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What do you want to be when you grow up? For sure, some kids would say: to become an astronaut. In fact, we all probably dreamed of the same thing at some point in our lives. There’s something about outer space that fascinates us. Proof of this are all the space-oriented books, movies and TV shows present in our pop culture.
 
But space exploration entails great discipline. Astronauts are trained through a human spaceflight program to either command, pilot or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft. If you’re one of those dreaming to become an astronaut, here are some of the things you need to do before handing in that application:
 
STUDY FIRST!
One of the basic requirements of being an astronaut is having a bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the International Space Station (ISS) can only accommodate six persons at a time because each exploration is quite pricey. That is why it is vital for NASA to send only highly qualified individuals to ensure the success of the mission.
 
BE PHYSICALLY FIT.
For obvious reasons, being healthy and fit is also one of NASA’s basic requirements to become an astronaut. You must have:
• A distant visual acuity of 20/100 or better uncorrected, correctable to 20/20 each eye
• A sitting blood pressure of 140/190
• Height between 62 and 75 inches tall
These basic physical characteristics ensure that you would be able to perform your job well while you are in orbit. An emergency flight back to earth due to a health concern may not be feasible.
 
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Astronauts in training
Image source: www.wordpress.com; www.jsc.nasa.gov
 
MORE TRAINING!
Once accepted into the program, you can’t be called a full-fledged astronaut just yet. Candidates must undergo a two-year rigid training in order to be space-ready. This includes learning about the International Space Station and the basics of spaceflight. Candidates also undergo military water training, swimming tests and are exposed to extreme conditions, such as high and low atmospheric pressures. These rigorous activities are designed to prepare potential astronauts to what they may experience in orbit.
 
However, there’s no assurance that right after training, successful astronauts will immediately go to space. Most of NASA’s astronauts work as support crew to other astronauts in orbit. This is another form of training for them to gain more knowledge and skills so that when it’s their turn to fly into orbit, they will be better equipped.
 
Once an astronaut is scheduled for a mission, he spends a few more years of training, which includes more classroom learning and simulation trainings—but this time, these would be held all over the world. He will also get a chance to train with his crewmates so they will be more familiar with each other and their specific responsibilities.
 
It should also be noted that astronauts don’t just spend their time working solely with NASA. They also work with the agency’s international partners, such as training facilities in Canada.
 
We all know that the universe is vast with hidden mysteries waiting to be discovered. If you dream of being an astronaut, you must be dedicated enough to face all the challenges that you might encounter. When you love what you’re doing, you’ll be able to surpass everything in order to reach your dream—and yes, even outer space.
 
 
Sources:
http://www.space.com/25786-how-to-become-an-astronaut.html
https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/postsecondary/features/F_Astronaut_Requirements.html
http://science.howstuffworks.com/question5341.htm
https://www.quora.com/Why-do-NASA-astronauts-need-to-have-a-degree-in-math-or-science
 
 
By: Jeroh P. Hiyastro – Panahon.TV Intern

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Every year on August, astronomy enthusiasts look forward to a spectacular event known as the Perseid Meteor Shower.
 
But 2016 is not a usual year for sky spectators.
 
In a press statement, NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke dubbed this year’s most popular meteor shower of the year as a surge. “This Perseid outburst coming up in August — you could think of it in simplistic terms as Jupiter’s gravity causing the particles to concentrate in front of Earth’s path… this year, instead of seeing about 80 Perseids per hour, the rate could top 150 and even approach 200 meteors per hour.”
 
perseid
 
Originating from the constellation Perseus (named after the Greek mythological hero), a few Perseids can be typically seen each night between July 17 and August 24. This year, its peak will happen on August 13.
 
In an interview with PanahonTV, PAGASA Space Sciences and Astronomy Section (SSAS) Chief Engr. Dario L. dela Cruz said that Perseid meteor shower will peak between 11:00 PM of August 12 until 5:00 AM of August 13.
 
However, the weather condition will play an important role for spectators in the Philippines. Currently, the southwest monsoon or habagat prevails in the country, bringing cloudy skies and rains especially over the western part.
 
