This year’s National Astronomy Week (NAW) falls on 18-24 February 2013. NAW is an annual event in the Philippines that is observed every third week of February under Presidential Proclamation No. 130. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Solar Max 2013: Discovering the Sun’s Awakening Power”.
The Philippine astronomy community is especially active during this period. This year, aside from the exciting activities that are usually prepared by several amateur astronomy groups, PAGASA also launched its first astrophotography contest for Elementary/High School Level (combined level) and College Students.
Below is a list of NAW 2013 activities organized by various Philippine astronomy organizations. (information taken from their own respective websites)
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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The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the agency mandated under Presidential Proclamation No. 130, to spearhead the annual celebration, has prepared the following activities for the whole celebration:
- Free Planetarium Shows
- Stargazing and Telescoping Sessions at PAGASA Observatory
- First Astrophotography Contest for Elementary/High School Level (combined level) and College Students (First-Come, First-Served Basis)
- Free Posters in Astronomy to Visiting Schools at the Planetarium and Astronomical Observatory.
- Free 2 days Mobile Planetarium Shows, Stargazing and Telescoping Sessions in Selected Public Elementary and High School Students in Legazpi City.
- Seminar/Workshop on Basic and Observational Astronomy for Public Science Teachers in Metro Manila.
The free planetarium shows and lecture and telescoping sessions will be eld at the PAGASA Science Garden and Astronomical Observatory, respectively. It will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. Planetarium shows will be conducted from 8:00 AM to 5:00 P.M. daily, while telescoping sessions will start at 7:00 o’clock nightly. Please see Attachment 1 for the mechanics of the 1st Astrophotography Contest.
The Seminar/Workshop for Public Science Teachers of Metro Manila will be conducted at the Main Conference Room, 2nd Floor, PAGASA Central Office Bldg., Science Garden, Agham Road, Diliman Quezon City on 22 February 2013 at 2:30 PM. A stargazing session will follow after the Seminar/Workshop, which will be held at the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.
Interested parties who would like to visit our astronomical facilities during the celebration may call at telephone number 434-2715 for reservation purposes. Please click the following links for the Mechanics andRegistration Forms.
For further inquiries, please visit their website at http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph.
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For more inquiries on ALP NAW activities, please contact NAW Chairman Christopher Louie Lu at (0919) 3057176.
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20th National Astronomy Week 2013
Schedule of Activities NAW 2013
NAW special guests:
Arnold Clavio – Guest of Honor – Distinguished UST Alumni, TV GMA Personality
Prof. Edmund Rosales – Project Director, SkyXplore; ABS weather broadcaster
The image below shows the contest event floor plan.
Registration for the different competitions can be done by e-mailing your confirmation together with the list of participants to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PAS NAW CAMPUS TOUR
February 19: Paco Catholic School – “The Universe As We Know It” by Engr. Camilo Dacanay
February 20: Ateneo – “Physics and The Study of the Universe” by Engr. Camilo Dacanay
February 22: FEU-EAC – “Space: Weather Effects and Consequences” “ by Engr. Camilo Dacanay
February 22: International Beacon School – “Stellar Evolution” by Engr. Camilo Dacanay
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The University of the Philippines Astronomical Society (UP AstroSoc), together with other Philippine astronomical organizations, celebrates the 20th National Astronomy Week (NAW) on February 16-23, 2013. UP AstroSoc prepared a line-up of activities geared towards the organization’s objective of being able to enhance the awareness, interests, knowledge, and understanding of astronomy among students and the general public. The three main “star”-studded events that would be on February 23, 2013 are Big Bang, Take Off, and the Teachers’ Seminar.
BIG BANG!: The Astronomical Quiz Show
Big Bang is a quiz show that will surely make high school students not just think outside of the box but think outside our world. It aims to showcase their knowledge about astronomy and boost their competitiveness as they battle for victory against students from Central Luzon, CALABARZON, and NCR. Big Bang would definitely create a loud blast this year so join now, if you can handle it. Prizes await for those who can.
