MAAS event - Venus Transit Watch, 6th June

Venus will be passing in front of the Sun (as viewed from Earth) on 5/6th of June. The transit can be seen in the Maldives on 6th June. The transit would have already started by the time the Sun rises over Maldives that morning. Venus reaches center at 6:31 AM and exits the exterior of the disc of the Sun at 9:52 AM. The next earliest visible Venus transit will not occur until 2117!

MAAS will be setting up several telescopes with solar filters at Lonuziyaaraiy and Henveiru park area to allow you to watch the Sun and Venus close up, safely, while Venus moves across the disc of the Sun. No fees and all welcome!

Warning: The Sun will be at full brightness unlike during an eclipse so using anything other than specialized solar filters can and will damage your eyes and is not recommended!

Time: 6:30 AM - 9:52 AM
Place: Henveiru Adu Park (infront of Raalhugandu)

Transit of Venus on 6th June visible in Maldives

There is an exciting and rare astronomical event occurring this coming June: Venus will be passing in front of the Sun (as viewed from Earth) on 5/6 of June. The transit can be seen in the Maldives on 6th June. The transit would have already started by the time the Sun rises over Maldives that morning, allowing us to catch the event just as Venus reaches center at 6:31 AM. Venus exits the exterior of the disc of the Sun at 9:52 AM.

Venus is the brightest star in the night sky but during the transit, when Venus' orbit around the Sun takes it in between the view of the Sun from the Earth, Venus will appear as a black spot moving across the bright disc of the Sun. Solar filters are required to watch this (otherwise, be ready for eye damage!) and so is a binocular or telescope.

The next earliest Venus transit will not occur until 2117, so if this kind of thing gets you excited you might want to wake up early in the morning on 6th June 2012! Maldivian Association for the Advancement of Science will be holding an event - details later.

More information:
- 2012 Venus Transit - Sun-Earth Day (NASA)
- 2012 Transit of Venus (NASA)
- Transit of Venus (Wikipedia)
- Find out the exact time for your location


MAAS Public stargazing: Before Jupiter disappears!

The Maldivian Association for the Advancement of Science will be kicking off its public stargazing event series tonight. Like the recently launched MAAS public science lectures series, the stargazing series will also be regular events and will be held at least once a month.

Tonight's stargazing event will mainly focus on Jupiter and its Moons as the planet will start setting early in the evening in a few weeks and will not be easily visible in the waking hours of the night for the next several months. Jupiter is a beautiful planet to look at with the telescopes we have at hand; the equatorial bands are visible brightly and, depending on the time, around 3-5 of its 64 moons can also be visible.

Venue: Masveringe Park, Male' (infront of Jade Bistro, next to the Hulhule ferry departures) (map)
Time: 8pm - 10pm, 27 January 2012
Attendance: Free, open to all

If you haven't seen Jupiter up close and personal through a telescope, then do come and join us. See you there!

MAAS Public science lectures: Thalassemia Beyond Mutations

The events and activities at Maldivian Association for the Advancement of Science took a break towards the end of 2011 with the start of school holidays and us taking a break. We are switching back on for the new year this coming week with a brand new monthly "Public science lectures" series.

This coming Wednesday, MAAS will be hosting a lecture by Dr. Ibrahim Mustafa, titled "Thalassemia Beyond Mutations: A Novel Approach to Treat Thalassemia". The lecture will cover the research on the novel treatment he investigated while reading for his PhD, which you may have read a bit about from local news recently. The lecture will also, as I understand it, cover the how's and why's of Thalassemia which the public might be interested in furthering their understanding. This event might be of special interest to those who deal with Thalassemia in one capacity or the other.

When: 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM, 18 January 2012
Where: Main auditorium, Faculty of Management and Computing, Sosun Magu.

As ever, the event is open to all and free to attend. We will accommodate as many people as the lecture auditorium can hold.

Special thanks goes to Cafe' Alfresco for their kind generosity in helping make this event possible.

MAAS event: Total lunar eclipse viewing

Maldivian Association for the Advancement of Science has a public viewing event organised for the upcoming total lunar eclipse taking place on 15th June. Bring your telescopes and cameras and join in observing the event. MAAS will have telescopes setup for those who don't own one.

For more details on this eclipse, please refer to my earlier post.

Time: Wednesday, 15th June at 22:00 - Thursday, 16th June at 01:30
Location: Artificial beach, the stage area behind the restaurant Mr. Chico's.

See you there!

MAAS event: Two public presentations tonight by a visiting scientist

Maldivian Association for the Advancement of Science (MAAS) has not held a public event for a few weeks now but we resume with activities this week again with two public presentations scheduled for tonight.

The two presentations are by Dr. K. Sivakumar, Assistant Professor at Faculty of Marine Sciences, Annamalai University (India). He specializes in marine actinobacteria.

Marine Actinobacteria from Indian Islands

This is a research presentation on marine actinobacteria (MAB) and will touch on the following:
- Introduction on Actinobacteria & MAB
- Biotechnological Potentials of MAB
- Indian Research on MAB
- Identification (16S rDNA based) of MAB
- Phylogeography of MAB from Andaman, Nicobar and Gulf of Mannar Islands.

Time: 20:30 PM-21:30 PM
Venue: Auditorium, Mandhu College

Climate Change and World Reefs

This lecture will focus on climate change and world reefs and will touch on the following:
- Coral Reefs
- Threats to Coral Reefs
- Climate Change Induced Impacts on Coral Reefs World over
- Darwin Atolls and Climate Change
- Indian reefs

Time: 21:30 PM-22:30 PM
Venue: Auditorium, Mandhu College

Hope to see you there!

Great gathering of four planets this week

I've been asked about the gathering of planets in the sky a few times the past several days and especially today since Sun published an article in Dhivehi on their website. Here's some information that may be useful for those curious to catch it in the sky and hopefully clears up some of the misinformation floating about...

Four of the planets in our Solar System (Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter) have been inching closer together since the second half of last month and will appear in the tightest clustering on the 10th and 11th of May. Unfortunately, the four planets first show themselves on the horizon from the East at 4:15 AM in the Maldives. The best hope of catching them all together is around 4:50 AM - 5:05 AM but the glow of the rising Sun, which is following the four planets closely in the sky, may quickly hinder your ability to observe them so near the horizon. There is a good chance of seeing Venus as it is the brightest, followed by Jupiter while the other two planets may be very hard to spot with the naked eye.

Conjunction of planets - 10th May 2011
View of the four planets from Maldives at 4:50 AM on 10th May 2011
(Generated using Stellarium).

Conjunctions of planets like these happen quite often but a conjunction of 4 planets this close together is considered to be rare. The planets appear to be so close together for us observing from the Earth because all the planets in our Solar System have nearly the same plane of orbit and their orbits around the Sun have lined them them up closely within Earth's perspective - for the moment (see image below).

Solar system as on 10th May 2011
The position of the planets on 10 May 2011
(Generated using the NASA Solar System simulator)

A helpful way to demonstrate or imagine this might be to lay a large object on a table (to represent the Sun), and lay five other small objects (to represent the four planets and the Earth) at different distances away from the large object to represent planets in their orbits. Choose the third small planet object away from the large Sun object, which represents the Earth, and arrange the other small objects so they line up while looking from the perspective of the Earth object but still lie on their own orbital path.

Remember, there is a total lunar eclipse that is visible in the Maldives next month with the penumbral phase beginning at 22:25 PM of 15th June and the total phase beginning at 00:22 AM of 16th June!