June 6th last year, stargazers from across the globe gathered together to watch one of the rarest astronomical spectacles.
Many turned their attention to the daytime sky to view the planet Venus passing directly between the Sun and Earth – a transit that won’t occur again for another 105 years.
The transit of Venus happens in pairs eight years apart – but then with more than a century between cycles. During the pass, Venus appeared as a small, dark round spot moving across the face of the sun.
I observed the whole duration of the final Transit of Venus of our lifetime at the College of Science Amphitheater in UP Diliman in a public viewing event called ‘Rekindling Venus’ organized by members of various school-based astronomy organizations in the Philippines a last June 6, 2012.
There were lectures, talks, astro-images exhibit, free planetarium shows and telescope viewing, and more during the event, which have been attended by a lot of astronomy-enthusiasts coming from different places.
The sky was about 40-50% cloudy that day but it didn’t rain despite the weather forecast.
Local newsgroups were present during the event and I was unfortunately spotted for a short interview. Haha!
This event was surely a memorable one.
Kudos to all the organizers and thank you to everyone who joined us in this event!
Next month we will be the last people living today to witness one of the rarest astronomical events. On June 6, a special celestial event called the transit of Venus will take place, and it won’t be repeated in your lifetime.
During the transit, Venus will pass directly in front of the sun from Earth’s perspective, appearing as a small moving black dot.
The entire transit can be witnessed from eastern Asia, eastern Australia, New Zealand and the western Pacific, as well as Alaska, northern Canada and almost all of Greenland.
How rare is this astronomical event?
Transits of Venus occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by gaps of 121½ years and 105½ years. Only six of these transit have been recorded by civilization: 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882, and 2004. This June’s transit, the end of the 2004-2012 pair, won’t be repeated until the December 2117. This is the last chance for anyone alive today to see the rare celestial sight. Fortunately, the event is widely visible.
Unlike a total eclipse of the sun, which is visible only within a long narrow track traced by the moon’s shadow, during the 2012 transit of Venus the entire hemisphere of Earth facing the sun will get to see at least part of the planet’s solar crossing.
Astronomers during the 18th Century travelled thousands of miles and risked their lives to witness this precious sight.
They did so because they believed Venus held the key to the most pressing astronomical quest of the age: the size of the solar system.
In 1716, astronomer Edmund Halley realized that by timing the transits of 1761 and 1769 from widely-spaced locations on Earth it should be possible to triangulate the distance to Venus using the principles of parallax and give the distance between Earth and the Sun.
For astronomers today, the Transit of Venus offers a chance to gain insights into the planet’s notoriously thick, cloudy atmosphere, and use the refraction of sunlight to finetune techniques for hunting planets orbiting distant stars.
One of the most useful exercises will be to compare observations of the transit made by Earth-based telescopes, orbital telescopes and robot probes.
The Transit of Venus (TOV) is among the rarest astronomical phenomena and won’t happen again until the year 2117. So prepare now, and don’t miss out on this extremely special event!
Observing the TOV from the Philippines
Filipinos are lucky because the entire Philippines is well positioned to witness the transit of Venus on Wednesday 6th June 2012.
To those who are planning to observe this rare event, you might just be interested in joining us in this free public viewing.
June 06 2012, 6am – 1pm
College of Science Amphitheater, University of the Philippines Diliman
This event was launched through the collaboration of the Australian Embassy, UP Astronomical Society, UP- Los Banos Astronomical Society, RTU Astronomical Society, DOST-PAGASA and D’Great Rovers.
This event is for FREE and is open to everyone. Even those who would be coming from other parts of the globe are invited.
For more details, please visit its Facebook event page:
The general transit circumstances can be found here.
Warning: NEVER look at the sun with your naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. Serious and permanent eye damage, including blindness, can result.
- Six ways to see the transit
- Fred Espenak’s Solar Eye Safety
- Transit of Venus.org Safety
The Black Drop Effect
The black drop effect occurs when Venus appears to “connect” to the edge of the Sun before actually reaching the edge. You can model the black drop effect by slowly pinching your index finger and thumb together. Your fingers seem to meet even before they touch. This optical phenomenon was originally thought to provide proof of Venus having an atmosphere. For an explanation of the black drop effect, check out the following links:
A YouTube video of modeling the black drop effect with your fingers:
An online simulation of the black drop effect:
Other resources if you are looking for more information on the Transit of Venus:
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/
Clear skies! 🙂
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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 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.
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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Registration for the different competitions can be done by e-mailing your confirmation together with the list of participants to email@example.com. You may contact PAS President, Ian Allas at 09063165154 or 09391682834.
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National Astronomy Week Celebration in RTU:
Feb. 14: Opening
Feb. 15: Planetarium Show
Feb. 16: Exhibit Day
Feb. 17: Closing
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!