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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Viewing the sun from Science Centre Observatory

One certain sweltering sunny day in December, Scobbers hosted a group of students very interested in Astronomy. We brought the kids and teachers up to our big 16-inch (40cm) Cassegrain Reflector telescope, where we viewed the sun through a sun filter. FYI: The sun filter looks like a mirror and covers the whole front end of the telescope for safe viewing of the sun by reducing glare.

Sky was clear, there were no clouds blocking our view of the sun, and the resulting image is an orangey sun against a black background. Andrew pointed out some sunspots to the kids, and we caught it on the 2 photos below. Can you see the sunspots at the top right hand corner in the picture?

Viewing the sun in the Observatory dome is a very sweaty affair, and dangerous too. The sun's rays when focused through the telescope, could so easily burn a hole in the dome's carpet, that we better not talk about your eyes. So necessary precautions had to be taken as mentioned above. But it was very different from the usual night sky viewing, and I think you should try it too.

15 January 2009
, we are going to view the sun again at SCOB. Time is 2.30PM to 5.30PM at where the Observatory dome is. Why a Friday afternoon!? Because there will be a solar eclipse! Although just a partial one, but a spectacular event to be sure, IF the sky is not too cloudy. Expect the sun to look like a "half-eaten cookie".

As the date draws nearer, we'll post more details on the scob blog.

Hope to see you on the 15th! Meanwhile, Happy 2010!

An Amazing Visual Treat

Thanks for the recommendation, Terence! This video achieved 8766 five-star ratings on Youtube, and when watching it, I found myself holding my breath, 'cause it was simply awesome.

The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world's most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010. For more information visit

Monday, December 21, 2009

Before we close for the year,

Hohoho, Merry Christmas to all of you, our dear Bleaders (Blog readers)!

Thanks to all of you for your constant support ever since we started blogging this year. It's been an amazing journey so far, we enjoyed writing, researching, linking webbies and photographing for you, but most of all we loved your comments and responses. It kept us going, trust me.

We'll catch up with you again after Jan 1st, and meanwhile, Orion, Canis major the Big Dog, and The Seven Sisters are a delight to spot.

Enjoy Christmas shopping, see you in 2010. *Blowing kisses*

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Star Map

Sometimes I wonder, is it really worth bothering with astronomy in Singapore? Looking at the night sky over the past few months, I asked myself: WHERE ARE THE STARS?????????????

Every time, I sat down to put together our monthly star map I had to think hard about how many stars to include on the map. Last month, it would have been quite accurate just to include ONE dot on that circular map, i.e. the planet Jupiter, which was one of the few objects who's brightness could break through the bright urban lights and mostly overcast sky.

However, there is no need to despair. The brightest lights of the heavens are fast approaching.It just so happens that October and November were pretty barren months in terms of the number of bright stars available for viewing.

December "should" be a particularly good month for urban stargazing, several of the brightest constellations in the sky are about the appear, for example Taurus, Orion Cassiopeia, Perseus. Cause for celebration indeed but before I get too optimistic, I should point out that we are still in the rainy season here in Singapore and so the likelihood of a cloudy sky is in fact quite......likely. So despite some really interesting objects on view this month we may not get to fully enjoy them.

Having said that, here is December's Star Map, just in case ;)

If we do get a clear sky here's a list of some of the treats on view in my stars of the months:

1)M45 – The Pleiades (Seven Sisters)
A large and bright cluster of young white-blue stars. Try and spot the 7 brightest members using only your eyes. Use binoculars to experience its full glory!
2)The Hyades
A loose grouping of stars next to the bright star of Aldebaran. One of the closest star clusters to the Sun (150 light years away). Requires binoculars.
3)Perseus Double Cluster (NGC 869 & NGC 884)
Two large clusters lying close together in our Galaxy. Must use binoculars but can be tricky to find in our urban sky.
4)Alpha Persei/Melotte 20 Cluster
This large, loose cluster surrounds and includes the supergiant star of Alpha Persei (Mirfak), the brightest star in Perseus. Find it with binoculars or telescopes at low power.
5,6,7. – M38, M37, M36 respectively
Three star clusters located a short distance from each other in Auriga. M37 (no. 6) is the brightest of the three. Containing hundreds of stars they can appear very faint in bright skies

Let's hope for a dry January!

