One word: FLOP

First of all, I’ll call a spade a spade; the examination earlier this day was a disaster.

I woke up very early at 5:00 AM because I was to meet my classmate in Marcos Hiway by 6:00 AM. Everything went smoothly, even with a light drizzle on our way. We then had to wait from 7:00 AM until 8:00 AM, when the exam would officially start. There were only 12 of us in the room and we were also to leave our things in front of the room next to the proctors. When I said things, I mean ALL of the things we had and that includes water bottles.

We were made to answer 10 personal questions and the rest was the exam proper. So technically, even if there were 180 items, only 170 will be corrected and we should answer each of the questions within a minute and few seconds. I never underestimated the exam but I honestly think that I might have overlooked the review of some of the sections. I can’t remember how many items I had to shotgun but as far as I can recall, almost two hours out of three had already passed before I reached item number 90. The Math portion of the exam was easier than I expected but I wish I could have answered it first before I got glazed eyes from the English part. At this point, I will not be surprised if I fail the exam because I have no qualms admitting that it was hard. The greatest surprise will be passing it and I have already told a few people I would treat them to a box of pizza if that miracle were to happen. The only similarity the exam has with college entrance exams was the multiple choice part, meaning everything else was different. LOL I have moved on but I will take every  lesson from that experience with me until next year, if I were to take the exam again. i’ll just consider it an expensive, getting-one’s-feet-ready review. =D

I then went to Pisa in Italy to unwind…Just kidding!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa --- NOT --- Worlds of Fun

After the exam, I met up with Mon to have lunch in Gateway Mall and we then went next to Sta. Lucia Mall because my family was there. They already had their own lunch and we just followed them to Worlds of Fun, where my niece and my nephew were both busy playing. I can’t remember when was the last time I was there, especially my last experience riding the mini-“rollercoaster” (I hazard a guess that it was more than a decade ago, since high school). Even if I knew that the horror train ride was not exactly scary, I still refused to try it because I might end up scratching the person next to me. =D

Rode a mini-rollercoaster with my sister and nephew

With JB - Gray T-shirt with poncho print, Bench jeans, Yves Saint Laurent white patent sneakers and green Prada Tessuto Robot 2 tote

After 4:00 PM, we went home and rested a little because I was looking forward to seeing an elusive visitor before sunset — Comet PANSTARRS. The comet was slated to reach its perihelion today and I was waiting the whole week for an unobstructed view from our rooftop. And then the inevitable happened, there barely was a cloudless portion of the sky and I only had 20 minutes before sunset. I was with Mon, JB, my telescope and my brother’s camera and it was really depressing that we did not get even a momentary glimpse of the comet. So, what I did next was just take pictures of the two of them while we still had a little daylight.

JB playing with the telescope

In deep contemplation

And another kid playing with the scope

Naks!

I did not manage to get pictures of the comet but the pretty diffused light did wonders to my brother’s bridge camera. Well, that was some silver lining! Today was a very stressful day and it was almost twelve midnight again, five hours more and I would have been awake for 24 hours already. The flop of the exam and the comet did dampen my spirit, but looking back, the whole day wasn’t that bad at all. I can always review, try next year and be more ready. Meanwhile, since the following months will no longer be crucial in terms of strict scheduling, we can now plan for our next trip out of the country!

All for an asteroid!

I woke up past 1:00 PM today because I spent my early morning on our rooftop. Asteroid 2012 DA14 was due to flyby Earth and I was really delighted that we’d get the chance to see it on this part of the world. So straight from work, I arrived at home around 1:30 AM and I had to rush fixing my things so I’d be ready before that moment started.

I have my telescope with me, as well my brother’s bridge camera, a GE X500 and a star chart of the asteroid’s path I have obtained from Mr. Eteny’s website, Night Sky in Focus. I had a hard time looking for my eyepieces, though, because my mother had fixed my telescope and I wasn’t able to immediately find where she put them. I spent the last 20 minutes looking for them and it was already past 2:00 AM when I was finally able to go to our rooftop.

Honestly, it was way more difficult from what I had already expected, and locating the asteroid in the star map was tasking as I had to consider the relative distance of each celestial object/asterism from one another. LOL I just need more practice, I guess, because I’m honestly not a regular observer. The first three photos I got below were surprisingly able to yield results, and I believe I might have just photographed the fast-moving asteroid. I just used the ‘Aperture’ priority setting of the camera, in the lowest possible focal length at 3.0, chose the ‘Fluorescent’ color setting, put it on a 30-second interval and prayed to get decent photos. The three photos below show the asteroid moving to the right of Crux, the Southern Cross. I checked the time signature of the three photos and they reflect 2:22:38 AM, 2:23:20 AM and 2:24:02 AM. I just adjusted them using “Auto Levels” in Adobe Photoshop and added crosshairs to point at the location of the asteroid.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 from 02h22m38s to 02h24m02s PHT -Marikina City, Philippines

Click photo to zoom

Decent pictures I guess, given the limited capabilities of my digital camera, so I furthermore edited the color, brightness and contrast, as well zoomed in and cropped the three photos. I also used the animated GIF-maker, Jasc Software, to animate the photos and make them move, showing intervals of about 30 seconds each.

