Friday, November 17, 2017


     Last July, I have founded the Judenite's Astronomical Organization (JAO), which is the only astronomical community in the Saint Jude Catholic School. One of the mission-vision statement of the JAO is to promote the awareness and the importance of astronomy to its members. Because of this, the JAO together with the Manila Street Astronomers (MSA) conducted a stargazing for primary members of the JAO at the Big Handy’s Ground (BHG) in Tanay, Rizal, from November 15, 2017 (Wednesday) to November 16, 2017 (Thursday). 

     There were 15 of us altogether who participated in this event, 10 of which belongs to the JAO (including me), 2 are from the Philippine Astronomical Society, and the remaining 3 are from the MSA. 

     We went to the BHG using a bus, provided to us courtesy of the FCF tours, which is owned by Mam Susana Chua. Since BHG is a remote place not directly accessible by the public, in order for us to reach the place, we went hiking for approximately one kilometer for a duration close to five minutes. 

     At around 6 pm in the evening, the sun began to descend. It was really cloudy at that time and so we weren't able to see a lot of stars. After waiting for 2 hours, at around 8 pm, the sky began to clear up slowly. At exactly 12 am, the sky cleared up. We were able to see a lot of stars, star clusters, and galaxies such as the Pleiades star cluster and the Andromeda Galaxy. At around 2 am, most of the JAO members gather around to eat midnight snacks and to just talk about random things, all under the majestic view of the night sky. At 6 am, everyone is present to watch the moon rise, and at exactly 8:30 am, we already left the place to go back to Manila.

     I am very happy and grateful at the same time that first of all, everyone arrived at Manila safely, and that no accidents occurred during the event. Most of all, I am grateful that even though my members aren't exactly astronomy enthusiasts, they were able to appreciate the beauty of the night sky even just for a brief moment in time. At the end of this journey, everyone is hoping that I could organize one more event for us to return to BHG to enjoy the view of the night sky once again. 

Some Pictures Taken During the Event

Leonids Meteor Shower with Kuya Khristian Dimacali

Kuya Kenneth Bailador and Ate Rheanne Jimeno
from the Manila Street Astronomers 

Group Photo

Starting from the Right, Linnel, Aurielle, Kristelle,
and John from the Judenite's Astronomical Organization

Awarding the certificate of appreciation to 
the owner of the BHG Mam May Serrano

Open view of the place 

With my one and only mentor Mr. Norman Marigza

Group Photo 

Awarding the certificate of appreciation to
the two teacher chaperones of the 
Judenite's Astronomical Organization, Mr.
Rondon and Mr. Fajilagutan 

*** For my IB CAS requirements:
     "Finally! After a number of parents have fought with me just because of this stargazing event, finally this event is done!!!" This is the first thing that had crossed my mind when we have finally reached the grounds of the Malacanang after 12 hours of completing this event. Throughout the entire process of initiating, planning, and turning into reality this event, I have learned a lot of things, especially as to how I relate to people. 

     Like I've said previously, I wouldn't deny the fact that a lot of people, especially parents, have bashed this event as something being, "unsafe and unprepared," when clearly they don't know I worked so hard and I wasted a lot of my personal time just to plan this event. Honestly, it's just my vice-president Janina, the MSA and PAS people who knew how hard I worked for this since I am not very vocal about the hardships that I am facing every time I am planning any event. 

     In this CAS activity, I learned a lot of new things such as how to properly interact with people (LO1 and LO3). I learned that every time someone is bashing an event that I have planned, instead of being angry or try to defend myself, I should just tolerate them even though they are wrong and I am right since fighting a parent is no good at all. In addition, this CAS activity made me realize that there will be a lot of people who would try their best to make your life harder. Before this CAS activity, I usually believe that people are good. However, in this CAS activity, I realized that there are some people who would really make my life harder and that I also realized that I should just ignore them. 

