Saturday, 30 January 2016

Mercury, at last!

It's an over-hyped story. This often referred story from the National Geographic recently about seeing five planets aligned in the morning sky.

Firstly, the illustration is misleading. Don't ever expect to see the planets in their full splendour. No, they are all pin pricks of light in the dark sky. The illustration also show the planets lined up low down in the sky, almost hugging the horizon, and within our normal field of vision, which is wrong because from our point of view in the tropics, they are all directly overhead and you will have to turn your head from one end of the sky to the other.

Secondly, except for Venus and Jupiter, the other planets are very dim. It is almost impossible to see Mercury. Thirdly, unless you attempt to sky-watch from a completely dark and open area, the ambient light will interfere with the experience. As I say, an over-hyped story.

Having said all that, I wish to say that finally, I've managed to catch a glimpse of Mercury. I've been grumbling ever so long because from the front of my house, it has been impossible for me to see this planet. My house, and my neighbours' houses, block the view and moreover, the street lights and the porch lights all interfere with my view.

When I happened to wake up early this morning, something made me pick up my camera when I decided to walk around the neighbourhood. And suddenly when I turned into a dark back alley some distance away, lo and behold, both Venus and Mercury came into view. There it was, very low in the still dark sky but unmistakably Mercury. Finally, after more than 10 years of peering skywards from my house, I have seen this elusive planet. What a sight, indeed!

Monday, 4 January 2016

Li Chun (立春), 2016

Today being the fourth of January, there is just one month to go before the start of Li Chun (立春) on 4 February 2016. 

The significance of Li Chun (or Lip Chun which was how my grandmother and mother used to say it) is that to the Chinese all around the globe, this is the day for the Coming of Spring. The day, which I had explained last year, when the sun is deemed to have crossed the 315° longitude in the sky.

This year, Li Chun coincides with the 26th day of the Chinese lunar calendar, which means the Chinese New Year celebrations would only be four days away. According to the Joey Yap book, The Ten Thousand Year Calendar, which I consult at about this time every year, Li Chun will occur at 5.48 p.m. on 4 February 2016.

At this time, if you are like me, you will get ready to stick a new piece of decorative red paper with the Chinese character 春 (Chun) on the family rice bucket. I will also be filling up my rice bucket to the brim with uncooked rice to signify abundance. Happy Li Chun, everyone!

Meantime, here are my past blog entries on this Chinese festival:
Li Chun, 2015
Li Chun, 2014
Li Chun, 2013
Li Chun, 2012
Li Chun, 2011
Li Chun, 2010
Li Chun, 2009
Li Chun, 2008
Li Chun, 2007