Vernal Equinox on Borobudur – The Expedition

The Waluku (Orion) Above the Borobudur
The Waluku (Orion) Above the Borobudur

Borobudur, the name is well known as the Buddhist monument in Indonesian. It is one of world heritage that during the decade of restoraration (between 1973-1983) involved twenty-eight countries, and in 1991 included into the World Heritage by the UNESCO. So many aspects had been studied from this monument, from the spiritual, philosophycal, architectural, and so on, but what about the astronomy? One may argue that Borobudur has nothing to do with astronomy, but as long as no strong arguments to support the lemma, it might be that the opposite can be true; regardless, the relation should be testable.

Recently, during the Vernal Equinox, i was joining the Borobudur expedition with some fellows from astronomy department, ITB. Because of Borobudur is in the central Java, so it took 9 hours land traveled from Bandung, in West Java, well, it was an exciting expedition for us. The main purpose of this expedition is on Irma Hariawang‘s thesis on archeo-astronomy, to figure out the relations between Borobudur and astronomy. And the astronomy-related activities are measuring the Sun on its path in the sky during the VE. For the detail on astronomy, i think it would be prefereable, if we have to wait for Irma’s full report in due time. Instead, i just want to share little things that i have learned during the visit.

Borobudur in Red
Borobudur in Red

The Quest for New Observatory in Eastern Indonesia

Tempus fugit, seems the phrase fits to the situation that revolves around me. True that in such an instant i realize that we already in March 2009! I guess time flies as we realize it or not, the time will move on in its own pace. What have i done recently? The largest proportion of course because of my works, the mounting of paper works, the routinity of observations (in my office), and another project with my fellow from Bosscha observatory. And not to forget project related to IYA 2009, like ‘The Asian Stars Project‘ (compiling the local star-lore). Another project related to archaeo-astronomy on studying Borobudur (as an ancient observatory?).

Not just astronomy, like anyone else, i enjoy the excitement of life, like sports, musics, etc. Maybe we are still in rainy season, so i can not go out toplay tennis, but, hey, i still play chess inside sometimes. But to enjoy sports oftenly we don’t have to do that by ourselves. We can enjoy sports by watching it!

What is the best entertainment show in the world? The answer is, Soccer game!  I always enjoy the game, either local (Persib! Persib!), european leagues (English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Lega Calcio, Bundes Liga, Champion League, you name it). Sometimes boxing also can be fun (congratulation to Chris John for retaining his title, regardless the last one he retain it by a draw vs Rocky Juarez). Btw, i hope Manchester United won’t cancel their plan to visit Jakarta, or i will miss a very exciting game!

What will become the world without music? (At least for me). I might be a bad musician, but i always very fond of music since my childhood. I also involve in Karawitan (Javanese music orchestra), and regularly reherseal every Thursday. Well, those are how things go on regular basis for me.

Now, among those things, there is one thing that keep captivates me. I involve in the team who study the possibility for building new observatory in eastern Indonesia. How many observatories in Indonesia currently? Why have to be in eastern of Indonesia? Why is it so important to build a new one?

And the Debate Continues ..

It has been 400 years since Galileo observed the sky with the telescope, and since that time, the way people look at the sky shifted. In the case: which one is accepted as true in scientific notion, is it Heliocentric or Geocentric? But i will not write about the historical review of Helio-Geocentric, nor Galileo. Nonetheless, after 400 years, the debate about helio-geocentric still ensues, at least in Indonesia.

In 2007 i wrote a popular articles about which one is true based on astronomy finding (written in Indonesia), To my surprise, that article incite a never ending debate about geocentric & heliocentric. There are numerous argument flying around, but from what i have learnt, the case against the heliocentric (or pro geocentric) mostly stemmed from the lack of basic understanding of science. Disregard that both helio or geocentric can be accepted because to some degree both are explainable, and science cannot claim absolute knowledge, science is always open to falsification. So the case is not pro or against one or the other, but to give the proper understanding about the phenomenon.

As for Galileo, his endeavor to uncover the knowledge, is like the astronomers from the ancient time up to the recent, always try to unveil the universe in the scientific understanding, so it is always open to debate, because while they uncover some new knowledge, another mystery wait to be answered. Long ago human perceived that the Earth is the center to the universe, but they have to move the center to the Sun. But , we learn that there is no center of the universe, as the Sun also moves to the center of the Milkyway Galaxy, and that our galaxy is merely one from many many galaxies in the universe, and so on and so on. Well, that is the legacy of astronomy, to unveil the mystery of the universe that we know (and not fully understand yet). One can argue about one thing compared to another, and the debate continues ..

But, wait! Am i discussing about the debate of helio-geocentric? well yes, because on Feb 15th is the Galileo’s birthday, but there are other debatable issues that i found interesting to write.

Living Inside the Sun

The news from THEMIS last time caught my attention, why? Because that would change on we look on the solar wind. I will not dwell much on the finding, but in brief, if previously thought, that when the sun’s magnetic field is aligned with that of the Earth, the shield is up and that few if any solar particles enter Earth’s magnetic shield. Oppositely, the shield is down when the solar magnetic field direction points opposite to Earth’s field, leading to more solar particles inside the shield. But this no longer the case because of recent observations by the THEMIS spacecraft fleet demonstrate that the opposite is true.

It’s a Gong Xi Fa Cai Eclipse

The Anyer Lighthouse 1885
The Anyer Lighthouse 1885

On 26th of January 2009, there’s an eclipse occured in Indonesian, and on the same time that day celebrated as the Chinese New Year, so it was a Gong Xi Fa Cai (恭喜發財) eclipse. For those who celebrate the new year, happy new year! Hope this year will bring prosperity to you. For many chinese that i know, usually they hope for rain on the new year, the more the rain, the more prosper they will, but i think many chinese in Indonesia had made an exception on that day, because there was an eclipse around.

Cik Cik Periuk

Cik Cik Periuk is Indonesian child song, from the province of West Kalimantan. I never know the meaning of that song, nor remember the whole lyrics, except the first part:

Cik Cik Periuk,
Bilanga sumping dari Jawe
datang nek kacibok
bawa kapiting dua eko’ ..

but i always like the music. Why did i suddenly remember this song? Well, things came out randomly on random occation, in random time, because of random driver. *grinning*