Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

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Celebrate World Space Week 2012!

Join the largest annual public space event on Earth!

World Space Week (WSW)  is an annual observance held from October 4 to October 10 established by the United Nations General Assembly to be an international celebration of science and technology and their contribution to the betterment of the human condition.

The start and end dates of World Space Week recognize the launch of the first human-made Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, on October 4, 1957; and the signing of the Outer Space Treaty on October 10, 1967.

UP Astronomical Society members held this WSW banner which contained the theme, “50 Years in Space” during the celebration of the World Space Week in the Philippines last 2007 (source: upastrosoc.multiply.com)

Every year, the World Space Week Association, in coordination with the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs, selects a theme that participants are asked to incorporate into their World Space Week events. The theme for World Space Week 2012 is “Space for Human Safety and Security.” All World Space Week participants are requested to: 1) Plan World Space Week programs that address this theme in some way; 2) Incorporate this theme into all of their World Space Week publicity materials.

Various WSW events will be  hosted by local participating organizations. In the Philippines, there are 11 registered events for WSW 2012. Everyone is invited to attend these events.

For more information about the WSW celebration, please visit http://www.worldspaceweek.org/. You may also follow @WorldSpaceWeek on Twitter and use the hashtag #wsw2012 in your tweets.

To infinity and beyond!  :D


Closest Encounter of Venus and Jupiter in 2012

If you’ve been looking west after sunset recently you can’t have failed to see Venus blazing there so bright, outshining everything else in the sky. To Venus’ upper left is another bright” star”, which is actually another planet, Jupiter.

Jupiter and Venus - 8 degrees apart. Image captured 5 March 2012 at 6:45 pm.

These two bright planets visible in the night sky have been putting on quite a show this past month as they have been slowly getting closer together in the western sky just after sunset.

Next week, Venus and Jupiter will be MUCH closer than they are now. :)

On March 15, an impressive celestial show at twilight will surprise sky observers as these two planets reach what astronomers call conjunction – the closest they can appear in the sky together.

Getting closer - 5 degrees apart. Image taken 9 March 2012 at 6:24 pm.

The pair of planets will appear to be only 3 degrees apart in the western sky. That is equal to the width of your three middle fingers at arms’ length. Their proximity in the sky is an illusion, of course, as Venus is 180 million km away from Earth and Jupiter is more than 600 million km farther away.

After their mid March close encounter, the two planets will quickly go pass each other – Jupiter dropping down towards the horizon, getting closer to the Sun, while Venus moves higher up in the sky, moving away from the Sun, and brightening as it does so.

The next Venus-Jupiter conjunction after this one falls on May 28, 2013.

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Beauty Without Borders: Conjunction of Glory

13 – 15 March 2012

The Jupiter-Venus conjunction on March 15 will be quite a spectacle, as both planets are very bright. This will be a fantastic visual and photographic opportunity, as it’s not often that you get the brightest planets in our Solar System so close together.

In line with this, Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), in collaboration with Amateur Astronomers Association of Kurdistan & Opportunity Astronomical Observatory (Iraq), presents “Beauty without Borders: Conjunction of Glory”.

All the amateur/professional groups out there are invited to participate and enjoy the beautiful views.

Participate by hold an observing night with your local astronomy group or do a backyard astronomy session with your family and friend. Take your scope to the street for a “guerilla-astronomy” session.

Connect:
Join the conversation on Twitter @awb_org using #VenusJupiter with other groups around the world. Post your images on our Flickr or Facebook page.

Chat by NASA on 25 March 2012

Join and share with your friends!

Clear skies!

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Here is a video from Newsy.com to help you know more about this event: http://www.newsy.com/videos/venus-and-jupiter-set-for-cosmic-meetup/


AWB March 2012 Events

Global Astronomy Month 2012 (www.gam-awb.org) is merely a month away. Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) has organized three exciting events in March to do the warm-ups!

Spread the word and join in.

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“Hello Red Planet”

3-5 March 2012

Mars will come into Opposition on March 3, 2012 in the constellation Leo with its face fully illuminated by the Sun and two days later, on March 5, 2012, the planet will have its closest approach to Earth during this apparition: 100.78 million km (0.6737 AU)—the best time to say “Hello” to the Red Planet.

Read more…

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“Conjunction of Glory”

13 – 15 March 2012

Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets in the sky, will be within 3 degrees of each other in the evening sky of 15 March 2012 at 10:37:46 UTC.  This will be quite a spectacle, as both planets are very bright—and this will be a fantastic visual and photographic opportunity, as it’s not often that you get the brightest planets in our Solar System so close together. 

