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

Philippine Astronomy

Travel Package to Outer Space!

Image

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


#ThrowbackThursday post: June 6, 2012 Transit of Venus

transit of venus copy copy

 

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.


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!


Celebrate World Space Week 2012!

Join the largest annual public space event on Earth!

World Space Week (WSW)  is an annual observance held from October 4 to October 10 established by the United Nations General Assembly to be an international celebration of science and technology and their contribution to the betterment of the human condition.

The start and end dates of World Space Week recognize the launch of the first human-made Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, on October 4, 1957; and the signing of the Outer Space Treaty on October 10, 1967.

UP Astronomical Society members held this WSW banner which contained the theme, “50 Years in Space” during the celebration of the World Space Week in the Philippines last 2007 (source: upastrosoc.multiply.com)

Every year, the World Space Week Association, in coordination with the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs, selects a theme that participants are asked to incorporate into their World Space Week events. The theme for World Space Week 2012 is “Space for Human Safety and Security.” All World Space Week participants are requested to: 1) Plan World Space Week programs that address this theme in some way; 2) Incorporate this theme into all of their World Space Week publicity materials.

Various WSW events will be  hosted by local participating organizations. In the Philippines, there are 11 registered events for WSW 2012. Everyone is invited to attend these events.

For more information about the WSW celebration, please visit http://www.worldspaceweek.org/. You may also follow @WorldSpaceWeek on Twitter and use the hashtag #wsw2012 in your tweets.

To infinity and beyond! 😀


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


Rekindling Venus: Experience A Rare Celestial 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.

Importance

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.

Rekindling Venus
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:

https://www.facebook.com/events/159096590888136/

Contact Times

Local transit times for Quezon City, Philippines. source: http://transitofvenus.nl/wp/where-when/local-transit-times/

The general transit circumstances can be found here.

Safe Viewing

Warning: NEVER look at the sun with your naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. Serious and permanent eye damage, including blindness, can result.

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:

http://www.transitofvenus.org/history/black-drop
http://www.transitofvenus.nl/blackdrop.html

A YouTube video of modeling the black drop effect with your fingers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gm_kZd_wGkE

An online simulation of the black drop effect:
http://home.comcast.net/~erniew/astro/bd.html

Other resources if you are looking for more information on the Transit of Venus:


Crescent Sun at Sunrise

This morning, a wonderful view of a golden crescent sun was successfully observed  by a lot of skyviewers using appropriate filters for visual observing and photography. The partial solar eclipse began at sunrise at 5:27 am local time and ended at 7:06 am. Fortunately,  the weather cooperated this time despite bad weather forecasts and continuous rains during the past few days.

In some places like China, Japan, and United States, the event was seen as an annular eclipse which looked like a fiery ring in the sky.

I observed this event along with an Astrosoc orgmate in their house at Marikina City. Their location is great for observing events which can be viewed along the eastern sky. Moreover, it is also high enough to give a very good vantage point.

Only a few minutes after sunrise, a big yellowish grin in the east just above a layer of clouds greeted us earthlings who patiently waited even without sleep. Yay!

Below is a composite image that I created using Adobe Photoshop to illustrate how the the sun looked like when it was rising from behind the Sierra Madre mountain range.

Many Filipinos anticipated the event as solar eclipses are not frequently visible in the Philippines. The last one occurred last January 15, 2010, while the next won’t take place until March 9, 2016.

For avid amateur astronomers like me, this event was extra special as it provides a good opportunity for me to practice solar observation in preparation for the upcoming transit of Venus, a very rare phenomenon that won’t be repeated until 2117. I have never done any solar observation before using my own Galileoscope for fear of getting it damaged (its lens and body tube were both made up of plastic which are not great for viewing the sun using solar projection method). Moreover, the danger of having an eye injury also worried me. Hence, I decided not to pursue solar observation unless I get a decent filter that I could safely attach and use with my equipment — be it a camera or my scope.

Months before this event, I was very anxious that I might not be able to observe it having only a cheap plastic scope and a camera. But I was really determined that I’ve read a lot about solar observing and saved some money for it just in case there’d be a need to buy some materials. When the event came nearer, however, financial constraints became a problem, so I just forego the idea of buying a costly filter and chose to buy a #10 welding glass instead. It might not produce nice images but it’s a good and safe alternative.