TAKE OFF!: A Rocket-Making Competition
Take Off is a competition that will absolutely take you up to the skies. With their creativity and innovativeness, students would make their own rockets using plastic bottles and boost it with pumped air and water. The competitors would soar high as their rockets fly high to reach the gold.
TEACHERS’ SEMINAR: Astronomy Education
UP AstroSoc believes that we should first appreciate before we educate. That is why for this year, not only the students but also the teachers would take part of the National Astronomy Week celebration. The Teachers’ Seminar aims to discuss through our educators what could we gain in promoting and spreading our knowledge of Astronomy to the society, the country, and to all humanity. Some of the basic astronomical concepts would also be discussed during the seminar.
For inquiries, you may contact us at:
BIG BANG!:Liezl Ann Motilla @ 09058052777 / email@example.com
TAKE OFF!: Kristine Jane Atienza @ 09152397942 / firstname.lastname@example.org
TEACHERS’ SEMINAR: Ericka Jane Angeles @ 09264254774 / email@example.com
For more questions regarding Astronomy and UP AstroSoc, feel free to like us on Facebook (www.facebook/upastrosoc), follow us on Twitter (@upastrosoc), and visit our website (www.askupastrosoc.blogspot.com).
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Visit https://www.facebook.com/uplbastrosoc for more details.
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Stay tuned for updates!
UP Astronomical Society is now open for Summer Application!
See you this thursday, 19 April 2012 6pm at the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory Moon Deck near CHE.
Get the chance to look through the largest telescope in the Philippines, Andre the Giant!
Don’t miss it!
For inquiries, please contact
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About UP Astrosoc…
The University of the Philippines Astronomical Society (UP Astrosoc) is a non-profit, non-political and non-partisan organization in the University of the Philippines, Diliman established in 1991. UP Astrosoc now resides at the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory inside the UP Diliman Campus in Quezon City.
In celebration of the National Astronomy Week (NAW) 2012, the University of the Philippines Astronomical Society (UP AstroSoc) in partnership with the Philippine Society of Youth Science Clubs (PSYSC) invites everyone to a public observation of the celestial grouping of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter on February 26, 2012.
The said event will be at the Sun Deck of the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory in UP Diliman.
Define closeness; see the thin lunar crescent pass close to Venus and Jupiter on the eve of February 26. Observation starts at around 6PM or later.
Messier marathon begins at 9 PM. Messier objects were discovered in the 18th century. These were listed so that observers using small telescopes would not confuse these with comets
SEE YOU THERE!
To join the event, please visit its Facebook event page : https://www.facebook.com/events/148142481972887/
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Sidereal Times – the official publication of the UP Astronomical Society – is now available online!
Now, anyone can get the latest information on the upcoming activities of UP Astrosoc and learn more about the latest news and updates in the wonderful field of astronomy by visiting this site.
Helpful tips and trivia for amateur astronomers were also being posted to the site by members.
The External Affairs Committee of the org (to which I once belonged) is the one in-charge of this publication.
As its former editor-in-chief, I was really glad that a site was finally launched for it and that the publication can now be accessed by more readers.
Congratulations to UP Astrosoc on this success! Ad astra per aspera!
UP Astronomical Society is now open for applications!
Visit our booth along AS Walk on Dec 6-9.
Apps’ Orientation will be on December 9, 2011 (Friday) 6pm at the PAGASA Observatory Moon Deck near CHE.
You can also sign-up online at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?hl=en_US&formkey=dC05c1NfdWJpTVM4ajdXSlQ4RmI5QkE6MA#gid=1
For inquiries, contact Andro at 09162309138.
See you! Ad Astra Per Aspera!
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.
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.”
“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.
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!
SPACE definitely matters.
UP ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY will introduce you to a space beyond your imagination.