The next Venus-Jupiter conjunction after this one falls on May 28, 2013. 

Read more…

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“March Equinox 2012″

20 March 2012

The March equinox occurs at 05:14 UTC, Tuesday 20 March.  The Sun will shine directly down on the Earth’s equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world.  This is also the first day of spring (Vernal Equinox) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of fall (Autumnal Equinox) in the southern hemisphere.

Wherever you are on 20 March, 2012, celebrate your season in the cycle of life with Astronomers Without Borders.  Enjoy your own unique Equinox this year—and why not tell others about the experience?

Read more…

To the stars! :)

More about GAM 2012:


National Astronomy Week 2012 in the Philippines

The National Astronomy Week (NAW), which is celebrated annually every third week of February (Presidential Proclamation No. 130), falls on 20-24 February 2012 this year.  The theme of this year celebration is “Viewing the Sky… Enhancing our Knowledge!”.

Lots of fun and educational activities have been prepared by different amateur astronomy groups this year which makes this year’s celebration more exciting.

Below is a list of NAW 2012 activities organized by various Philippine astronomy organizations.

For more information or for other inquiries, kindly leave a comment or visit the online pages of the respective organizations.

Clear skies and happy NAW!

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PAGASA

PAGASA will celebrate the NAW with a week-long activity which will be highlighted by the following:

1.  Free Planetarium Show
2.  Stargazing and Telescoping Sessions
3.  Star Party contest for (8) Public & Private School Science Club Members at the PAGASA  
     Observatory (First-come, first-serve basis)
4.  Distribution of posters in Astronomy to visiting schools at the Planetarium and
     Astronomical Observatory, free of charge.

Reservations for the Planetarium will be made at the PAGASA Central Office on a first-come, first-served basis.

Stargazing and telescoping sessions will be from 7:00 to 11:00 pm every night at the Astronomical Observatory, UP Compound, Diliman, Quezon City.  The public, especially the students and teachers are invited to the sessions.

2012 Star Party Contest for Highschool Students

In connection with the celebration of the National Astronomy Week on 20-24 February 2012, The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), will conduct a Star Party Contest for the eight (8) Public & Private High Schools (first-come, first-served basis) on 24 February 2012 at 3:00 P.M. until dawn at the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory, U.P. Compound, Diliman, Quezon City.

The contest will be open to high school students, both public and private from Metro Manila.  The maximum number of contestants is nine (9) students who should be members of their Science Club and one (1) Science Adviser.

Star Party Contest Rules and Regulation will be given/discussed upon registration of the eight (8) participating schools on 24 February 2012.

Prizes at Stake:

1st Prize:                    P5,000.00
2nd Prize:                   P4,000.00
3rd Prize:                    P3,000.00
5 Consolation Prize:     P2,000.00

Certificates of participation will be issued to all contestants.

For further inquiries, please contact Engr. Dario Dela Cruz, Chief, Space Science and Astronomy Section at telephone number 434-2715 or visit our website at http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph

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Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP)

For more inquiries on ALP NAW activities, please contact NAW Chairman / SecretaryChristopher Louie Lu at (0919) 3057176 or ALP President James Kevin Ty at (0917) 8559863 or (0922) 8999ALP (257).

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 Philippine Astronomical Society (PAS)

Registration for the different competitions can be done by e-mailing your confirmation together with the list of participants to pasnaw2012@yahoo.com. You may contact PAS President, Ian Allas at 09063165154 or 09391682834.

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UP Astronomical Society (UP AstroSoc)

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UPLB Astronomical Society (UPLB AstroSoc)

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Rizal Technological University (RTU)

National Astronomy Week Celebration in RTU:

Feb. 14: Opening

Feb. 15: Planetarium Show

Feb. 16: Exhibit Day

Feb. 17: Closing


IAU Gala Night at the NIDO Fortified Science Discovery Center

Last October 21, 2011, I attended the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Formal Gala Dinner  at the Science Discovery Center in SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City.

Fellow members from my org, UP Astronomical Society; professors and students from different universities namely UPLB, RTU, and DLSU; astronomy educators, and amateur astronomers were also attendees of this gathering.

