Posted in Amateur Astronomy, Astronomy, Homeschooling, Ramadan

Simple Moon Phases for Kids


I wanted to teach Aaminah about the Moon Phases last Ramadan, but I could not find anything simple and age appropriate.  She was 3 and a half last Ramadan. So I made the Moon Phases myself.  and I updated the file this year  and we did the moon phases again. Aaminah really enjoyed the activity. She now knows the names of a few phases of the moon MashaAllah. She explained the moon phases to her father after we did the chart. At night we also used a torch and balls to understand why the moon has phases.

These are the pics from last year.








Here are the pics from this year.

You can download the pdf file for the Moon Phases  here :SimpleMoonPhasesChart

You have the option to print out a colorful Earth or a black and white one  to color in. You can also skip printing the sun and make one large sized one  yourself.


Will be doing an activity soon using these Moon Phases Cards

MoonPhasesCardsDownload pdf:MoonCards

Posted in Amateur Astronomy, Astronomy, Homeschooling

Little Astronomers

Last night I woke at around 1:30 to attend to Aaminah and then I realized that the laundry was still on the clothes line on the roof!  In Islamabad the weather can turn around in seconds and afierce windstorms and rain has surprised us many many times, so i ran up to the roof to get the clothes and I was awestruck by the beautiful dark night sky and the stars shining brightly. I love the winter sky because its usually full of many things to explore and see. I saw a very bright star and realized it was a planet. I have been soo out of touch of the sky charts that I didn’t know which one it was.. probably Venus or Saturn. I suddenly had the urge to take out my scope, but realized that it was still packed. I had not even unpacked it after our move to Islamabad and I really missed the amazing time I had with it. I decided to unpack it the next morning.

So today I set up the scope and we watched the moon right before sunset. This was the first time Aaminah was able to actually see through the eye piece!  She said.. its a ball and then she said.. yeh moon jaisa lag raha hai (This looks like the moon)! Surprising she also said I want to see Mars! I was quite astonished as I had not mentioned anything about Mars!

She still has difficulty keeping one eye closed and I had to cover one of her eye with my hand so she could peek into the eye piece! I think it would be too difficult for her to spot the little planets in the eye piece. Little Huz was also very keen on looking through the scope, though he couldn’t figure out what in the world was going on!  He kept trying to fidget with the scope…err which I didn’t like much. Can’t wait for my little astronomers to grow up so we can have load of fun star gazing and looking at the beautiful night sky, the most amazing creation of Allah Subhana Watala!

Related Posts:

sKy WaTchER

First Light

Lord of the rings – Saturn

Jumpin Jupiter

Posted in Amateur Astronomy

10 Dec Lunar eclipse Visible from Pakistan

There is going to be an amazing lunar eclipse on the evening of 10th December, which would be visible from Pakistan. The moon will rise on the evening of 10th December while entering penumbra.

Now this is not just any other ordinary Eclipse. Its a Senelion, which means that the sun and moon would both be visible in the sky at the same time, even though it is technically impossible because for an eclipse to occur, the sun and moon must be 180 degrees apart.

So how would this be possible? Its possible due to atmospheric refraction, which makes the sun ‘appear’ higher in the horizon, where as in reality it has already set.

So to watch this phenomena, a clear horizon would be needed to watch both the sun set and the moon rise.Living in Karachi, I doubt such a clear horizon would be available, but it somebody is able to get a clear sight, please do snap some pics and share with us.

The Moon Rise time for Karachi for saturday evening is 5:37.

P.S. Dont forget to pray the eclipse prayer “Salat ul kusoof” as was the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhe wasallam. Read details about his prayer here

Further Reading:
Dawn Eclipse of the Moon

Saturday’s Lunar Eclipse will Include ‘Impossible Sight’

Moon Rise and Moon Set Timings for Karachi

Posted in Amateur Astronomy, Photography, Science

The Smiling Sky

Picture source: BBC News

Two planets Venus and Jupiter were at conjunction and  mimicked a “double star” and were only 2 degrees apart and the crescent moon below them gave the appearance of a smiling face on 1st Dec, 08…a beautiful sight indeed.

“This week’s planet conjunction marks the second time this year that Venus and Jupiter have mimicked a brilliant “double star” in our sky. Back on February 1st, they appeared together in the eastern sky before dawn. At that time they nestled even closer together — only ½° apart.

The last time these two planets were paired in the evening sky and easily seen was September 2005, when they appeared about 1½° apart. They won’t be this close together and well placed for evening viewing again until May 2013 (1° apart).”