Some recent Fisheye Lomo B&W Pics of the Science Centre OBservatory - Day time

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This Morning's Sky

It was 5.45am. I could see something real bright outside my window the minute I opened my eyes. It looked like a star, or a planet. But it couldn't be, I would usually need my specs.

And so, this morning, I woke up without difficulty for a change. In fact, I jumped up from bed wide awake, and spent the next 30 minutes trying to figure out the whole beautiful clear dawn sky. Note: I can see a partially obscured view of the Southern sky from my window.

It turned out Canopus was shining through my window. It is the second brightest star in the sky, and is 65 times bigger than our sun, 15,000 times brighter. Thus from my window, this star was easily the brightest one of all, despite being approx 300 lightyears away. It had got to be really bright for me to spot it even without specs.

To the Chinese and the Japanese, this star is also known as 南极老人星, or 老人星 (Star of the Old Man) for short. It signifies happiness and longevity.

To see this in the evening, we have to wait till April 2010. Do drop by SCOB, and we can tell you all about Canopus, and Sirius, the brightest star of all.

Other objects in the sky this morning include our beloved planets Mars and Saturn. Mars was gleaming away above my head looking all reddish and sparkling. Try and catch it tomorrow morning if the sky is clear.

With that, time to go to work.

Good Morning Folks!

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Books at the Observatory!

We are trying to start an Observatory reference library, and in the past week, some books were acquired on a sale. Before we find an ideal bookshelf, we will meanwhile showcase 2 books every Friday, for your reference when you are taking a break from stargazing.

Do you have books to donate? Bring it down to the Observatory, or leave a message for us in the tagboard on your right.

We look forward to hearing from you! :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Scobbers go to... Parkway Parade!

On 20 to 22nd November, our Scobbers Andrew and Yong will be at Parkway Parade, presenting you a most Magical Starry Nights Science Show. Be enchanted by the science demonstrations in the show! Here are the timings for the shows: 1.30pm, 4.30pm and 7.30pm daily.

While waiting, you are welcome to take part in our stage games and who knows what prizes you'll walk away with. The stage games are conducted at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm daily, just right before our science show.

You may be thinking, how to get there?
Here's the information you'll need:
Buses: 15, 31, 36, 43, 48, 76, 135, 196, 196e, 197

Recognise this building with the huge PP and you'll know where to alight.

When you get inside, just look for our nice round Science Centre and our Science in the Mall logos.

If you miss this exciting event, you will have to wait 'til next June in 2010. So make sure you catch it this time. Or it'll be another half-year-long wait.

For more information and updates, here's where to go to:

See you there =)

(and that concludes my very first post)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leonids Meteor shower 17th & 18th Nov

Just some more info about the meteor shower happening this week.
These meteors (aka shooting stars) are tiny bits of debris (ice and rock dust)left by a comet called Tempel-Tuttle, which occassional crosses the Earth's orbit.

On Tuesday night/Wednesdau morning, Earth will move through this comet debris. As the debris enters our atmosphere it burns and creates a bright flash in the sky.

Each flash will last no longer than a second. Between the hours of 12am and 4am (wednesday) you might expect to see a small number of meteors (10 or less per hour).
Approaching 5am, this should increase to about 200 meteors per hour as the Earth enters the densest part of the comet's debirs field.

Remember that being in an urban environment, with brightly lit skies, we may not see the full glory of the shower but if the sky is clear it should still be quite a show.

The shower is called the Leonids because the meteor appear to originate from in front of the constellation Leo (see diagram below). Leo will be visible above the horizon after about 2am towards the East direction.
To watch the meteor shower it is best to have a clear view of the Eastern part of the sky (i.e. where the Sun will rise in the morning). Although the meteors start from the East direction they travel out in all directions so position yourself facing Eastward but kept looking high up to catch the meteors as the streak across the sky.

A star map of the east direction, on Wed 18th Nov 2009 between 3am and 5am:
(Look out for the two planet, Mars and Starn as well)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cloudy Fridays...

The weather over in Singapore has not been very ideal for stargazing lately. We had several cloudy Fridays in a row. So our visitors yesterday were having fun attending talks, reading, coloring, looking at the JTC building through our main telescope in the dome.

Last Friday was slightly better. We had Jupiter for starters, and just before the Science Centre Observatory closed, we saw some beautiful constellations!