COME JOIN UP AstroSoc on its platinum year and experience a night life in wonderland.
Visit the UP AstroSoc Application booth at the AS Walk (UP Diliman) from July 12-15, 2011.
Applicants’ orientation is on July 15, 2011 – 6pm
Venue: Moon Deck, PAGASA Observatory (near College of Home Economics)
For inquiries, contact Andro 09159739014 or Lei 09279748655
Ad astra per aspera!
Last June 4, one of my orgmates in U.P. AstroSoc told us the sad news that Dr. Dante L. Ambrosio, a former adviser of our organization and a notable promoter of Philippine Ethnoastronomy, has already passed away.
Dr. Ambrosio – a History professor of the College of Social Science and Philosophy in U.P. Diliman – was considered by many as the “Father of Philippine Ethnoastronomy”. He has proven this through a lot of his works regarding the field, including his book entitled, “Balatik: Katutubong Bituin ng mga Pilipino” which discusses our very own version of the constellations and interpretation of the skies which were developed by our early Filipino ancestors. Just like the other early civilizations, they made the sky part of their culture and consult them as they go on with their everyday lives (as in determining the propitious times for planting, fishing and hunting).
Balatik which is an equivalent of the constellation Orion, is a local term that means a trapping device used by hunters.
Dr. Ambrosio spent a considerable amount of time interviewing the Badjaos of Tawi-tawi in an effort to record the rich knowledge retained by the elders of indigenous communities which may be lost if not passed on to the next generation.
The following were also his written articles that were published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI):
- “Balátik and Moropóro : Stars of Philippine skies” – February 2, 2008
- “‘Mamahi:’ Stars of Tawi-tawi” - January 26, 2008
- “Eclipse and the Snake in the Sky: Bakunawa and Laho” - February 8, 2009
A lot of Filipinos around the country were still not familiar with our local astronomy culture, that’s why Dr. Ambrosio’s works on Ethnoastronomy were really commendable. I salute him for being an outstanding Filipino in the field of astronomy who gave valuable and inspiring contributions in promoting our own culture and developing a sense of pride among fellow countrymen.
It’s too bad that my friend who was supposed to interview him for her thesis didn’t got the chance to meet him again.
Nonetheless, he and his works will always leave a mark on our hearts. I hope that more Filipinos will be interested to continue what he had already started and will keep on promoting astronomy in the Philippines just the way he did.
I know that Dr. Ambrosio is now among the stars in the heavens now.
And for sure, he will always be missed.
Last April, I was invited along with some fellow UP AstroSoc members to join the 2011 Philippine Messier Marathon organized by the Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP). The event was held on the shore of Lake Caliraya at the Eco Saddle Campsite in Laguna.
It was a really nice opportunity for an amateur astronomer like me to be part of an event like this – a trip away from the light polluted city to observe in perfectly dark skies. However, I found it hard to decide whether or not to join the observation because I was also supposed to attend the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC) in Davao City. My heart was torn between my obligation and mission as a student leader and my love for the heavens.
Fortunately, the circumstances changed just in time for me to be able to join in the overnight observation.
I would finally see the Milky Way for the first time in all its grandeur.
And I DID!
I was lucky to have with me a borrowed DSLR camera to capture images of the mesmerizing dark skies above Lake Caliraya. From the northern hemisphere, the best views of the Milky Way are in the summer -with the brightest parts in the southern sky.
It was a very cold and windy night by the lake. Dew kept forming on my laptop, and every gust of wind threatened to topple my camera and tripod. Nevertheless, I stayed in the cold to take images. Such is the life of an amateur astronomer but it is always worth the effort.
Since I cannot take a single picture showing the expanse of the Milky Way, what I did was I took several shots of it and stitched those images together in Photoshop to produce a wide field photo.
