Stargazers in Singapore catch cosmic event of the century

By On July 27, 2018

Stargazers in Singapore catch cosmic event of the century

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The moon at the maximum eclipse at 4.20am on July 28, 2018.
The moon at the maximum eclipse at 4.20am on July 28, 2018.
The moon at the maximum eclipse at 4.20am on July 28, 2018. Mars is seen on the left.
The moon is seen minutes before the beginning of a total lunar eclipse occurring at 3.30am, on July 28, 2018.
People look through telescopes at the rooftop of the Singapore Maritime Gallery ahead of the total lunar eclipse during a viewing event organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and SingAstro community on July 27, 2018.
SingAstro member Chin Zong Yang, 26, gets ready to watch the total lunar eclipse on July 27, 2018 with his telescope.
People look through telescopes at the rooftop of the Singapore Maritime Gallery ahead of the total lunar eclipse during a viewing event organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and SingAstro community on July 27, 2018.
People look through telescopes at the rooftop of the Singapore Maritime Gallery ahead of the total lunar eclipse during a viewing event organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and SingAstro community on July 27, 2018.
Published26 min ago

SINGAPORE - Hundreds of hopeful stargazers flocked to Marina South Pier early on Saturday morning (July 28) to catch the cosmic event of the century - the longest total lunar eclipse and the alignment of Mars with the Earth and Sun.

In a community-led event organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the local astronomy community SingAstro, members of the public were invited to watch the celestial events at Marina Sou th Pier's roof garden throughout the night.

More than 16 telescopes were provided by SingAstro for the public to freely see these heavenly bodies, which also included the planets Saturn, Venus and Jupiter.

SingAstro member Chin Zong Yang, 26, said, ahead of the event: "Tonight's lunar eclipse will be special because it is the longest of the century - lasting one hour and 43 minutes - in addition to the Mars opposition."

The Mars opposition occurs when the Sun, Earth and Mars align in a straight line. At 57 million kilometres from Earth, this means that Mars, at the point of its orbit, is closest to our planet.

"But for the two events to coincide on the same day," Mr Chin added. "I feel very lucky and excited to facilitate the viewing of this rare event for the public."

SingAstro estimated that more than 500 people had turned up at the roof garden.

At 1.13am, the moon began to pass thr ough the Earth's shadow, darkening gradually, although the darkening was not apparent to the naked eye.

But at 3.30am, a "blood moon" started to appear. As the moon enters the Earth's umbra, the darkest part of Earth's shadow, its rocky surface started to turn coppery-red.

Twelve students from the astronomy club of the School of Science and Technology, Singapore, took turns managing their telescope to capture the moon̢۪s transformation in a video live stream for their school's YouTube channel.

The club's 14-year-old vice-president, Yee Jia Chen, said he and his team were very excited to capture a "very rare occasion".

Mr Joakim Michael Mathews, 32, a member of SingAstro who has been an avid skywatcher for more than a decade, had his fingers crossed and said: "Fingers crossed, I hope for clear skies tonight."

Thankfully, the skies remained clear and cooperative, and many were able to catch the blood moon at its reddest during its maximum eclipse at 4.20am.

Mr Remus Chua, founder of SingAstro, said seeing such a number of people viewing the eclipse till late was "surreal and amazing".

"This is the first time that we have an astronomy outreach where it extends into the dawn hours. It's amazing that the crowd had stayed up to experience the longest lunar eclipse...

"With these two celestial events and with the good spirit of the astronomy community, I really think this has been a successful event."

Topics:
  • SPACE AND COSMOS
  • COMMUNITY
  • SCIENCE

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