Friday, November 30, 2007

Galaxy Geeks Wanted

CJ David went on an online adventure at GalaxyZoo and found these interesting photographs of a barred spiral galaxy, an irregular spiral galaxy, and two merging spiral galaxies while classifying galaxies and looking at the galleries.

Look at the photo with two merging galaxies: What if our very own Milky Way galaxy start to merge or collide with the Andromeda galaxy? Well, the two are actually on a collision course but it won't happen in 3 billion years as estimated by astronomers.

Anyway, looking at these glorious galaxies that no-one has ever laid eyes on before and help out in their discovery is definitely interesting and fun. And getting a sense of the diversity of galaxies and the vastness of the universe is mind-boggling.

GalaxyZoo is a project composed of astronomers from the University of Oxford, the University of Portsmouth and Johns Hopkins University (USA), and Fingerprint Digital Media of Belfast, which harnesses the power of the Internet - and our brain - to classify a million galaxies.

This project was said to be inspired by the Stardust@home project which began August of 2006, in which NASA invited the public to sort through, using a virtual telescope, dust grains obtained by spacecraft mission to Comet Wild-2. This also reminds me of the Seti@home, a distributed computing project which was opened to Netizens in mid-1999 to help Search for Extra-Terrestial Intelligence by analysing radio telescope data using the processing powers of computers that are connected to the Internet.

GalaxyZoo needs human volunteers because the human brain is much better at recognizing patterns than a computer can. Especially patterns that are unusual, the weird and the wonderful. So join in!

Images for personal and educational use courtesy of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sunset in La Union

2005.09.29-30 San Fernando La Union, Philippines.

CJ David catching the sun before sinking to the horizon at Bali Hai Beach Resort in San Fernando, La Union. Oh, what a beautiful sunset. I can't write anything more, I'll just let the pictures paint the words.

It's a Bird! Pied Triller at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

2004.08.21 Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

So I, CJ David, and me went on an introductory birding trip with Mike Lu, the President of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines along with my sister at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, in Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila.

I saw a number of birds I never thought existed and can be observed here in Manila.

In this photo is a Pied Triller (Lalage Nigra) a resident of the Philippines, 165mm in length, common in trees and open country, gardens in towns, and open scrub, singly or in pairs, in the lowlands.

Playfest with the Mangyan Kids

2005.02.12 Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental, Philippines

CJ David posing for a shot with the Mangyan Kids, who participated in the Palaro sa mga Batang Mangyan (Playfest with the Mangyan Kids) at Talipanan Beach, Puerto Galera, organised by the UP Manila Remontados.

We played different party games with prizes and gave them food and school supplies at the end of the program.

“Mangyan” is a general term that refers to eight (8) ethnolinguistic groups of proto-malay origin that occupies the mountainous region of Mindoro Oriental and Occidental. The Mangyans are the original inhabitants of Mindoro, the seventh largest island in the Philippines. Mangyan population is estimated close to 100,000, about 10 percent of the total population of the island.

More about the Mangyan from the Mangyan Heritage Center.

Some groups of Mangyan have already been interbreeding with Filipino lowlanders. And because of the influx of foreign tourists (who become residents and resort owners as well) to Puerto Galera, some Mangyan kids we interviewd have Japanese, Korean, and Caucasian parents.

Friday, November 16, 2007

What is your Ecological Footprint?

CJ David asks himself :-) "What's my ecological footprint? Do I consume more than our planet Earth can sustain or replenish?"

Let's find out with these simple ecological calculators to give us an idea:


University of British Columbia
Survey for Sustainability and Eco-Footprint Calculator

Ecological footprint is a measure of human consumption of natural resources against planet Earth's ecological capacity to regenerate them. This concept and calculation method was developed by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees.

I calculated with EcologicalFootprint.Org and my score there was 14.8. The sustainable score is 15, so I passed, but I don't think that's enough. I should do more.

So what's your score? And what do you think should we do to lessen or to balance our ecological footprint?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's a Bird! Blue-tailed Bee-eater in La Carlota City

2005.04.21 La Carlota City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

CJ David spotted this Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus) along the higway while driving.

Photograph was taken using a Canon EOS 300D with 80-400mm lens.

This bird, about 290mm in length is a resident of the Philippines fairly common in open country usually associated with water along rivers, marshes and ricefields.

It has a cousin - the Blue-throated Bee-eater which I also encountered in Subic, Zambales and have observed catching an insect on the fly! Wow!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Milky Way Photographed From Mt. Batulao

2004.05.31 Mt. Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas, Philippines

CJ David went on a mountaineering trip to Mt. Batulao. This mountain was an easy trek with interesting rock formations at the peak looking like the ones you would see in a fantasy movie (more about this in another post).

The amazing cloud-free pitch-black sky with all the stars so visible was a huge bonus. I couldn't help but see the patch of the majestic Milky Way filled with colorful stars in the constellation Scorpius and Sagittarius. I shivered at the cold temperature but more because of its beauty.

"I have got to capture this spectacular sight", I thought. And so I grabbed my point-and-shoot digital camera and used its maximum time-exposure setting.

Tada! I was in awe. This was my second heavenly-object photograph which was far much better than the Orion Nebula shot.

I was amazed by this picture of the Milky Way that I thought I had to be in it. Well, here it is:


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stopping By a Tree at Mt. Mariveles

2004.07.03 Mariveles, Bataan, Philippines

CJ David here making sure that this planted tree is holding up along the misty trail to Tarak Ridge in Mt. Mariveles .

Trek done with siblings Doc Francis and Farah, Perla and Jules of UP Manila Remontados, and Gideon of UP Med School.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's a Bird! Pink-necked Green Pigeon in Cadiz City

2005.03.18 Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

CJ David was in the island of Negros doing some documentary work. It was 5-6 AM when I noticed this plump silhouette of a pigeon-looking bird perched on a power cable along a residential area. It was a pigeon indeed as I trained my binoculars to it while slowly changing my orientation to face west to see this bird clearly with the sun behind me.

I grabbed my Canon EOS 300D camera and fixed my Canon 80-400 mm telephoto lens and clicked. Wow! A male Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans). Uncommon in forest and forest patches from lowlands to at least 1000m according to my Bird Guidebook. It was my lucky day.