I must admit that I still lack the skill in doing long-exposure photography. It was my first time to do that, haha. Every image that I took was a product of trial-and-error attempts, but thanks to the incredibly dark skies of Caliraya, my fellow orgmate’s useful tips, and the opportunity that God gave me, that I was able to produce my first images of our home galaxy.
I probably have to practice more on astrophotography and read tutorials to prepare for the next opportunity of taking pictures of the Milky Way. Hopefully, I could have my own DSLR camera (plus some real decent astro equipment) by that time. *I still have to save a lot of money for this.*
Ad astra per aspera!
Congratulations to another great Filipino who was given recognition for his outstanding work!
An asteroid will be named after Miguel Arnold Reyes, a young Filipino student who won the second grand award in the recent 2011 International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held in Los Angeles, California.
Reyes, who graduated from the Philippine Science High School, also received from the Lincoln Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology $1,500 as prize for his research “Synthesis and Characterization of Composite Plastics from Thermoplastic Starch and Nano-sized Calcium Phosphate for Film Packaging” which seeks to produce biodegradable plastic for film packaging from a composite of thermoplastics from cornstarch and nano-sized phosphate particles.
Among Filipinos who had a privilege to have asteroids named after them were former Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Director Dr. Roman Kintanar, Edwin Aguirre, Imelda Joson, Philippine Science High School Western Visayas Campus Director Josette Biyo, Allan Noriel Estrella, Jeric Valles Macalintal, Prem Vilas Fortran Rara and Father Victor Badillo.
The UP Astronomical Society (UP AstroSoc) are raising funds for its upcoming projects.
You can help the organization by supporting its Astro Shirt Sale.
For only 150php, you can already have a cool astro shirt just like the ones below.
You may choose from these 3 different designs. There several shirt sizes available.
To place your order, please contact the numbers indicated in the publicity poster, or visit UP AstroSoc’s Facebook Fanpage.
To the stars!
*Shirts are available in the Philippines
This is a long-overdue post. I was really busy during the past few weeks so I never found enough time to write a blog. Anyway…
Last February, the Filipino astronomy community celebrated the 18th National Astronomy Week, the theme for which was “Astronomy Transforming the Culture of Learning Toward Nation Building”.
As part of this major celebration, the University of the Philippines Astronomical Society (UP AstroSoc) organized two public observation events based on the concept of ‘Sidewalk Astronomy’ last February 25 at the Quezon Memorial Circle and last February 27 at the Rizal Park.
Sidewalk Astronomy refers to the activity of setting up telescopes in an urban setting for a profit or non-profit basis as an entertainment or for public education. With the coming and growth of organized amateur astronomical groups, sidewalk astronomy has become associated with public education about astronomy via free public viewing for anyone who wishes to look through the telescope.
It’s like bringing astronomy to as many people as possible through public observations.
Both events started at 6:00 PM. Even though the sky was a bit cloudy throughout that week and light pollution is a huge concern when observing in urban areas, we were still lucky enough to catch glimpses of the celestial objects like Jupiter, Saturn, bright Sirius, the Pleiades and the Orion Nebula through our telescopes. Unfortunately, the Moon – our favorite viewing target – did not rise until past midnight so we were not able to see it.
During the last public viewing at the Rizal Park, there were a lot of people who came by to peek through the telescopes. Most of them were families spending time together at the park. At first, it was a real challenge keeping the crowd – especially the kids – from bumping the telescopes. Everyone was too excited. Nonetheless, we soon were able to make the viewing more organized so that everyone had a chance to peek through the telescopes.
Some of my fellow orgmates also gave short lectures on skygazing using Stellarium and astronomy books to those waiting in line.
It was fun to see people enjoying the view of the night sky. I suddenly realized that I so love the job of promoting astronomy with many people especially to the young ones; hearing about how amazed they are while looking up the sky is truly priceless.
It eventually become cloudier as the night went on. As it was already late and there was almost nothing that could be seen above except thick grey clouds, we decided to end the activity at around 11:00 PM.