Animated image of Asteroid 2012 DA14 moving to  the right of the Southern Cross - February 16, 2013, Marikina City, Philippines

Animated image of Asteroid 2012 DA14 – Click photo to zoom

I have tried looking for the asteroid with my telescope, and I had no luck even with the low power eyepiece. So I just ditched the telescope and spent the next hours trying to photograph the asteroid. But alas, I might have already lost track of its location and even when I consulted the star chart, the clouds went on the way and I just wanna burn them off — as if that would happen as they are made of water. LOL Looking at the photos (lots of photos) I have taken last night, I had a better appreciation and developed more respect to Clyde Tombaugh and the blink comparator technique used to confirm the existence of Pluto (as well as the astronomers tirelessly working on identifying asteroids/comets). From one photo to another, I had to look for a seemingly moving object just to see the asteroid. It was very tiring as I also had to first adjust the brightness and contrast in Photoshop, so I eventually gave up. I’ll just deal with them when I have more time in the future, but I’m still happy with the first three photos I have taken.

Looking at both of my feet, I’ve noticed I have LOTS of ugly mosquito bites. They had a field day on my feet during that attempt to see the asteroid. Yikes! I was too preoccupied in getting to the rooftop that I have completely forgotten to put on some Off! lotion. If only I had not brought a hoodie with me, then my arms could have suffered the same fate. Anyway, it was a very good experience, especially I also saw three shooting stars fly past and I had to shake myself off from the shock of seeing them and make a necessary wish. I had three wishes in all and one includes a new telescope for real. ^_^

The Great Comet of 2013? Why not!

So, I just read an article from Space.com that a comet will enter the solar system this year, approaching its perihelion in November 28, and the nearest distance to Earth in December 26! The last time a comet this significant came close to Earth was in 1997, and Hale-Bopp single-handedly attracted my interest to astronomy. It was the Great Comet of 1997 and I can’t wait to see the Great Comet of 2013.

Comet ISON on its tracks

 

(Photo from Space.com)

It is a very enticing prospect, that it was even predicted by scientists to be bright enough and be visible in broad daylight. Imagine that! Now, I have more excuse to work on saving for a better telescope, because this is one celestial event not to be missed! See you soon, Comet ISON!

Day at the museum – the Mind Museum!

The Mind Museum at Taguig

It was Mon and I’s 4th year and 3rd month and we took the opportunity to go out with my family and visit the Mind Museum at Taguig. As we only have four gift cards from the raffle before, we purchased two more tickets online because apparently, Brie was over 2 feet. JB was extra excited because he hasn’t stopped asking me about this visit for a month or so. He just had his First Communion a few hours earlier and he only took off his white long sleeves and did not bother changing at all.

About to enter the Mind Museum

Family picture with the robot Aedi by the lobby

Black Chocoolate red flannel shirt, khaki shorts, salmon pink Jack Purcell sneakers, Burberry leather messenger bag 2

By the reception, we presented our ticket print-out and we were given wristbands with “All-Day pass” written on it. First impression was the place wasn’t as big as I expected, but not saying that it was small. But as the kids were already sprinting towards every exhibit they could get their little hands onto, I had no other choice but to chase after them. It was a hands-on museum, but caution must be exercised because some of the exhibits were not to be touched nor manipulated.

Brie sitting by the giant periodic table - The Mind Museum at Taguig

The giant brain - The Mind Museum at Taguig

And of course, an iconic device of science in action was the Van de Graaff generator. I did not touch the equipment, though, because I have short hair and the visuals would be much better on people with longer hair. So my sister went on to touch the generator and her hair literally raised right after it was turned on. We were wondering, though. Some of the people (women to be exact) who tried the device had almost non-reactive hair, to the point where it took a good 30-seconds before their hair started raising. But we have also noticed that they have treated hair, relaxed mostly, and maybe that was the reason why they had little reaction. LOL

My sister trying out the Van de Graaff generator - The Mind Museum at Taguig

I was just watching the other day on YouTube a documentary describing the time when both the Homo erectus and Homo sapiens sapiens lived on Earth at the same time, and how the skills of the latter had helped them, I mean US, to become the dominant species. The exhibit in the museum was impressive and so life-like that the lady looking at her child by the ground gave me the creeps. Hello Uncanny Valley!