“Depende sa weather. Kapag maulap, mahirap makita. May iba, ‘yung malalaking meteors, tatagos sa ulap.” (It depends on the weather. We’ll hardly see under cloudy skies, but large meteors might streak through clouds.)
 
Those who are lucky might see roughly 50 meteors per hour under favorable sky conditions.
 
In case you’ll miss the event, NASA will launch an online live streaming which can be accessed through this link: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc
 
 
 
REFERENCES:
http://www.space.com/32868-perseid-meteor-shower-guide.html
http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph/index.php/transparency/about-pagasa/28-astronomy/424-sky-this-month

 
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In case some of your wishes have yet to come true, try casting them on some shooting stars this week!
 
Meteors, also known as “falling stars” or “shooting stars”, are streaks of light caused by tiny bits of dust and rock called meteoroids falling into the Earth’s atmosphere. If any part of the meteoroid survives burning up after hitting the Earth, that remaining bit is called a meteorite.
 
The belief of wishing upon shooting stars dates back to around AD 127 to 151 when Greek astronomer Ptolemy wrote that occasionally, out of curiosity or even boredom, the gods peer down at the Earth from between the spheres. Stars sometimes slip out of this gap, flashing towards the earth.
 
 
SOUTHERN DELTA AQUARIDS METEORS
 
On its website, PAGASA announced that the Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower will occur from July 28 to 31, and is estimated to peak starting on the late night of July 29 until early July 30.
 
These meteors will originate from the constellation Aquarius, the Water Bearer.
delta
 
(photo from PAGASA)
 
BEST VIEW
 
Though the bright moon might interfere with the activity, those who are lucky might spot about 15 meteors per hour under good sky conditions.
 
According to astronomy website sky.org, the best viewing window for the Southern Delta Aquarids meteor shower from any time zone is between 2:00 to 3:00AM.
 
Before the shower’s peak, find an open sky, away from artificial lights. You may simply look upward at the window or lie down on a reclining chair.
 
Enjoy this astronomical event and remember to share with us your photos!
 
 
 
REFERENCES:

http://earthsky.org/?p=159138
http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph/index.php/astronomy/astronomy-in-the-philippines/28-astronomy/424-sky-this-month
http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/questions/question12.html

Photo credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Photo credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

What is the origin of the universe? This was the question that piqued my curiosity and inspired me to study the immensity of space and time. This inquisitiveness fueled my passion for the universe and the unlimited dimensions it held. Everything about it fascinated me: how it worked, how it grew, and many more. I fell in love with the idea of endless discovery.


When I was in grade school, I attended an event entitled “Astro Camp”, where I was given a chance to peek into a telescope for the first time. This was how my love for astronomy began.

When I was in my last year in high school, when my batchmates were critically eyeing the courses they wanted to pursue, I was already certain that I should follow my second love, education. Because of monetary problems, I was willing to relegate my love for astronomy to the backseat. Since it’s not a typical field of study here in the Philippines, limited jobs are offered after graduation.

I tried to submit an application for my college admission at the Philippine Normal University to study education. Unfortunately, when I arrived there, I found out they no longer accept applicants. Then I went to the Rizal Technological University (RTU) – the only institute that offered BS Astronomy at that time – to pursue what I really wanted. Despite having limited cash for my daily trips, I strived to reach my goal. After a month of battling with life’s uncertainties, I finally got in.

I believed that the risk I took was a blessing in disguise. In my early college years, I joined different events which allowed me to expose my talents and abilities. I grew as a person and developed my innate proficiencies such as leadership and confidence. Learning astronomy is not easy unless you have the desire to study it. I firmly believe that whatever course you choose, as long as you really love what you are doing, everything else will fall into place.


BS Astronomy is not just about fascination with the cosmos, it also has its practical use. In our earlier years in this program, we studied the subject, “Solar System,” where comparative planetology was discussed. We analyzed the weather systems in different planets and their capabilities to host life. Detections of exoplanets – planets outside the solar system – was also discussed. Scientists nowadays are keen to find out other places in the universe where life can possibly thrive. Astronomers are also finding ways to prolong the existence of life on Earth. Hence, we have a meteorology subject that deals with the study of the planet’s weather systems, including climate change and disaster awareness.

