Astronomical Data and Sighting of Ramadan New Moon on June 16, 2015

Bandar Seri Begawan – The official new moon sighting date to determine the beginning Ramadan 1436H will be on Tuesday afternoon, June 16. The sightings will be carried out in several vantage hills across the country by government officials from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Survey Department.

The following is the astronomical calculation of the moon for Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on the day of Syaaban 29,1436H corresponding to June 16, 2015
1. Sun sets at 18:32 (Local Time)
2. The moon sets at 18:18.
At sun sets,
3. The angular seperation of Moon-Sun is 5.31°
4. Moon Azimuth is 288.75°
5. Sun Azimuth is 293.50°
6. Moon age is 29.3 day old or -3.6 hour before conjunction.

The moon's position on June 16, 2015 from Brunei at sun set.
The moon’s position on June 16, 2015 from Brunei at sunset.

In conclusion, the moon is a waning crescent, that is not a New Moon, and not observable as it sets earlier before the Sun goes down. However, the starting date of fasting in Brunei will depend on the official announcement on that evening.

Falak Application: Using Shadow to Determine Kiblat Direction on May 28

Above: Facing about west of Brunei, the method of determining the Kiblat using shadow of vertical column during the “istiwa adzam” in Makkah.
Above: Facing about west of Brunei, the method of determining the Kiblat using shadow of vertical column during the “istiwa adzam” in Makkah.

Bandar Seri Begawan – On May 28 every year, at 5:16 pm local Brunei time (09:16 UT), the sun will be precisely overhead (at Zenith) in Makkah and exactly above the Kaabah. At that instance, the Sun in other areas will be directly aligned to the direction of Kiblat.

This phenomenon known as “istiwa adzam” is useful as an easy Islamic astronomical method to determine the exact direction of prayers (Kiblat).  Only half part of the world that receives the daylight can apply this method.

Light areas of the world  (daylight) will be able determine the Kiblat using the sun on May 28 at 5.18 pm Brunei Time.
Light areas of the world (daylight) will be able determine the Kiblat using the sun on May 28 at 5.16 pm Brunei Time.

In a year, the sun will be directly above the Kaabah twice, on every 28th May at 5:16 pm and again on July 16th at 5:28 pm Brunei time.

Follow the following ways to check the Kiblat from your area:

1. You must use a straight objects such as a pole or side of the house. It must be vertical which must be checked with a weight tied to a thread (plumbline).

2. The object must not be in places under shade, such as under a tree or in the house. It must be placed in areas that receive direct sunlight, for example, in a spacious yard.

3. Exactly at 5:16 pm May 28, the shadow’s line produced by the sun is the Kiblat direction which is facing toward the sun.

UAE plans unmanned mission to Mars by 2021

Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:44am EDT
Related: Science

(Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday it planned to send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021, in the Arab world’s first mission to another planet.

A UAE Space Agency will be set up to supervise the mission and develop a space technology industry in the country, a government statement said. It did not give details such as the cost of the probe or how it would be designed and built.

“The UAE Mars probe represents the Islamic world’s entry into the era of space exploration. We will prove that we are capable of delivering new scientific contributions to humanity,” said UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan.

With a population estimated at no more than about 8 million, most of whom are foreign workers, the UAE lacks the scientific and industrial base of the big spacefaring nations.

But it is keen to diversify its economy beyond oil into high-technology sectors, and its oil reserves give it immense financial power that it could use to buy expertise. One of the sovereign wealth funds of Abu Dhabi, the biggest emirate, is estimated to have assets worth nearly $800 billion.

The UAE’s fast-growing airlines, Emirates and Etihad, are among the world’s biggest buyers of planes from U.S. and European aerospace firms, and a factory in the Abu Dhabi desert now turns out sophisticated parts for Airbus.

The UAE has invested over $5.4 billion in satellite ventures such as data and television broadcast company Al Yah Satellite Communications, mobile communications firm Thuraya and earth mapping and observation firm Dubai Sat, the government said.

The Mars probe will take nine months to complete the more than 60 million-kilometer (37.5 million-mile) journey to Mars, and will make the UAE one of only nine countries with space programs exploring the Red Planet, the statement said.

(Reporting by Andrew Torchia; editing by Andrew Roche)

This High-Res Moon Photo Was Made by a Self-Taught Astrophotographer

by Michael Zhang

petapixel.com – It’s amazing the kinds of space photos that amateur photographers can create from their own backyards these days. Case in point: the high-resolution moon photo above was captured last week by Polish photographer Bartosz Wojczyński. It was stacked together using 32000 separate photos.

moonhires

Wojczyński tells us that he used “advanced image acquisition and processing techniques,” mapping violet and infrared images of the moon to blue and red channels in the final shot.

