Saturday, June 22, 2013

Super Moon 2013

Super Moon happens when Moon is most full *and* closest to Earth. For this year, it will occur on Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 7:32pm Singapore time (UT+8).

"Super Moon" is a term coined by an astrologer in recent years. The proper scientific term is Perigee Full Moon.

Watch this informative talk about Super Moon by NASA Astronomer Michelle Thaller:

Unless you are living in an air-conditioned cave in Singapore for the past week, you should know the haze situation is at national crisis level now - the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit a record high 401, the armed forces are activated to speed up the distribution of N95 face masks.

This photo from NASA's Earth Observatory report says it all:

Photo Credit NASA Earth Observatory

Moon was visible for the past few nights through the thick haze. But instead of looking briliantly white, it looked more coppery-red, as in a lunar eclipse. Just like in the following photo by Clifford of an actual total lunar eclipse visible in Singapore in December 2011:

The next total lunar eclipse visible from Singapore will be in October next year. This weekend's Super Moon through haze can give you an idea how total lunar eclipses looked like since lunar eclipses will only happen during Full Moon.

We are wish for non-hazy clear skies of course. As I am writing this blog, the PSI has just dropped to 73. The less hazy the sky, the more white-bright it will be compared to being more coppery-red through haze. IMPORTANT: Please take note of the PM 2.5 levels in the air. If it is still unhealthily high (more than 100), you may still want to stay indoors instead of risking your health.

You can still observe or photography the Super Moon indoors through closed glass windows!

Full Moon is bright enough so it will be visible even through glass. Of course, not as good as without any glass medium. This is the best compromise in view of the current haze situation. So why not take this opportunity to understand the visual or photographic difference of Super Moon through a glass?

You can still use your binoculars and telescopes and look through your window glass to admire the Moon. This may be a fun activity for the whole family who is stuck indoor with windows closed due to the haze:

(1) Get some easily removable small stickers or blu-tack
(2) Use them as markers of the size/diameter of the disc of the Super Moon at your arms length
(3) Do that at regular intervals - e.g. every half an hour.

Now you can visible see the path of the Moon through your glass window. 2 weeks at around 7 July 2013 where the Moon is next furthest from Earth (i.e. apogee), do the same fun exercise again. Now you can compare different apparent sizes and path of Moon!

I do not know the effects (if any) of haze pollutants on optics (e.g. binocular/telescope/camera lens or mirror). So I cannot be responsible for any potential damage on your optical instruments if you decide to observe/photography the Moon outdoors regardless of the haze situation.

Weather, PSI and PM2.5 index permitting, my friends and I will be conducting a Super Moon public stargazing session tomorrow Sunday 23 June. We will be deploying our telescopes at the open ground in front of McDonald's at Bishan - Ang Mo Kio Park. From 7:30pm onwards till about 11pm. This location in the park has a great view of the eastern sky where we can catch the Super Moon shortly after moon rise near the horizon.

Please check/follow my twitter regularly for the latest updates and changes. You can also see the twitter updates at the right-hand margin of this webpage.

There is very little difference between the "super-ness" of the Full Moon tonight (Saturday 22 June) and tomorrow. So you may want to start observing or take photos of it starting from tonight.

If you have a camera or camcorder which has great zooming capability, this weekend evenings are the best times to use it! Check out this video by YouTuber DigitalMediaProTV:

Moon will be rising tonight (Sat 22/6) at 7:08pm  6:06 pm and tomorrow (Sun 23/6) at 8:11pm 7:08pm. Good luck!


Update 23 June 2013

Before 7:30pm, use an accurate compass (or phone app), locate and face 110 degrees (East-South-East), make sure the Moon is not obstructed and pray for clear skies!

It will located at about 4 degrees above horizon - about half the vertical length of an extended fist.

Continue to enjoy Super Moon as it rises higher into the sky where it will be clearer due to thinner atmosphere.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Free Public Talk - Learn Basic Stargazing Skills

The next public talk I will be conducting is titled "Learn Basic Stargazing Skills".

Date: Monday, 17 June 2013
Time: 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Venue: Toa Payoh Public Library. Level 1 Programme Zone.

Admission is free. No pre-registration required. Late-comers also welcomed!

Participants will be taught practical stargazing skills they can use immediately after the talk and in the process understand astronomical concepts like light years, magnitude, naming of stars in constellations, apparent size of objects, ...etc.

A3-size printed star maps will also be distributed.

The last part of the talk will be about how the Super Moon of 2013! Happening on full moon this coming Sunday 23 June.

Weather permitting, during/after the talk, they will be an impromptu live stargazing session at open space just outside the library. We can observe the Moon and Saturn through telescopes!

So bring your family and friends along and acquire skills that we enable you to enjoy stargazing for the rest of your life!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Free loan of telescope to newcomers

To help newcomers overcome their initial fear of spending money on a new hobby which they may regret later, I would like to loan my Celestron Firstscope 76mm for free to any newcomer without a telescope.

Watch this video from Celestron's official YouTube channel to find out more about this telescope:

Please take note of the following:

(1) This is my own telescope and private non-profit initiative. As such, this initiative is not affiliated or sponsored by the Celestron company or any other company or organisation for that matter.

(2) DO NOT look at the Sun with this telescope. I am not responsible for any accident or damage due to the use of this telescope.

(3) This is NOT my endorsement of this telescope or design as the best beginner telescope. There is no such thing as a best telescope anyway. Different people have different expectations of telescopes.

(4) This telescope is selected mainly because it is something easy to use, very portable, have decent light gathering ability and something that I am comfortable with loaning out to newcomers from my personal collection of telescopes, bearing the full risk and cost of any potential damage by its future users.

(5) The 2 telescope Huygens eyepieces will be replaced with 3 or more better quality ones of Plossl design.

(6) A small dry box or zip-locked bag will be provided for storage purposes.

(7) Brief training will be provided in person during collection of telescope.

(8) Loan Period = 7 days per person or family. Absolutely free of charge. Users will not be penalised for any  damage done to the telescope during its use. First come first served basis.

(9) Collecting and returning of telescope at Toa Payoh area.

(10) Base of my faith on the goodwill of the majority of loaners, 99% of all requests will be approved. But I reserved the right not to loan to those whom I find unsuitable.

(11) Eligibility:

(a) Only for those who does not own a single telescope.
(b) Anyone currently residing in Singapore with a contactable phone number and address regardless of race or religion.
(c) Age = 8 years and above. Young children must be accompanied by an adult during brief training during collection of telescope (about 30 minutes).

(12) Loaners of this telescope are not allowed to use it directly or indirectly to generate financial profit or conduct any illegal or immoral activities.

(13) Depending on the popularity of this initiative, the mechanics may be tweaked every now and then and updated in this webpage. For example, extending the loan period or adding more astro gear like better telescopic accessories or binocular.

Ok. Now that I have finished all the "serious" announcements, I just wanna say it is really fun to explore the Universe with this telescope! On clear enough nights, you can see the craters of the Moon, rings of Saturn, colourful stars and bright star clouds!

So if you are interested and eligible, send me an email now at ! Feel free to email me if you have further queries.