The event was enjoyable! To us, it was a really memorable way of capping off the celebration of the National Astronomy Week in the Philippines.
To my fellow amateur astronomers, I suggest that you try sidewalk astronomy, too. I have found it to be a truly rewarding experience. People are very appreciative of the effort that I and my orgmates have given and I also made new friends along the way while having a great time.
Thank you to everyone who joined us in this event, especially to RTU Astronomical Society and cheers to those organizations who also held their events for this year’s NAW celebration.
May the goal of sharing the night sky to everyone continuously unite us all.
Ad astra per aspera!
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Photos by Julee Ann Olave and Ana Geronimo of UP AstroSoc
This image was taken during UP Astronomical Society‘s free public viewing of the largest full moon at the UP Diliman Sunken Garden.
Thanks to Kuya Anthony Urbano of EtenyWorks for letting us take pictures through his 6″ NERT!
The Moon was ~14% brighter and bigger at the time of this event. Thin clouds blanketed the lunar disk during this night but we were still lucky to catch a glimpse of this celestial beauty.We even saw a 22 degree halo and a colorful lunar corona circling the Moon at the same time.
Saturn was also there within the halo and there were contrails, too left by a passing aircraft.
Thanks to everyone who dropped by. ‘Til next time Ad astra per aspera!
“The sky is the ultimate art gallery just above us.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
[Some photos were grabbed from Nico Mendoza and Julee Olave Used with their permissions]
In the Philippines, Full Moon will occur at 2:10 AM (PHT) on March 20, 2011.
On March 19th, the moon will be closer to Earth than it’s been since 1992. This day marks this year’s lunar perigee, the point in the moon’s orbit at which it is closest to Earth. The full moon that night will appear about 14 percent larger and significantly brighter than usual, but despite the brightness, the supermoon has a dark side. Supermoons have been linked to massive natural disasters in the past, from earthquakes to floods–but that connection is typically touted by astrologists. Astronomers and scientists, with typical drollness, say a catastrophe is unlikely.
It’s the moon’s elliptical orbit that’s responsible for the differences in distance between the moon and Earth (the opposite, the point at which the moon is farthest from the Earth, is called the lunar apogee).
Clear skies to all!
As part of the celebration of the 18th National Astronomy Week in the Philippines this 2011, the University of the Philippines Astronomical Society (UP AstroSoc) will be holding a series of activities on February 23, 25 and 27.
*February 23, 2011 : ”Solar Observation and Rocket Launching (water-propelled rockets)”
Time: 3:00 pM to 6: 00 PM
Venue: UP Diliman Sunken Garden
*February 25, 2011 : “Sidewalk Astronomy — Stargazing Activity and Free Telescope Viewing”
Time: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Venue: Quezon City Memorial Circle (near the Quezon Memorial Shrine)
*February 25, 2011 : “Sidewalk Astronomy — Stargazing Activity and Free Telescope Viewing”
Time: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Venue: Rizal Park in Manila
Note: All these events are open to everyone. Feel free to drop by.
For more inquiries, please text Aaron at +639177620297 or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You could also visit UP AstroSoc’s Facebook Fanpage for updates regarding changes in the venue and the time of the events.
Ad astra per aspera!
I noticed that most of my frequent visitors were searching for the eclipses in the Philippines for 2011. Well then folks, I have listed below the eclipses that could be observed in the Philippines throughout the year.
Four partial solar and two total lunar eclipses will take place in 2011 but only the lunar eclipses will be visible in the Philippines. These two are both total lunar eclipses which means that during these events, we can actually see the entire disk of the Moon being covered by the Earth’s umbra — thus we can observe a nice Reddish Moon.