Evolution of Man - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Uncanny valley kicking in, this lady looked so life-like  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

I was also very excited to visit the Geology section because I’m also such a sucker for anything tectonic-related. They have interesting earthquake-magnitude simulators, fossils of trilobites, ginkgo biloba, ants trapped inside an amber and of course, the hard-to-miss Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.

The Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton The Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton

Close up of the Tyrannosaurus rex skull - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Ants trapped inside an amber - very Jurassic park  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

And lastly, I was so excited to go to the Universe section of the museum because I obviously love astronomy. The star-strewn section had a lot of exhibits that the kids can manipulate, and they even had a replica of the Mars Pathfinder next to the phases of the Moon model and the astronaut. They also present a 30-minute show in a planetarium dome next to the life-cycle of a star exhibit. I can’t remember watching anything like it before and I was heavily anticipating it. While we were on queue, we we alongside this group of very uncivilized high school students who kept on letting some of their friends fall in line with them. As the dome can only accommodate 40 people, we had to shut them and give them the stink eye so as to make them stop. It momentarily worked because once we were inside watching the show, we can’t believe how unruly they were that they began hitting each other with their cushions. O_O It was extremely appalling and these people had no place inside the museum. Yuck.

The Universe section  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

My sister and her kids with this astronaut -  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

JB and Mon trying out the solar system model - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Mama below the life cycle of a star exhibit - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Anyway, the projection of the film was horrible. First, as they are using fish-eye projection, they should have put the projector in the middle in order to maximize the dome-shaped ceiling. Second, I think the projection might be probably good early in the morning because they did not bother adjusting the focus of the lens that you can barely see the supposedly amazing details of the heavenly bodies. Personally, I had high hopes and it was such a waste of time.

It was actually tiring to walk around and chase after the kids and by a few minutes after 3:00 PM, we decided to eat by the Jollibee inside the Mind Musuem complex. I still haven’t drunk coffee for the day and we ordered two cups for both Mon and I, because apparently, they refused to brew just for a single cup. But it was disappointing as well because it had no coffee taste whatsoever and I suspect that they did not bother using new ground coffee and utilized the ones used for serving breakfast earlier that day. Boo Jollibee!

Waiting for our food in Jollibee - The Mind Museum at Taguig

It was a quick snack because JB and Brie were both itching to go to the Science-in-the-Park, the playground next to Jollibee. If I were a kid, I’d go mad with the cool stuff they had in it. They have acoustic-based playthings, as well as the bubble makers and a group of animal heads with viewfinders simulating their vision. I didn’t even know that the King Cobra was colorblind as well, which was ironic because I have a great fear of snakes. We share something together.

Science in the Park  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Giant bubble maker  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

The king cobra-vision simulator - The Mind Museum at Taguig

About to go down the slide - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Mother, daughter and grandmother  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

After eating and playing, we headed straight back to the second level of the museum to look at what was in store for us. The things there were more technology and innovation-based, chronicling achievement of men in terms of transportation, optics, space technology as well as languages.

Our only complete group shot - thanks to the 10-second timer  - The Mind Museum at Taguig

A model of the International Space Station, which JB recognized right away - The Mind Museum at Taguig

A model of the Hubble Space Telescope - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Looking at Uranus LOL - The Mind Museum at Taguig
Of course, a mandatory photo with something French - The Mind Museum at Taguig

The ripple machine wasn't actually working - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Trying out the printing press  - The Mind Museum at Taguig
And for our last stop, we went to two 3D showing: “Ang Simula” and “Birthplace” A Natural History of the Earth“. Of course we had to fall in line again for the latter and we had poor seats compare to the one we had for the former. “Ang Simula” was directed by Chito S. Roño and chronicles the geological history of the Philippines. I was actually quite ashamed of myself because I have already watched loads of documentaries on geology but not one of them has discussed the Philippines’ origin. It was only there that I knew that the island of Palawan was once part of the Eurasian plate as a product of the continental draft. This show had a narration while “Birthplace” had none. “Birthplace” began with a depiction of the birth of Earth, followed by the formation of the first amino acids comprising the primordial soup of life. Then the stunning visualization of how the single-celled organisms evolved into multicellular to more complex ones. Each of the shows run for about 15-minutes.
Ang Simula - The Mind Museum at Taguig
Birthplace - A Natural History of the Earth - The Mind Museum at Taguig
Waiting for the 3D show to start - The Mind Museum at Taguig
After the 3D show - The Mind Museum at Taguig

Overall, it was an awesome experience. Granted that I did not have time to actually tinker with each one of the exhibits with the curiosity of a little kid but as my nephew and niece already had a great time, I was fine with it. I initially thought that the Bio-Rhythm exhibit was also available for us to see but turned out that we have to pay about Php 200 more for that.

About to leave the Mind Museum - The Mind Museum at Taguig