IAU Gala Night – October 21, 2011

The event’s theme was ‘Astronomy for Development’. It aimed to educate and promote awareness of Astronomy among Filipinos. It was also to inform the people about the importance of astronomy and to let them know the latest development and innovation in the field.

Speakers were Dr. Rogel Mari Sese, Head of Astrophysics Lab in the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Physics, UPLB; and Dr. Kevin Govender, the current Director of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development.

Before proceeding with  the talks, a short  planetarium show entitled “New Horizons” was played to entertain the audience. It was an all-dome-video experience that features a majestic journey through our celestial neighborhood.

Dr. Sese was the first one to deliver a talk. He discussed several key ideas in pursuing Astronomy as a profession particularly in the Philippines. He further explained that having a career in astronomy is challenging and highlighted a few important points on what in takes to be an astronomer. These, according to him are the following:

  • Passion – main motivation for one to learn
  • Plan – [Because] the learning journey is long
  • Perseverance – main motivation for one to finish

He finished his talk my leaving this inspiring message: “Be passionate and patient. It’s all worth it in the end.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Govender gave a talk about the importance of astronomy in the society. He also mentioned the current promotional strategies of IAU to  stimulate people in astronomy and to establish Astronomy Education, Research, and Outreach in developing countries such as the Philippines. Moreover, he emphasized several important points about Astronomy and Science:
“Astronomy stretches our imagination.”
“Science is about exploring God’s universe.”
“Astronomy for a better world.”

A short open forum was eventually held after the talks to allow questions from the audience. A lot of curious questions about astrophysics have been asked by several students until after the formal dinner.

All in all, the event was truly a great and memorable experience.

I’m glad that IAU is still taking its commitment in expanding astronomy development programs in areas where astronomy is still an emerging and minor field (such as in the Southeast Asian (SEA) region), even after the successful International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009) was over. At the same time, I’m also proud that the Philippines is already taking part in holding activities such as this which enable  young astronomers and students in particular, to further develop their interest in the field.

The purpose of this office is to use astronomy to make the world a better place!

I hope that there would be more scientific collaborations such as this one, in the near future  that could stimulate the rapid growth of science among developing societies.

Ad astra per aspera!


GAM 2011 Program Schedule

Wondering what projects are included in this year’s Global Astronomy Month? Check out this programs list. :)

Click on the links below for more information on each program.

Date / Time Program
March 24 to 4 April Globe at Night – Northern Hemisphere
March 24 to 6 April Globe at Night – Southern Hemisphere
1 April Online Messier Marathon: Observe all the Messier objects remotely
1 to 8 April International Dark Skies Week
1 to 30 April 30 Nights of StarPeace
2 April Around the Ringed Planet: Observe Saturn remotely
2 to 3 April Beatuy without Borders – Saturn Watch
9 April Global Star Party
9 April Stars for All: Observe deepsky objects remotely
10 April Opticks: A live audio-visual radio transmission performance between Earth & Moon
10 and 11 April NASA “Voyage into Deep Space” 2011 – Live Webcast with Sonification
10 to 16 April Lunar Week
12 April Walking on the Moon: Observe Moon remotely
12 April Yuri’s Night – 50th Anniversary of Human Space Flight
17 April SunDay
17 April Here Comes the Sun: Observe Sun remotely
20 April World Night in Defence of the Starlight
21 to 22 April Meteors without Borders – Lyrids Watch 2011
28 April, 20:00UT Cosmic Concert – Online Musical Concert
30 April Write Your Name in the Sky!: Observe asteroids remotely
Throughout April One Star at a Time – Fight Light Pollution
Throughout April MoonDays
Throughout April Astronomy without Barriers – programs for people with disabilities
Throughout April Planetarian without Borders
Throughout April Astropoetry for Global Astronomy Month
Throughout April International Earth and Sky Photo Contest
Throughout April Dark Skies Rangers
Throughout April GAM Dark Skies Awareness Programs

Register Your GAM Event Here

Spread the word and join the largest celebration of astronomy world-wide! :)


GAM 2011 Begins!

Global Astronomy Month 2011 has begun with events taking place worldwide.

The GAM Blog has launched.  The first article , The Universe, Ours to Discover, was contributed by Astronomers Without Borders’ Founder and President Mike Simmons who describes the road from IYA2009 to GAM 2011.  A great group of authors, outreach professionals and scientists have been invited to write for the GAM Blog throughout April.

