It’s a Gong Xi Fa Cai Eclipse
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.
For this eclipse, my office together with other institutions, communities, schools, etc join the observational activity in several sites, coordinated by the Bosscha Observatory, so more people can observe the moment, not just from the observational site, not just from the country, not just on that moment only, but as long as there is an internet access, one can observe the annular eclipse. See this site for the compilation of the eclipse observation from several sites in Indonesia. Surely there were more observers of the eclipse, amateur, professional, children, mature, you name it, surely the eclipse is belong to all.
As for my office, we observed in two places, the Anyer lighthouse, and the main office in Bandung. The goal of our observation in the Anyer was to obtain the near real time images, and directly sent to the server, both in our office, and in the Bosscha Observatory. During the time, there were also other teams also observed from the surrounding area, like the Malaysian team, with their National Eclipse Tracker Team (NETT), and the team of Prof. Jay M. Pasachoff (Williams College–Hopkins Observatory & Chair of IAU Working Group on Eclipses).
Because the emphasize of our activity was on public domain, so we share the observation with the Forum Guru Pembina Astronomy Bandung (Bandung Forum for Astronomy Teachers) and in the same time there were numerous groups, like the Rukyatul Hilal Indonesia (RHI/Indonesian Hilal (new moon for the purpose of Islamic calendar) Observers group), families, students, and not to forget the media! So we share the fun, while sharing the knowledge with other. It was a fiesta, an eclipse carnival for all. As the matter of fact, our activity also had been covered by Metro TV, a large TV company in Indonesia. See here for the news.
But, does that mean the awareness of eclipse as the phenomenon of science is accepted by general public? Maybe it won’t be easy to answer the question, because also tied to sosio-cultural characteristic of the people, however the brief answer can be obtained from another TV company. In the simplest answer, how people perceive the eclipse was merely an attraction, without further query on ‘scientific’ meaning. During a recent show on another TV station, they stated that those who observed the eclipse just like people without better thing to do, so, instead of peeking the eclipse, better to peeking on the candidate for the next general election. Uh well ..
Not just as a scientific event, but my last experiences with eclipse also bring another perspective on how people perceive the nature, as for the Moslems, they still spare their time to pray for the moment during the event, as they call it Sholat Gerhana. I think the moment can bring people closer to the spirituality somehow. My fellow Malaysian said that we succeeded to observe the eclipse because of there were two Grand Muftis (Religion Advisor for the King for Religious issue) in his group, and the RHI in our side, so the God gave His blessing to all of the observers in our site, surely he was joking, but to some degree there’s a spirituality involved in the process.
Well, the eclipse can only happen in one place after many years, as in Indonesia the moment only last for around 6 minutes, and for our location, only last for around 2 minutes, and for the next big eclipse in Indonesia, we should wait until 2016. Can we learn something from that moment? As Prof. Pasachoff said to me, two minutes is enough. Yes, the nature is providing us with the opportunity to learn about it, and it is always enough, and the rest will depend on us to salvage the knowledge and to have understanding about the nature phenomenon.
For the pictures of eclipse from my team can be seen from here.
And finally my personal project in youtube.
- Annular Solar Eclipse Indonesia | anyer lighthouse | berita TV soal gerhana | Bosscha observatory | forum guru pembina astronomi bandung | general election 2009 | gerhana matahari cincin | Gong Xi Fa Cai | IAU Working Group on Eclipses | LAPAN Bandung | National Eclipse Tracker Team | pemilu 2009 | public education | public observation | rukyatul hilal indonesia | Williams College--Hopkins Observatory | 恭喜發財 eclipse