Nonetheless, God must have heard my thoughts that he made a miracle. Haha! A few days before the solar eclipse, a nice surprise came in when a generous UP AstroSoc orgmate offered me an extra piece of Baader solar filter — for free! Wee!:)

Below were some of the images I took using a hand-held Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH2 digital camera on a 2-inch refractor (Galileoscope) with a Baader 5.0 ND solar filter.

By the way, these photos have been featured several times today in local news programs. They also got featured in front page of spaceweather.com and  in an article by Earthsky.org.

A screencap showing my image in GMA’s 24 Oras. Thanks to my sister who posted this!

I will upload the other photos soon, including a complete observation report. For the meantime, I’d better get some sleep first because I still need to attend some other important conventions outside the city. 🙂

To the stars!

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Update:

I created two composite images which show the progression of the partial solar eclipse as we observed the event.

The image above was featured in Amateur Astronomy Picture of the Day (AAPOD) last June 24, 2012.  It was my fifth AAPOD image. 🙂

To God be the glory!

Clear skies to all.


UP Astrosoc’s Summer 2012 Application

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

Andro 09162309138
CR 09065880080

Credit: Kin Enriquez (UP Astrosoc associate member)

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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.


Sky Lanterns by UP Astrosoc

Send your wishes to the sky this love month,
End February gazing at the night sky.

UP Astronomical Society brings you

Rare Night: Sky Lanterns on the 29th

February 29, 2012 | 8PM
SUNKEN GARDEN, UP DILIMAN
100Php/lantern

For inquiries, contact Kristine at 09152397942 or email us at upastrosocadhoc2011@gmail.com

SEE YOU THERE!


UP AstroSoc’s Public Observation of the Celestial Grouping on February 26, 2012

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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Related link:


National Astronomy Week 2012 in the Philippines

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

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.

2012 Star Party Contest for Highschool Students

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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Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP)

For more inquiries on ALP NAW activities, please contact NAW Chairman / SecretaryChristopher Louie Lu at (0919) 3057176 or ALP President James Kevin Ty at (0917) 8559863 or (0922) 8999ALP (257).

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 Philippine Astronomical Society (PAS)

Registration for the different competitions can be done by e-mailing your confirmation together with the list of participants to pasnaw2012@yahoo.com. You may contact PAS President, Ian Allas at 09063165154 or 09391682834.

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UP Astronomical Society (UP AstroSoc)

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UPLB Astronomical Society (UPLB AstroSoc)

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Rizal Technological University (RTU)

National Astronomy Week Celebration in RTU:

Feb. 14: Opening

Feb. 15: Planetarium Show

Feb. 16: Exhibit Day

Feb. 17: Closing


Notable Celestial Events in 2012

This year comes with its share of many remarkable skywatching events that we can participate in.  The most important is the rare transit of Venus across the face of the Sun in  June 2012. The next time this will occur again is in 2117. We have the unique opportunity to observe this. (A note to Philippine observers: We are in a good location for this event!)  Moreover, there’s also the Mercury elongation in February, Jupiter-Venus conjunction on March 13-15, the solar eclipses on May 21 and November 14 and  our favorite annual meteor showers.

The list below also contains some tips for Philippine observers.

Clear skies and happy observing! 🙂

February 20 – March 12 :  Best Chance to see Mercury

The planet Mercury will be far enough from the Sun’s glare to be visible shortly after sunset. Mercury will reach greatest elongation from the Sun on March 5, reaching a relatively bright magnitude of about -1. This will be your best chance to see the planet this year.

February 26 : Moon, Jupiter and Venus at Dusk

Look westward after sunset to see the moon and the dazzling planets Jupiter and Venus lighting up the western sky.

Moon, Venus and Jupiter | 6 pm | Manila

March 3 : Mars at Opposition

The red planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph this planet. Mars will be an imposing naked-eye sight, shining at magnitude -1.2, just a bit dimmer than Sirius, the brightest star, and will be visible in the sky all night long.

March 14 : Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter

The two brightest planets in the sky will be within 3 degrees of each other in the evening sky. On March 25 and 25, the crescent Moon will be near the two planets, creating a dazzling evening spectacle.

