M8 Lagoon Nebula and the Open Cluster NGC 6530 April 6, 2012

M8, the Lagoon Nebula, is a cloud of ionized hydrogen gas some 50 light-years in diameter, located about 5000 light-years away. It is a region in space where new stars form. To the east of the nebula is the open cluster NGC 6530, also visible in this photograph. Sky-Watcher 100 ED 4 in f/9 refractor, Kenko NES mount, Canon 450D DSLR, 2 x 240 sec exp, IS0 1600. April 6, 2012, Camarines Norte, Philippines. Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano

ALP Philippine Messier Marathon Open 2012

The Philippine Messier Marathon Open is an annual star party conducted under the dark clear skies of Caliraya, Laguna, where astronomy-enthusiasts in the country gather to observe and meet fellow enthusiasts. This event hosted by the Astronomical League of the Philippines is by far the largest star party and astro-gathering in the Philippines.

The highlight of the event is the Messier Marathon where astro-enthusiasts attempt to observe and identify all the 110 m-objects in just one night. This image was taken earlier today, March 25, 2012, at sunrise. For more info, click here.


Eyepieces are essential parts of a telescope. With different eyepieces, different zoom levels may be achieved. Eyepieces are interchangeable, and thus, may be used from one scope to another. It is always advisable to invest on a good one, since you may still be able to use it in case you have finally decided to upgrade and buy a new and larger telescope.

New telescopes are usually supplied with 2 eyepieces, one is ‘hi-power’, which will show zoomed-in views, great for close-up views of planets, the other one is a ‘low-power’, which shows zoomed-out views, intended for observing deep-sky objects. Below are eyepieces supplied in one of my telescopes:

Pair of eyepieces, one low-power (left), one hi-power (right)

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Saturn March 8, 2012

First attempt in an imaging technique called eyepiece projection. It seems this setup produces better images than using two 2x barlows stacked together to produce the same image scale. Photo Credit: Anthony Urbano. For more images of Saturn, click here.

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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

How to Find Polaris (The North Star)

As viewed from the Philippines, Polaris, the North Star, lies 15 degrees above the northern horizon. To find Polaris, look first for the asterism The Big Dipper (which should be visible in the northeastern horizon at around 1-2 a.m. this month) then use the stars Merak and Dubhe to point directly to Polaris, as shown in the photo. This composite of 2 images was taken last January 31, 2012 at 2 a.m. in UP Diliman using a point-and-shoot camera on a tripod.

Facing north at 2 a.m., January 31, 2012, UP Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

For more information on how to get started with amateur astronomy, click here.