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Photo by: Panahon TV Producer Blueberry Recto

“The moon is a loyal companion. It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”
– Tahereh Mafi

Nights aren’t not complete without the presence of the moon. Let’s get to know our nocturnal friend better with these fun facts:

1. It’s smaller than the Earth.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) says that the radius of approximately 1,737.5 kilometers. If the Earth were the size of a nickel, the moon would just be as big as a coffee bean.

NASA added that around 30 Earth-sized planets could fit in the distance between our planet and the moon, which is 384,400 kilometers away.

2. You can’t live on the moon.

According to NASA, the moon has a very thin and weak atmosphere, which doesn’t protect it from the sun’s radiation or impacts of meteoroids. This is also the reason why temperatures on the moon are extreme, ranging from boiling hot to freezing cold depending on the orientation of the sun.

Astronauts who explored the moon were equipped with spacesuits that had several layers of insulation and equipped with internal heaters and cooling systems.

3. The moon is responsible for the rising and falling of ocean tides.

Around each new and full moon, the pull on the tides increases due to the gravity of the sun that reinforces the moon’s gravity. During these phases, the tides are at their maximum.

Meanwhile, during the first quarter and last quarter phase, the sun’s gravity works against the gravity of the moon. This is when the tide’s range is at its minimum.

4. There may be earthquakes on the moon!

NASA confirmed that the moon may be seismically active. This is based on data gathered between 1969 to 1972, when Apollo astronauts placed seismometers at their landing sites on the moon.

Because the moon is dry, cool and mostly rigid, moonquakes are continuous unlike earthquakes that usually last for half a minute.

5. The moon has its own festival.

The Moon Festival is a holiday in China and several Asian countries. It’s one of the most important celebrations in the Chinese calendar, traditionally held when the moon is at its fullest and roundest.

This event gathers families and friends that admire the bright mid-autumn moon and eat moon cakes. Moon cake is a sweet pastry with red bean or lotus-seed filling. It is believed to be the symbol of completeness and unity among families.

Photo by: Bobs Artajo, one of the Top20 Supermoon Photo Contest winners

6. The full moon has a different name each month.

The names of the Full Moon originated from the Algonquin tribes of Native America which was adapted by some of the Colonial Americans.

January – Full Wolf Moon
It is believed that this full moon appeared when wolves howled in hunger.

February – Full Snow Moon
Usually the heaviest snow falls in February, making hunting difficult.

March – Full Worm Moon
During spring, the ground softens and earthworm casts reappear. Also known as the Sap Moon, it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins.

April – Full Pink Moon
This full moon signaled the appearance of the moss pink or wild ground phlox, one of the first spring flowers.

May – Full Flower Moon
Flowers become abundant during this month.

June – Full Strawberry Moon
The Algonquin tribes consider this moon as a sign of the perfect time to gather ripening strawberries. It is sometimes called as the Rose Moon.

July – Full Buck Moon
During this time, the antlers of bucks are in full-growth mode.

August – Full Sturgeon Moon
Some Native American tribes knew that the sturgeon, or a type of fish that lives in the northern part of the world, was mostly caught during this full moon.

September – Full Corn Moon
This corresponds with the time of harvesting corn.

October – Full Hunter’s Moon
This is the time for hunting as preparation for the long winter ahead.

November – Full Beaver Moon
This is the time when beavers actively build their winter dams in preparation for the cold season.

December – Full Cold Moon
This is the month when the winter cold speeds up.

7. The moon doesn’t have its own light.

The moon merely reflects light from the sun. The light that we see from the moon is an illusion of the reflected light.

Astronomers say it will take hundreds of thousands of moons to get the same brightness of the sun. Even when a moon reaches its full phase, it always shines with a lower magnitude that the sun.

8. The US first conquered the moon.

According to NASA, there were three men who first stepped in the moon. Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins were the astronauts on the successful Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon while Collins stayed in orbit around the moon, doing experiments and taking images.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to step on the moon. He and Aldrin were able to walk around the moon for a few hours, picking up bits of dirt and rocks for experiments. They also installed a U.S. flag on the moon.

