From the classroom, to the Universe


Star Trekking II – Mt. Balagbag

After my first mountaineering adventure with a heavy telescope on my back, I told my self I won’t be doing it again,  well at least not with a heavy 5 inch telescope. So this time we chose a mountain, more like of a hill rather, which is really easy and not quite far from Manila which is Mt. Balagbag located almost in between of Bulacan and Rizal Province.  The trail there was quite easy and we had the luxury of not getting burned by the scorching heat of the sun since we trekked in the afternoon, apparently no trees are present around the trail, I would not suggest going up on near noon time.

Trail to the Summit

The cool breeze in the afternoon was very relaxing after the trek to the registration area where we were entertained by the caretaker’s cat.


Mt. Balagbag is not difficult to climb but the scenery around is nevertheless spectacular.


Mt. Balagbag

A 3.5″ Maksutov Cassegrain telescope named “Karen” which is short for kaladkaren. A bring it everywhere telescope, lightweight and portable!

3.5 Inch Maksutov

It was cloudy the whole night but the early morning skies was majestic.  Moon, Saturn, Mercury and Venus in line.

Moon, Saturn Mercury and Venus

Sunrise over another mountain peek. Taken using a Canon 550d on a SkyWatcher 3.5″ Mak using a Thousand Oaks Solar Filter.


Photo Credits:

Kashogi Astapan


Jupiter 12/16

Jupiter 12/16

Recording 2 minute avi instead of 1 min significantly increases frames which results to more detail in post processing. However blur due to Jupiter’s rotation becomes noticeable if one record longer.

In this current set up atleast, it rotation has little effects on the image which was captured at f10.

Images were captured using PAS’s Celestron Nexstar 8se and Philips Toucam. Acquired via Sharpcap, processed using Registax V5 and CS3. Observed from Malabon City, Philippines

Jupiter 12/7 GRS and Io

jupiter 12_7_2012 10_32_38 PM

An isolated rain in the afternoon posed a threat the planned observation for the night. It cleared up in late evening but seeing was mediocre. I’ve waited for GRS to transit while it was a luck that Io was captured within the FOV.

12/7/12 10:32 PM Local Time (+8 UTC)

jupiter 12_7_2012 10_47_02 PM

Using a 2x barlow lens was rather difficult to keep it at center. This image was processed with 2 AVI file stiched VirtualDub.  Hint of Red Spot Jr. (Left of GRS)

12/7/12 10:47 PM Local Time (+8 UTC)

Images were captured using Celestron Nexstar 8se and Philips Toucam.  Acquired via Sharpcap, processed using Registax V5 and CS3.  Observed from Malabon City, Philippines.

Mare Crisuim

Capture 11_29_2012 9_39_01 PM

Mare Crisium is a flat basin that can be easily seen on the Moon’s Edge. Within the mare are craters Piccard (left) and Pierre (right) . Image taken a day after the full moon using Philippine Astronomical Society‘s Celestron nexstar 8se and Philips Toucam. Processed using Registax v5.



Jupiter and Io 11/27/12

Jupiter 11/27/12

Taken using Celestron Nexstar 8se and Philips Toucam. Acquired via SharpCap, cropped using Castrator, proccessed using Registax V5. A 2x barlow lens was used in capturing image.

Io and its shadow can be seen on the image.


Jupiter and Io’s Shadow

A quick test image on Jupiter last November 21, 2012 using Philippine Astronomical Society’s  Celestron c8 SE known as Rica Jane.  Io’s shadow on the side can be seen.

Moon 10/31/2012

Two Days after Hunter’s Moon

Taken using  Meade ETX125 and Agfa Optima 147 

Crater Endymion  (center)

Taken using Meade ETX 125 and Philips Toucam

Jupiter – 10/31/2012

According on the Stellarium, GRS will start to transit at around 3:00am but it did not happen until 4:00am this morning. I wish I could wait till 5:00 am but I felt tired already. T_T

Image was captured using Meade ETX 125 and Philips Toucam Pro. SharpCap, Castrator and Regsitax were used for acquisition and processing of pictures.

12:35am Local Time ( +8 UTC)

1:48am Local Time (+8 UTC)

3:14am Local Time (+8 UTC)

3:50am Local Time (+8 UTC)

Modeling Activity on the Law of Universal Gravitation

In my desperate effort to my an inch away from traditional lecture method,  I tried to let my students do a modeling  activity on the Universal Law of Gravitation. Good thing PhET Gravity Force lab was available and as well lots of teacher made inquiry / modeling based activity can be reviewed and modified to specific use in class.

Steve Banasiak’s activity on the gravity force lab is one best and I recommend its use. The link of the activity can be found here.

The activity allows them simulate force of gravity between two objects then find the relationships of masses ( mass 1 and 2) to the distance and force of gravity through tables and graphs. Student are asked to find the formula in the relationships and also calculate for the gravitational constant (G).

You can also do differentiated instruction by doing homogenous grouping. Let the advanced group do an activity with less instruction, challenging them to think how to go through with it while have the less advanced group with a more detailed instructions and guide them as they do their work. I find it difficult at first but it really pays off well in the end.

Having them find the formula themselves (and the gravitational constant) is more meaningful than posting it on the board.

I’ll post student responses soon!

Jupiter – 10/13/2012

The sky was generous for a few moments until the clouds came rolling in. Luckily, we were able to capture a few frames of Jupiter.  The image was taken at Subic during the Philippine Astronomical Society Planning Session using Celestron C6 SCT on EQ5 mount using Philips Toucam


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