     Before this stargazing activity had turned into a reality, I have met and faced a lot of challenges. One of these challenges I met is the bashing of people when in fact, they have no sufficient knowledge and not enough evidence to support their opinions that this stargazing event is unsafe and unprepared. In addition, even though I am showing facts and pieces of evidence to them that this event is safe and they shouldn't worry about their security, still, some people wouldn't listen and they would continue bashing. Because of this, I learned that no matter how strong my argument is in life, sometimes in life, you still wouldn't be able to convince everyone. In the end, amidst all of this bashing, I was able to push through with this event (LO1, LO2, LO3, and LO4). This activity is a collaboration between the Manila Street Astronomers technically since we are the two organizations which had signed the memorandum of agreement. However, some other organizations such as the Philippine Astronomical Society has helped me a lot in order to plan this event smoothly. (LO5). I have talked and sought the advice of a lot of people just to make sure that everything is in place. (communicators)

     After attending to and organizing this stargazing activity, my knowledge in observational astronomy has increased a lot (knowledgeable). I can now identify some basic star clusters and stars in the sky. Even though I know that the BHG is a relatively remote place in the mountains where there is no cell signal, food, clean drinking water, and with these said, everything can just go wrong in this place, I decided to push through with this place since I know that there is no night pollution in this place (risk-taker). Likewise, Tanay is a place where there are a relatively large amount of accidents happening, but I still decided to go with this place (risk-taker). I have planned this event for over a month, where all of the quizzes and assignments that teachers are giving me keep pouring in. But still, I was able to organize this event successfully (balanced). Throughout this journey of organizing this event, I was able to learn more about myself and how I relate to other people. Likewise, a lot of times during the course of this event, my dignity and integrity as a leader have been challenged. This stargazing event had given me a platform to think and to reflect on my attitude as a leader which is the reason why I know that I am now a better person and a better leader too (reflective). 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

2017 SGAC Asteroid Search Campaign

There are a lot of Near Earth Asteroid (NEO) in space that is threatening to collide with Planet Earth and is threatening to drive our species into extinction. Because of this, astronomers have been working really hard to monitor a lot of potentially hazardous asteroids that have a chance of colliding with Earth. However, the NEO is just too many for astronomers to track and monitor considering that there are still a lot of unnamed and undiscovered asteroids in space. Because of this, astronomers have opened a program for people who don't have a degree in science to have the chance to participate in the things that they are doing such as looking and tracking of asteroids, through becoming citizen scientists.
I decided that this year 2017, I want to become a citizen scientist under the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), which is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting astronomy and space law to the public, through their annual program which is the International Search Asteroid Campaign (ISAC). I am teamed with 3 other Filipino amateur astronomers namely, Rheanne Jimeno, Erika Valdueza, and Arvin Tan. For 4 weeks, we have to look for asteroids provided to us by data coming from the Pan-STARRS telescope, using a special computer software known as the Astrometrica. 
Eventually, if we would be able to discoverer an asteroid in space, it will be named after us.
At the end of this month-long journey, we were able to achieve a total of 26 preliminary asteroid discoveries. 
Looking back on this journey, I never thought that I would really make it this far. I remember those days wherein I am sleeping just an hour per day just to master the use of Astrometrica so I could be able to discover a lot of asteroids. However, I never regretted this. Even though I am just barely getting enough sleep back then. I wouldn't trade this journey to sleep. I really do hope that in the future, I could have the opportunity to participate in this annual asteroid search campaign again. 
                                           Certificate of Recognition from the ISAC to me 

Sample Processed Photos : 

