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

Astronomy News and Updates

Travel Package to Outer Space!

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UP Astronomical Society in collaboration with Trade School Manila invites you to

The Travel Package to Outer Space I

A class (for all ages) that consists of interesting presentations about the following topics (celestial sphere, astronomical events and misconceptions, constellation and time telling). Fun DIY experiments await after the presentation!

NO REGISTRATION FEE! Take the class and pay for it with an item from the instructor’s wish list: tent, storage box, kiddie/roll up mats, flashlight with red lens, electric floor/box fan, celestial sphere model or celestial globe, Astronomy books (brand new or second hand)

This event is on October 5, 2013, 6:00pm at Liberty Plaza, 102 H.V. Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City.

Directions on how to get to the venue: You can ride the MRT and get off at Buendia Station. Ride a jeepney beside McDonald’s and go down at Buendia-Makati Avenue (Petron gas station). Cross the street to get to the other side (Pacific Star building) and walk straight at Makati Avenue until you reach H.V. dela Costa. Walk through H.V. dela Costa until you reach Commune (it’s at the corner of Valero and H.V. dela Costa).

BARTER FOR KNOWLEDGE!

Register now at http://www.tiny.cc/astrotrade

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May 10, 2013 Annular Solar Eclipse

An annular solar eclipse will occur on May 9-10, 2013 (depending on your location). During an annular eclipse, the Moon is near its farthest distance from Earth (i.e., near its apogee) so it appears slightly smaller than the Sun’s disk. Since the Moon doesn’t cover the Sun completely, this leaves a bright ring of sunlight surrounding the Moon’s disk, often called the “Ring of Fire” effect. About 95% of the solar disk will be eclipsed by the Moon.

Screenshot from the live webcast from SLOOH Space Camera during the May 20, 2012 annular eclipse.

Screenshot from the live webcast from SLOOH Space Camera during the May 20, 2012 annular eclipse. (via Universe Today)

Visibility

The path of annularity of the eclipse passes through parts of North Australia, SE Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, provided the weather cooperates. Partial eclipse will be seen in a much broader path, which includes other parts of Australia, Eastern Indonesia, Oceania and Southern Philippines.

Overview_map_of_the_annular_solar_eclipse_of_10_May_2013

Global visibility of the eclipse courtesy of Michael Zeiler of Eclipse-Maps.com

Time table Worldwide

Eclipse circumstances                               UTC             Philippine Time
First location to see partial eclipse begin 9 May, 21:25   10 May, 05:25
First location to see full Eclipse begin 9 May, 22:31   10 May, 06:31
Maximum Eclipse 10 May, 00:23   10 May, 08:23
Last location to see full Eclipse end 10 May, 02:20   10 May, 10:20
Last location to see partial Eclipse end 10 May, 03:25   10 May, 11:25

The eclipse can be observed from 6:08 am until 7:34 am in the Philippines. For local observers, please check the gallery below to give you and idea on how the eclipse would look like for selected localities. Other locations nearby will also see similar views.

Partial eclipse as seen from various locations in the Philippines at maximum eclipse, 6:41 a.m. local time. Simulated in Stellarium. Hover your mouse over an image to view the location.

PAGASA indicated the areas where the eclipse can be observed, including Sorsogon, Masbate, Roxas City, Puerto Princesa City, Cebu, Tacloban, Dumaguete, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Zamboanga, Hinatuan, Cotabato, Jolo, Davao, and General Santos. It also created a table of local times for viewing the eclipse for the above-mentioned locations.

Note that the eclipse is not visible in Luzon except in the southern tip.

Eclipse circumstances for selected locations in the southern part of the Philippines courtesy of PAGASA.

Eclipse circumstances for selected locations in the southern part of the Philippines courtesy of PAGASA.

Viewing the Eclipse SAFELY

For observers along the path of the eclipse, astronomers recommend using either a professionally manufactured solar filter in front of a telescope or camera, or eclipse-viewing glasses that sufficiently reduce the sun’s brightness and filter out damaging ultraviolet and infrared radiation. NEVER attempt to observe the partial or annular phases of any eclipse with the naked eye. Failure to use appropriate filtration may result in permanent eye damage or blindness!

A view of the crescent sun during eclipse maximum of the May 21, 2012 solar eclipse in the Philippines. Image taken using a hand-held Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH2 digital camera on a 2-inch refractor telescope with a Baader 5.0 ND solar filter.

Crescent sun during eclipse maximum of the May 21, 2012 partial solar eclipse in the Philippines. Image taken using a hand-held Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH2 digital camera on a 2-inch refractor telescope with a Baader 5.0 ND solar filter.