It took him about 28 minutes to shoot 32000 photos weighing 73.5 gigabytes using his ZWO ASI174MM monochrome camera, a couple of filters, his Sky-Watcher HEQ5 mount, and his Celestron C9.25 telescope (which is equivalent to a 2350mm f/10 camera lens) — equipment that cost him about $3500 total.

The photography was done from the balcony of his apartment in Piekary Śląskie, Poland:

shoot

After the thousands of images were captured, Wojczyński spent 5-6 hours processing and stacking the images together into the 14 megapixel final image. Click here to see the original image in all its full-res glory. Here are some crops showing the details of the photo:

details1

details2

feature4

feature3

“Thanks to the enhanced coloration, it’s possible to examine the differences in the chemical composition of the lunar surface,” Wojczyński tells us. “For example, the bluish tint of several areas indicates a titanium-rich soil.”


P.S. Wojczyński is the same photographer that made the six-hour exposure of the celestial north pole that we featured last month.


Source: http://petapixel.com/2015/05/04/this-high-res-moon-photo-was-made-by-a-self-taught-astrophotographer/

How to See All Six Apollo Moon Landing Sites

By Bob King

Skyandtelescope.com –  April 22, 2015. Walk in the astronauts’ footsteps as you explore the places they visited in the heyday of Apollo program. Use these helpful maps to start you on your way.

We all love dark moonless skies, but let’s face it, the Moon’s out two weeks a month. How can you ignore it? You’ve doubtless observed craters and mountain ranges and probed for volcanic features like rills and domes. But here and there among the nooks and crannies, you’ll find six of the most remarkable locales on the Moon — the Apollo landing sites. They’re the only places where humanity has achieved one of its oldest dreams and “touched the stars”.

Six Apollo missions successfully landed on and departed from the Moon between July 1969 and December 1972. Top, clockwise: James Irwin salutes the flag at Hadley Rill; Harrison Schmitt collects rock samples in the Taurus-Littrow Valley; Buzz Aldrin's footprint in the lunar regolith; Charlie Duke placed a photo of his family on the Moon and took a picture of it; Edgar Mitchell photographs the desolate landscape of the Fra Mauro highlands; and Pete Conrad jiggles the Surveyor 3 probe to see how firmly it's situated. NASA, collage by Bob King
Six Apollo missions successfully landed on and departed from the Moon between July 1969 and December 1972. Top, clockwise: James Irwin salutes the flag at Hadley Rill; Harrison Schmitt collects rock samples in the Taurus-Littrow Valley; Buzz Aldrin’s footprint in the lunar regolith; Charlie Duke placed a photo of his family on the Moon and took a picture of it; Edgar Mitchell photographs the desolate landscape of the Fra Mauro highlands; and Pete Conrad jiggles the Surveyor 3 probe to see how firmly it’s situated. NASA, collage by Bob King

As you’re well aware, no telescope on Earth can see the leftover descent stages of the Apollo Lunar Modules or anything else Apollo-related. Not even the Hubble Space Telescope can discern evidence of the Apollo landings. The laws of optics define its limits.

Following are maps for pinpointing each Apollo location. South is up, and clicking on the images will link you to higher resolution versions. Time to strap on your boots and follow in the footsteps of the first people to walk on the Moon.

Photos of each of the six Apollo landing sites photographed from low orbit by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. ALSEP stands for Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package. The astronauts' tracks as well as the rover and other items are plainly visible. Click for a large version. NASA / LRO
Photos of each of the six Apollo landing sites photographed from low orbit by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. ALSEP stands for Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package. The astronauts’ tracks as well as the rover and other items are plainly visible. Click for a large version. NASA / LRO

Hubble’s 94.5-inch mirror has a resolution of 0.024″ in ultraviolet light, which translates to 141 feet (43 meters) at the Moon’s distance. In visible light, it’s 0.05″, or closer to 300 feet. Given that the largest piece of equipment left on the Moon after each mission was the 17.9-foot-high by 14-foot-wide Lunar Module, you can see the problem.

Did I say problem? No problem for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which can dip as low as 31 miles (50 km) from the lunar surface, close enough to image each landing site in remarkable detail.