9. The moon has inspired idioms!

“Once in a blue moon” refers to an even that is rare, seldom or surreal. Blue Moon refers to the second full moon in a month. Normally, there is one full moon each month but there are also rare instances that a second one sneaks in.

This doesn’t literally mean that the moon turns into a bluish color. However, it is believed that during the 1883 Krakatoa Volcano explosion in Indonesia, people noticed that the moon turned blue. Scientists explained that this phenomenon was more likely because of the ash clouds that rose to the top of the Earth’s atmosphere.

10. Some people love staring at the moon!

If you are fond of staring at the moon, you may be a “selenophile” or a person who loves the moon. “Selene” is the Greek name for the Goddess of the Moon while the suffix “phile” comes from the Greek “philos” which means “loving”.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

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.
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.
(photo from PAGASA)
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, 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!

Aside from preparing your Christmas presents and gearing up for get-togethers, another exciting thing to do this December is to watch the skies—not to wait for Santa and his reindeer, but to witness the spectacular meteors!

Meteoroids VS Meteors & Meteorites
Meteoroids are small rocks or particles orbiting around the sun. Once a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it vaporizes and becomes a meteor, also known as a “shooting star” or bulalakaw in Tagalog.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), as this space rock falls toward the Earth, the air resistance or drag makes it extremely hot. So what we see is not actually the rock, but the bright streak or the glowing hot air as it approaches the atmosphere.

If a small asteroid or large meteoroid survives its entry or passage through the atmosphere and lands on the surface of the Earth, it is called a meteorite.


December is an ideal month for astronomy enthusiasts as the Geminids Meteor Shower lights up the sky from December 4 to 17, 2015. Appearing to come from the constellation of Gemini, Geminids meteors do not originate from a comet, but from an asteroid. Meteors from this shower are very rocky and are more visible.

NASA explains that these meteors originated from the Asteroid 3200 Phaethon, which takes 1.4 years to orbit the sun. Phaethon is a small asteroid with a diameter of 5.10 kilometers.

Dubbed as a “dead comet”, the Phaethon does not develop a cometary tail when it passes by the sun. Its spectra look like a rocky asteroid instead.

3200 Phaethon was discovered by the Infrared Astronomial Satellite on October 11, 1983. Due to its close distance to the sun, Phaethon is named after the character in Greek mythology that drove the chariot of Helios (the God of Sun). But it was the astronomer, Fred Whipple, who recognized that the Geminids meteor shower originated from Phaethon.

The Geminids is considered as one of the best and most reliable annual meteor showers. So mark your calendars now! Its peak activity is on the late night of December 14 until the early morning hours of December 15. PAGASA says that if good weather permits, an observer can witness around 40 meteors per hour.

Viewing Tips
– Get as far away from urban pollution as possible. Find a location with a clear or almost cloudless night sky.
– Search for the darkest patch of sky.
– Clothing matters! Wear clothes that suit cold overnight weather.
– Bring something comfortable for you to sit or lie down.
– It takes time, so be patient.
– Put away the telescope or binoculars, which may reduce the amount of sky you can see at once.
– Relax your eyes. Do not look at any specific spot.
– Avoid looking at your gadgets or any other light source which could disturb night vision.
– If you have to look at something on the surface of the Earth, use a red light.


Have you ever dreamed of becoming an astronaut? This might be the time to make your celestial dreams come true.

In a press statement last Wednesday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced its search for a new batch of space explorers.

With more human spacecraft development in the United States (US) today than at any other time in history, NASA added that future astronauts will launch from the Space Coast of Florida on an American-made commercial spacecraft, and carry out deep-space exploration missions that will advance future human missions to Mars.

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

To date, NASA has selected more than 300 astronauts to fly on its increasingly challenging missions to explore space and benefit life on Earth. There are 47 astronauts in the active astronaut corps, and more will be needed to crew future missions to the space station and destinations in deep space.