                                          With my team leader Arvin Tan

Preliminary Discoveries 

For my IB CAS Requirements: 
The IB Learning Outcomes that I have achieved after I am finished with this campaign are LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, and LO6. Yes, I know that I have been studying astronomy for quite some time now, but I always know that when it comes to observational astronomy, I'm really having a hard time studying this branch of astronomy. Because of this, I decided to participate in this asteroid search campaign because I know and I believe that the best way to learn science is when I would be able to apply the principles that I have learned in the books in real life. (LO3). After I have participated in this campaign, my knowledge in observational astronomy became broader. I was able to know and look for asteroids in space first hand. I was also able to identify a few stars already. (LO1 and LO2). Not only is this the problem that I have encountered on this journey. From the beginning of this campaign, I never really learned how to use the Astrometrica software. It took me almost a week of hard work just for me to get the hang of how to use the software accurately. (LO2). It's really hard learning Astrometrica. A day really wouldn't suffice for me nor for anybody to be able to grasp and master the arts and crafts of learning it. Because of this, I worked so hard under the scrutiny of my team leader Sir Arvin to master it. It took me almost a week before I was able to master it all completely. I persevered all throughout this journey, and even though I have a hard time knowing Astrometrica, this never hinder me from completing this journey. (LO4 and LO5) Lastly, by participating in this global campaign, I was able to show global engagement because I am working with various international groups and personalities such as the International Asteroid Search Campaign and Dr. Miller. (LO6)

After participating in this campaign, I have learned a lot of new things such as how to identify an asteroid in space (knowledgeable). My critical reasoning also increased significantly since I should be able to discern if the asteroid that I am looking at is really an asteroid or just a free-floating body in space (Thinker). Likewise, I was able to enhance my communication skills when I was given the chance to communicate directly with our team leader and to my teammates to discuss the data that we had (communicators). I know that everything that I am doing and all of the preliminary discoveries that I was able to achieve was all based on my efforts and that, I didn't cheat my way to the top (Principled). During this month-long campaign, I am also participating in various international competitions and I have a heavy workload from my International Baccalaureate lessons. However, I was still able to manage to participate in this campaign (Balanced). Lastly, I know from the start when I signed up for this campaign that there is no backing out and that the workload in this campaign is heavy. However, I chose to participate still in this campaign despite the fact that I know that there will be no assurance that I would have enough time for me to balance everything in my head, considering the fact that 1 month is such a long period of time. (Risk- Taker) 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

2017 Space Quiz

"Before it was only a vision of Me, Sir Jun Cajigal, and Achie Angelica Tang, to organize our own space for JAO and BSYA, but now it has finally turned into a reality. Once again, thank you so much to everyone who had participated. Without you, this wouldn't be a reality."

In celebration of the World Space Week 2017, the Bedan Society of Young Astronomers (BSYA), a senior high school organization of San Beda Manila, in collaboration with the Judenite’s Astronomical Organization (JAO), a senior high school and International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) organization of Saint Jude Catholic School, hosted a Space Quiz Friendly Competition which is aimed at Senior High School Students based on themes around space science and astronomy, with a special emphasis on space exploration. The culminating activity for this event is a free telescope viewing, courtesy of the Manila Street Astronomer (MSA).

The objective of the competition is to contribute to the improvement of awareness, interest, understanding, and insight into the space sciences and basic astronomy; and to celebrate the participation of different senior high schools in World Space Week so as to foster the interest of career opportunities in astronomy and space sciences.

The competition which was held at 8:00 A.M.-2:00 P.M. on October 7, 2017, Saturday at the Abbot Lopez Hall of San Beda Manila.

This competition, in which we thoroughly planned for over 2 months was a huge success. Aside from the fact that there were more than 10 schools present at the said event, the World Space Week 2017 was also able to recognize this event officially.

So how does it feels like to organize your own space quiz? Honestly, I feel like, after this event, I became the master crammer of this planet. Me and Achie Angelica Tang were just actually cramming everything, from the time we were sending out the letters to the school up until we were printing out the certificates to the schools, that's why we are surprised that our space quiz yesterday was a huge success, and I got a lot of positive feedback from my friends.

