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14 February 2014

Cambodia 2014: Assessment of the night sky seeing and light pollution in visited places in Cambodia.


Map of places visited in Cambodia
In our trip I visited many towns and cities across different regions of Cambodia. The project was to assess the night sky seeing and to see the amount of light pollution within the cities in Cambodia. Cambodia was not what I expected. I thought it would have been clear air, moving weather and fresh dry skies, but the dry weather after the Monsoon brought dusty skies that impeded the seeing greatly.

I visited 5 different places; the capital Phnom Penh, a city on the west coast named Krong Koh Kong, Battambang, the second largest city in Cambodia, Siem riep, the gateway to Angkor Wat and a paradise island on the coast of Sihanoukville called Koh Rong.

Phnom Penh by night. The night sky is dusty
and light pollution impeeds seeing.
Credit: Astronomy club Toutatis/S. Lamoureux
(Click on picture to enlarge)
Obviously in Phnom Penh the light pollution is an issue. I would say in a moonless night the stars we see are of Apparent Magnitude 1.7. In this case Alnilam in the belt of the constellation Orion (based on photographic assessment) was our star of reference. In a few words, the city centers all around the world are all the same. They are filled with light and dust that isn’t the ideal for stargazing.

In the outskirts of Krong Koh Kong, on the west coast of Cambodia (+/- 200 km from the capital) the night sky was kind of better. What I mean by “kind of better” is that the night sky was clear, but you could always discern a veil of dust in the air. Let say that even if those parts are pretty dark, it looked like what I saw in the capital.

Battambang was a large city with its own problems. The light pollution was considerable and the dust veil didn’t give up. This is where we observed the Moon with Dr. Vith and his students. We had a clear night sky for the observation session, which was good. The night sky was comparable to Phnom Penh even though we were in a darker area. Battambang was a nice city, but didn’t have the night sky charms I was looking for.

Angkor Wat with almost full Moon, Jupiter
and the Constellation of Orion.
Credit: Astronomy club Toutatis/S. Lamoureux
(Click on picture to enlarge)
The gateway to Angkor, Siem riep was another brightly led city and gave not much hope for stargazing. But the grounds of Angkor Wat was very much the contrary.  In the midst of the temples, the dark and stars ruled the night sky. Only problem was that near the horizon you couldn’t see nothing, the infamous dust veil was covering all the lower part of the sky. I manage to get some nice pictures, I would say this was probably the best night sky I have seen in Cambodia yet.

Hold your horses! The last place I visited was a paradise island on the coast of Sihanoukville. The island is called Koh Rong and you will not find any roads, any car or any street lamp for that matter. The light pollution is non existent and gives this island maybe the only place in Cambodia with this statue. This was by far the best night sky in Cambodia.

Bungalow in starry night on paradise
island Koh Rong, Cambodia
Credit: Astronomy club Toutatis/S. Lamoureux
(Click on picture to enlarge)
In conclusion, the night sky in Cambodia was very erratic. The dusty horizon was the worst. The dust veil was omnipresent. The light pollution in bigger cities took the fun out of stargazing. My assessment of the night sky in Cambodia is 4 out of 10 (4/10).
Not very promising, but if you really want to do some stargazing in Cambodia head for the paradise island of Koh Rong.
 
Continue reading  post no. 3 Cambodia 2014: Ancient Astronomy: Angkor Wat, City built with astronomical measurements to mimic the Gods in the Universe.

Continue reading  post no. 3 Cambodia 2014: Ancient Astronomy, Angkor Wat, City built with astronomic measurements to mimic the Gods in the Universe.