Applications will be accepted from December 14 until mid-February of 2016 while selected candidates will be announced in mid-2017.

Applications for consideration as a NASA Astronaut will be accepted at:

Here are some of the requirements:

– Candidates must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in Engineering, Biological Science, Physical Science or Mathematics. An advanced degree is desirable.

– Candidates must have at least three years of related progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft.

– Astronaut candidates must pass the NASA long-duration spaceflight physical exam.

For more information, visit:


The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is continuously monitoring the low pressure area (LPA) within the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR). At 4:00 PM today, it was spotted at 170 kilometers east of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Fernando Cada, it has a slim chance of developing into a tropical cyclone. Cada adds that as the LPA moves closer to the landmass of Eastern Visayas, it is expected to dissipate within the next 12 to 24 hours. However, if it does not dissipate, the clouds could disorganize and merge with a frontal system which will bring scattered rain showers and thunderstorms over the eastern section of Southern and Central Luzon.


Aside from the weather disturbance, the northeast monsoon or amihan prevails over the Northern Luzon. The outer cloud bands of the LPA and the winds associated with amihan are expected to dump rains over some parts of the country.

Eastern Visayas will experience cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rain showers and thunderstorms. Residents are alerted against possible flash floods or landslides. The rest of Visayas, Bicol Region and the provinces of Quezon, Marinduque and Romblon will have cloudy skies with light to moderate rain showers and thunderstorms.

Cagayan Valley, Cordillera and Ilocos region will be cloudy with chances of light rains. Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms mostly in the afternoon or evening.

Meanwhile, another cloud cluster is now being monitored outside the PAR. Located east of Southern Mindanao, this cloud cluster could be a potential LPA in the next few days. However, it is still too far to affect the country and is still under observation.

“Pineapple Express” hits California

California has been battling with a major storm dubbed as the “Pineapple Express” for a couple of days now. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), together with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) explained that this phenomenon happens when warm air and enormous amount of moisture are transported from the Central Pacific to the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Pineapple Express is composed of stream of clouds and moisture that could result to intense rain storms just like what is now experienced in California.

The storm system has brought violent rainfall causing flood and mudslides. Strong winds and tornadoes also smashed trees and damaged homes. The inclement weather caused flight cancellations and power outages that left many people in the dark. Police and rescue teams are continuously providing help and assistance to those who are affected.


Meteorology covers a wide variety of terminology that we often hear, but seldom understand and remember. Check out these weather words and be in the know!



Climate is the general weather pattern in a specific area that involves temperature, humidity, rainfall, air pressure and other meteorological variables over a long period of time. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), some scientists define climate as the average weather condition based on 30 years of observation.

It is important to study climate as it plays a big role in our lives. Rising global temperatures can cause sea levels to rise or affect precipitation over a specific region, human health and various ecosystems. Climate change is one of our generation’s major concerns.


Season refers to the time of the year caused by the tilting of the Earth. The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) says it is the division of the year based on the recurring astronomical or climatic phenomenon.

However, the location of an area, whether it is in the northern or southern hemisphere, affects its seasons. Other regions have complete seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall. Philippines, being a tropical country, has two official seasons – wet and dry. The wet season usually starts in June as the southwest monsoon or habagat prevails. Rainfall during this season is concentrated over the western sections of the country.

Meanwhile, dry season normally starts in March when warm and humid weather is experienced. Though the scorching heat is felt over all the country, PAGASA clarifies that the term “summer” is not applicable to the Philippines. Meteorologically, we only have the wet and dry seasons.


The convergence of winds coming from the northern and southern hemispheres results to group of convective clouds known as the ITCZ or Intertropical Convergence Zone. This weather system affects the country depending on the orientation of the sun or the season. Once it becomes active, it can be a breeding ground of weather disturbances or low pressure areas.