As we approach the end of the year, there are some nice sky objects to look out for. IMO the easier ones will be Pegasus - a big square in the sky, and the Summer Triangle, a huge right-angle triangle made up of 3 bright stars: Vega, Deneb and Altair. And our favourite would be Albireo, a beautiful double star made up of one blue-green star and one gold star. You need a telescope to see that. :)

Above: Pegasus

Above: The Summer Triangle

Hmm... Let's hope there will be better Friday nights for us to look at Jupiter and the stars... If you are one of the lucky visitors to come on a clear night, don't forget to check out Jupiter and its moons, and their shadows on Jupiter, as well as Albireo. They won't be around for long! Miss them, and you have to wait for 1 year. ;)

If, however, you come on a cloudy night, don't leave just yet, your patience might be rewarded with a gust of wind that clears the clouds in the sky... We are also trying to collect art pieces from each of you. Colour or draw something before you leave, and pass it to us. We are building a picture wall! Pictures will be up soon :)

Meanwhile, feel free to leave messages for us on the Tagboard on the right, enjoy the daily Astro picture on the bottom right, and if you have not added us on Facebook or Twitter, do so now, so that we may update you on the latest news!

See ya at the Science Centre Observatory, friends!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Water on the Moon - CONFIRMED!

Today's Google Logo above.

Water on the moon has all along been suspected but never proven. But scientists have recently CONFIRMED the presence of water on the moon! COOL.

Here is a short article from

What exactly has Nasa found?

The equivalent of 24 gallons of frozen water, mixed in with the rock and dust that was thrown into the air when a rocket was deliberately crashed into a crater near the Moon's south pole last month. It is far from the science fiction fantasy of an underground lake, but still pretty impressive for a satellite long dismissed as arid and dull.

Didn't we know there was water on the Moon already?

Scientists have long suspected that there was water on the Moon, but have struggled to prove it. The sensors on orbital craft have detected evidence of hydrogen on the lunar surface, but the quantities were tiny. A major breakthrough came last September, when India announced that its Chandrayaan-1 craft had detected that chemical reactions producing water are still taking place.

Where does the water come from?

No one is certain. One theory suggests that hydrogen released by the Sun in solar winds could have reacted with compounds containing oxygen in the Moon rock, producing tiny amounts of H20. Another explanation proposes that the water came from vapour produced when comets and meteors crashed into the Moon's surface.

What does this all mean?

Nasa has been so keen to find water on the Moon because it brings the dream of a permanent lunar base one step closer. If water exists in the quantities that Nasa now believes, it could be drunk by astronauts, turned into oxygen to make stations inhabitable and – most excitingly – converted into fuel. The Moon could then become the space equivalent of a service station – acting as a staging post for manned missions to Mars.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Star Maps - October 2009

I'm a bit late with the star map for this month.
As usual, the object that will be viewed the most will be planet Jupiter. Still bright in the sky, it will be visible all the way to December.

Regarding other objects in the sky, you might that the night sky looks very barren lately. As we enter the last quarter of the year, the constellations do not contain many bright stars so our light polluted sky makes it very difficult to see the majority of the stars illustrated in the Star Map below.

At SCOB, we will try to find a few interesting double stars and star clusters.
Our constellations of the month include Pegasus (a large square shape of stars) and Andromeda (famous for containing the large Andromeda Galaxy). These constellations should be visible towards the North-East on a night without clouds and without moon.

Friday, October 2, 2009

TONIGHT: Mid Autumn Nite. Free Lanterns and Mooncakes, Special discounts for Science Centre, IMAX Movie and Snow City.


Right, the Mid Autumn Festival is just around the corner. There will be a beautiful *almost* full moon tonight, and tonight's Observatory will be very very special...

As part of the International Year of Astronomy's (IYA2009) celebrations, there will be a special mega event at the Science Centre Singapore Observatory, and we hope you can join us! Admission is FREE, as usual. :)

Mid Autumn Nite

The event starts at 6 with a romantic lantern walk from Chinese Garden MRT Station to Science Centre Singapore Observatory. Participants of the lantern walk will receive a *free* lighted lantern. Bask in the warm glow of the candlelight, under an enchanting sky.

On arriving at Science Centre Singapore Observatory, you will receive a free mooncake, while stocks last :) Find the lively area buzzing with stage activities and games, as well as children's hands-on activities. Children, expect to make your own limited edition 3D planetarium to look at stars at home!

From 8pm to 10pm, more than 10 telescopes will be set up all around the Science Centre Singapore Observatory for your viewing pleasure. At the same time, there will be 2 Moon Talks for the scientifically inclined, a high definition movie screening under the stars "The Universe", and of course, a screening of the enchanting Disney Pixar movie, Wall E.

