Saturn Watch event on 2nd April at Artificial Beach, Male'

The Maldivian Association for the Advancement of Science (MAAS) will host a Saturn Watch event on 2nd April to participate in the series of similar events being held across the world to mark the Global Astronomy Month (GAM). The event will run from 8pm to 23:30pm at the abandoned stage area South-East of Mr. Chico's at the Artificial Beach in Male'. The event features an opportunity to view Saturn through a telescope, listen to presentations and explore the planets and night sky through interactive media.

Saturn, the 6th planet from the Sun and 3rd planet from the Earth, is a very unique planet in our Solar System and shines bright in the night sky with a reddish tint. Saturn is classed as a gas-giant as it is mostly made up of Helium and Hydrogen gas and not solid matter like the Earth - which does mean that you would not be able to stand on it and there is no surface to stand on as such. It takes Saturn about 30 Earth years (nearly 11,000 days!) to complete a revolution around the Sun. Saturn has beautiful prominent rings around it, made up of particles of mostly water ice, that is both surreal and humbling to look at through a telescope. Also beautiful to see is Titan, one of Saturn's 62 moons, which can be seen to be hanging speck of light just a little bit away from Saturn.

The Global Astronomy Month, which has its roots in the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) which was celebrated internationally in 2009, is dedicated to astronomy and observing the sky and is organised by Astronomers Without Borders. There is a host of global events scheduled for GAM2011 and MAAS will be participating in several with local events.

Come and join us on the day to get a glimpse of Saturn, its surreal rings and at least one of its moons! And if you are keen on stargazing and would like to learn a few constellations, remember to ask about the Crux (Southern Cross), Scorpio and the Big Dipper which are currently visible in the night sky.

View Saturn Watch Event in a larger map

Moon Viewing event on 19th March at Hulhumale'

The Maldivian Association for the Advancement of Science (MAAS) is organising an event to view and explore the Moon through telescopes on Saturday 19th March, when the Moon's orbit brings it closest to the Earth it has been in 18 years. The Moon will actually reach perigee (its closest orbital approach to Earth) at 12:10 AM, the 20th March.

The Moon is the Earth's only natural satellite and formed about 4.5 billion years ago as a result of what is very likely to have been a collision between the proto-Earth and a slightly smaller-sized proto-planet whose orbit brought about a collision of the two bodies. The Moon orbits the Earth at a distance of about 30 times the diameter of the Earth and takes 27.3 days to complete its elliptical orbit around Earth. The elliptical orbit means that the Moon travels to the position nearest to the Earth, called the Perigee, and the position furthest from Earth, called the Apogee, once every 2 weeks. Moreover, because the plane of this elliptical orbit also rotates through several years, the perigee and apogee distances also change from year to year. The Moon's orbit will take it as close as 356,577 km away from Earth on 19th March. However, the Moon came much closer, at 356,529 km, on 8th March 1993 and will come even closer, at 356,511 km, on 14th November 2016.

The MAAS Moon viewing event will take place in Hulhumale', on the grounds used to hold the night market (see location on map). The moon viewing starts at 8PM and will go on until 11:30PM. There will be presentations about the moon about every 15 minutes to help everyone get a better understanding.

See you there!