I have been participating annually in two of the only astronomy competitions in this country. As a person who is very much fond with the stars, I often feel like 2 competitions in astronomy wouldn't suffice to encourage teens and students like me to be involved more in the field of astronomy. Because of this, it has crossed my mind a lot of times what if I would get a chance to organize my own space quiz? Will it help promote astronomy to the public? But the thing that has really crossed my mind is, will it help me give a platform for me to inspire more teenagers out there to be involved in the field of astronomy? Before these are only questions in my brain, but now I have answers already. 
This academic year, I was given the chance to organize my own organization in Saint Jude Catholic School. I chose to establish an organization which is focusing on astronomy, which I afterward named as the Judenite’s Astronomical Organization. This organization paved way for me to be connected to other astronomy clubs in the Philippines such as the Bedan Society of Young Astronomers (BSYA), which is the official astronomical organization of San Beda College.I was given the chance to meet in person the founding fathers of the BSYA, which are Ms. Angelica Tang and Mr. Jun Cajical. In our meeting we realized that we actually share the same vision that is, we want to create our own space quiz. We quickly decided that now is the right time to organize our own space quiz because this is the first and last year of the existence of the Judenite’s Astronomical Organization, which basically means that this is now or never.

At first, I really thought that organizing my own space quiz will just be a piece of cake. I mean sure, I just have to write letters after letters about the entire mundane description of the competition and its set of mechanics, send out the letters to the school, and just sit back and wait for them to reply. However, I am wrong, totally wrong. I realized that I underestimated the difficulty that I should undergo before I even started.

The first difficulty I encounter is the writing of the letters. I always thought that I know how to write a letter. However, it was only until I’m writing the letter of invitation to the school did I realize that I really don’t know how to write a letter. Aside from the fact that I know what to write on my body, I don’t know anything else. I don’t know what I’m supposed to put in my header. Eventually, with the proper guidance of my literature teacher, Mrs. Reyna, I was able to learn how to write a letter. Not only is this my problem. After 15 days when we are done disseminating 33 letters to various schools, only 3 schools have responded. Because of this, I became so alarmed to the point that I phoned each school just to follow up. I realized that even though I entrusted my letters to a remarkable courier service here in the Philippines, the schools weren’t able to receive my letter at all. Because of this, I have to send a new email to the schools, which added to my workload. Likewise, due to my numerous experience in joining quiz bees, I am the one entrusted to compose the questions for the competition. During the time when I am creating the questions, it is our midterms season in IB already. Because of this, I have to cram the questions in every single free period that I have.By organizing this quiz bee, I learned a lot of lessons in life that I can never learn within the confines of the classroom. First of all, I learned which things that I am good with, and I was able to use these to help plan the space quiz. For example, I know that am very sociable, so for this space quiz, I am the one directly communicating with the different schools for faster communication. Likewise, I learned new skills by overcoming some of the challenges that I have faced. In this space quiz, I learned the value of patience. I realized that there is no such thing as overnight success and that I should work hard to achieve something. For example, I learned the value of patience by learning how to properly write a letter. In addition, I learned how to initiate an experience by organizing this space quiz. Furthermore, I was able to show commitments to push through with this space quiz despite the many hardships that I have faced. Likewise, I didn’t do this space quiz alone. I did this together with the Bedan Society of Young Astronomers. I was able to learn the value of teamwork in effectively planning something. Lastly, I was able to engage in global movements because first and foremost, we created this event in celebration of the World Space Week, which is an international organization, sponsored by the United Nations, to promote the importance of astronomy to the public.

***Pictures taken from the event 

                                         Official banner of the JAO and BSYA in celebration
                                         of the World Space Week 2017
Official banner of the JAO and BSYA for the
Space Quiz 2017

                                                     Program flow for the day of the

                                          AWARDING OF CERTIFICATES OF PARTICIPATION


Champion - Philippine Science High School - 
Main Campus


Closing remarks of Sobina Yu, President of the JAO