Total lunar eclipses are pretty rare events so be sure to plan your observation ahead of time and make the most out of this astronomical experience. (In the Philippines, the last one happened during May 5, 2004)
June 15 Total Lunar Eclipse
It will be visible completely over Africa, and Central Asia, visible rising over South America, western Africa, and Europe, and setting over eastern Asia. In western Asia, Australia and the Philippines, the lunar eclipse will be visible just before sunrise on June 16. (View NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
|Moon Enters Penumbra||01:24:27am||45 deg||212 deg S|
|Moon Enters Umbra||02:22:57am||37 deg||225 deg S|
|Moon Enters Totality||03:22:29am||26 deg||234 deg SW|
|Maximum Totality||04:13:44am||16 deg||240 deg SW|
|Moon Exits Totality||05:02:42am||06 deg||244 deg SW|
|Moonset||05:30:00am||00 deg||246 deg SW|
|Moon Exits Umbra (not visible)||06:02:14am||———-||———–|
|Moon Exits Penumbra (not visible)||07:00:41am||———-||———–|
|*The indicated times above are on June 16.|
|*Sunrise is at 05:26 AM.|
According to the ALP, “this eclipse is particularly special because the Moon passes almost exactly in front of the center of the Earth’s shadow during totality phase thus giving us local viewers in the Philippines a long totality time of around 100 minutes” (1 hr 40 mins) .
December 10 Total Lunar Eclipse
This eclipse will be visible from all of Asia and Australia, seen as rising over eastern Europe, and setting over northwest North America. (View NASA Eclipse Information)
Contact Times : (All in PHT= UT +8)
|Moon Enters Penumbra||19:33:36||31 deg||72 deg|
|Moon Enters Umbra||20:45:43||59 deg||72 deg|
|Moon Enters Totality||22:06:16||64 deg||67 deg|
|Maximum Totality||22:31:49||69 deg||63 deg|
|Moon Exits Totality||22:57:24||75 deg||55 deg|
|Moon Exits Umbra||00:17:58||79 deg||321 deg|
|Moon Exits Penumbra||01:29:57||65 deg||292 deg|
|Note: All eclipse stages are visible in the Philippines.|
Because I got too excited for this, I created a video simulation of the entire eclipse using Stellarium. The Moon is at the constellation Taurus during this event.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes behind the earth so that the earth blocks the sun’s rays from striking the moon. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, there is always a full moon the night of a lunar eclipse.
Unlike observing solar eclipses wherein you need adequate eye protection, lunar eclipses are safe to watch with the naked eye.
- NASA Eclipse Website
- Stellarium Planetarium software
- ALP Website
It’s almost February once again. To all Filipino amateur astronomers, this month is an important time of the year as this is when the astronomical community in the Philippines celebrates the annual National Astronomy Week. It is a week-long celebration every third week of February with discusions on astronomy as a hobby and science, telescope and photo exhibits, and stargazing sessions hosted by different astronomical organizations in the Philippines.
UP Astronomical Society’s projects and activities during the past NAW Celebrations (photos taken from upastrosociety.multiply.com)
How did it all start? Here’s a short quoted text from Philippine Astronomy Blog:
NAW History in the Philippines
“The idea of the National Astronomy Week, or NAW as popularly known to Filipino astronomers, was conceptualized by Edwin Aguirre and Imelda Joson, then members of the Philippine Astronomical Society, the oldest non-university based astronomy club in the Philippines. You might recognize them as the two Filipino amateur astronomers who had an asteroid named after them, asteroid 6282 “Edwelda”. Francisco Lao, also a former member of the Philippine Astronomical Society, worked for the celebration to become a yearly event. And with the efforts of these and other veteran stargazers, Presidential Proclamation No. 130, was signed by former President Fidel V. Ramos declaring the third week of February of every year as National Astronomy Week.