March 26 : Crescent Moon, Jupiter and Venus line up at Dusk

Watch for the young waxing crescent moon and the planets Jupiter and Venus near each other in the west after sunset. The moon, Venus and Jupiter rank as the brightest, second- and third-brightest heavenly bodies of nighttime respectively. This will be last chance in 2012 that you will see them all-together at dusk.

moon, venus, jupiter - march 2012

March 27: Venus at Greatest Eastern Elongation

Venus reaches its greatest eastern elongation and will be separated from the Sun by 46°, its greatest apparent distance from the sun on our sky’s dome. Venus will set about three hours after sunset during this event. At this superb evening elongation for the Northern Hemisphere, Venus will stand above the setting sun. This is a good time to look out for the Schroter Effect, which predicts that dichotomy the 50% lit phase occurs a few days early for evening elongation.

April 3: Venus near the Pleiades

Venus will appear to the left of the Pleiades star cluster.  Especially with binoculars or a small telescope, this bright plant should appear swimming in a sea of stars.

April 15 : Saturn at Opposition

The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons.

April 21, 22 : Lyrid Meteor Shower

The Lyrids are an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. These meteors can produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. The shower usually peaks on April 21 & 22, although some meteors can be visible from April 16 – 25. With no moon to get in the way this year, this really should be a good show. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation of Lyra after midnight.

*April 2012 is Global Astronomy Month!

May 21 : [Annular] Solar Eclipse

The path of annularity will begin in southern China and move east through Japan, the northern Pacific Ocean, and into the western United States. A partial eclipse will be visible throughout parts of eastern Asia and most of North America. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information) (Note: In the Philippines, we will be able to see a crescent sun at dawn.)

Partial Solar Eclipse | 6am | Manila

June 4 : Partial Lunar Eclipse

The eclipse will be visible throughout most of Asia, including the Philippines  Australia, the Pacific Ocean, and the Americas. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information) In the Philippines, we can observe this event as an eclipse at dusk, meaning we will be able to see an eclipsed moon rising.

eclipse magnitude:  37.6%
moonrise: 6:17 pm PHT
greatest eclipse: 7:03 pm PHT
partial eclipse ends: 8:07 pm PHT
penumbral eclipse ends: 9:19 pm PHT

(source: PAGASA)

June 4 Partial Lunar Eclipse | 7 pm | Manila

Go to http://shadowandsubstance.com/ to see an animation of the eclipse.

June 6 : Transit of Venus Across the Sun

This extremely rare event will be entirely visible throughout most of eastern Asia, eastern Australia, and Alaska. A partial transit can be seen in progress at sunrise throughout Europe, western Asia, and eastern Africa. A partial transit can be seen in progress at sunset throughout most of North America, Central America, and western South America. The next transit will not take place until the year 2117. (NASA Transit Information | NASA Transit Map)

Local circumstances for Philippine viewers

Venus transit of the Sun in June, 2004. Photo by Anthony Ayiomamitis.

July 15 : Moon, Venus and Jupiter near the Hyades and the Pleiades Star Cluster

See the three brightest objects in the night sky next to the Pleiades and the Hyades open star cluster in Taurus before dawn on July 15th.

Moon, Venus, the Hyades and Pleiades | 6 am | Manila

August 12, 2012: Occultation of Jupiter by the Moon

For Philippine observers, the morning of 12 August sees the waning crescent Moon pass in front of Jupiter and its moons in a so-called occultation. Occultations are comparatively rare events, which offer good photo opportunities for amateur astronomers. 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

August 11, 12 : Perseids Meteor Shower

The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower’s peak usually occurs on August 11 & 12, but you may be able to see some meteors any time from July 23 – August 24. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Perseus. The near last quarter moon will be hanging around for the show, but shouldn’t be too much of a problem for a shower with up to 60 meteors per hour. Find a location far from city lights and look to the northeast after midnight.

October 5 : Moon-Jupiter Conjunction

The King of the Planets and the crescent moon will reunite for a close celestial pairing. Check the eastern sky around midnight to spot these two objects that are less than one degree apart!

Moon and Jupiter at 11 pm | Manila

October 21, 22: Orionid Meteor Shower

The Orionid Meteor Shower usually reaches its peak around October 21, having an average of 20 meteors per hour. The Orionids are fast meteors and also have fireballs. These meteors radiate near the boundaries between the Great Hunter Orion and Gemini. The cometary debris left behind by Comet Halley — bits of ice, dust and rubble — create the Orionid meteor shower. It last visited Earth in 1986.

A good show could be experienced on any morning from October 20 – 24, but some meteors may be seen any time from October 17 – 25. The first quarter moon will set by midnight, leaving a dark sky for what should be a good show.

The best time to view these meteors is usually in the wee hours before dawn. That time holds true no matter what time zone you’re in.