Finally, good news for all of you:

Omnitheatre, Snow City and Science Centre Singapore will all be open until 10PM (extended hours), and at special rates!

Omnitheatre IMAX Movie:

$7.50 Adult (UP: $10), $4 Child (UP: $5)

Snow City:

$11 Pax (UP: $13)

Science Centre Singapore:

$4.50 Adult (UP: $6), $2.25 Child (UP: $3)

While you are there, check out our new exhibitions: Science of F1, Microbes, Mathematics, and our new IMAX movie: Space Station.

With so much happening at SCOB, what are you waiting for? Come on and join us tonight!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September Star Map

Although it seems particularly cloudy these days, there is still the odd clear night that we can catch a glimpse of some of the bright objects in the night sky.

One object that is hard to miss is the planet Jupiter. Shining high up in the sky (southwards mid-evening time) it is brighter the all surrounding stars. Its often thought to be a star or even a satellite but make no mistake, its a planet, as any look through a telescope would confirm as that bright dot is resolved into a small round ball with visible atmosphere and shining moons by its side.

Sadly, you'll probably need binoculars and a really dark place to see the faint the stars of Capricornus which surround Jupiter this year.

The brightest stars this month still belong to Scorpius and Sagittarius (Looking South) as well as the three stars making up "The Summer Triangle" - Vega, Deneb, Altair (Looking northwards and directly overhead).

Later in the evening and on towards midnight you might spot the four stars that make up the square shape of Pegasus (looking north east) and the bright "fish star" Fomalhaut (looking south east).

Happy Stargazing!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Scobbers and Friends @ Brewerkz

Alas, September is here and as this new week begins we find an empty space, a gap, a void in our midst. Yes one of our group, our dear scobber Hui Ting "The Ting", has gone, departed, moved on to new pastures.

In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn't have used the word "departed" as it may give the impression that she has passed away but NO!!! Do not worry! Hui Ting is alive and well. What I mean to say is that she has just moved on to a new job, as indicted in the her Memoirs below.

Thanks Hui Ting for all your help at the observatory. Sorry I didn't really provide you with the necessary info to help ease you in, it must have been like getting thrown in at the deep end. I'm glad SK and Albert Ho were there with their great help.
Was Yong really that grumpy while I was away?

I like your Memoirs. I was wondering what you were thinking that orientation day, you were very quiet I remember :0)

Anyways, on the subject of those "liquids". Below are some photos of one of our outings to commemorate the beginning of The Ting's last week at Science Centre. (apologies for the blurriness of the photos, however, this may represent the vision of certain people after the consumption of said liquids :p)

At this point, I must point out that we scobbers are not compulsive drinkers of said liquids nor do we condone excessive drunkenness. We do like to drink such liquids on occasion purely for social bonding, fellowship and for the sometimes delusional ambition of becoming connoisseurs of said beverages.
Motto of the day: Drinking can be good but do so only if you want to and responsibly within your own limits. Also, respect the age limit and do not drink and drive :o)
That said, now on with the photos:
Prior to arrival of "said liquids"

In consumption of "said liquid"

Yong looking like he is in violation of everything I just said about being responsible with "said liquids"

Don't worry folks, he didn't really drink that much, we gave him all our empty glasses. He's just pretending............ or taking a nap, I forget which ;p

I like this photo because it looks like Yong has a transparent head, maybe he feels lightheaded! hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.....I crack myself up sometimes :)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Memoirs of an amateur astronomer

Foreword: I am really trying to write a proper memoir but I'm currently writing this while being surrounded by technicians and contractors shouting hokien and Malay at each other, so please forgive me if I start punctuating my sentences with f*** and other colourful words. If you find this post too long, just scroll down to the part where it says "In Summary"

So here it goes:

Dear all scobbers,

Today marks my last day here at Science Centre! It's only been 8 months but for some reason it feels like I've been here for reaaaallly long.

The 1st time I saw the observatory was during my orientation, with Andrew as my buddy. I remembered the mouldy smell and the dust and the stuffiness(don't really know if there's such a word) and also the er herm messiness. And I thoughtI would most probably not be involved in the observatory and for that, I was a little relieved=)

But of cos I have to add that the observatory is so lovely and cosy and welcoming now! With aircon! And art works of so many visitors! And it's soooooo neat now after the spring cleaning!