Aside from tropical cyclones, ITCZ is one of the weather systems that cause flooding and landslides because it triggers moderate to heavy precipitation over the affected areas.

4. PAR

PAR means Philippine Area of Responsibility, an area in the Northwest Pacific, where PAGASA monitors tropical cyclones that are expected to affect the country. Once a tropical cyclone enters PAR, it is automatically given a local name so Filipinos can easily remember it.

With a measurement of more than 4 million square kilometres, PAR covers the West Philippine Sea, Bashi Channel over the north, part of the Pacific Ocean in the east and Sulu and Celebes Seas in the south.

One must remember that the Philippine Area of Responsibility is different from the country itself. When we say a tropical cyclone is entering the PAR, it doesn’t mean that it will hit the Philippine landmass. It may still change its course or re-curve away from the country.


Filipinos often hear the southwest monsoon or habagat during the rainy season. Characterized by warm and moist air, it speeds up cloud formation, which dumps rains mostly over the western section of the country.

Once a habagat is enhanced by a tropical cyclone entering PAR, it can bring heavy downpour that may cause widespread flooding.
During the passage of “Ondoy” last 2009 and “Maring” in 2013, habagat brought enormous amounts to Luzon, which led to serious flooding.


After habagat comes the northeast monsoon or amihan, a wind system characterized by cold and dry air coming from Mainland China. It normally starts to prevail during mid-October just like this year, when its onset was officially declared by PAGASA on October 16, 2014.

Amihan is responsible for colder mornings and lower temperatures during the “ber” months. It also affects sea conditions and may direct tropical cyclones towards the Philippine landmass with a higher chance of landfall.


PAGASA issues thunderstorm warnings everyday mostly in the afternoon or evening. A thunderstorm is a weather disturbance that produces rains, gusty winds, lightning and thunder.

Thunderstorm formation occurs through water cycle, wherein heat serves as the main component. As the sun heats up the land or a body of water, warm air rises, producing clouds by means of condensation. Once the cloud becomes massive, precipitation follows in the form of rain, drizzle or hail.

Along with gusty winds and moderate to heavy rains, thunder and lightning also occur during a thunderstorm. Lightning is caused by the connection of the positive charges at the top of the cloud and the negative charges formed at the bottom. Due to lightning, thunder is produced by vibration of air particles.

Flooding in low lying areas is expected during thunderstorms.


Tropical cyclone is the general term for a “bagyo,” which starts out from a cloud cluster that develops into a low pressure area (LPA), an area that has an atmospheric pressure lower than its surrounding locations.

A tropical cyclone is classified into three: Tropical Depression, Tropical Storm and Typhoon. Each of these is measured by its maximum wind speeds and not by its amount of rainfall. An average of 19 to 21 tropical cyclones enter PAR each year.


Landfall happens when the surface of a tropical cyclone intersects with a coastline. In this scenario, the landmass or the affected area will experience stormy weather with moderate to heavy rains and gusty winds. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it is possible for a cyclone’s strongest winds to be experienced over land even if landfall does not occur. In some instances, its strongest winds could also remain over the water even if it made its landfall.

Tropical cyclones can have a series of landfalls like what happened to Typhoon Yolanda wherein 6 landfall activities were recorded on the 8th of November 2013.


Storm surge is the abnormal rise in sea level associated with a tropical storm or typhoon. It is usually measured by deducting the normal high tide from the observed storm tide.

This event is never related to tsunami, which is a sea level rise brought by a strong earthquake. A tsunami is triggered by underwater seismic activities while a storm surge is generated by strong winds from a storm.


Natural disasters, particularly typhoons, have earned special attention and mention throughout our nation’s history because of the devastation they leave behind, causing immense losses to infrastructure, agriculture and human lives.

This year alone, several typhoons have left their mark on the public consciousness, including Tropical Storm Fung-Wong (local name: Mario), which caused severe flooding in Greater Luzon, including Metro Manila, affecting more than 118 thousand families.

