Stargazing in Metro Manila; This Years' National Astronomy Week Brings Us Belief, Students and Our Own 16-Inch Telescope

Manila Bulletin, February 27, 2005 | Go to article overview

Stargazing in Metro Manila; This Years' National Astronomy Week Brings Us Belief, Students and Our Own 16-Inch Telescope


Byline: CHARISSA M. LUCI

Not just a hobby, but an endless and conscientious awareness of the uniqueness and fragility of the universe, particularly the Earth, our home planet, and constant upliftment of lives of the Filipinos, especially the youth.

This is how the officials and members of the Philippine Astronomical Society (PAS), a 34-year-old stargazing club in the country, define astronomy.

The PAS celebrated their National Astronomy Week from Feb. 19 to 26, with a leitmotif "Astronomy, Its Enriching Role in Mans Society."

"We are working to raise awareness of the public in science. Most Filipino youth engage in vices. By having this kind of celebration focused on science consciousness, we are already helping alleviate the situation. Morally speaking, this could be one of the help that we can derive at," said Engr. Camilo G. Dacanay, PAS president in an interview during the launching of public stargazing dubbed "Astronomiya sa Kalsada" on Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

Astronomiya for youth devt

Astronomiya sa Kalsada, one of the highlights of the celebration of the 12th National Astronomy Week, aims to bring awareness that astronomy is not just a study of heavenly bodies but a mere conduit for emulating the hibernating and hidden potentials of the youth to partake into the countrys race towards development.

Dacanay said the youth having been victims of various vices could have an alternative to emulate their lives through participating in such enjoyable and educational activity like public stargazing.

"Our society can only give them alternative by bringing out our telescopes around and give opportunity to everyone to look at the telescope and try to see the things they have not seen here on earth, some things that are beyond their perception," Dacanay said.

The PAS team brought along with them various telescopes, such as fourinch refractor, and shorttubed refractor, both could be used to barely see the moon; and five-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain and eight-inch refractor in viewing the ringed-planet Saturn. The public stargazing started at 7 p.m. until 12 midnight on Roxas Boulevard. They also launched its second leg at The Fort, Taguig City last Feb. 24 in parallel to UPs "Astro Tambayan" at the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory, University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, Quezon City.

"We do this kind of public viewing or stargazing to bring awareness to our people that astronomy is vital, helping them to recuperate their lives," said membership chairman Hernan Dizon while expressing hopes that PAS will "act as the catalyst in promoting astronomy."

Wanting to make PAS an authority when it comes to astronomy, Dizon shared that their priority at present is "to build a scientific community managed by Filipinos."

A senior high school student, Rodolfo Anthony M. Semira, who bagged the first prize in Astro Quiz, urged his fellow youth to be closer to astronomy, citing that "venturing the unknown through astronomy is a fulfilling experience."

Astronomical beliefs

Nich Bhawnani, an Indian, 26, who hails from Cagayan Valley in Tuguegarao just to participate in the public stargazing, shared that moon determines what occurrences will happen on earth.

"Actually the situation that happened the past few months regarding the tsunami incident, in our astronomical belief, theres real great importance in looking for the sign of the moon," Bhawnani related.

He further said that every culture and religion Muslims, Indian, Buddhist, and Christians have their own astronomical belief that "there are great factors for the moon for itself."

"There is a real great importance in looking for the symbol of the moon," he said, believing that moon has something to do with the natural occurrences.

In Indian culture, moon and earth is like a "united family," he said.

"So the moon symbolizes for unity. …

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