Yesterday, May 16, 2010, the only astronomical event this year involving a major planet was witnessed by everyone in the Philippines – the occultation of Venus by the Moon. Or in English, the eclipsing of Venus by the Moon.
This event was particularly witnessed by the Asean Nations and as far as India. The view here in the Philippines was great and memorable that even non-astronomers – who for the most part takes the evening sky for granted – were looking up in the sky and taking pictures of the Moon and Venus before and after the occultation.
An hour and thirteen minutes after Aseans and China welcomes the New Year 2010, we will be treated with a rare New Year’s Day Blue Moon. No, Earth’s Moon will not turn color Blue, it has nothing to do with color (if it turns color Blue, then it is because of Earth’s atmosphere at that time). What “Blue Moon” means is that it is the second Full Moon in a single month.
This January 2010 Blue Moon is rare because it falls on New Year’s Day (or New Year’s Eve depending on where you are). This type of Blue Moons only occurs every 19 years, the last was in 1990/1991 and the next will be on 2028/2029.
Last night between 9:30 and 10:00 in the evening, we were staring at the starry skies in front of SM Mall of Asia while reminiscing the things that happened this year 2009 and the 2000 decade. During our conversation, I noticed a big and bright red star at first I thought that it was some red light from a communication tower or antennæ.
Inspecting closer (my eyes have zooming capabilities :p ) I noticed that it wasn’t what I thought it was and it wasn’t twinkling either. I got excited because I knew then that I was looking at humanity’s dream – Planet Mars!
You know the Planet Saturn right? That gas giant in the outer section of our solar system with beautiful rings? Yes, the planet after Jupiter and before Uranus? Good, now you remember. Have you ever wondered what it will be like to live on a planet with rings as beautiful as Saturn’s? Have you ever pictured in your mind how the rings will look like from the perspective of someone standing on that planet?
I did and I still do to this day.
But how about putting those Saturn rings right here on our own Planet Earth? What would the sky be like in our own very familiar world with huge rings above us? How about during the night? Will it be awesome or scary? Earth with rings, hmm…