Source: Sky and Telescope

Posted in Amateur Astronomy, My Articles, News, Religion, Science, Truths & Lies

27th August 2 Moons : Myths Vs Facts

Myth : On 27th of August this year there will be two Moons in the sky at night.

Fact: This is NOT TRUE.

The Myth seems to have generated due to a HUGE misunderstanding about an astronomical event that occurred in 2003. Planet Mars came very close to Earth and was visible with the naked eye as a bright star and in the telescope when magnified looked as big as the Moon. As reported in Sky and Telescope:

August 27th” is actually August 27, 2003. Mars did make a historically close pass by Earth at that time, and when magnified 75 times in a telescope, it looked (IN THE TELESCOPE) the size the Moon looks to the unaided eye.”

Some people obviously misunderstood this and thought that Mars will be as big as the moon and thus there will be two moons in the sky! Mars no matter how close it comes to Earth can NEVER EVER appear like the moon. Since the year 2003 the emails and smses have been circulation to view the historical astronomical event of two moons in the sky!

So Please make it very clear that there will NOT be two moons in the sky on 27th August this year or any other year. Mars does pass very close to Earth in thousands of years but no matter what, it can never be as big as the Moon in the sky!

Myth:The last sign of Qayamat (Day of Judegement) is that there will be two moons in the sky and BBC has predicted that on 27th Aug,07 there will be two moons in the sky and this is time when Imam Mehdi will arrive. It is in the Quran that after this last sign, the repentance will not be accepted.


The last sign of Qayamat (Day of Judgement) is NOT 2 Moons. There never is any such sign. No 2 Moon sign has been mentioned in the Quran or the hadith.

As I mentioned in the previous point, the Two Moon myth came into existence in the year 2003 due to a huge misunderstanding regarding a historical close pass of Mars from Earth.

The real last sign of the Day of Judegement is that Sun will rise from west on Earth which is mentioned in the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (saw)

I hope this clears up the huge confusion regarding the Two Moons on 27th August. Please stop forwarding this hoax if you receive it in your email or sms. It is a sin to spread news and rumors without verifying it first! Start spreading the truth about the hoax now.

My Previous Posts Regarding this same topic:

27th August Two Moons: last sign of Qayamat Hoax

Mars As Big As The Moon – Two Moons on 27th August?

Sun Rise From west on Mars

Posted in Amateur Astronomy, News, Pakistan, Science

The Pathetic State of KU’s Observatory!

KARACHI: Observatory low on govt’s list of priorities

By Meera Jamal
KARACHI, June 24: After three decades of looking at the heavenly bodies, the progress of the observatory at the University of Karachi remains far from meteoric. Those at the helm of affairs are at best cynical about its very existence and purpose, dashing all hopes of the aspiring astronauts.“Paying attention to space sciences will pay off little in the long run. Had the government paid due attention to it when Suparco launched Rehbar Awwal, things would have certainly been in a better state,” says the KU vice-chancellor, Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, about the Institute of Space and Planetary Astrophysics (ISPA).

ISPA, however, is about 12 years old and stands majestically atop a hill and surprisingly, was built to last. It can resist all seismological challenges as its pillars go 15-foot deep into the ground. The telescope has a motor that keeps pace with the movement of the earth making any object under view always visible without any readjustments.

Despite such credentials, the observatory faces brutal neglect on part of the authorities concerned that can be gauged through the fact that there is just one permanent faculty member who is also the director of the institute with only five visiting professors.

Dr Pirzada seems to stand by the disregard and maintains that even if the institute is improved, it will make little difference. “The world has progressed so much that it will take ages before the country is able to catch up,” he says.

However, the science fraternity remains perturbed at the unmotivated performance of the students of astronomy both at the KU and at the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science, and Technology (FUAAST) that offer astronomy as a subject. The latter also has a telescope since 2004 but it has not seen the light of day as the university does not have an observatory to house it.

The High Education Commission has also arranged an Uzbek astronomer Salakhutin Nuritdinov for the FUUAST but this was not a choice for the University of Karachi.

However, ISPA Director Shahid Qureshi tries to defend the administration. “They really cannot do much about it. We have very few experts in space sciences and astronomy who can convince and change the general perception about astronomy. And even fewer if it comes to making it alluring for the policy-makers,” explains Qureshi.

The director voices another reason for apathy amongst students. “Their poor educational backgrounds hamper their curiosity,” he says. However, he concedes that the government has not done much for this particular area of study.

