Mars Occultation | April 2021

The moon is also known to eclipse planets, and one such event involving Mars occurred on April 17, 2021, a relatively rare astronomical event visible in the southern part of the country. I was able to observe and photograph Mars before it was eclipsed or hidden from view by the moon, from Bacoor City, Philippines. Mars’s red hue and some lunar craters are visible in this photo.

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Related link: Lunar Occultation of Jupiter

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Shutter Switch | Canon 50D

I’ve built a remote shutter switch for my Canon 50D to enable it to take exposures longer than 30 seconds, which is essential in astrophotography. Since the camera already has a battery grip, I just bypassed the battery grip’s shutter button and put an external switch. To make it removable, I used a wire that plugs into a socket hidden neatly in the battery compartment.

DIY remote shutter switch for Canon 50D

Related link: View all home-brewed DIY astronomy equipment

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Earthshine | March 2021

I’ve observed and photographed the moon’s earthshine, in which the crescent moon’s darker surface is illuminated not directly by the Sun, but by sunlight reflected off the Earth.

Moon’s Earthshine | Sky-Watcher 4 in f/9 refractor

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Battery Adapter for DSLR

I’ve built a DIY battery adapter for a Canon 1100D using a 12V power connector, a power supply regulator, and housing of an old battery. The DIY adapter provides power to the DSLR from a DIY field battery for extended use during imaging sessions.

Battery Adapter for Canon 1100D

Related link: View all home-brewed DIY astronomy equipment

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Straight Key and Dual-Paddle with Iambic Keyer

I have built a Morse code straight key and iambic keyer for Morse code communications.

The straight key was made from brass bars, some bearings, and screw. It was then mounted on the same aluminum plate with my home-brewed electronic keyer with paddles and desk microphone.

Home-brewed straight key and dual-paddle with an iambic keyer

The keyer uses an Arduino Uno and a few components such as a potentiometer for adjusting the words per minute (WPM), a small speaker, some resistors, and LED indicators.

To view all posts about amateur radio, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Receiving NOAA Satellite Image

NOAA satellites transmit weather images in APT format at 137 MHz which may be received using just a VHF antenna, a software-defined radio (SDR), and a decoder such as Wxtoimg running on a laptop.

My first weather satellite image decoded on December 3, 2020, as NOAA 18 passes over the Philippines.

To view all posts about amateur radio, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Planetary Camera

By attaching a webcam or a dash cam to a telescope using a special type of adapter, it is possible to take up-close photos of planets.

Web Camera

Replace the webcam’s lens by a special type of adapter called a webcam-to-telescope adapter. Insert the webcam with an adapter into the eyepiece barrel of the telescope’s focuser.

Jupiter imaged with an SPC900NC web camera
SPC900NC webcam attaches to a telescope with webcam-to-telescope adapter

Dash Camera

Polaroid N302 for planetary imaging

Polaroid N302 dash camera repurposed for planetary imaging

I repurposed my old dash camera as a planetary camera. The lens was removed and replaced with a webcam-to-telescope adapter and then mounted on to a telescope.

Related link: View posts on camera modification projects

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Venus | July 2020

Among all the planets, Venus is the brightest. It is usually seen an hour before sunrise, or an hour after sunset. The phases of Venus may be observed and photographed with a small telescope. This image of the crescent Venus was taken with a Canon 1100D and a 4 inch f/9 refractor.

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

PSAT2 Satellite SSTV Images

PSAT2 transmits SSTV images at 435.360 MHz (UHF) which may be received using just a DIY Moxon-Yagi satellite antenna, a UHF radio, and a decoder such as Robot 36 running on a smartphone (Android). Here is an image decoded in May 2020, as PSAT2 passes over the Philippines.

SSTV image from PSAT2

SSTV transmission by PSAT2 is active only at daytime. Doppler-effect compensation is necessary to properly receive the transmission. Tune the radio at 435.370 to 435.350 MHz from start to end of the pass. You may decode up to two SSTV images per pass. To watch a a demo video click here.

To view all posts about amateur radio, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Satellite Antenna DU1AU

A satellite antenna can be made from 3 mm copper or aluminum elements, PVC boom, and some parts you may already have at home. This antenna has been tested to work with the Philippine Oscar (PO)-101 satellite Diwata 2.

DIY Satellite Antenna

To view all posts about amateur radio, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY SATNOGS Satellite Tracker

I’ve recently finished building a satellite traker based on SATNOGS satellite tracker. The automated tracker uses an Arduino to control a pair of stepper motors that move two cross-yagi antennas (VHF and UHF).

DIY SATNOGS satellite tracker

The Arduino receives satellite’s azimuth and elevation info using the tracking software Gpredict. Hamlib is then used to establish a link between the computer and Arduino through USB connection via EasyComm III protocol. The tracker uses two A4988 stepper motor driver, and two geared stepper motors. A weatherproof metal box is used as a case, and rubber seals prevent water from entering.

