Stargazer gets a shot at moment in history

KUALA LUMPUR (The Star – page 3): Amateur stargazer Bobby Chiam was so excited over the longest total solar eclipse of the century that he set up two telescopes on his balcony early in the morning to catch the rising sun.

Chiam, 66, did not seem to mind that he could not get a good view of the full eclipse from his Bukit Jalil condominium.

Checking it out: Six-year-old Ahmad Ali Karim from Kuala Terengganu looking through a telescope to catch the solar eclipse at Kuala Ibai in Terengganu as (from right) his mother Asmahan Ahmad and siblings, 14-year-old Aiman Amani, Aesha Adlina, 11, and Anisas Afifah, eight, look on.

The eclipse in Malaysia was only a partial one with only 8% visibility in the Klang Valley.

“I feel like this is a moment in history and I am able to be part of it,” he said yesterday.

Despite the pouring rain that clouded the skies around 6am to 7am, Chiam and his five friends remained optimistic.

They were finally rewarded with good images of the partial eclipse as it was ending.

The group also recorded the historic event as it was being shown ‘live’ on television.

The eclipse as seen from Terengganu at 9.45am.

Chiam’s 15-year love affair with astronomy has seen him start two astronomy societies, Starhunter and Starfinder, besides starting up a business, Stargazer Scientific Sdn Bhd, which distributes astronomy equipment like telescopes, binoculars and lenses.

“This is my very first eclipse viewing,” said David Chan, 36, an IT director, as he looked at the sky while wearing eclipse shades for safety.

“Stargazing is a good way of releasing stress and improving my knowledge.”

The first contact in the Klang Valley occurred at 8.28am while the third ended at 9.48am.

Meanwhile, National Planetarium science officer Fazilah Mohammad Hanafiah reported minute viewings of the partial eclipse due to the bad weather and haze that clouded the skies in the Klang Valley.

In Kuala Terengganu, the solar eclipse viewing at Pantai Kuala Ibai had a turnout of around 1,500 people, including about 800 Universiti Darul Iman Malaysia students.

“Although we missed the maximum contact viewing, we managed to capture some images around 9.40am when the skies cleared up,” said Pusat Sains dan Kreatif Terengganu science executive Misbah Imran Mohammad.

Longest Total Solar Eclipse in the 21st Century

The longest total solar eclipse in the 21st century happened today (22nd July, 2009/ July 22nd, 2009)! The path of the Moon’s umbral shadow begins in India and crosses through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China and left the Asia mainland before passing through Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and curves southeast through the Pacific Ocean where the maximum duration of totality reaches 6 min 39 s. And the broader path of the Moon’s penumbral shadow covers most of eastern Asia, Indonesia, and the Pacific Ocean (including Malaysia!).

An animation of the eclipse

An animation of the eclipse

I attended the Solar Eclipse viewing program in Kuala Ibai, Terengganu at Tengku Tengah Zaharah Mosque (Masjid terapung) organised by the Jabatan Mufti Terengganu, Jabatan Ukur dan Pemetaan Terengganu and Universiti Darul Iman Malaysia. The details were as written below:

In Kuala Terengganu,
First Contact – 8:24 am (when the Moon first “touches” the Sun’s limb)
Maximum Eclipse – 9:08 am (when the Moon covers the Sun’s disk the most; 13%)
Last Contact – 9:56 am (when the Moon “leaves” the Sun)

While in Kuala Lumpur, the details differ slightly:

First Contact – 8:29 am (when the Moon first “touches” the Sun’s limb)
Maximum Eclipse – 9:07 am (when the Moon covers the Sun’s disk the most; 8%)
Last Contact – 9:48 am (when the Moon “leaves” the Sun)

An animation of the solar eclipse.

Another animation of the solar eclipse.

We arrived at the program around 8:40 am but were unable to get a view of the eclipse as the sky was too cloudy. Luckily, at about 9:40 am, the clouds cleared away giving us a view of the eclipse before the clouds covered the sun again. There were six telescopes set for the program and 1500 people attended the program too.

