UP NISMED Conducts Three-Part Virtual Stargazing Series

The UP NISMED High School Earth Science Group conducted a three-part online stargazing series in April, May, and June 2022 focusing on the bright objects that are visible at night: the Moon, planets, and stars. Resource speakers, Anthony Guiller E. Urbano and Eligio C. Obille Jr., discussed various topics such as how stars form, how to find prominent star patterns, and how to learn about stars using the information derived from starlight. A particularly wonderful moment occurred during one cloudy evening when the skies unexpectedly cleared up, allowing viewers to observe the Orion Nebula, perhaps for the very first time in their lives. The virtual stargazing sessions also featured short tutorials on basic astrophotography where participants were encouraged to take pictures of different sky objects using inexpensive equipment such as smartphone cameras.

A view of the Orion Nebula streamed live using a telescope during one of the sessions of the virtual stargazing series.

Here are brief descriptions of what took place during the online stargazing sessions which were held on Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m.

Part 1: Where do stars come from? 8 April 2022
  • Explained that stars form in regions in space where there are clouds of gas and dust
  • Showed one of these regions, the Orion Nebula
  • Used a telescope to show the nebula
  • Explained how to take photos of the nebula using a smartphone camera or DSLR camera

Part 2: Finding Sky Objects 6 May 2022
  • Discussed various ways to find sky objects using “sky marks” such as the Moon, bright stars, and prominent star patterns
  • Used the application Stellarium to display the visible constellations in real-time
  • Showed visible constellations live through a hand-held camera
  • Explained how to photograph interesting targets such as the planetary alignment visible in the early morning sky

Part 3: Capturing Starlight 10 June 2022
  • Showed how to build a DIY spectrometer using materials found at home
  • Demonstrated how to use a DIY spectrometer to investigate different light sources at home
  • Learned how astronomers infer the characteristics of stars using a spectrometer
  • Showed how to observe an astronomical event visible this month

Since December 2020, the virtual stargazing sessions have been successful in providing a guided stargazing experience to thousands of teacher and student participants, especially with the health and safety protocols in place which prohibited face-to-face interaction during the pandemic. The virtual stargazing series was hosted by the KaSaMa Teachers Community and was streamed live through its Facebook page. The recordings of the virtual stargazing series can be viewed at KaSaMa’s Facebook page. KaSaMa Teachers Community is a professional online community of K to 12 STEM educators managed by UP NISMED with support from Gokongwei Brothers Foundation.