To view all posts about amateur radio, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Satellite Demo with Phil Navy

I was invited to conduct a live satellite demo at the Pascual Ledesma Naval Station in Cavite, Philippines. We’ve accessed DIWATA2 (PO-101) and had successful contact with JA6PL (Japan), DV2JHA (Pangasinan), and DU1ELT (Cotabato).

Naval Sea Systems Command
Live demonstration of a satellite contact

To view all posts on amateur radio, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Portable Satellite Radio Setup

This battery-operated radio setup can be easily carried to any remote location. Connect a satellite antenna, turn the radio on,  select the pre-programmed uplink and downlink frequencies, and you are ready to make contact!

A portable satellite radio setup

To view all posts about amateur radio, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY Arduino TNC

I have finished building and testing a DIY Terminal Node Controller (TNC). With a TNC, any radio may encode and decode signals in the Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) format. This TNC is based on the home-brewed TNC project by VK3DAN.

Arduino-based TNC

The TNC requires a smart phone with APRSdroid connected via bluetooth. It taps directly to a radio through the dedicated audio line-in and line-out ports. I’ve tested this TNC to work with the International Space Station’s (ISS) digipeater at 145.825 MHz, using the digipath: ARISS.

To view all posts about amateur radio, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIWATA 2 Satellite Test

In March 2019, I’ve worked with the STAMINA4SPACE to test the DIWATA2’s Amateur Radio Unit (ARU). The task involves testing the receiving and transmitting capabilities of the satellite’s on-board amateur radio equipment.

To view all posts about amateur radio, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Milky Way | Bolinao

We went on a road trip to Bolinao, Pangasinan. At daytime, we explored the beaches and tourist spots and at night, we stargazed and imaged the Milky Way! With a sky that is relatively dark, I was able to take a photo of the Milky Way with the resort as foreground.

Milky Way in Bolinao, Pangasinan

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.
Related link: How to Image the Milky Way

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Total Lunar Eclipse | 2018

Total Lunar Eclipse January 31 2018
Total Lunar Eclipse taken with a 4-inch f/9 refractor and a DSLR camera on January 31, 2018 at the PAGASA Observatory in UP Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

For a complete list of astrophoto images, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

DIY DSLR Filter Modification

I have performed filter modifications on a number of DSLR cameras (Canon 450D, 700D, 1200D, 500D, 1000D, 1100D, Nikon D3100, and Fuji X-A1) for me and my colleagues. It involves the removal of the stock UV-IR filter, making the camera more sensitive to H-alpha wavelengths. This modification is helpful only when shooting targets with H-alpha emissions, as most DSLR camera’s standard (stock) filter blocks this part of the spectrum.

Take note of the shift in white balance (reddish hue), which is to be expected in this type of modification. Focus will be affected, your camera may no longer focus with compatible lenses unless you add a filter between the lens and the sensor, to address the shift in focus and to filter out UV-IR. If used with telescopes, you need a DSLR-to-telescope adapter and achieve focus using the telescope’s focuser.

Daytime images before and after the filter modification

Here are sample images taken with the cameras I have modified (posted with permission).

Horse head and Flame Nebula by Kennerton Agresor, 1.5 hours exposure, imaged with a modified Canon 700D, SVBONY 70ED, 0.8X reducer-flattener, tracked and guided with Sky-Watcher AZGTi and ASI120mm mini with ZWO 30mm f/4 guide camera
Rosette Nebula by Kennerton Agresor, 1.5 hours exposure, imaged with a modified Canon 700D, SVBONY 70ED, 0.8X reducer-flattener, tracked and guided with Sky-Watcher AZGTi and ASI120mm mini with ZWO 30mm f/4 guide camera
Orion Wide-Field by Luis Angelo Rafael imaged with a modified Canon 1200D and Samyang 135mm at f/4, tracked with EQ mount with a Celestron RA Drive
Orion Nebula by Pierre Paulo Sebastian imaged with a Canon 500D and a 3M-6A 500 mm lens, total 6.9 hours exposure
Trifid and Lagoon Nebula by Pierre Paulo Sebastian imaged with a Fuji X-A1 and a Tair 3s 300mm lens, 1.8 hours exposure
Orion Nebula by Anthony Guiller Urbano imaged with a modified Canon 450D and Sky-Watcher Equinox 100ED f/9, tracked with a Kenko NES mount, 1 hour exposure

If you are interested in this kind of camera modification (Philippines only), send an email to du1au@nightskyinfocus.com.

Related link: View all home-brewed DIY astronomy equipment

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Pentax Binoculars

This is a Pentax 10 by 50 S-series waterproof binoculars for terrestrial and astronomical use. It features high quality multi-coated optics, waterproof build, multi-coated lens, internal focusing mechanism with focus lock, diopter adjustment to accommodate variations in focusing of the eyes, and equipped with socket for mounting with a tripod.

Pentax 10 by 50 binoculars

To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines

Telescope Travel Cases

Here are some of the hard travel cases I use in moving my telescope and its accessories, especially when travelling to remote observing sites.

To view posts on DIY projects and astronomical equipment, click here.

Night Sky in Focus | Astronomy and Amateur Radio
© Anthony Urbano | Manila, Philippines