Rahmatullah Jilani, general manager, Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), believes that the government is not responsible for the indifference towards this field but the students actually lack the aptitude and initiative.

“We keep visiting institutions to find some bright students who are interested in the subject. But the youth opt for courses that can bag lucrative jobs,” he says.

Jillani admits that Suparco was immensely disillusioned in the 1980s when it sent some students abroad on scholarships but they never returned. He also mentions that the government has not been supportive to students who sought financial assistance for research projects. “Suparco continues to offer training courses but has not received an outstanding response,” he says.

The students harbour an entirely different set of issues. “If we have facilities to collect the required data on our own and not have to obtain it from the Suparco and the meteorological department, we will be more efficient in our work, and it will keep our interest in the research alive,” says a student of the department.

Students also attribute their lack of interest to the fact that their schools did little to generate curiosity.

“Do our schools ever take students to the planetarium, Suparco or the meteorological department? Besides, the poverty ratio in our country forces people to opt for subjects that promise high-income jobs,” says another student.


Dawn June 25th, 07.

Posted in Amateur Astronomy, Photography

BefoRe the Venus Occultation

ChandTaravenus3.jpgvenus4.jpgVenus and Moon through the Telescope.

The skies were clear, with only a few passing clouds. Venus disappeared behind the moon around 9:00 PM Pakistan Standard Time. It reappeared from behind the moon quite close to the horizon, so I was unable to capture the appearance on camera. The camera was not capturing it.

I filmed the disappearance on a camcorder, but it will take time for me to transfer the video to the pc. I took pictures, direct from the camera and also from the eye piece of my Telescope. Sky Watcher Explorerer 130 MM. the eyepiece used was of 25mm. The disappearance was easily seen through the scope. However i was not able to see the re-appearance from the scope due to my low viewing location.

These pics of Venus and the Moon were taken with Olympus Digital Camera from Karachi Pakistan.

The first two pictures were taken with the Camera directly, while the next two are taken from the eye piece of my Skywatcher 130 MM Telescope.

More pics coming soon…

My observation and some other other beautiful pics of the occultation can be found here:

Posted in Amateur Astronomy, My Articles, Pakistan, Science

LuNaR LuNaCy wiTh JuMping JuPiTeR

The recent Lunar eclipse was SubhanAllah beautiful and amazing, Though it seemed a bit scary with the mysterious shadows lurking on the other wise bright lunar surface. Since it was a slow process, i was a bit bored so swiveled my scope in the direction of Saturn to view it again. Never does it cease to amaze me!

Then I noted something else.. a very bright star mid way up the horizon near the south west..and im thinking… hmmmm looks like Venus.. but couldn’t possibly be Venus.. Venus is visible in the evenings these days… couldn’t be Saturn.. I just viewed it… couldnt be a star as was not twinkling….could it be Jupiter? Have I missed it in the sky chart?

Then I swiveled my scope up to it and a few seconds later I was jumping with joy! Had any seen me.. standing alone in the middle of the night on the roof top…they would have thought “what a Lunatic!” especially with the Lunar eclipse going on! Heheheh

Jupiter is just simply breath taking! Thought it appears quite small in my scope and colorless.. I could still make out the two dark bands around it and its four moons were clearly visible bright and shiny…all Magnificently lined up. What a view! SubhanAllah!
But I wish I had a bigger scope… like a 10 inch one or atleast a 6… the details of the surface can not be seen and it doesn’t look like as it appears in magazines and websites! Sight! On top of that the viewing conditions in Karachi are terrible with so much light pollution its impossible to see the north star! Serious…. i was able to find it only when there was a major power failure and all street lights n the creek city lights were off…

I used 10mm and 25mm eye pieces with Barlow.

Another interesting event of the night was the occultation of a star by the eclipsed moon.. this is the first time iv seen any occultation… was wonderful!

There is a solar eclipse coming up on the 19th. I don’t have a solar filter…so dunoo if I would be able to view it or not.. Unless I get hold of some solar filters…

I will soon Inshallah upload some pics taken by two ameteur astronomers from Karachi. Unfortunatley due to the current blog ban in Pakistan, i cant access wordpress from either world call or supernet… and the proxy server is not leting me upload the pics. Il upload them as soon as im able to Inshallah.

Posted in Amateur Astronomy, Photography

LoRd of tHe RinGs

Lord of the RinGs

nO Im not talking about the movie or the book, its Saturn, the lord of the ring system in our skies im talking about.