To view the eclipse safely, Fred Espenak (www.mreclipse.com) compiled here a  list of the acceptable and non-recommended filters for visual observation.

Acceptable filters for unaided visual observations: aluminized polyester specifically designed for solar viewing, shade 12 and 14 welding filters, black polymer filters (Thousand Oaks Solar Shield 2000 and Rainbow Symphony Polymer), and two layers of fully exposed and developed silver-bearing black and white film negative. For photographic and visual use, particularly with binoculars or telescopes, acceptable filters include: aluminized polyester specifically designed for the purpose, and Questar and Thousand Oaks T1 and T2 glass filters. The Thousand Oaks T3 filter should be used with extreme care for photographic use only.

Not recommended: metal-coated polyester that is not specifically intended for solar observation, smoked glass, floppy disk media, black color transparency (slide) film, floppy disk media, and compact disks (because of the inconsistent quality of the metal coating).”

For those who won’t be able to observe the eclipse from their location, you may still watch via live webstreaming of the event.

Clear skies and happy viewing!


National Astronomy Week 2013

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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PAGASA

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:

  1. Free Planetarium Shows
  2. Stargazing and Telescoping Sessions at PAGASA Observatory
  3. First Astrophotography Contest for Elementary/High School Level (combined level) and College Students (First-Come, First-Served Basis)
  4. Free Posters in Astronomy to Visiting Schools at the Planetarium and Astronomical Observatory.
  5. Free 2 days Mobile Planetarium Shows, Stargazing and Telescoping Sessions in Selected Public Elementary and High School Students in Legazpi City.
  6. 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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Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP)

2013naw_eposter

For more inquiries on ALP NAW activities, please contact NAW Chairman Christopher Louie Lu at (0919) 3057176.

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 Philippine Astronomical Society (PAS)

NAW 2013

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

pas activities1

pas activities2

The image below shows the contest event floor plan.

NAW 2013 FLOOR LAYOUT rev3

Registration for the different competitions can be done by e-mailing your confirmation together with the list of participants to pasnaw2012@yahoo.com

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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UP Astronomical Society (UP AstroSoc)

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.

 NAW-Poster

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 / leimotilla@yahoo.com

                TAKE OFF!: Kristine Jane Atienza @ 09152397942 / kjsatienza@gmail.com

                TEACHERS’ SEMINAR: Ericka Jane Angeles @ 09264254774 / ericka.jane.angeles@gmail.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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UPLB Astronomical Society (UPLB AstroSoc)

uplb astrosoc naw poster

Visit https://www.facebook.com/uplbastrosoc for more details.

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Stay tuned for updates!


Full Harvest Moon 2012

The weather condition has not been at all favorable for observing this year’s Full Harvest Moon, the full moon that comes closest to the autumnal equinox. The Moon last night can be hardly seen because it’s always obscured by clouds. Fortunately, short cloud breaks allowed me to take a few images, but the hazy sky made it difficult to get a correct focus on the moon.

The Harvest Moon has a special place in the agricultural history. Through most of the year, the moon rises each day about 50 minutes later than the day before. However, when the autumnal equinox approaches, the difference in rise times drops to about 25 to 30 minutes and even farther north, the difference is 10 to 15 minutes. As the Harvest Moon rises after sunset, this provides extra minutes of light each evening for farmers to work longer hours to harvest their crops. This is how it got its name.

Below were the images I took last September 30, 2012 using my Canon Powershot SX40 HS camera.

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Skywatching Highlights: August 2012

This month, weather conditions permitting, skywatchers will be treated to the Perseid meteor shower, several planet conjunctions, a “blue moon” and a relatively rare lunar occultation of Jupiter (visible for some parts of the globe).

August 7-14: Spica, Saturn and Mars at Dusk 

The planets Saturn and Mars and the star Spica are close together in the first half of the month, low above the western horizon at dusk. They will form a triangle on the 7th an hour after sunset. Saturn will be the top of the triangle, while Mars will be on the lower right corner. Each side of the triangle is about 5 degrees. On the 14th, they will form an almost straight line: Saturn topmost with Mars lying between Saturn and Spica.

View of the western horizon at dusk on August 7 and 14, 2012 as seen from Manila Philippines. Images were screenshots from Stellarium.

August 12: Occultation of Jupiter by the Moon

For Philippine observers,  the waning crescent Moon will pass in front of Jupiter and its moons during a relatively rare event called occultation on the morning of August 12. In astronomy, an occultation occurs when one object is hidden by another larger object that passes between it and the observer. Prospects and timings for the event vary with location.

The event takes place while Jupiter and the Moon are low in the sky during the wee hours of the morning.

