_39sec
Milky Way taken with a DSLR camera on a tracking mount

Image of the Milky Way galaxy taken with a DSLR camera on a tracking mount. Canon 450D DSLR camera, 50 mm f/1.8 lens, 39 second exposure, ISO 1600, March 30, 2014 at Boso-boso, Antipolo, Philippines. Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano. For an archive of my Milky Way photos, click here.

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

Stargazing at Big Handy’s Grounds

Stargazing_BigHandysGrounds2015
Our tent and telescope, with the Milky Way at the background! Captured on June 27, 2015 at Big Handy’s Grounds, Tanay, Rizal, using a Canon 450D DSLR, 18-55 mm kit lens set at 18 mm, ISO 1600, f/3.5 at 30 sec exposure. Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano

Located just 50 km east of Manila, Big Handy’s Grounds offers skies dark enough for serious stargazing sessions. The photo above shows our tent and telescope, with the Milky Way at the background, captured on June 27, 2015 using a typical DSLR camera and a kit lens.

To learn how to take photos of the Milky Way, click here. For previous observations, click here.

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)