The red lines illustrate the position of the radiant for the Orionid Meteor Shower. The radiant is the point in the sky from which the meteors appear to originate from.

November 13 : Total Solar Eclipse

The path of totality will only be visible in parts of extreme northern Australia and the southern Pacific Ocean. A partial eclipse will be visible in most parts of eastern Australia and New Zealand. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information (Note: This event is not visible in the Philippines.)

November 17, 18 : Leonids Meteor Shower

The Leonids is one of the better meteor showers to observe, producing an average of 40 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower itself has a cyclic peak year every 33 years where hundreds of meteors can be seen each hour. The last of these occurred in 2001. The shower usually peaks on November 17 & 18, but you may see some meteors from November 13 – 20. The crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what should be an excellent show. Look for the shower radiating from the constellation Leo after midnight, and be sure to find a dark location for viewing.

November 27 : Conjunction of Venus and Saturn

These two bright planets will be within 1 degree of each other in the morning sky. Look to the east around sunrise.

December 3 : Jupiter at Opposition

The giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Jupiter and its moons.

December 11 : Saturn, Venus, Mercury and the Crescent Moon at Predawn

Check the eastern sky about an hour before dawn to see this magnificent celestial display of the three planets and the thin lunar crescent.

Eastern sky at around 5 am | Manila

December 13, 14 : Geminid Meteor Shower

Considered by many to be the best meteor shower in the heavens, the Geminids are known for producing up to 60 multicolored meteors per hour at their peak. The peak of the shower usually occurs around December 13 & 14, although some meteors should be visible from December 6 – 19. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Gemini. This year the new moon will guarantee a dark sky for what should be an awesome show. Best viewing is usually to the east after midnight from a dark location.

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References:

  • Stellarium Planetarium Software

Sidereal Times Online

Sidereal Times – the official publication of the UP Astronomical Society – is now available online! 🙂

http://siderealtimes.blogspot.com

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!


King and Queen of the Night Sky

Jupiter (upper right) and Venus (left) Feb. 10, 2012 6:50 PM

Jupiter and Venus, the two great and famous luminaries of heaven  are now 30° apart in the western sky during early evening and are moving closer to each other by  roughly one degree each day.

Jupiter, king of planets, has been our constant evening companion for the last six months.  Only Venus outshines Jupiter among the planets and stars. Venus and Jupiter are so bright you might think you’ve witnessed a double supernova beaming through the evening twilight. But, no, it’s just the two brightest planets in our own solar system.

Over the next couple weeks, Venus and Jupiter will continuously reign the evening sky; only the moon will be brighter. The planets will continue to get closer and closer to one another until March.

On the evenings of February 24, 25 and 26, the thin lunar crescent will pass close to Venus and Jupiter.

By March 14 and 15, these two bright objects will be on a spectacular conjunction — the closest in 2012. The next Venus-Jupiter conjunction after this one falls on May 28, 2013.

At the moment of closest approach, Venus will be at mag -4.9, and Jupiter at mag -2.1, both in the constellation Aries. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

After this event, Venus and Jupiter will remain close throughout the month of March 2012. They are like twin beacons – two very bright planets – near each other in the west as soon as the sun goes down.


“The Birth and Death of the Milky Way Galaxy” – A Talk by Dr. Reinabelle Reyes

In the country now is our very own Dr. Reinabelle Reyes, a Filipino Astrophysicist, and Fellow of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago.

Dr. Reyes will be giving lectures on “The Birth and Death of the Milky Way” during her stay in the country. Below is the abstract of here talk:

Abstract:

Our Milky Way galaxy is one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe. In this talk, I will use the latest cosmological simulations to tell the story of how galaxies have formed over the last ten billion years, and how our own Milky Way galaxy will meet its end a “mere” three billion years from now.

Everyone is invited to come.