Tropical Storm Fung-Wong (local name: Mario) Photo credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Tropical Storm Fung-Wong (local name: Mario)
Photo credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Meanwhile, Typhoon Rammasun (local name:Glenda) crossed Southern Luzon in July with maximum winds of 150 kilometers per hour. It made its landfall in Albay, claiming more than one billion pesos worth of infrastructure and more than six billion pesos worth of agricultural products and facilities.

Typhoon Rammasun (local name: Glenda)  Photo credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Typhoon Rammasun (local name: Glenda)
Photo credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Luckily in October, when Super Typhoon Vongfong (local name: Ompong), tagged as the strongest typhoon that entered Philippine Area of Responsibility this year, packing maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour, it kept its distance from the country as it moved outside our boundary. Though Vongfong did not do damage to the Philippines, Japan was not able to evade the rage of the super typhoon. 31 people were injured, 90,000 households in Okinawa had to evacuate, and more than 400 flights were cancelled. It also knocked out power supply in Okinawa.

Super Typhoon Vongfong (local name: Ompong) Photo credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Super Typhoon Vongfong (local name: Ompong)
Photo credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

It seems that the names of the tropical cyclones are as unique as their characteristics and effects on the areas they have gone through. In the Philippines, PAGASA has a ready list of Filipino names for tropical cyclones.

Just as local names are important for easy communication among PAGASA, the media and the public, so are international names since these weather disturbances can affect more than one country. Through constant correspondence with other nations, we can gauge the cyclone’s track and projected effects—an important tool in increasing preparedness on both national and community levels.

How the naming process began

The areas where tropical cyclones are formed are divided into seven basins: North Atlantic Ocean, Northeastern and Northwestern Pacific Ocean (where the Philippines is located), Southwestern and Southeastern Indian Ocean, North Indian Ocean and Southwest Pacific Ocean.

Photo credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Photo credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Australian forecaster Clement Wragge introduced the use of proper names in naming cyclones in the late 19th century. When the Australian national government failed to establish the federal weather bureau and appoint Wragge as director, the forecaster took matters in his own hands and started naming cyclones after political figures whom he disliked and described as “causing great distress and wandering aimlessly about the Pacific.”

It took 40 years before the idea inspired George Stewart, a junior meteorologist in the United States to name Pacific tropical storms after his former girlfriends in his 1941 novel “Storm.”

It was in 1945 when the US armed services formally embraced the practice of using women’s names for typhoons in the Western Pacific. Eight years later, the US Weather Bureau finally adopted the use of women’s names for cyclones in the Northwest Pacific basin. It was in 1979 when men’s names were used.

Meanwhile, cyclones in the Southwest Indian Ocean started using names during the 1960s, while the North Indian Ocean cyclones were formally named in 2006.

According to the Weather Philippines Foundation, a new list of Asian names was contributed by all member nations of the World Meteorological Organization‘s (WMO) Typhoon Committee in January 1, 2000. These names are allocated to developing tropical storms by the Tokyo Typhoon Center of the Japan Meteorological Agency, and are arranged in alphabetical order of contributing countries. The majority of names includes flowers, animals, birds, trees, food and adjectives.

Currently, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Typhoon Committee (ESCAP/WMO), which promotes the order and implementation of procedures required for minimizing the losses caused by typhoons, has 14 members: Cambodia; China; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Hong Kong, China; Japan; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Macao, China; Malaysia; Philippines; Singapore; Thailand; Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and the United States of America.

Regardless of the year, international names are used per column. Below are the lists of names for developing tropical cyclones in the Northwest Pacific basin within a six-year time frame.

Source: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)
Source: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)

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Source: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)
Source: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)

Retiring of Names

Tropical cyclone names are retired if they have caused significant damage and casualties in an area. A new list of names is discussed during the annual meeting of the WMO’s regional committee.

Sources: Weather Philippines Foundation | PAGASA | JMA | ESCAP/WMO | NOAA | NASA | Official Gazette of the Philippines | Japan NHK