Since then, a number of individuals and astronomy societies have joined the NAW celebrations. The Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP) hosts symposiums at the Manila Planetarium and stargazing activities around Manila Bay area. Edwin and Imelda are currently honorary members of the ALP, and Francisco “Jun” Lao serves as editor of the society’s newsletter, ALPha. University-based organizations, such as the UP, RTU, MIAS, PNU and PLM astronomical societies also conduct lectures and observing sessions aimed as showing the wonders of the heavens to ordinary people, with the hope of inspiring them to become amateur astronomers.”
The theme of this year’s 18th NAW celebration is “Astronomy Transforming the Culture of Learning Toward Nation Building”.
In line with this, different astronomy organizations in the Philippines have prepared several activities to encourage the involvement of the public in celebrating this event. To view a list of some of this year’s NAW activities and projects which you might want to participate in, please visit the site of the Philippine Astronomical Society or check out this schedule of activities by Leogiver Mañosca of PAS.
Cheers to all those groups who are preparing for this big event. To the stars!
Note: Please check this site for updates on the events’ date and venues.
Last 13 January 2011, an International Space Station (ISS) Solar Transit event visible in some parts of Metro Manila occurred at around 8:30 am PHT (Philippine Time). The relative rarity of ISS Solar and Lunar Transits here in the Philippines plus the fact that I were fortunate enough to be very near the path of visibility of this transit inspired me a lot not to miss this event.
Along with my UP AstroSoc orgmates and some fellow amateur astronomers from RTU AstroSoc and from the Philippine Astronomical Society (PAS), we set up our equipment to observe this passage of the ISS in front of the Sun’s disk at the Manila Observatory in Quezon City, Philippines.
I already have some experience in observing solar eclipses but this was my first time to try timing and capturing a solar transit. Unlike eclipses, ISS transits are more challenging to observe because they happen too fast. To give you an idea of how fast these events occur, here is a video clip which I got from Youtube showing the ISS transiting in front of the Sun’s disk. It was captured by students of the Westfalenkolleg Dortmund on August 7, 2010 at 17:31 pm.
The transit above lasted for 1.06 seconds. The one we were to observe will have a duration of about 0.91 seconds — too swift to be captured using cameras so we opted to record a video of it instead.
Following are the transit details including the timings. The data was obtained by our UP AstroSoc orgmate and team leader, Anthony Urbano from www.calsky.com. All times are in PST (Philippine Standard Time) or UT+8.
Distance from center-line: 1.06km
Path Width: 13.6km maximum
Time of Ingress: 8h30m40.6s
Time of Egress: 8h30m41.6s
Transit Duration: 0.91s
Separation Angle: 0.037°
Position Angle: 121.2°
Satellite at Azimuth: 123.6° ESE at culmination
Satellite at Altitude: 26.4° at culmination
Angular Diameter: 25.6″
Angular Velocity: 35.2′/s
Ground Velocity: 7,457m/s
Size: 73.0m X 44.5m X 27.5mSatellite Distance: 723.6km
In clock-face concept, the space station will appear to move toward: 8:58
And by the way, Anthony Urbano or Kuya Eteny, as we fondly call him, is a gadget master. He has invented a lot of devices like a universal camera adapter that allows any point-and-shoot camera (and even SLRs) to be attached to any optical system (binoculars, telescope, microscope, etc.). He even brought one of his camera adapters during this observation to attach the video camera to his 6″ Newtonian Reflector Telescope. Moreover, he has also modified some gadgets like DSLRs to be more useful in astronomical observations and astrophotography. This guy is truly remarkable for possessing such great talent!
An hour before the ingress, the sky around our location was partly covered in clouds. The sky condition got even worse as the predicted time approached. We waited for several more minutes, just in case the clouds clear up and the actual time of transit is later than predicted. In the end, we didn’t see any trace of the ISS due to thick cloud cover. We packed up and left at around 9:30 am.
Though we were not able to accomplish our goal of recording this transit event, the experience is always worth it. :D Thanks to Kuya Eteny for informing us about this event and inviting us to observe with him.
I’m looking forward to more transit and solar observations.