Global Events so far
March 24 to 4 April — Globe at Night – Northern Hemisphere
March 24 to 6 April — Globe at Night – Southern Hemisphere
1 April — Online Messier Marathon : Observe all the Messier objects remotely
1 to 8 April — International Dark Skies Week
1 to 30 April — 30 Nights of StarPeace
2 April — Around the Ringed Planet : Observe Saturn remotely
2 to 3 April — Beatuy without Borders – Saturn Watch

Global Events Coming Soon

9 April — Global Star Party
Join amateur astronomers around the world in a 24-hour night of taking astronomy to the public!

9 April — Stars for All : Observe Deep Sky Objects Remotely
Bad weather, no telescope or through for the night?  Join thousands of others observing from home through this special online remote observing event

10 to 16 April — Lunar Week
A wide range of programs, events, contests and some special surprises focusing on our closets neighbor in space.  Stay tuned for more announcements.

17 April — SunDay
A project intended to raise people’s awareness of our star.  What is it?  How does it affect us?  The different layers of the Sun, solar activity (sunspots, flares, prominences, coronal mass ejections and the solar wind), space weather, energy production, helioseismology—these are all different aspects of the Sun waiting to be discovered and understood.

See the GAM Program Schedule for all GAM Global Programs.


Sponsorship Opportunities Available

For information on sponsorship opportunities for Global Astronomy Month 2011 or specific programs during GAM see the GAM Sponsorship page or contact Mike Simmons .

Register Your GAM Event Now

Let everyone know about your events for Global Astronomy Month 2011 (GAM2011).

To register your event you must be logged in to an AWB user account.  Just click to register your event here. If you are not logged in you’ll be taken to a page where you can log in or create an AWB user account before going on to the event registration page.

For detailed information on how to register your event, click on the “How to Register Your Event” Instruction page.

Important Notes for Successful Registration:

  1. GAM events should be within the Global Astronomy Month dates of April 1-30.  If you have an event outside of these dates that is part of the Global Astronomy Month celebration please contact Jennie McCormick .
  2. Check your Google Map “push pin” placement once your event has been registered.  If it is not placed correctly, first double-check the address you have entered for errors. You can also move the pin on the Google Map until it is correctly placed.

GAM2011 Posters Available

If you have events during Global Astronomy Month, here are two posters to help you tell the public about all the exciting activities.

The posters are available for download by clicking on the above images.  Or go to the GAM Resources page where you can also find other useful material such as logos, banners, stickers and more.

If you’re still thinking about how to get involved in our global celebration of astronomy, we have 10 tips for you.

Poster credits:

Original concept and final layout by Ricardo Cardoso Reis

Design by David Occhino

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More information:

For further information please contact:

Mike Simmons
President, Astronomers Without Borders
Chair, GAM2011 Working Group
mike@gam-awb.org
+1 818 486 7633

Thilina Heenatigala
GAM2011 Coordinator
thilina@gam-awb.org
+94 716 245 545

Oana Sandu
GAM2011 Public Relations Coordinator
oana@gam-awb.org
+40 724 024 625


10 Ways to Get Involved in Global Astronomy Month 2011

Wondering what you can do during Global Astronomy Month 2011? Check 10 Ways you could get involved!

April 2011 is rapidly approaching and Astronomers Without Borders from all around the globe are busy organizing events to mark the celebration of the month dedicated to astronomy and the beauty of observing the sky.  Join them in this global pursuit of sharing the Universe with everyone under the motto One People, One Sky.

 

If you are still wondering how to get involved, here are a few ideas:

  1. Check the list of GAM global events and see which ones you could participate in. The pool of choices is diverse: from star parties to solar observations, from remote observing sessions to cosmic concerts, competitions and cultural events. All these events are opportunities for your local astronomy club, planetarium or public observatory to take part in an international project and attract the local community to your venue.
  2. Create an event to go along with one of the global programs, or something of your own. Share your event with the world and those in your area looking for GAM events by registering your event on the GAM website with a short description. If it’s something especially exciting or innovative let us know and we might include it on the GAM blog.
  3. Discover the Universe from the comfort of your own home. GAM offers two ways to enjoy remote observing. Join online, live events with real-time narration. Or take control for personal observing through remotely controlled telescopes or images on demand. See Remote Observing.
  4. If you’re a teacher, take your class to one of the events happening during Lunar Week (April 10-16)—for example, SunDay(April 7) or an evening observing session. Your students will be fascinated to discover the sky above.  And be prepared to get a lot of questions from them!
  5. Organize a night out with your family. We recommend Lyrids Watch (April 21/22), as you can get confortable and warm right in front of your porch, and spend some family time together while gazing at the sky in search of falling stars.
  6. Instead of a night out in a club, take your friends to a different party, a Global Star Party (April 9). You will have the chance to meet Saturn and the Moon, as well as galaxies and star clusters.
  7. Spread the word about Global Astronomy Month among your family, friends, classmates, workmates, and neighbors so that they too can wonder at the beauties of the Universe.
  8. Stay in touch by following our website and blog. Join the conversation on Twitter by using #GAM2011, share your pictures on Flickr or become our friend on Facebook.
  9. Write an article about GAM if you are a journalist or a blogger and inform your readers about the events taking place near them in April.
  10. Become a sponsor of this international campaign. There are sponsorships opportunities throughout GAM2011, both for the entire month and for select, targeted programs. Download the GAM 2011 Sponsorship Package or contact AWB President Mike Simmons for more information.

