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AWB March 2012 Events

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

Spread the word and join in.

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“Hello Red Planet”

3-5 March 2012

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

Read more…


“Conjunction of Glory”

13 – 15 March 2012

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

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

Read more…


“March Equinox 2012”

20 March 2012

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

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

Read more…

To the stars! 🙂

More about GAM 2012:


The Eclipse of the Midnight Sun

Yesterday, June 1 (on Wednesday), a partial eclipse of the sun was observed from the high latitudes in the Northern hemisphere (near the Arctic Circle) — Siberia and North China, Iceland, Japan, North Korea, Canada, and far northern Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Finland).

The partial solar eclipse’s path on June 1, 2011. The different shades of red depict the eclipse’s visibility, with the strongest and innermost shade depicting 50 percent visibility, 25 percent visibility, and down to as low as zero percent visibility. Click on the image to view the eclipse animation. Credit: TimeandDate.com

In some places – for example in Tromso, Norway – this event was viewed as an unusual eclipse of the midnight sun. In other words, the sun is still visible above the horizon late at “night”.

According to Knut Jörgen Roed Larsen, an astrophysicist at the Norwegian Center for Science Education in Oslo, 60% of the Solar disc will be covered by the Moon, which is an unusual large amount to be a Midnight Solar Eclipse. The last one occurred on July 31. 2000, but then only 40% of the Solar disc was covered.

A previous midnight sun eclipse, seen from northern Sweden on July 31, 2000. Credit: Oddleiv Skilbrei via NASA.

Since the rotational axis of the Earth is tilted by 23.5 degrees areas located north of 67.5 degrees latitude (the Arctic Circle) experience a period each summer when the Sun does not set – it is a midnight Sun.

At this time of year, he explains, a solar eclipse is theoretically possible at all hours of the day.

And indeed, when the clock stroke local midnight in northern Norway during the end of June 1st, about half of the lingering sun was covered by the Moon.

The eclipse as it was expected to appear in the Tromsø area. Illustration: Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard

This was the first midnight Sun eclipse in Norway since 2000 and the largest one since 1985. Scandinavians must wait until 2084 to have a larger eclipse of the midnight Sun.

The “Greatest eclipse” occurred at 21:16 Universal Time on June 1st. A live webcast of this rare eclipse in Norway was shown from this page. Archived images from the live webcast were also available there.

Since I wasn’t able to catch this live webcast, I will just repost the images of this event shared by my twitter contacts.

This was a  rare celestial event I couldn’t miss to share to everyone. 🙂

Beautiful scenic view with the partially eclipsed Sun from Tromsø, Norway. Shared by @El_Universo_Hoy via @cosmos4u
The Sun at the start of the eclipse as seen from Bodo, Norway. Shared by @Camilla_SDO
The Midnight Sun. Shared by @Astroguyz

See more June 1 Partial Solar Eclipse photos here and here.

I am now more excited to view the next upcoming eclipse this June 15. It will be nice Total Lunar Eclipse visible completely over Africa, South America, Europe, and to most parts of Asia. In western Asia, Australia and the Philippines, the lunar eclipse will be visible just before sunrise on June 16.

Hoping for clear skies! 🙂

January 4, 2011 Partial Solar Eclipse Webcast

Some parts of the world will be able to greet the first part of the new year with a Partial Solar Eclipse on the morning of Tuesday, January 4, 2011. This will be visible from most of Europe, the northern half of Africa, the Middle East and Western Asia. Sadly, this won’t be visible to the Philippines. The next eclipse that we will be able to witness will be the Lunar Eclipse on June 15 (eclipse at moonset) and the more spectacular Total Lunar Eclipse on December 10 which has all its stages visible to Philippine observers.

Four partial solar and two total lunar eclipses take place in 2011. According to NASA Eclipse Website, this 4:2 combination of solar and lunar eclipses in a single year is rather rare with only six cases during the 21st Century (2011, 2029, 2047, 2065, 2076 and 2094).

January 4, 2011 Eclipse Visibility | source: http://www.eclipse.org.uk/eclipse/0122011/ Click image to enlarge.

An explanation of this diagram can be found here.


> Local circumstances and animations for 532 different locations where the eclipse could be witnessed are also available from the the link included in the image caption.

> Universal Time (UT) is a timescale based on the earth’s rotation. To convert your local city time to UT, you may use this time zone converter tool.

A solar eclipse can only happen at new moon. When the moon totally covers over the sun, it’s called a total solar eclipse. However, since the moon only blocks out part of the sun today, it’s a partial solar eclipse. The percentage of sun that gets covered over by the moon depends on your place in the viewing zone. Remember to use proper eye protection when watching a solar eclipse! Here is a post from Sky & Telescope which discusses how to observe a partial solar eclipse safely.

To all other eclipse enthusiasts who won’t be able to observe this event from their own location or who can’t afford to travel to witness this phenomenon, I compiled here a list of links wherein you can watch free live web streaming of the eclipse courtesy of several local astronomical groups.

*The Moon will encroach 60% into the solar disk during thespecial live webcast by the Bareket Observatory.  The webcast will takes place from 7.00 to 10.30 UT (GMT) on January 4.  An “eclipse timer” on the webcast page will count down the time until first contact – the beginning of the eclipse when the Moon first appears to block the edge of the Sun’s disk – at 7.13 UT.

Please check this post for updates regarding these free webcasts. 😀

Clear skies to all!

Partial Lunar Eclipse in the Philippines on December 2010


Lunar Eclipse animation (from wikipedia.org)

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.

Moon at 5:45 PM (Dec. 21) Alt/Azimuth: 2 deg. from the NE horizon / 65 deg. ~30% partiality (Manila, Philippines)

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 🙂


sources: Stellarium (planetarium software), PAGASA, timeanddate.com

*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).