*Photos by Bea Banzuela
Update: Another group of fellow Filipino amateur astronomers from the Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP) were lucky enough to observe and take images of the ISS transiting the Sun. Their observation report and images can be found here.
A Total Lunar Eclipse will darken the Moon on December 21. The entire event will be visible from North America with areas to the east, such as South America, Europe, and western Africa, catching the eclipse during Moonset and areas to the west, such as Australia and eastern and northern Asia, seeing the event at Moonrise. Only southern and eastern Africa, the Middle East and India and surrounding countries will miss out on the eclipse entirely. The limb of the Moon begins to fall into the dark shadow of Earth at Dec. 21 6:32 a.m. UTC. The total stage, when the Moon is completely within Earth’s shadow, lasts for approximately 73 minutes, from 5:40 a.m. to 8:53 a.m. UT. During totality, the Moon can take on strange shades, from orange to red to violet, depending on the particulates in the atmosphere at different locations. The event is over by 10:02 a.m. UT.
Philippine observers will have a chance to witness a Partial Lunar Eclipse at moonrise (5:31 PM) on Dec. 21, 2010. The major phases (visible to the Philippines) of the eclipse are as follows:
(All in PST= UT +8)
5:31 PM — Moonrise (~40-50% partiality, 65 degrees azimuth NE)
6:01 PM — Partial eclipse ends
7:04 PM — Penumbral eclipse ends (~5 deg. from the horizon)
Lunar eclipses are safe to watch and observers need not use any kind of protective filters for the eyes. A pair of binocular will help magnify the view and will make the red coloration of the Moon brighter.
A total lunar eclipse happens when the moon is full and passes exactly through the line connecting the Earth and the sun.
Note: Observing this eclipse is a challenge You need a very clear eastern horizon to see this (Moon will be just about 5 degrees above the horizon. The general rule amateur astronomers use is that the width of your fist from top to bottom held at arm’s length equals about 10 degrees.)
Weather forecast (Manila) for tomorrow: http://bit.ly/hKVxse (includes percent cloud cover, chance of precipitation, wind direction, etc.)
Let’s pray for clear skies
*Percent partiality are only based on my estimations (using Stellarium).
Coincidences: This lunar eclipse falls on the date of the northern winter solstice. How rare is that? Total lunar eclipses in northern winter are fairly common. There have been three of them in the past ten years alone. A lunar eclipse smack-dab on the date of the solstice, however, is unusual. Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory inspected a list of eclipses going back 2000 years. “Since Year 1, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is 1638 DEC 21,” says Chester. “Fortunately we won’t have to wait 372 years for the next one…that will be on 2094 DEC 21.” - SPACE.com
Winter Solstice in the Philippines however, will occur at 7:38 AM, Dec. 22, 2010 (according to PAGASA), which means that the partial lunar eclipse and the winter solstice will NOT happen on the same calendar date.
Nonetheless, astronomer Phil Plait (BadAstronomer) said that, “Technically, eclipse is same day as solstice, but it’s not significant. If you use GMT, all of eclipse is same day as solstice…but no one in GMT time zone will be able to see the eclipse!”
Related APOD: A Lunar Eclipse on Solstice Day
Eclipse circumstances on other parts of the globe: NASA Eclipse Website
Those who will not see the eclipse from their location can watch online thanks to Night Skies Network (NSN).
You can also get involved in the “Eclipses Without Borders“, another great project by Astronomers Without Borders (AWB).
The Pleiades (M45) is an open star cluster containing middle-aged hot B-type (blue-white) stars located in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky.
This star cluster is also known as the ‘Seven Sisters’, daughters of the titan Atlas and the sea-nymph Pleione in Greek mythology. In Filipino culture, this is referred as ‘The Rosary’ because of its appearance.
Tonight, the Pleiades can be found near the waning gibbous moon. Look for these two rising at the eastern sky around 8 PM (PST).
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Image taken by Andre Obidos