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Sample Images I took as I study astronomy in RTU
Sample Images I took as I study astronomy in RTU

As the country’s pioneering institute that offered a degree in Astronomy, RTU had only three graduates in its first batch. The University’s department of Earth and Space Sciences (DESS) was established by Dr. Jesus Rodrigo F. Torres, the Vice President for Academic Affairs at that time. Together with recognized physicists, chemists and other scientists passionate about astronomy, they formally introduced the BS Astronomy Technology to the RTU community in 2007. Two years later the RTU-DESS has its very own student organization, the RTU-Astronomy Society, dedicated to spread the idea and exquisiteness of space. The RTU-DESS used to send students to different international activities and seminars annually. Its members also organized outreach programs that aim to disseminate facts and information about astronomy to the public.

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Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences
Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences

Astronomical Equipment used for observations and researches
Astronomical Equipment used for observations and researches

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Last school year, in 2015, the New Era University (NEU), located in Quezon City, also introduced astronomy to their academe. NEU experienced the same struggle RTU encountered: due to the small amount of people who knew about astronomy, there were only few students who enrolled in their program. In spite of this, I remain hopeful that in the near future, astronomy will be a well-known course in the Philippines, and that more young people will be captivated by the mysteries it offers.

When I graduate next year, in 2017, I want to pursue my studies in astronomy by obtaining a scholarship in a master’s degree program. I would like to see myself in my late 20’s as a doctor of philosophy in the field of astronomy, and to be an educator in the different universities here in the Philippines. This way I will finally able to meld my two loves: astronomy and education.

It is true what they say about learning, that it never ends. I still may not know how the universe began, but the process of exploring the answers is one that I will never tire of.

Jeroh P. Hiyastro
5th year student, BS Astronomy Technology, RTU


“I really love the mysteries that the universe holds and I also enjoy sharing them to other people.”

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The tail-end of a cold front now affects Mindanao, bringing cloudy skies with light to moderate rain showers, particularly over the regions of Northern Mindanao, CARAGA and Central Visayas, as well in the provinces of Leyte and Negros Occidental.

Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will be experiencing fair weather conditions, apart from isolated light rains due to the prevailing northeast monsoon.

The remaining parts of Visayas and Mindanao can expect partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms in the following hours.

Meanwhile, State Meteorologist Buddy Javier says that although the satellite shows a cluster of clouds outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility, it has a low chance of developing into a low pressure area.

THE JANUARY NIGHT SKY

On this first week of 2015, the northern hemisphere night sky is favored by the first meteor shower of the year.

The annual Quadrantid meteor shower has been active since January 1 and will last until January 7. Peaking on the first weekend of the year, between midnight and dawn of January 3 and 4, a rate of at least 40 meteors per hour can be seen, says Engr. Dario Dela Cruz, PAGASA Space Sciences and Astronomy Section Chief.

However, the almost fully illuminated moon hinders the display this year, making visibility a challenge to avid skywatchers, except for a very short window of peak activity.

The said meteor shower was named after the extinct 17th century constellation Quadrans Muralis or the Wall Quadrant.

Longest Day

The official onset of the winter season in the northern hemisphere began today, December 22, 2014 at 7:03 AM (PST)

Engr. Dario Dela Cruz, PAGASA Space Sciences and Astronomy Section Chief, says the Philippines will start to experience longer nights as the sun reaches the winter solstice today.

The word solstice is derived from the Latin words sol, which means “sun,” and sistere meaning to “stand still.” Therefore, solstice literally translates into “the sun stands still.”

The winter solstice is an astronomical phenomenon, which occurs every year, signaling the shortest day and the longest night in the northern hemisphere in December, and June in the southern hemisphere.

Simply put, while winter begins in the northern hemisphere today, summer starts in the southern hemisphere.

