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

International Year of Astronomy

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


My Galileoscope, At Last!

Yey! 😀

After several months of waiting, I finallly got my IYA 2009 Galileoscope which I ordered from the Galileoscope website. I’m soo happy!

The parcel with its contents

There were some shipping problems, and it took longer than expected (they arrived about a month ago but I’ve been too busy to write up this post). Before anything else, I would like to thank the following for their  enormous help.

Mr. Rick Fienberg, Galileoscope team member, for being kind enough to send me regular updates regarding the status of my order;

Ms. Amy Pekar, for taking charge of resending my order 😛 (They had to resend it 3x because the first 2 got lost somewhere and didn’t reach me.)

Nicole Obidos, for driving us to the Marikina Post Office  🙂  *clap clap*

The Marikina Post Office, for giving me 50% discount on the tax i have to pay for the parcel;

and to Andre Obidos, for serving as another recipient and helping me assemble the Galileoscope 🙂

The Galileoscope is a ‘cornerstone project’ of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA). It is a high-quality, inexpensive telescope kit designed by a team of folks who wanted to make the night sky available to as wide an audience as possible, especially young people.

Peeking through a Galileoscope is like seeing the celestial wonders that Galileo first glimpsed 400 years ago, which still delight stargazers today, including lunar mountains and craters, Jupiter’s moons, the phases of Venus, Saturn’s rings and countless stars and deep-sky objects invisible to the naked eye. It incorporates features such as achromatic optics, stray-light rejection and a 1.25-inch focuser normally found only on more expensive telescopes.

It comes packed pretty well, and all the pieces were there. The 50-mm f/10 objective lens is an achromat made from two types of glass, and the 20-mm (25x) eyepiece employs two achromats — a total of four lenses — made from two types of plastic (this four-element configuration is similar to that of the popular Plössl eyepiece, a high-quality design rarely seen on any telescope eyepiece). The plastic in the tube is solid and fits together pretty well. However, I will say that the instructions are not terribly clear; I had to download the additional pictorial instructions from the website in order to better understand the whole assembly procedure.

Assembly took about twenty minutes. When it was done, I mounted it on a sturdy camera tripod that was available then.

Andre tried to focus the Galileoscope on a nearby light post

I first looked on the bright planet Venus which I saw in its crescent phase.

An hour later after sunset, we point it on the waning gibbous moon and then to Jupiter. Through low power the planet is easily resolved as a disk, with its four largest moons. I could even just barely make out two or three of the cloud stripes on Jupiter.

 
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My first lunar image through a Galileoscope! Wish I could learn how to attach a Philips ToUCam to it soon, without buying an expensive camera adapter. 😀 Haha!

(Photo details: Kodak EasyShare C813 6mm focal length F/2.7 lens aperture at ISO 80. Taken using afocal method. Second image was processed in Registax)

The higher-power eyepiece was almost impossible to use, which I actually expected — it’s hard enough in much more expensive telescopes. Higher power means smaller field of view, so finding objects is tough. Focusing is hard as well, since the target is hard to keep centered given that telescope has no adjustment knobs for easier navigation. Perhaps it would be better to find the best focus with both eyepieces and then mark the slider tubes with a white or silver marker that you can be seen in the dark. That way, one can pre-focus.

Another friend pointed the Galileoscope into Jupiter

All in all the Galileoscope is a good piece of equipment. It’s not that hard to assemble, and if you have a tripod and some measure of patience it will allow you view large bright objects. You won’t go galaxy hopping with it, and the inverted view makes bird-spotting hard too. But it serves the purpose it was designed to do: get astronomy in the hands of people everywhere for a very low price. 😀

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View full optical specification here.

Telescope Review

First lunar image through a GalileoscopeKodak EasyShare C813 6mm focal length, F/2.7 lens aperture, ISO 80
Taken using afocal method

Second image was processed in Registax v.5.1


Postcards from the Edge of the Universe

Send postcards and download this nice astronomy e-book, “Postcards from the Edge of the Universe” for free! 😀

Launched at The European Week of Astronomy and Space Science in Lisbon (Portugal),  this book was a legacy of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 Cornerstone project Cosmic Diary.

The book features a comprehensive selection of contemporary astronomy topics in easy-to-understand language plus full color images produced by Hubble Space Telescope.

Visitors to the book’s website, www.postcardsfromuniverse.org, will find an option to send an electronic postcard from space to family and friends — the only postal service that makes light-speed deliveries.

Postcards from the Edge of the Universe is available as an electronic book for free download from its website and can be ordered in hardcopy form from ESO’s shop.

Links

Send postcards and download this nice e-book, “Postcards from the Edge of the Universe” for free! 😀

The
book features a comprehensive selection of contemporary astronomy
topics in easy-to-understand language plus full color images produced by
Hubble Space Telescope.