Many flights to catch rare sight of solar eclipse

Mr Yuen and Ms Laurentcia intend to film a solar eclipse that can be observed from various parts of the region on Wednesday morning, but especially well in Central Sulawesi.
Mr Yuen and Ms Laurentcia intend to film a solar eclipse that can be observed from various parts of the region on Wednesday morning, but especially well in Central Sulawesi.PHOTO: NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

Duo taking three flights just to get to Luwuk in Indonesia to film event for Singaporeans

For a rare sighting, two students from the physics department of the National University of Singapore (NUS) will board three different flights just to get to the town of Luwuk in Indonesia.

Their mission: to film a solar eclipse that can be observed from various parts of the region on Wednesday morning, but especially well in Central Sulawesi.

If weather permits, Mr Edmund Yuen, 24, and Ms Laurentcia Arlany, 23, will broadcast a live feed home to Singapore, where up to 1,000 people are expected to be watching it.

Why go through all the effort to film the eclipse in Luwuk? Ms Laurentcia said: "Seeing a total solar eclipse is a rare opportunity, and it will be a different view from what people will see in Singapore, which is only partial."

Solar eclipses occur when the Moon travels between the Sun and Earth, forming a shadow on the Earth's surface. The solar eclipse is a rarity in Singapore, and will occur on Wednesday from about 7.20am to about 9.30am, with maximum obscurity at 8.23am, where 87 per cent of the Sun is expected to be covered.

The view of the solar eclipse varies in different locations across the region depending on where one is in the Moon's shadow.

  • Common myths about eclipses

  • In ancient times, eclipses, both solar and lunar, were associated with bad omens. Before the science of astronomy emerged, early civilisations across Eastern and Western cultures interpreted them as supernatural phenomena.

    In those times, it was common for the apparent disappearance of the sun - the primary source of life - to cause panic. A common interpretation involved animals or demons devouring the sun. The Vikings thought solar eclipses were caused by wolves eating the sun, while the ancient Chinese believed a dragon was devouring it.

    In other tales, mischievous elements were supposedly trying to steal the sun or moon.

    Eclipses still have an impact on certain religions today.

    In Singapore, the four temples under the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) will be closed for services during a lunar eclipse that is expected on March 23.

    Temples across the island have been informed of the eclipse times by HEB as well, in order for them to observe the necessary religious procedures during the event.

    Ng Keng Gene

 

Across the island, various groups are preparing to view the solar eclipse, which last occurred in January 2009.

Science Centre Singapore is expecting a few thousand to turn up at its event, beginning at 7.30am. Visitors will be provided solar glasses for safe viewing of the eclipse.

Other viewing events open to the public include Solar Eclipse 2016 @ NUS, which will kick off the day before with an astrophotography exhibition starting at 2pm at the Faculty of Science. NUS has also planned public lectures, followed by an overnight star-gazing session in the build-up to the eclipse. At Labrador Park, the Astronomical Society of Singapore will be hosting a viewing session that begins at 7am.

At the NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, students and staff will watch it together.

Students Matthew Sung, Felicia Tai, both 16, and Jovan Yeo, 17, said the event would bring together their interest in astronomy as well as help them learn about the cultural significance of the eclipse through an exhibition the school is holding.

"We definitely hope for clear skies on Wednesday!" they chimed in unison.

SEE SCIENCE

Watch the way you watch a solar eclipse

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2016, with the headline 'Many flights to catch rare sight of solar eclipse'. Print Edition | Subscribe