Join the celebration in April 2011 as Global Astronomy Month brings together thousands of passionate individuals and hundreds of organizations worldwide to share their enthusiasm in innovative new ways, connecting people through a great sense of sharing the Universe!

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More information:

 


Celebrate the Sun-Earth Day 2011

Sun-Earth Day is comprised of a series of programs and events that occur throughout the year culminating with a celebration on or near the Spring Equinox.

This year’s theme , ‘Ancient Mysteries-Future Discoveries’, opens the door to a much deeper understanding of our Sun and its impact across the ages.

Read more about SED 2011 and know how you can get involved in this project here.


Skywatching Highlights: March 2011

March is filled with several exciting conjunctions, lunar occultations, planetary displays and other celestial events which will take place alongside with some big astronomy-related projects geared toward promoting the appreciation of the night sky to many people globally.

March Event Time Notes
5 New Moon 04:45 AM
6 Moon at apogee (farthest distance to Earth) 04:00 PM
7 Final close pairing of Jupiter and the moon for 2011
10 Moon shines near the Pleiades star cluster
11 Moon near star Aldebaran
12 Moon in between Capella and Betelgeuse
12 Juno at Opposition 6:00 PM
13 Moon shines in front of Winter Hexagon
13-18 Close pairing of Mercury and Jupiter dusk These appear low in western horizon
13 First Quarter Moon 07:45 AM
15 Gamma Normids Active from Feb 25 – Mar 22. ZHR 6
16 Minimum separation Mercury Jupiter dusk Mercury 2° to the left of Jupiter
16 Mercury 2° North of the Moon 01:00 AM
17 Lunar occultation of omicron Leonis Start: 6:20 PM End: 07:10 PM
17 Moon and Regulus are less than 10 degrees apart
19 Sun-Earth Day
20 Full Moon 02:10 AM This will also be the largest full moon of the year because it will be near perigee, its closest point to the Earth.
21 Vernal Equinox 07:20 AM
22

6th worldwide GLOBE at Night 2011 campaign

March 22 -April 4 for the Northern Hemisphere

23 Moon near red star Antares before dawn
23 Mercury greatest elongation East(19°) 09:00 AM
26 Last Quarter Moon 08:10 PM
26 Earth Hour 2011 8:30 PM
31 Venus 6° South of the Moon 09:00 PM

Note: Dates and sky displays are based on Philippine settings. Philippine Standard Time (PST) = UT + 8

 

Astronomy Terms:

Occultation – An event that occurs when one object is hidden by another object that passes between it and the observer.

Opposition – When two celestial bodies are on opposite sides of the sky when viewed from a particular place (usually the Earth).

  • it is visible almost all night, rising around sunset, culminating around midnight and setting around sunrise;
  • at this point of its orbit it is roughly[1] closest to the Earth, making it appear bigger and brighter.
  • the half of the planet visible from Earth is then completely illuminated (“full planet”)
  • the opposition effect increases the reflected light from bodies with unobscured rough surfaces
Greatest  (Eastern) Elongation When an inferior planet is visible after sunset, it is near its greatest eastern elongation. A planet’s elongation is the angle between the Sun and the planet, as viewed from Earth
Vernal Equinox The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the southern hemisphere

 

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References:

  1. EarthSky.org
  2. PAGASA Astronomical Diary — March 2011
  3. Philippine Celestial Events for 2011 (by PAS)
  4. SeaSky.org
  5. Wikipedia Encyclopedia

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