During the winter solstice, the northern hemisphere leans the farthest away from the sun, bringing longer nights and lower temperatures for people living in the northern hemisphere. The opposite happens in the southern hemisphere where people experience the longest day.

The changing seasons are caused, not by the distance of the Earth from the Sun, but by the tilt of the earth. Aside from the solstices which occur during June and December, we also experience equinoxes in the months of March and September, which results to an approximately equal duration of night and day time.

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THE ANCIENT TRADITIONS

Some solstice traditions are celebrated in cognizance of this important astronomical occurrence. Since ancient times, the “rebirth of the Sun” is commemorated in a variety of ways.

The ancient Egyptians, for one, celebrates the return of Ra, the god of the Sun, after recovering from his supposed illness. The Romans, on the other hand, holds the ancient festival of Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of Agriculture. The latter is closely related with the modern Christmas celebration during which gift giving is a key aspect.

In Scandinavia, Norse families light Yule logs and feast until the logs burn out, which could take as long as 12 days. Meanwhile, for the Chinese, an important festival called Dong Zhi or the arrival of winter is a perfect time for families to get together to celebrate the past year.

Photo credit: JV Noriega
Photo credit: JV Noriega

Throughout history, mankind has been fascinated with the Moon. In the field of arts alone, the Moon is a constant inspiration, sparking the creation of poems and fantasy stories, love songs, and mythology.

Its symbolism is as rich and varied as its phases—a howling wolf’s shadow cast against a looming full Moon heralds terror, while a sliver of a Moon against a backdrop of brilliant stars spells romance.
But the ultimate proof of our lunar enchantment was when the United States ambitiously sent humans on a mission all the way to the Moon. On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin held the honor and distinction of being the first men to walk on the Moon.

To the Moon and Back

The Moon is the sole natural satellite of our planet. Second to the sun, it is the brightest thing in our sky. With its diameter of almost 3,500 kilometers, the Moon rotates in time with the Earth, facing our planet with always the same side of its surface, filled with craters and dark plains formed by prehistoric volcanic eruptions.

Once a month, it orbits around the Earth, altering the angle between our planet, the Moon and the Sun. Visually, this translates into the cycle of the Moon’s phases.

Phases of the Moon

In local mythology, the most popular Moon-related figure is Bakunawa, the god of the underworld that comes in the form of a winged giant sea serpent. When a lunar eclipse occurs, Bakunawa is said to have swallowed the Moon with its humongous mouth, the size of a lake. To prevent the creature from devouring the satellite, townsfolk would bang their pots and pans beneath the night sky to scare Bakunawa into spitting out the Moon.

Mad about the Moon

It’s scientifically proven that the Moon affects our planet through the gravitational pull between them. From the vantage point of the Earth’s surface, one can see two bulges created mostly by our oceans (and a bit of the earth’s crust)—the outward bulge in areas nearest to the Moon, and the inward one in areas farthest from the satellite. This is how the Moon generally affects ocean tides.

Still, some believe that the Moon’s influence extends beyond pulling on the ocean’s surface. In connection with how the word lunatic got its name (from the Latin word luna, which means Moon), there are groups that argue that the Moon, particularly its full phase, causes behavioral changes in humans. This is based on the reason that since our bodies are 75% water, the Moon’s gravitational forces also hold influence over us.
Everything from suicides, births, epileptic and heart attacks, to crimes and injuries are said to be Moon-related. But according to livescience.com, there are no conclusive studies that indicate a definite link between such occurrences and the Moon. It even suggests that when strange events happen during the Full Moon, people tend to pay special attention to them, chalking them up to this particular lunar phase. But when the same events occur during the other Moon- phases, they are dismissed or forgotten.

A Salute to the Moon

Photo credit: Heinz Orais
Photo credit: Heinz Orais

In Hatha Yoga, which emphasizes the physical practice of yoga, the Sun represents masculine impulses, shown in sweat-inducing, active yoga poses called asanas.