You may catch her at the following dates and venues:

Feb. 8, 2012: Ateneo de Manila University

Feb. 11, 2012: The Mind Museum

Feb. 13, 2012: University of the Philippines-Diliman

Details: 1:30 to 3:00 pm in iCSI-1A in the National Institute of Physics

Feb. 15, 2012: De La Salle University – Main Campus

Details: 3:30 pm at SJ-504

[Updates] Posted by Dr. Reinabelle Reyes herself through her Facebook account:

Upcoming astro talks:

  • Feb. 16 (Thursday) :  UPLB | 2:00pm Math Bldg Rm 112.
  • Feb 21 (Tuesday) : PSHS-Diliman |  2:30pm
  • Feb 22 (Wed) : DLSU-Taft |  12pm (NAW symposium)
  • Feb 24 (Friday) : San Juan National HS | 11am
  • Feb 24 (Friday) : PUP-San Juan | 9am
  • Feb 24 (Friday) : San Juan National HS | 11am 
  • Feb 24 (Friday) : PUP-Main | 1:30pm 

Dr. Reinabelle Reyes is best known for receiving the “Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Award” for her major role in the discovery of the largest number of “obscured quasars,” which are “super massive” black holes in the centers of galaxies cloaked in gas and dust.

She graduated with a B.S. Physics degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 2005 (summa cum laude). She earned her PhD in astrophysics from Princeton University. At present, Dr. Reyes studies weak gravitational lensing in galaxy surveys, namely SDSS (Sloan Digital Sky Survey) and DES (Dark Energy Survey).

Venus and the Moon at Dusk – January 26, 2012

I was about to go home when I caught a glimpse of Venus and the thin Moon hanging close together in the western sky at dusk last January 26.

I didn’t have a camera with me then. Fortunately,  a friend of mine had his camera and let me use it to take a few images of this stunning sight.

A view of the U.P. Carillon Tower

Venus is now shining brilliantly in the west-southwest after sunset at magnitude -4.0. It will be climbing higher in our sky over the next three months as it comes closer to us in its orbit. Over that time the planet will brighten but its phase will shrink as the Sun shifts to the other side of Venus from us.

By February 2012, Venus will climb up higher into the evening sky and will stay out even longer after dark. It’ll be at its highest above the sunset in March 2012, when Jupiter and Venus will stage an amazing conjunction in the western twilight sky. These two bright planets will lie about three degrees apart in the West in the constellation Aries. Venus will beam at magnitude -4.3, and Jupiter is a worthy companion at magnitude -2.1. The pairing will make for a lovely photo op. 🙂

On March 25, Venus, Jupiter and the thin crescent Moon will form a straight line in the western sky.

image: Stellarium

Clear skies! 🙂


Skywatching Highlights: January 2012

Well-known constellations like the ones in the Winter Hexagon – Gemini, Orion, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Auriga and Taurus – can be easily seen during the longer hours of darkness in the Northern hemisphere this month.

Most of the events listed here can be readily observed with the naked eye, but some objects such as the planets and some star clusters are best seen through binoculars or a small telescope.

All of the times and dates found here are in Philippine Standard Time (PHT) unless otherwise indicated. Note that PHT = UT+8.

Clear skies and happy skygazing! 🙂

# # #

This month’s highlights:

  • The Quadrantid Meteor Shower
  • Planetary conjunctions with the Moon
DATE EVENT TIME NOTES
Jan. 1 First Quarter Moon 2:15 PM
Jan. 2 Moon-Jupiter close pairing (~7° apart)
Jan. 3 Moon at apogee 4:00 AM farthest distance to Earth
Jan. 3-4 Peak of the Quadrantid Meteor Shower 3:23 AM Quadrantid Shower: ZHR = 120
Jan. 5 Earth at perihelion  (0.9833 AU) 8:00 AM closest distance to the Sun
Jan. 5 Moon near the Pleiades (3.1° N)
Jan. 9 Full Moon 3:30 PM
Jan. 16 Last Quarter Moon 5:08 AM
Jan. 16 Moon near the star Spica (2° N)
Jan. 17 Saturn 6° north of the Moon 3:00 AM
Jan. 18 Moon at perigee 5:00 AM nearest distance to Earth
Jan. 23 New Moon 3:39 PM
Jan. 25 Neptune 6° south of the Moon 8:00 PM
Jan. 27 Moon-Venus close pairing dusk Venus 7° south of the Moon
Jan. 30 First Quarter Moon 3:39 PM
Jan. 30 Moon-Jupiter close pairing
Jan. 31 Moon at apogee  2:00 AM farthest distance to Earth
January 2: Moon-Jupiter Conjunction

Image: Stellarium

An eventful sky year begins with brilliant Jupiter high up on the Aries-Pisces border at nightfall. On January 2, Jupiter will be about 7 degrees away from the 61% full moon in the constellation Pisces.