LRO’s orbital imagery and photos taken in situ by the Apollo astronauts will serve to illuminate our ramblings from one Apollo site to the next. All the landing sites lie on the near side of the Moon and were chosen to explore different geologic terrains. Astronauts bagged 842 pounds (382 kg) of Moon rocks, which represented everything from mare basalts to ancient highland rocks to impact-shattered rocks called breccias. Apollo 12 astronauts even found the first meteorite ever discovered on another world, the Bench Crater carbonaceous chondrite. – See more at:

With the Moon waxing this week and next, the advancing line of lunar sunrise will expose one site after another beginning with Apollo 17 in the Moon’s eastern hemisphere and finishing with Apollos 12 and 14 in the western. To see each locale, a 4-inch or larger telescope magnifying 75× or higher will get the job done. But the larger the scope and higher the power, the closer you’ll be able to pinpoint each landing site and better able to visualize the scene.

All the landing sites can be found using these five prominent lunar craters. North is up in this view.Credit: NASA/LRO
All the landing sites can be found using these five prominent lunar craters. North is up in this view.Credit: NASA/LRO

The base images for all the sites are photographs taken by the LRO. I encourage you to drop by the ACT-REACT QuickMap site, which features a zoomable lunar map of LRO photos that will practically take you down to the lunar surface. Click the “paper stack” icon and uncheck Sunlit Region to see a fully-illuminated Moon, no matter the current phase. Checking the Nomenclature box will bring up the names of craters, rills and many other features. More details about each of the LRO Apollo photos can be found here.

Apollo 11 landed on July 20, 1969, on the relatively smooth and safe terrain of the Sea of Tranquility. For an extra challenge, see if you can spot the three craters named for the Apollo 11 astronauts just north of the landing site. They range from 2.9 miles (Armstrong) to 1.5 miles (Collins) across. NASA / LRO
Apollo 11 landed on July 20, 1969, on the relatively smooth and safe terrain of the Sea of Tranquility. For an extra challenge, see if you can spot the three craters named for the Apollo 11 astronauts just north of the landing site. They range from 2.9 miles (Armstrong) to 1.5 miles (Collins) across.
NASA / LRO
Pete Conrad and Alan Bean achieved a pinpoint landing on Nov. 19, 1969, in the Ocean of Storms south of the grand rayed crater Copernicus, landing within walking distance of the Surveyor 3 probe. NASA / LRO
Pete Conrad and Alan Bean achieved a pinpoint landing on Nov. 19, 1969, in the Ocean of Storms south of the grand rayed crater Copernicus, landing within walking distance of the Surveyor 3 probe. NASA / LRO
Apollo 14 touched down on Feb. 5, 1971, in the Fra Mauro formation. Somewhere in the scene are two golf balls hit by Alan Shepard with a makeshift club he brought from Earth. NASA / LRO
Apollo 14 touched down on Feb. 5, 1971, in the Fra Mauro formation. Somewhere in the scene are two golf balls hit by Alan Shepard with a makeshift club he brought from Earth. NASA / LRO
James Irwin and David Scott spent three days alongside Hadley Rille in the rugged Apennine Mountains after landing Apollo 15 on July 30, 1971. This was the first mission to use the Lunar Rover, greatly expanding the amount of ground the astronauts could cover. NASA / LRO
James Irwin and David Scott spent three days alongside Hadley Rille in the rugged Apennine Mountains after landing Apollo 15 on July 30, 1971. This was the first mission to use the Lunar Rover, greatly expanding the amount of ground the astronauts could cover. NASA / LRO
Apollo 16 touched down in the lunar highlands on April 21, 1972, in the Cayley Formation, where astronauts John Young and Charles Duke hoped to find older Moon rocks than those previously found near the younger maria. NASA / LRO
Apollo 16 touched down in the lunar highlands on April 21, 1972, in the Cayley Formation, where astronauts John Young and Charles Duke hoped to find older Moon rocks than those previously found near the younger maria. NASA / LRO
Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan landed the final Apollo mission in the Taurus-Littrow Valley on Dec. 11, 1972. The astronauts once again searched for ancient highland material. In the process, they broke a rear fender on the lunar rover and re-attached it using maps and duct tape. Credit: NASA/LRO
Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan landed the final Apollo mission in the Taurus-Littrow Valley on Dec. 11, 1972. The astronauts once again searched for ancient highland material. In the process, they broke a rear fender on the lunar rover and re-attached it using maps and duct tape. Credit: NASA/LRO

 

 

Source: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/how-to-see-all-six-apollo-moon-landing-sites/

NASA Wants Help to Name Landforms on Pluto

Computer Rendered image of Pluto (Credit: NASA)
Computer Rendered image of Pluto (Credit: NASA)

NASA Science – April 21, 2015:  When NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flies by Pluto this July, the spacecraft’s high-resolution cameras will spot many new landforms on the dwarf planet’s unexplored surface.  There could be mountains, craters, rilles, valleys and, of course, the unknown.

