Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jupiter in November 2012

Whenever I have an opportunity to image Jupiter, I take it. These are the images I have captured so far.

November 2: Jupiter, Io and Ganymede

November 5: Jupiter, Europa and Io

November 9: Jupiter

With the 4 Galilean moons

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Birding at UP Diliman 2012-11-10

I wanted to do a little birding during the weekend. Following Jun's advise, I decided to volunteer on a club trip to guide some highschool students. I got up at half past 4 in the morning to have a quick morning preparation and proceed to the site arriving at a little past 6. When I arrived, several birders were already giving those first-time birders a quick introduction.

After the short intro, we showed them a Coppersmith barbet resting on top of a nearby tree. When the bird flew away, we aimed the scopes to a few Eurasian tree sparrows on a building ledge. After that, we started moving.

On the next area, we saw a few small Golden bellied flycatcher, but couldn't point the scopes due to their constant movement. At the parking area, some of us managed to aim the scope at a Pied thriller. I was a bit slow to find the bird before it flew away, but managed to see it on another scope.

We started moving again after the bird was gone. While walking, we stopped at one point to listen to bird calls as we were trying to find a White collared kingfisher that was very common in that area. It seems we weren't able to hear any kingfisher calls, but luckily as we moved forward, we saw two of them resting quietly. Most of us were glad that we didn't disappoint the kids. The 2 kingfishers stayed far longer than we expected and didn't even fly away. We got more than 10 minutes of viewing time before we left to try and find other birds.

At the main oval road, we stopped several times to try and observe some birds there such as the Brown shrike, a pied fantail and some flycatchers. A few of us also saw the Philippine pygmy woodpecker that we've been hearing earlier.

As we move to back to the grassy area, we saw an immature Brush cuckoo. It was a life bird for me as well. I had a great time looking at this bird and tried to photograph it several times. After the cuckoo, a few of us managed to see another bird, a Grey wagtail. We weren't able to show the kids this bird, as we have very limited viewing time. Some experienced members weren't lucky enough to see it as well.

After the wagtail, the group decided to go to the lagoon area, but I have to leave due to a prior scheduled engagement. So I pack up my stuffs and bid the group farewell.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Long Distance Biking 2012-11-01

It's All Saint's Day in the Philippines and many people are supposed to visit their relative's grave, light candles and offer flowers. I've already done that a week ago, to avoid the crowded cemetery. Now I have the less crowded roads to ride my bike on. A week ago, I bought an odometer to keep track of the distance I covered. So this time, I can put it to good use.

I started biking from my place in Cainta, Rizal passing through the Municipality of Taytay, then Angono and Binangonan, which is my usual stop before I go back. I've only biked farther than Binangonan once, that was when I reached Cardona, a municipality about 4 kilometers ahead. Since I have several days of rest ahead of me, I can stress myself to the limit. I wanted to go as far as I could even though I'm not trained to go far. I continued my journey through the place I call "The Knee Killer". This was the hardest part of my previous journey because this section surrounding Cardona has several uphill and downhill climb. I thought this "Knee Killer" road will not end until Tanay, but luckily I was wrong. The difficult part stretched to about a kilometer or two after Cardona and that was it. The next part of the journey through Morong and Baras only have some slight climb, but not as tiring as those in Cardona.

When I reached Tanay, I decided to explore a bit. I visited the century old San Ildefonso church and the old lighthouse (Parola). I was surprised when I saw the lighthouse surrounded by water. The first time I visited the place, the road extends past the lighthouse. This time however, the Laguna lake somehow overflowed and flooded the place. After visiting the lighthouse, I decided to take a much needed break and quench my thirst with an order of halo-halo from a famous fake-Chinese food restaurant.

Sign to Tanay


Distance from Cainta to Tanay (Parola)

Break at Chowking

San Ildefonso Church in Tanay

After the short break, I went back to the church to take some photographs. Then I started my journey back home.Along the way back, I also visited the churches in Baras and Morong that I passed by earlier. When I reached the "Knee Killer" section at 54Km mark on my odometer, I felt a slight pain on my left knee. I stopped to rest my cramped knee a bit until the pain subsided. Traversing this "Knee Killer" section is difficult as I could not pedal continuously uphill. I need to take a short break for each 100-200m distance I travelled uphill. Fatigue was already affecting me and I knew at once that I have reached my limit which is around 50Km. After the very slow traversing of this difficult path, I reached Binangonan and continue to Angono and then Taytay. At this point, I could no longer pedal fast enough to reach a speed of 30Km/hr without my knee tiring.I stayed at a more comfortable pace of  about 16Km/hr even on flat road with less cars. When I was traversing this part of the journey earlier, I was able to reach 30+Km/hr, but not this time.