Local circumstances:

2012 Aug 12 02:43 Occultation disappearance of Jupiter (Mag -2.2)
2012 Aug 12 03:16 Occultation reappearance of Io (Mag 5.5)
2012 Aug 12 03:17 Occultation reappearance of Jupiter (Mag -2.2)
2012 Aug 12 03:18 Occultation reappearance of Europa (Mag 5.7)
2012 Aug 12 03:20 Occultation reappearance of Callisto (Mag 6.1)
2012 Aug 12 03:32 Occultation reappearance of Ganymede (Mag 5.0)

source: Pyxis Astronomy Educational Services

Jupiter and its largest satellites passing behind Earth’s moon.Image: Stellarium 

August 11, 12: Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseids is one of the best annual meteor showers.

The best time to watch for Perseids is between midnight and dawn. This is when the shower’s radiant located between the constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus, lies highest in the northeast sky.

By the 12th, the moon will only be 25% illuminated and not nearly as intense as when near its full phase. This will allow fainter meteors to be seen as long as the moon lies outside your field of view.

Tip: Find a safe dark location with clear skies in the early morning hours in order to see the shower. This year, the shower peaks on a weekend so it’s more convenient to stay up late.

August 14: A line of planets along with a thin, waning, crescent Moon before dawn

Before dawn on the morning of the 14th August the planets Mercury, Venus and Jupiter and the Moon will line up in the eastern sky.  Look for A very thin crescent Moon to the upper right of Mercury an hour before sunrise in the northeast. Venus is to the upper right of the Moon, and a few degrees above them is Jupiter.

August 22: Waxing Crescent Moon joins Saturn, Mars and Spica

On the evening of the 22nd, a waxing crescent Moon, Mars, and Saturn will all lie within a circle just 6° in diameter.

August 31: Blue Moon (second full moon of August)

On the 31st, we will be able to witness a Blue Moon, the term given to the second full Moon in a calendar month.  But don’t expect it to be blue — the term has nothing to do with the color of the moon. [Origin of the term blue moon]

A composite image showing a lunar corona appearing around the full moon last last August 2, 2012

Clear skies!

 


Crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter at Predawn on July 15th

Eastern sky at 4:00 am local time. Manila, Philippines. Image: Stellarium

Philippine sky observers will have a great chance to see all of the three  brightest objects of the night sky in close proximity to each other this weekend (weather permitting). On the morning of July 15th, the waning crescent moon will join the very bright “stars” Jupiter (upper) and Venus (lower) to form a nice celestial grouping, along with two prominent open star clusters — the Pleiades and the V-shaped Hyades —  in the constellation Taurus.

Venus has reached its greatest illuminated extent in Earth’s sky last July 12. Thus, it appears so dazzling now as a “morning star”  in our predawn sky, near Jupiter.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the globe, this celestial grouping event will be viewed as an occultation of Jupiter by the moon. An occultation is an event in which a celestial body covers another, farther away object, such as when the moon covers a star or a planet or when a planet or an asteroid covers a far away star. For this event, the moon will cover Jupiter for about an hour (the exact time and durtaion of the occultation is  dependent on the observer’s location). View the visibility map and timings of this event from IOTA.

Seeing Jupiter’s occultation is possible with the naked eye, but the look through a telescope, even using a small magnification, is marvelous. At first, two of Jupiter’s large moons (Io and Europa) will disappear behind the moon, then Jupiter will disappear and then the other two moons (Ganymede and Callisto).

Places close to the southeast will witness a ‘grazing occulation’ when Jupiter and its moons will skim the edge of the Moon. This will be well worth seeing through a telescope and Jupiter’s moons may be seen blinking in and out of view as they pass behind the lunar mountains. Further north and west a very close conjunction will be seen.

Don’t worry because even though we won’t be seeing this event in the Philippines this weekend, we are still lucky enough to see a very rare version of such an event next month, during the morning of August 12, 2012. That will be surely worth getting up to see!

jupiter-occultation-jul-201

Moon occulting Jupiter with its moons. Image: Stellarium

Observing occultations can also contribute to science. During the 80’s, Uranus occulated a distant star. Photos of the events showed that just before and after the occultation the star blinked several times. The theory then was developed that Uranus has a set of rings (like Saturn). When Voyager 2 reached Uranus it detected and photographed the predicted rings.

Don’t miss this event. Clear skies!

Related link: List of Notable Celestial Events in 2012


A Fifth Moon Around Pluto!

