Trip to Penang, Malaysia, August 2017 – possible opportunities for observing

This is my first entry in my astronomy blog for our family trip to visit relatives in Malaysia. This trip is mainly to visit my wife’s family but hopefully there will be some observing opportunities too. Weather here is a reasonably constant 33 degrees C or so but with high humidity and this often results in posts of clouds that can obstruct observations. In the past, this has been particularly frustrating at Ean Ean’s mum and dad’s house – they live at the base of Prnsng on the side away from the ocean and with the cloud – arrrhhh! One memorable year we were here during the Perseid meteor shower and I went outside and saw nothing whatsoever due to an almost complete cloud layer. The following day the university’s astronomy society reported a wonderful and spectacular meteor observing session on the other side of the island!

This year I am hoping to remedy that – I have emailed the local astronomy society and another contact I found on the internet that has previously organised meteor observing sessions…..and am now waiting for responses – hopefully one of them will be organising another Perseid meteor observing session this year. This is due to fall on 12/13 August whilst we are in Penang.

There is one really big positive about observing the Perseid meteor shower from Penang, if I can find a good location (transport at night is an issue I need to find a way of overcoming). That is, that unlike the UK which will suffer from a virtually full Moon (5 days past full) all night, in Penang the Moon does not rise until 11:20pm on12th August, as the following screenshot from Sky Safari Pro 5 shows, a massive improvement on the UK where it will be near zenith by this time:

The only equipment I have bought along this year is my Canon Image-stabilised 10×30 binoculars. These are easily hand-held and the image stabilisation really makes a difference. They have excellent contrast which makes up for the small aperture. The obvious down side is magnification. If I can attend an event then other attendees may have a telescope or two I can take a look through… never know!

At the moment we are in Kuala Lumpar and over this weekend we are visiting Malaca – we might find something astronomical there, I don’t know! That reminds me – I better take the binoculars along. It would be frustrating if the sky was wonderfully dark in Malaca and I did not have the binoculars.

I have also discovered that there is a telescope shop in┬áPenang now – a new addition since I last came there. I don’t intend to visit it though. I really don’t have anything I need to buy, although I suppose they might rent out telescopes…..


Map of Malaysia showing location Penang upper left and higher resolution map of Penang Island itself:

Information on organisations that I have contacted to see if they are arranging a Perseid meteor shower observing session this year:

Information on the Perseid meteor shower from Astronomy Now:

Tech Dome Penang science discovery and education centre:

There is now also a science discovery centre with what looks like full dome presentations on astronomy in Penang. They certainly emphasise their astronomy related educational content and offer astronomy courses and day passes to participate in various activities.

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