Meanwhile, the Moon symbolizes our cooler, feminine side—the primary focus of the Moon Salutation or Chandra Namaskara, a fifteen-step sequence that is both gentle and introspective. Here are the slow, mindful steps to achieve the yoga sequence:
1. Stand tall and allow your jaw to relax. Maintain a soft gaze while picturing the Full Moon in your mouth like a soft, soothing lozenge. Allow the sensation of the Moon to drift towards the back of your head and hold it there.
2. Slowly inhale while raising arms overhead.
3. During a long exhalation, gently touch your brow center, heart center then finally fold forward, your palms touching the ground. Step back your left foot and drop your left knee to the ground.
4. Bend your right leg into a forward lunge and raise your arms while inhaling, palms in prayer position overhead.
5. Slowly exhale while lowering your arms, touching your brow center, heart center then the ground. Step back into downward-facing dog pose.
6. Inhale and drop both knees on the floor into table pose. Look up.
7. Exhale and go into child’s pose.
8. Inhale, go up onto your knees, lift your hips and spread your arms. While looking up, allow yourself to be filled with gratitude.
9. Exhale. After bringing your palms in prayer position overhead, touch the back of your neck with your thumbs. Settle back on your heels. Bring your chest toward your thighs and elbows on the floor. Extend arms in front of you and press palms on the ground.
10. Inhale and slide your chest forward, going into upward-facing dog.
11. Exhale and go into downward-facing dog. Bring your left foot between your palms and drop your right knee.
12. Bend your left knee while inhaling and raise your arms in prayer position overhead.
13. Exhale and touch your brow center, heart center. Step your right foot in front of you and fold forward.
14. Inhale and stand up tall. Raise your arms and press palms overhead to salute the Moon.
15. Exhale, allow your palms to touch your brow center, and let them end in prayer position over your heart center.
Upon finishing the sequence, close your eyes and picture the Full Moon resting at the back of your mind. Let its brightness fill your mind, its beam reflecting out through the point between your eyebrows. This sequence aims to calm, and is said to be safe for women undergoing menstruation and pregnancy.
In another yoga system called Ashtanga, asanas are not practiced during the New and Full Moon days. Practitioners believe that these days are “dangerous” because the Sun and Moon’s combined gravitational forces are on an all-time high, creating conflict. Yogis welcome these days to rest from doing their asanas.

The Trending Moon

The Moon has even gone as far as shaping fashion. According to skwirk.com, the first Moon landing influenced 1960s fashion, inspiring designers to use new and exciting materials such as plastic, vinyl and even PVC, a type of resin used in manufacturing garden hoses and floor tiles. Just imagine the creations crafted from these materials!

Fast-forward to today and the Moon is still making waves in the fashion industry, this time, in high-end watches. These days, watches don’t just tell the time, they’re also beefed up with other features that show different time zones and—you guessed it—Moon-phases.
These complications are usually a hit with women, the Moon-phase feature appealing to their eye for beauty.

Audemars Piguet Moon-phase, encased in 18-carat pink gold, indicates the day and current phase of the Moon. (image from watchalyzer.com)
Audemars Piguet Moon-phase, encased in 18-carat pink gold, indicates the day and current phase of the Moon.
(image from watchalyzer.com)

Meanwhile, Maurice Lacroix, a luxury brand of Swiss watches, boasts of pioneering Moon-phase watches in the 1980s—the reason for which was that some of the company’s clients based decisions on whether the Moon is full, waning or waxing.

Its modern version displays not only the Moon-phase, but also the day, the month, and of course, the time. Timepiece connoisseurs are sure to appreciate its built-in jewels such as sapphire crystal and silver gold.

The Masterpiece Phases de Lune showcases the silver Moon against the deep-blue night sky. (image from hodinkee.com)
The Masterpiece Phases de Lune showcases the silver Moon against the deep-blue night sky.
(image from hodinkee.com)

So the next time you find yourself gazing at the Moon, take a moment and marvel at how this celestial body has shaped our culture, and continues to inspire us in ways both whimsical and scientific.
And if the Big Cheese could tell you how it feels about all this attention, it would probably say that it’s simply over the Moon about it.

Sources: Yogainternational.com, Joyisyoga.com, Nytimes.com, Mauricelacroix.com, Pinoy-culture.tumblr.com