July 11, 2012: A team of astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope reported the discovery of another new moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto, meaning the dwarf planet now has 5 moons. So there is Charon, Hydra, Nix, P4 and Yet-to-be-named moon. The 4th moon, P4, was only discovered about a year ago.

The “new” moon is estimated to be irregular in shape and 6 to 15 miles across. It is in a 58,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto that is assumed to be co-planar with the other satellites in the system.

Pluto’s entire moon system is believed to have formed by a collision between the dwarf planet and another planet-sized body early in the history of the solar system. The smashup flung material that coalesced into the family of satellites observed around Pluto.

Scientists are searching for more possible moons orbiting Pluto and also signs of a possible debris field generated by the theoretical impact billions of years ago.

Meanwhile, this recent discovery has raised the hopes of many Pluto supporters that they call for its reinstatement as the 9th planet.

But would Pluto’s 5th moon make it a Planet?

Unfortunately, no.

This image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, shows five moons orbiting the distant, icy dwarf planet Pluto. The green circle marks the newly discovered moon, designated P5, as photographed by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 on July 7, 2012.Despite of some determined lobbying by die-hard supporters to change its dwarf planet status, more moons around Pluto  won’t change its classification.

According to Michael Brown, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology, the discovery of Eris, a rocky object about Pluto’s size with approximately 25% more mass, was a major factor in the IAU’s decision to reassess exactly what constitutes a planet. Hence, the controversial decision of demoting Pluto.

The IAU ruled that to be called a planet, an object has to meet three conditions:

  • It needs to be in orbit around the Sun.
  • It needs to have enough gravity to pull itself into a spherical shape.
  • It needs to have “cleared the neighborhood” of its orbit.
Pluto satisfied all the conditions, except the third one. Any object that doesn’t meet this third criterion is considered a dwarf planet. And so, Pluto is a dwarf planet.  Even with Pluto’s five moons , it doesn’t “clear the neighborhood.” There are still many objects with similar size and mass to Pluto lurking around in its orbit. And until Pluto gets rid of these objects by perhaps, crashing into many of them and gains mass, it will remain a dwarf planet.
Image credit: NASA

A Leap Second on June 30, 2012

Today will seem to be a little longer than usual because an extra second, or “leap” second, will be added at midnight to account for the fact that it is taking Earth longer and longer to complete one full turn—a day—or, technically, a solar day.

Normally, the clock would move from 23:59:59 to 00:00:00 the next day. Instead, at 23:59:59 on June 30, UTC will move to 23:59:60, and then to 00:00:00 on July 1. In practice, this means that clocks in many systems will be turned off for one second.

The International Earth Rotation and Reference System Service (IERS) observes the Earth’s rotation and compares it to atomic time. When the difference between the two approaches 0.9 seconds, they order a leap second to be added worldwide.

The most recent leap second was inserted into the atomic time scale on New Year’s Eve of 2008. The 2012 leap second is the 35th leap second to be added and the first since 2008.

For more information, visit http://wwp.greenwichmeantime.com/info/leap-second.htm


Venus Transit Observation in the Philippines

Viewing the Sun’s mole: People across the globe witnessed a very rare spectacular event that won’t be repeated until 2117.

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.

Observers set up their telescopes and pointed at the sun to view the transit.

Me and my own simple set up featuring my trusty Galileoscope equipped with a Baader 5.0 ND solar filter.

A lecture by Dr. Perry Esguerra of the National Institute of Physics explaining the phenomenon.

All smiles: Members of the UP Astrosoc, UPLB Astrosoc, and RTU Astrosoc posed for a group photo after the event . Image credit: Norman Marigza

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!


Art and Astronomy: Transit of Venus by Norman Marigza

Transit of Venus (medium: acrylic)

Only a few days left to the last transit of Venus of our lifetimes! Miss it and you won’t be able to witness it until the year 2117.

Amateur and professional astronomers from all over the globe were already gearing up for this big event. There were talks, lectures, public observations, videos, and other several projects and activities initiated by various local groups to promote this event among the public.

But one of  our astro-friends here has another cool way of sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for this upcoming event, and that is through painting.

Shown above is an artistic depiction of the upcoming Transit of Venus created by Norman Marigza, a young Filipino artist who is also in the field of Physics and Astronomy. According to him, his two greatest passions in life are Art and Astronomy, hence he can do both. He’s surely a gifted person, isn’t he?

To see his other astro-artworks, please visit his website http://blogstargazers.blogspot.com/2010/01/astroart-by-norman.html

During the transit of Venus, we will be able to see the Venus as a small dot gliding slowly across the face of the sun. It happens when Venus passes directly between Earth and the Sun.

Historically, this rare alignment is how we measured the size of our solar system.