The reason for this long eclipse is simply because now is July; a time when the Sun is farthest away from Earth (aphelion), thus is smallest in size. And the Moon also just passes it nearest point to Earth (perigee), thus it looks big in our sky. When a small Sun is blocked by a big Moon, the Moon will have more time to block the Sun.

The next total solar eclipse shall occur in 2132! That’s 123 more years to come (what a beautiful number!). That’s why I feel so lucky to be able to experience this eclipse. It shall be an unforgettable memory which I shall treasure in my heart forever and ever…

HELP!!! HELP!!! HELP!!! HELP!!! HELP!!! HELP!!! HELP!!!

!!!PLEASE HELP MY GRANDMOTHER’S BOOKSTORE!!!

!!!SAVE IT FROM BEING DEMOLISHED BY THE TRENGGANU GOVERNMENT!!!

!!!PLEASE HELP ALAM AKADEMIK SDN BHD (THE OLDEST BOOKSHOP IN TERENGGANU – ALMOST A HUNDRED YEARS OLD)!!!

Yesterday, we received a letter telling us to move away in 30 days from 13th July 2009. Later, we’ve found out that our neighbours received the letter too. Not only they forced to leave within such a short time but it is a historical building. They had already demolished a lot of old historical building and they are increasing the number.

”]Those buildings with X had already been demoliished. The arrow shows the building to be demolished. [old photo in 1960s showing flooding in the area]

They should protect these buildings and promote them as tourists attraction. I am disappointed  with the Terengganu Government. If they wanted to create modernised buildings, there are lots more empty lots they could use. If this is how the government handle situations… no wonder Terengganu is no longer a peaceful place. No wonder the buildings collapse and the number of problems are overwhelming as they never think before they do anyting.

!!!SEND IN YOUR THOUGHTS (via comment)!!!

!!!DON’T LET TERENGGANU’S HISTORIES BECOME TERENGGANU MYSTERIES!!!

Major Quake Strikes Off New Zealand

(CNN) — A major earthquake struck off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island Wednesday night, rattling residents and prompting a tsunami warning that was later canceled.

The 7.8-magnitude quake generated a small, 6-inch tsunami in Jackson Bay, on the west coast of South Island and a 2-inch tsunami reported in the Tasman Sea to the north of the epicenter, according to the the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Twenty minutes after the tremor, a 5.8-magnitude aftershock struck the same region, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which measures earthquakes around the world.

Australia has warned residents on an island between its east coast and New Zealand to head to higher ground in case of a tsunami.

The initial quake struck around 8:22 p.m. local time (9:22 a.m. UTC/5:22 a.m. ET) and its epicenter was located 150 km (95 miles) west-northwest of Invercargill, according to the USGS. It is a sparsely populated area of New Zealand.

The aftershock struck in about the same area, according to the USGS.

A tsunami warning was issued for New Zealand as a precaution shortly after the initial quake, but was canceled about an hour and a half later.

The warning center said the tsunamis that were generated “may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter.”

But, it added, local authorities can assume the threat has passed “for those areas when no major waves are observed for two hours after the estimated time of arrival or damaging waves have not occurred for at least two hours.”

Australia’s Lord Howe Island — located more than 600 km (350 miles ) off its east coast — is under a land and marine tsunami warning, the Australian government’s meteorological bureau said. People living in low-lying areas are advised to head to higher ground, while those on the coast should travel inland as a precaution.

So far, there have been no reports of major damage.

The temblor shook buildings in Queenstown — located about 110 miles northwest of the epicenter — and scared residents who ran into the streets, according to the New Zealand Herald.

The quake, which was felt across South Island, downed power and phone lines, the newspaper reported.

“It wasn’t very violent, more of a rolling feel,” Simon Darby, a resident of the inland town of Wanaka, told the Herald. “But it had a power about it — I ran straight outside into the carpark.”

A resident of Invercargill told Television New Zealand that the quake lasted about a minute.

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“Things just started to rattle a bit, then the house started to sway,” the man told TVNZ. He said he and his wife got their three young children out of bed and huddled under a table during the quake, according to the network.

The quake cracked part of his house around the door frames.