Supermoon attracts 1,000 people in Kota Kinabalu

The total lunar eclipse phenomenon illuminating Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia tonight. – Bernama photo

The view of the moon through the live TV streaming screen as it is about to form a full total lunar eclipse.

An astronomy enthusiast observing the total lunar eclipse through his telescope.

KOTA KINABALU: Some 1,000 people from all walks of life had gathered at the Tun Mustapha Tower tonight to witness the ‘once in a blue moon’ event dubbed as the celestial triplet phenomenon.

The celestial triplet phenomenon is where a blue moon, a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse becomes visible in the sky.

According to Sabah Stargazers, a local association comprising of astronomy enthusiasts, Sabahans are lucky to have been blessed with one of the best views of the rare phenomenon.

“Sabah’s beauty is actually not just about its diving activities or Gunung Kinabalu. Sabah is also beautiful because of its magnificent skies,” its Outreach Programme Manager Emma Zulaiha Zulkifli said.

In Sabah, people are able to get an even clearer view of the skies, compared to the other states in the country.

“Sabah is the heaven of stars as it has the least amount of light pollution in the country,” she said.

“Tonight’s event is about the observation of the full moon eclipse. In conjunction with the said event, Sabah Stargazers had prepared live TV streaming and telescopes for guests who wish to observe the moon here at Tun Mustapha Tower,” Emma said, adding that the association had also provided a live recording of the event on its Facebook page.

Some of the guests had even brought their own telescopes for it to be shared with the public.

Apart from that, the event featured quizzes on astronomy for the guests, which were comprised of locals, students and even foreigners.

Meanwhile, Mohamad Haziq Fikhrullah Awang Majin, 16, who is one of the invited students at the event, said he was happy to have witnessed the rare phenomenon with his own eyes.

“I feel blessed to have been given this opportunity. The view of the moon tonight was certainly a blessing from God,” he said.

Since he goes to SMK Agama Tun Ahmadsyah, which is a boarding school, Haziq rarely gets the chance to go out and experience such programmes.

As a member of his school’s aerospace enthusiasts club, Haziq added that he was grateful to have learned more about his favorite subject, through last night’s event.

The total eclipse had begun at 8.51pm where the moon became completely red with the maximum eclipse phase at 9.29pm. This is when the moon is closest to the centre of the shadow.

The overall eclipse is expected to end at around 12.08am on Thursday.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly behind the Earth into its umbra (shadow).

This would only when the sun, Earth, and moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle.

A supermoon occurs when the moon is less than 360,000km away from Earth, and no special equipment is needed for people to view this phenomenon.

by Neil Brian Joseph.

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