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January 3-4: Quadrantid Meteor Shower

Image: SkyandTelescope.com

This should be a fine year for one of the best, but least observed, annual meteor showers like the  Quadrantids. The Quadrantids are an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at their peak. This meteor shower should be most active in the early morning hours of Wednesday the 4th, but some meteors can be visible from January 1 – 5.  The Moon sets around 3 AM local time then, leaving the sky dark until the first light of dawn around 6 AM. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation Bootes.

References:


December 10, 2011 Total Lunar Eclipse

Despite the rain and an overcast sky, we were thankful that for a brief period of time God permitted us to have a glimpse of the Red Moon during the total eclipse of the moon last December 10, 2011.

The moon was nearly high overhead during the totality phase of the eclipse and was located in the constellation Taurus. Totality lasted for about 51 mins.

I didn’t get decent shots of the moon during this event but I was really happy to have witnessed it. 🙂

Click on the images below to see larger versions.

First sight of the moon at 10:22 pm
After a short while, the clouds began to move away and we had a clear view.
Moon at totality

The red tint of the eclipsed Moon is created by sunlight first passing through the Earth’s atmosphere, which preferentially scatters blue light (making the sky blue) but passes and refracts red light, before reflecting back off the Moon. Differing amounts of clouds and volcanic dust in the Earth’s atmosphere make each lunar eclipse appear differently.

Orion and the Red Moon at 10:56 pm
Moon exits totality. Image taken at 11:09 pm
Moon at 11:27 pm. Only half of the moon’s disk lies within the umbra.
Moon at 11:51 pm. A 22 degree lunar halo formed around the moon just before it exited the umbral eclipse phase.

By the way, I observed this event together with my friend and UP AstroSoc orgmate, Bea Banzuela. We were eating a cold dinner (literally!) from the rooftop of their house in Marikina City while checking the sky and taking photos of the moon.

Bea used her sophisticated camera, Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 (with telephoto lens) in capturing lunar images. Below is one of the images she took:

Image courtesy of Bea Banzuela

The lunar features in this image are more recognizable. 🙂 I love that camera! Haha! Thanks Bea, for allowing me to repost this.

“When you want something, all the universe conspire in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
To the stars! 🙂


The Mind Museum…finally!

Great news to my fellow Filipinos!

After much anticipation, The Mind Museum, the Philippines’ first world-class science museum was finally unveiled via a pre-launch reception this month.

It will be then officially open to the public in March 2012.

According to its curator,  the said 12,500-square-meter facility was fully funded by private donations from corporate sponsors and family and individual donors “who share the passion of making science come alive.”

To those who would like to visit the museum, it is located on the 12,500 sqm prime lot of JY Campos Park on 3rd Ave in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

location

The facility has 250 interactive exhibits and is divided into five main galleries, namely the Atom Gallery, Earth Gallery, Life Gallery, Technology Gallery and Universe Gallery (which of course, is my favorite!).

image courtesy of OurAwesomePlanet.com

The Universe Gallery contains a unique planetarium that simulates stargazing from the point of view of literally lying down on a bed beneath the stars.

The Universe Gallery

Last May 2010, I invited some friends to visit The Roving Space Shell – a travelling inflatable dome – in Market! Market! in Global City, Taguig.

The 8-meter diameter Roving Space Shell is from Cosmodome Australia and is the choice of many universities and research institutions around the world, including NASA. This inflatable planetarium can sit up to 50 people comfortably with a 360- degree view of the shows through a high definition projector.

It has provided the public a sneak preview of what The Mind Museum will be offering to the public when it opens.

The Mind Museum is a P1 billion project conceived in 2006 by Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc. (BAFI), the group in charge of Bonifacio Global City’s public art program. It is brought to reality by companies, families and individuals who heeded the call to support Science education in the country as a way to help economic growth in the long term. It is envisioned to be the Philippine’s center for the public understanding of Science where facts are presented in clear, exciting, and engaging way.

Learn more about The Mind Museum…

Help Build and be a Donor…


UP AstroSoc’s Second Sem, 2011-2012 Application

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!


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!


The Draconid Meteor Shower and InOMN 2011 on October 8!

There will be two special events for tonight (October 8 ) — the Draconid Meteor Shower and the celebration of the 2011 International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN).

InOMN is an annual event celebrated world-wide to encourage people to go out and observe Earth’s nearest neighbor in space — the Moon. For more information and resources for planning your own International Observe the Moon Night event, visit: http://observethemoonnight.org/. The website features activities, educational materials, multimedia and much more!

Get involved!

