Thursday, June 16, 2011

Little Red Shinning Moon - An Eclipse Experience

Today was a wonderful experience for me since I was able to observe the first Total Lunar Eclipse of 2011. I was one of the participants in the RED MOON event at the Nido Fortified Science Discovery Center (SDC) in the SM Mall of Asia. The event began with a film showing in the Planetarium at the SDC entitled Passport to the Universe. It was my first time at the SDC and I enjoyed the beautiful planetarium experience. Following the film showing was the lecture discussion by Dr. Armando Lee, the first Philippine produced astronomer and proprietor of the Astrocamp Observatory. Dr. Lee is a contact of mine in Astronomy via the web and it was the first time we met face-to-face. He even recognized me and called me by name which kinda made me feel very fortunate that evening. The lecture discussion covered details of the eclipse, why it happens and what we expect to see. After the lecture we were served pizza and drinks before proceeding to the Astrocamp Observatory in the SM By the Bay (San Miguel Boulevard). The Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP) were already assembling their gear there to do some serious astrophotography. Some of them were contacts and facebook friends who, like Dr. Lee,I was able to meet face-to-face for the very first time. One of them was James Kevin Ty, president of ALP who was also able to recognize me. Also members of the media were there to cover the event; first was Bandila from ABS-CBN, followed by HERO, and then GMA.
I was even given a short interview by HERO, unfortunately I don't have cable to see it. While this was happening in MOA I was also in keeping contact with other observers: Erika Valdueza in Quezon City, and Greg Morales (proffesional photographer) and Nina Abiquibil (BS Physics) in their respective sites in Negros
I was also able to chat with Dr. Lee and his wife about astronomy, observing experiences, astrophotography and the dealings of a observatory such as the Astrocamp. Dr. Lee even allowed me to teach a bit of stargazing tricks to members of the SDC.

Aside from the wonderful RED MOON event, I was also able to purchase Firefly Books' MOONWATCH, a complete starter set for lunar observations. I got it in Booksale for only 40Php right after I got the ticket for the eclipse. Talk about coincidence and good fortune, God is so good! During the night of the REDMOON while waiting for the event to start, my heart's MVP started acting up from the excitement. I'm glad everything turned out alright.

We were able to have good sky conditions of the eclipse except during moonset around 10 degrees from the horizon. It was my first time to observe all the stages including the penumbral stage which is less visible. This isn't my first total lunar eclipse observation but so far this was the best! Like what D. Levy says in his book, don't keep a "been there, done that" attitude in astronomy because each observing experience is unique. Each new observation, especially with a new group, is a new learning experience - Astronomy, I love it!
photo by Greg Morales from Negros

with Dr. Armando Lee, giving my astropainting to him.

Moonwatch set at 40Php