They are all going to need names—and NASA wants you to help.

The public has until Friday, April 24 to help name new features on Pluto and its moons.  The naming campaign was announced in March, and now it is being extended because of widespread interest.


CLICK HERE TO NOMINATE AND VOTE A NAME! (http://www.ourpluto.org/)


 

The campaign not only expresses public interest in Pluto but also helps the busy New Horizons science team.

“[The team] will not have time to come up with names during the flyby,” explains Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “So it helps to have a ready-made library of names in advance to officially submit to the IAU.”

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) in Paris is the formal authority for naming celestial bodies. Submissions must follow a set of accepted themes and guidelines set out by the IAU’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature.

Auroras Underfoot (signup)According to the IAU, Pluto is a “dwarf planet”—that is, a planetary-mass object orbiting the Sun that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity but is not a planet or satellite. Unlike planets, these bodies have not cleared the neighborhood around their orbits, and their paths sometimes cross with other, often similar, objects. There are currently five identified dwarf planets in our Solar System, each named after a God from Greek, Polynesian, or Roman mythologies. These five bodies are Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris.

The names of features on the bodies in the Pluto system are related to mythology and the literature and history of exploration. Listed below are IAU-approved naming themes for Pluto and its largest moon Charon:

Pluto: Names for the Underworld from the world’s mythologies; gods, goddesses, and dwarfs associated with the Underworld; Heroes and other explorers of the Underworld; writers associated with Pluto and the Kuiper Belt; and scientists and engineers associated with Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.
Charon: Destinations and milestones of fictional space and other exploration; fictional and mythological vessels of space and other exploration; fictional and mythological voyagers, travelers and explorers.
A complete explanation of naming conventions may be found on the IAU website.

After the naming campaign concludes, NASA’s New Horizons team will sort through the names and submit its recommendations to the IAU. The IAU will decide whether and how the names will be used.

Ready to pick names? Members of the public from around the world, of all ages and walks of life, are allowed to participate. Learn more at http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons.

Credits:
Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

Source: http://science.nasa.gov/

2015 Apr 10 Close Conjunction of Venus and the Seven Sisters

A very bright Venus side by side with the beautiful cluster of stars, Pleiades, in the constellation Taurus. CanonEOS 10mm f/4.0 ISO-1600 15sec
A very bright Venus side by side with the beautiful cluster of stars, Pleiades, in the constellation Taurus.
CanonEOS 10mm f/4.0 ISO-1600 15sec

Update April 12, 2015: Another change to view a celestial conjunction of Venus and Pleiades today. Clear sky!

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Venus and the Pleiades on April 10, 2015, from Brunei

The brilliance of Venus and a beautiful set of “Seven Sisters” star cluster (the Pleiades) are visible very close to each other from Pantai Seri Kenangan, Tutong, at dusk today.

Continue reading “2015 Apr 10 Close Conjunction of Venus and the Seven Sisters”

Shortest Total Lunar Eclipse of the 21st Century Visible Saturday 04 April 2015

Total Eclipse of the Moon

Bandar Seri Begawan – People in this country will have a rare opportunity to watch an astronomical phenomenon, a total lunar eclipse, on the evening of this Saturday, April 4th, 2015.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth and being in the Earth’s dark shadow known as Umbra. Such occurrence is rare when the Sun, Earth and Moon are exactly aligned with the Earth being precisely in the middle.

Above: Phases of the eclipse and local lunar circumstances as the Moon passes the Earth's shadow on April 4, 2015, from Brunei.
Above: Phases of the eclipse and local lunar circumstances as the Moon passes the Earth’s shadow on April 4, 2015, from Brunei.

 

This great natural phenomenon is also observed by many region around the globe such as Asia, Australia, Pacific, North and South America.

In Brunei, the lunar eclipse will be first observed after the moon rise at 6:22 pm. If the evening sky is clear, eclipse watchers will see the full moon is partially obscured by the Earth’s shadows.

At 7:58 pm, it will be a very spectacular astronomical event as the entire moon will pass through the dark earth`s shadow known as the Umbra. During totality, eclipse observers will notice the full moon to completely darken and likely will turn to coppery red colour. Continue reading “Shortest Total Lunar Eclipse of the 21st Century Visible Saturday 04 April 2015”