Meanwhile, the meteor activity of the Draconids (or Giacobinids) is also expected to be at maximum tonight, 8 October 2011 between 16h00m and 21h00m Universal Time (UTC)*.  This irregular shower that sometimes produces meteor storms is linked to comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. The radiant point for the Draconid meteor shower almost coincides with the head of the constellation Draco the Dragon in the northern sky.

Radiant point for Draconid meteors | image credit: Earthsky.org

The glare of moonlight is sure to interfere with this year’s Draconid shower, but you should try viewing it tonight, anyway, to see if the predicted outburst will occur.

Note:
* The predicted date of maximum is the date when the meteoroid density encountered by the Earth is expected to be maximum. Actual maximum local rate observed from a specific area is likely to happen at a different time, depending on your location. Therefore, it is incorrect to just convert the UTC maximum date to local time, as your local circumstances are likely to be different (for example, the radiant not even being visible at the time of nominal maximum!). In the Philippines, the peak activity is expected to occur on October 9 between 12:00 -5:00 AM PHT. The radiant, however will set around 11:00 PM (which means we cannot observe the peak) so it would be best to observe earlier — between 7:00 PM – 11:00 PM.

Looks like the rain will spoil both of these events 😦 But let’s all try our luck tonight and see what will happen. Clear skies!


Explore the Space: Join UP AstroSoc!

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!


Observing the ‘Red Moon’ from Seven Suites Hotel Observatory

I began my preparation to observe the June 16, 2011  Total Lunar Eclipse as soon as I’ve learned about it several months ago.

It was a relatively rare opportunity to observe a Total Eclipse of the Moon — not to mention that the duration of totality of this eclipse will be one of the longest in 100 years (totality lasted for 100 minutes, from 3:22 am until around 5:02 am PHT).

I immediately checked the eclipse circumstances available in the NASA eclipse website and estimated the location of the Moon for each phase using Stellarium, so as to choose the best place to observe the event. I also reviewed the previous photos I’ve taken to see which places have a clear view of the southwest sky — the region where the Moon was mostly located during the course of the whole eclipse event. After considering a few sites, I came down to only three choices — the PAGASA Observatory in UP Diliman, a place along San Miguel by the Bay and at the Seven Suites Hotel Observatory in Antipolo.

Dropping the other two choices, I observed at the Seven Suites.

Since I still have a class to attend the following morning, observing at San Miguel by the Bay was the least good option. It surely was a nice place to observe as it has a very clear western horizon (which will enable me to catch a glimpse of the eclipsed moon setting at the bayside), but traveling would be a bit of a hassle for me because it was too far. The most convenient choice was actually to observe at the PAGASA Observatory. It’s just a walking distance away from my college and most of my orgmates in UP AstroSoc were there, too. However, I was worried that the buildings surrounding the observatory might block the view of the Moon when it gets too low during the last phases.

Through Mr. Ramon Acevedo or Kuya Ramon —  an alumnus of my astronomy org UP AstroSoc — the manager of Seven Suites allowed me and a few more orgmates  to observe from Seven Suites for free 🙂 Thanks, Kuya Ramon!

Seven Suites is the first and only hotel observatory in the Philippines.  As it is situated along the hillside route of Sumulong Highway in Antipolo City (not too far away from UP Diliman), it offers a breathtaking view of Manila by night — a stunning view of the metropolis, its city lights and the dazzling night sky. It also houses a 12”diameter Dobsonian which is the fourth largest telescope in the country.

We arrived at Seven Suites at about two hours before the start of the penumbral eclipse. Upon reaching the roof deck, we marveled at the awesome cityscape just below us.

The star Arcturus above the cityscape.
The star Arcturus above the cityscape.

Despite the rainy weather forecast, thank God it didn’t rain a bit the whole night. Only a few patches of clouds could be seen floating amid the moonlit sky.

Scorpius hugging Luna. Photo taken by Elaine Tacubanza
A colorful lunar corona surrounded the Moon before the eclipse. The blue spot appeared because of the lens flare.

A few minutes past midnight, a group of mediamen from a local TV Network came to join us to cover the event. Someone from GMA contacted me earlier that day via Twitter  for an interview regarding the eclipse. He told me that he learned about me after seeing a post which linked my astro blog.  He further asked me where I will  be observing the event and I told him of my plan and the time of the eclipse . I also added that another group of my orgmates in UP AstroSoc will also be observing the event from the PAGASA Observatory. After our conversation, he said that they will send a group there. And they did. Kuya Ramon was also notified of their coming.