Five planets of our solar system can be easily seen in the skies and are visible as bright stars. All you need to know is where to look and when, as they are not visible all the time, but they wander around the night sky.

These days, Saturn is the only planet visible and it rises around 2 Am and can be seen easily until dawn. It was an amazing experience to view saturn through the telescope. The disk and the amazing ring system. Two of its moons were also visible. But were really tiny…

Though abviously, the view was nothing like that seen in books and media..obv nothing  compared to hubble, still it was an awsome sight. I wud need to buy more eyepieces to see details on the surface and better viewing conditions as there is too much light pollution in  my area from the creek city and the creek club.

I also took a pic of saturn, but with a mobile camera. The pic is terrible and saturn looks tinier in the pic than it really was, but i was only too happy to have been able to captureit!
Left is the hubble pic and on the right side is mine with Nokia 6280 held at the eyepiece!

Saturn ProfessionalMy Saturn

Posted in Amateur Astronomy, My Articles

fiRsT LiGhT

My telescope saw its first Light the day it arrived in Leeds…. i was too eager to test it out that  i went out the same night… and since i had no idea how to operate the telescope (its quite complex.. still need to figure out a lotta things!) i was only able to find the full moon. but what a sight it was!!SubhanAllah! what an amazing creating of Allah.. and to think we never ponder!
the moon in its full glory.. every mountain and  crater visible! it was just superb.. cant be described.

After that the scope had to be packed and all i did was worry if it will reach Karachi in one piece! Alhamdulillah it did.

First Quarter Moon - InvertedOn the 30th of October and 1800 hours, i viewed the moon again, this time from Karachi. It was the first quarter moon. I used 25mm and 10 mm eye pieces along with the barlow lens. The detail was exceptional! Its just amazing what a small telescope can show! Since my telescope is a reflector, therefore the image seen was inverted, as seen in the picture. (This moon pic is not mine)

I have to admit that one can never get bored of watching the moon in its differnt phases. I look forward to enjoying more beautiful views of the moon.

Moon Facts:

Diameter: 3,480 Km.   27% of Earth

Mass: 7.35 x 10 22 Kg   1/81 of Earth

Average Distance from Earth: 384 000 km

Closest Distance: Perigee: 357 000 km

Furthest Distance: Apogee: 407 000 km

Posted in Amateur Astronomy, My Articles

sKy WaTchER

Skywatcher 130M

My First telescope the Sky Watcher Explorer 130M is finally on its way to me!

After months of looking for the right scope…iv finally decided and ordered it today and it should be with me Inshallah by next Tuesday.

Its a grand 5 inch reflector for a mere 170 pounds!

I was previously considering Meade, Celestron and was looking for Go To computerized scopes, but with some good advice from some amateaur astronomers, Explorer 130M has  come out to be the best choice.

In a telescope, the size of the aperture is the most important thing. 4 inch is the min aperture considered for serious amateur astronomers…i was not going to compromise on anything less than 4

4 or 5 inch Go to scopes were more than 300 pounds. The draw back with the go to scope is that they run on baterry power and once thats gone, the scope is pretty useless and not at all adjustable.

Cant wait for it!!

Posted in Amateur Astronomy, Science

Astrology Vs Astronomy

"The HUman race has always wanted to control the future,or at least to predict what will happen. That is why astrology is so popular.Astrology claims that events on earth are related to the motions of the planets across the sky.This is a scientifically testable hypothesis, or would be if astrologers stuck their neck out and made definite predictions that could be tested.However wisely enough, they make their forecasts so vage that they can apply to any outcome. Statements such as 'Personal Relations may become intense' or you will have a financially rewarding opportunity' can never be proved wrong.

  But the real reason most scientists dont belive in astrology is not scientific evidence or the lack of it but because it is not consistent with other theories that have been tested by experiment. When Copernicus and Galileo discovered that the planets orbit the sun rather than the earth and Newton  discovered the laws that govern their motion, astrology became extremely implausable  Why should the positions of other planets against the background sky as seen from Earth have any corelations with the macromolecules on a minor planet that call themselves intelligent life? Yet this is what astrology would have us believe."(Hawking,2001)

Quoted from  :                                                                                                   Stephen Hawking (2001) The Universe in a Nut Shell.Bantam Press.

Posted in Amateur Astronomy

Dave’s Astro Page: Pic with a scope and a mobile camera!

davep's astronomy: Being silly with the 905 and a mobile phone