• June 24, 2020

    RHU Physics and Astronomy Club documents the Annular Solar Eclipse

    RHU Physics and Astronomy Club (PAC), in coordination with the Rafik Hariri High School Saida RHHS, documented and live streamed the Annular Solar Eclipse that took place on the bright and early morning of June 21, 2020 at around 6:30 a.m.


    The PAC Committee members, RHU physics professor and club advisor Dr. Hossam Salami, Malek Wehbi, and Rouba Mobader, and photographer Moustafa Badih (RHU alumnus and RHHS faculty member), along with RHHS principal Mrs. Hiba Abu Alfa Wehbi witnessed 2 hours (7:30-9:30) of the progressive eclipse using the PAC's potent Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain advanced telescope from the RHHS campus.


    Despite the Corona virus outbreak, which put most of RHU campus activities on hold, the Physics and Astronomy Club was determined to witness and share with the public this important scientific phenomenon. This event was an opportunity to establish a common scientific platform for high school and university student, to stimulate students’ excitement and encourage their scientific curiosity. It also helped expose the beauty of the universe and foster better understanding of the scientific phenomena, despite the inaccurate and intimidating information often circulated by news outlets. It will also open the door for greater collaboration between RHU and RHHS on the common ground of scientific curiosity.



    The project leader along with committee members started to discuss the best plan to witness, and share this scientific moment. Although it would’ve been beautiful to encourage all RHU PAC club members to participate and witness it in reality, it would be a difficult thing to achieve amid the corona virus and the situation in Lebanon. At the same time the club’s president, Tarek Arabi recommended a video on how to project the image from the telescope (It would be the first time the club tries this setup). The club’s advisor Dr Houssam Salami, a physics professor at the university helped with the logistics, challenged the proposed ideas to achieve a robust plan.


    At RHHS, Mrs. Hiba Abu Alfa Wehbi notified the events and physics department of the event. On June 19, 2020, Malek went to the school campus and performed what is called “advancing the area”. Next was a crucial phase, “Full System’s Check”; which took place a day before the event), the telescope was brought in, set up, and problems were discussed and overcome with the best solution. At the same time the club’s president, Tarek Arabi recommended to develop a video on how to project the image from the telescope. RHU PAC Club advisor, Dr. Salami helped with the logistics, challenging the committee’s proposed ideas to achieve a robust plan.



    So, what are Eclipses?


    Contrary to popular belief eclipses aren’t rare as culturally speculated, they just aren’t a hot topic in conversation. In fact, Total Solar Eclipses (Where the Sun, Moon and Earth respectively are in syzygy or in-line and the moon blocks out the sun from view occurs every 18 months depending on where you are on Earth). Lunar eclipses (where the sun, Earth and then the moon are in syzygy and you see the Earth’s shadow on the moon as the Earth moves in front of the sun) happen every 3.5 years on average. So in perspective, eclipses are more popular than college graduations. The Annular Solar Eclipse (Annular being Ring Shape), partial and total, are types of solar eclipses. The “Honey moon/Strawberry Moon” or the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse (Penumbral meaning the area just before the moon enters the shaded area of the Earth, so the light from the sunset is reflected by the moon which sits high in the sky relative to the sun) are all types of Lunar Eclipses.

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