I shied away from the camera when they started doing the interview. Any how, my other orgmates were also there and they answered the interview questions adequately. 🙂

All of us were excited to witness the eclipse. But before it started, a bright fireball zoomed in to our view. It came from the northeast direction, near the Summer Triangle so we guessed that it could be a June Lyrid.

At the time of the penumbral eclipse, no visible changes in the moon’s brightness can be easily recognized until it slowly become dimmer a few minutes before the umbral phase. By about 2:30 AM, a small part of the Moon on its upper left limb was already being covered by the Earth’s shadow. This chunk grew larger and larger after several minutes until finally only a small sliver of the Moon remained visible. The Moon entered totality at 3:22 AM. Just before the light on the Moon totally disappeared, an apparent reddening of the lunar disk took place. It became more and more obvious to the eye until the whole lunar disk was transformed to a blood-red orb hanging above among the stars. It was a breath-taking view.

Moon at 3:19 AM — a few minutes before Totality
The Red Moon
Moon approaching the maximum totality of the eclipse
The Red Moon and the City. Image taken at 4:22 AM

I also created two montage composed of the images of the Moon during different stages of the eclipse. In the second photo, the images were taken by about 5-10 minutes apart.

Totality ended at 5:02 AM. Unfortunately, the fifth contact (end of the partial eclipse) and sixth contact (end of the penumbral eclipse) could not be observed from the Philippines since the moonset was at 5:30 AM.

Here is a time-lapse video of the setting eclipsed Moon which I made using Windows Movie Maker. The transition of the images were quite slow because each frame can only be separated by a minimum of 1 second when using WMM. Can anyone suggest a better video editing software (preferably with a small size on disk) that can be used by amateurs?

5:01 AM — The Moon was about to exit Totality

Only a small part of the Moon remained visible as it continuously sank near the horizon. A few minutes before sunrise, we noticed another nice atmospheric phenomenon — anticrepuscular rays.

5:14 AM — a small part of the Moon was visible above the city skyline. The pink lines above were anticrepuscular rays.

Anticrepuscular rays are similar to crepuscular rays, but seen opposite the sun in the sky during sunrise or sunset.

A final glimpse of the Moon
A panoramic view of the city skyline

We packed up and prepared to leave at around 6:00 in the morning. I was starting to feel tired during then but I resisted sleepiness as I still need to attend my class. One of us even said that we were already like zombies during that moment because of sleep-deprivation. Haha!

From L to R: Kuya Ramon, Miguel, Aaron, Me and Carmen. Elaine left earlier than us that’s why she’s not in the picture 😦
BRAAAAAINS!

Our efforts didn’t go fruitless, anyway. Seeing the Red Moon was truly a priceless experience. Besides, I was also happy that I was finally able to set foot in Seven Suites after a few years. Yes, I’ve been planning to visit the place ever since. but some circumstances seemed to hindered me most of the time.

All photos were taken using Nikon D3000 DSLR camera. Thank you, Nicky for lending me your camera.  🙂 

My fellow UP AstroSoc members who observed at the PAGASA Observatory were also successful in observing and documenting this event. God is really great, we were not clouded out. 🙂 Like us, they also got interviewed during the event.

The news reports including the interviews came out later that day. The person from GMA who contacted me texted me that the video coverage was already being aired. I wasn’t able to catch it on the television but it was now available online. You can watch the video of the interview from here.

The lunar eclipse was the talk of the town during the whole day. Eclipse pictures, videos and articles flooded the Internet. Moreover, Google also featured the lunar eclipse that just took place  through its regular Google Doodle. So if you happened to take a peek at your Google homepage last June 16, you should have seen a playable lunar eclipse photos, like the one below:


This “live” doodle showed a live feed of the lunar eclipse from images from robotic telescope service Slooh. During the eclipse, visitors to Google.com can see a dial at the bottom of the image moving left to right, going through the various stages of the eclipse, before settling on the current feed.

On the other hand, clicking on the doodle will take you to the top search results about the 16 June Total Lunar Eclipse. Some friends told me that the link to my blog about the visible eclipses in the Philippines in 2011 was on the 4th spot. 🙂 And indeed, I got a lot of site visitors during that day. Thanks to all who dropped by and left their wonderful comments.

‘Til the next Total Lunar Eclipse on December. 🙂 Ad astra!