My dad's the Secretary of The Astronomical Society of Singapore (TASOS) so I was kind of born into a world where every now and then we go camping with a bunch of family friends (the rest of the Society) and telescopes, and observe the stars, and during events like the Venus Transit some years ago, and yesterday's annular eclipse (only partial in Singapore) my sister and I accompany my dad to the Singapore Science Centre to help with the event of setting up scopes and operating them so that the general public can come and observe the eclipse and listen to my dad's talk on eclipses. We also explain how the telescopes work and exactly what's going on up there in the sky to the public. And I love it! :DDD
There's a difference between 'normal' total solar eclipses and annular eclipses. I'm sure you guys have seen pictures of total solar eclipses, where the Moon is completely covering the Sun and only the Sun's corona, that faint, beautiful light, can be seen. In an annular eclipse, due to celestial mechanics (like the fact that the Moon's orbit is elliptical and thus its distance from the Earth varies) the Moon is slightly further away from the Earth than normal, and hence seems smaller. Since it's smaller, it covers less of the Sun than usual, so there's a faint ring, or annulus, of sunlight visible around the dark outline of the Moon.
Totality was visible in other countries, like parts of Indonesia and Australia, and Cape Town in Africa, but here in Singapore we got to see a partial eclipse, at least, which is more than what we've had in over a century.
Since you don't look directly at the Sun unless you aren't particularly attached to your eyes, we gave out special filters made of black polymer framed with cardboard, which you can wear over your eyes like very unfashionable sunglasses to look straight at the Sun, which appears like a tiny orange ball in a sea of black. We also set up Venuscopes for people to view the eclipse en route to the larger telescope in the Observatory.
I really should have taken a photo of the exterior of a Venuscope, but I forgot, so I Googled it. Here's what a Venuscope looks like from the outside. Except for this, all other photos here are taken by me.
We had those mounted on tall trolley-like things so they were roughly at eye level. And let me tell you, trying to get those things aligned is no joke. I mean, sure, you can see where the Sun is, but getting that silver tube pointed exactly at the Sun with no other instruments is HARD. But when we finally got it, and the mirror below the tube inside reflected a bright circle with clouds drifting across it onto the white cardboard back, I actually whooped and punched the air. The last time I did that was in 2007, when I got 28 marks out of 30 for a Maths test.
The beginning of the eclipse, as seen through the filter glasses and my camera's Night Mode, because normal mode wouldn't work through the black filter. And here's the beginning of the eclipse as seen via the Venuscope. I explained how it works earlier, and since it involves a mirror, the image is inverted. Looks like someone bit into a large white biscuit, huh?
And it was so much fun to watch! But people kept getting confused, thinking that the white shape was the Moon just because it was vaguely Moon-shaped. I had to keep explaining that that black thing here, d'you see it? Yes, very good, that's the Moon, and it's coming in front of the Sun, that's this white shape here, see? And it's covering the Sun, so it looks like someone's bitten into a giant cookie. Nice, isn't it? No, you don't need your filter glasses for this, you can't see a thing with them on, this is safe, you can take photos. Excuse me, 30 seconds per peron, please move on... Honestly, some people can be rather dense sometimes.
I took photos of the progress of the eclipse.
Later on my friend Amala (ex-student of my dad's; he invited her for one of our astronomy camping trips and we bonded over things like a shared love for Ancient Egypt) brought a friend of hers, Mehraaj, along. Here are a couple of photos of us.
A lot of people from the press were there; I had to pose with my scope for a photo and explain to them how it worked, since my scope was nearest to the door leading to the Observation Green, and while I didn't show up on the English news on Channel 5 and Channel NewsAsia, I actually saw a glimpse of myself on the Chinese news on Channel 8! They didn't show my sister at her scope or my dad giving his running commentary, though. Still, I shall check the papers tomorrow. XP
All in all, it was loads of fun. I love astronomy! :D
A belated New Year's gift for a dear friend,m_erechyn . It's called Starry Night and is about the Marauders.
Harry Potter belongs to Warner Bros, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Heyday/1498 films, JK Rowling and Raincoat books. I don't lay any claim to it. Really, if I owned Sirius...
Author's Note: Since my dad's a member of The Astronomical Society of Singapore, we often go on little stargazing trips, but that's hard due to the light pollution in urban Singapore. We could drive to Malaysia, or we could take a cheaper but no less fun option and take a ferry to a tiny island used as a landfill called Pulau Semakau, just off the coast, where the lack of urbanisation means no light pollution. We get the fun of a campout plus an astronomy session.
This was thus inspired by one of those trips, and written by starlight and torchlight on a camp stool, as every now and then I craned my neck or lay back on the ground to take in the sight of the multitudes of stars, especially my favourite section of sky, the bit with Orion the hunter and his two hunting dogs, not to mention my favourite star Sirius. Now, on with the story! That is, if anyone actually bothered to read this.
( Click to read one of my personal favourites among my oneshots )
Similarities tom_erechyn 's of the night are purely accidental, although I highly recommend it.