Under-utilized municipal hall of Morong

Church of Morong

Monuments at Cardona

Church of Cardona

I took another break at Taytay to have my lunch. After the break, I thought I will be able to maintain a fast cadence again, but it seems my muscles have reached their limit and pedaling fast will easily tire it. I slowly pedaled home maintaining a good speed of 10-16Km/hr with a slightly sore leg muscles at the last leg of the journey. My final stats recorded are as follows:

Time travelled: 4:56.08
Distance: 79.72
Average speed: 16.1 Km/hr
Maximum speed: 46.4 Km/hr
Calories used: 913 kcal

Distance traveled Before and after 

Speed average and maximum. At the maximum speed, I was going downhill and a bit scared that I might flip over when I apply the brake. :)


Along the way, I was able to watch bird a bit. Here are some of them:

Mix flock of egrets

White breasted wood swallow

In the future, I will probably not attempt to go this far and just go as far as Cardona. But if I want to improve my leg strength, I should try Tanay again. ;)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Birdy Sunday 2012-10-28

Together with my dad, we went to the airport to accompany my sister before she departs for Singapore. Afterwards, we head to the SM Mall of Asia for lunch and waste a few hours there. While waiting for the scheduled birding trip, we saw the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and many of her crews.

After taking some shots and observing the ship, we decided to go to the meeting place earlier and just waste our time there. When we meet our club president and other interested birders, we were told to go to LLPCHEA ahead of the group.

After the group have assembled, there was a short speech by Mike Lu and a short introduction by Mark Villa before we started birding.

We saw a lot fewer birds this time, but those kingfishers never fail to impress the group of newbie and oldie birders.

Common kingfisher

White collared kingfisher

Black crowned night heron

Before we left, we were treated to a nice view of the colorful sunset.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Astronomy in October

After weeks of cloudy sky, the rainy season is near its' end. At my place, I'm already getting some nice clear sky either during the day or night. Astronomy season is finally here.

October 18
I got home with a nice clear sky. Initially, I took my 15x70 bins out to scan the sky. After a few minutes, I couldn't hold the itch to image something. I took out my portable setup: a Canon SX120 digicam on an EQ-1 and start capturing the Andromeda galaxy, that's Messier 31 to number geeks. Then I saw Jupiter rising. It was already about 25 degrees from the horizon. So I took out my 102mm mak and set it up on a CG-4, find the target and start shooting. The seeing was still flaky at best, so I waited until the target reached 30 degrees. Then I took a few more clips. Not long after I started shooting, my batteries ran out of juice. I managed to collect these images.

October 22
The sky is clear again, but I have a lot of things to do, so I simply took a few moon shots from my Apex 127 mak to satisfy the astro fever.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sun 2012-10-07

After a few months of cloudy sky and anti-astronomy weather, I was finally able to do some astro session. I initially thought the sky will turn cloudy later, but I was wrong. The warm sun stayed open the entire afternoon. I took a short peek at the sun, but found out that some sunspots are available for imaging, so I took these.

 Sunspot 1582

Sun with spots 1582 and 1585, plus another small one on the upper left near the edge of the disk.

I used my 102mm Skywatcher mak, EQ-3 and Canon Powershot A590 digicam to capture these images using afocal method.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Marian Hill in Rizal 2012-10-07

A day earlier, I was biking along the Manila East Road when I saw something that caught my attention. From a distance, it looks like a statue of Jesus Christ on one side of the hill. I tried to get as close as possible, but the road seems to go up steeper than I'm willing to ride up with my folding bike, so I turned back.

The following day, I tried hiking up prepared for a long walk, but finished the hike up in less than an hour. Along the way, I encountered several groups of mountain bikers and a few hikers like me. The first half of road after the village is cemented, while the second half is a trail. There were many crucifix along the way up until I reached the gated area where the statues are located. Inside the gated area, there are several side paths each leading to a different statue.

Once I finished exploring the area, I continued along the path and found that the trail simply looped around to another way down that intersects the main trail. Earlier, while going up, I was unsure whether the path I took was the right one. But now I know that no matter which path I take, the result will be similar. Along the way down, I tried another path with steps. When I reached the end of the steps, it simply connects to the main trail again. Basically, you can't get lost or reach another place on these trails.

When I reached the end of my solo trek, I boarded a ride home. I don't even need to take a break because the climb was very short. It took me just 20 minutes to go up and a little over 15 minutes to go down. A short but fun hike to a new place.