Anyway, after I started working here for sometime, I got roped in somehow. (actually I can't really remember how it all happened except that I responded "yes" to one of andrew's email invite)At that time, I didn't know much about astronomy(in fact, I don't even know the order of the planets then)

And the rest of the memory became abit fuzzy and furry. (I don't think most memoirs are like this but you just have to put up with me)Though, I do remember that I started off being the guest relations officer(nice title I came up for myself hehe) Initially, I felt inadequate because I couldn't answer so many questions (like which telescope is the best, where the black hole is and so on and so forth)

But I'll always remember how I got nearly all my astro knowledge from SK in one session itself, with just her laser pointer and a pair of binoculars. And hearing her explaining the superstitions and significance of stars to certain cultures was absolutely enchanting. That was the first time I really started to love astronomy=)

And I also remembered how Albert from TASOS became my idol, for being so patient and so non-judgemental( he answers my dumb questions with a smile!) And for being so wise and informed in astronomy!

And then Andrew left for UK, which was a traumatising period for me(imagine doing observatory with a moody Yong every Fri, though I think Yong was moody bcos he misses Andrew)

So many people, so many thanks.

In summary:

To Andrew: Thanks for always asking me "Are you all right?" during observatory hahas!

To Yong: Thanks for all the liquids you brought, liquids that I've never tried before until this year.

To SK: Thanks for all your patience and encouragement and for being so giving! You're the sister I always wanted!

To Alfred: Thanks for teaching me how to set up the telescopes and for entertaining me with your jokes and antics!

To Valdrick(don't know how to spell your name) aka Val-val: Thanks for keeping me company! You're the son I want to have in future!

To the cat at the observatory: Meow meow meeeeeeeow! Miao! Meeeeeeee--meee---ow! (Translation: Thanks for letting me pet you! You're the 1st cat I ever petted!)

To Everlyne: Thanks for hmmm hmmmm hmmmm. (pause)I can't think of anything to thank you for. HAHAHAHAHAHAS. All right I thank you for entertaining me during the recent eclipse event=)

Okay this is getting wayyyyy too long. Signing off here!

(PS: I'll be back)

The Thing

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

tonight's sky - 14th Aug

The sky tonight is.......CLOUDY! There is a familiar dull grey covering across the sky in the picture above, nicely taken by SK at 7:10pm.

Conditions do not look good.
Don't know if Jupiter's brightness can break through at about 9pm

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Today's Google logo shows this:

And that means it is a special occasion, and you should be verrrrrrrry excited.

It is the 2009 Perseid meteor shower!

The name Perseid originates from the constellation Perseus which the meteoroids appear to come from. (The meteoroids do not actually come from Perseus. Perseus is made up of stars light years away, while these meteoroids are only miles away, passing through our atmosphere.) This meteor shower is an annual event which happens every year early August. The Earth passes through rock and dust fragments left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle, and as these small particles collide with the Earth’s atmosphere, they burn-up, often creating a beautiful streak of light across the sky.

Can we see this meteor shower in Singapore? Andrew says yes☺. Face eastward tonight (slightly to the north) and look high up from 11pm to 5am, it is going to be a wonderous spectacle. But it would require a relatively clear sky and what you see may be affected by the brightness of the moon. As always, the darker the better. Depending on the sky conditions you may see about 10- 20 meteors per hour. The peak time for meteor showers is usually around 2am to 4am.

Note that you need just your naked eye to see the meteor shower, a pair of binos may come in useful if you have one. It is best to have a comfortable chair or mat that you can rest on and gaze at the sky for a few hours.

We wish you luck.

Check out NASA's article on Perseids here.
Source: IYA2009, Sky and Telescope

A short video of what you may see:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

How does Andrew the Awesome take pictures of the sky? and other photos.

Efforts to get the moon into the frame...

Where's the MOON???
To see this photo taken by Andrew, scroll down to see last Friday's post :)

The Obs Cat peeping at us...

...before retreating into her hiding place.

Yong the Evil Fungi is back from Space Camp!
And finally, a moon photo from a few evenings ago...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Tonight's weather

Looks good tonight!
Could be our first clear Friday night sky of July.
In the picture above, the whitespeck at the top right corner is the Moon.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Coming Soon in August

A guide to July's sky

Travel back to the days of old, when television was new, where things were all black and white. Here, you'll meet "darth" our friendly scobber from " A long time ago..." Who, by means of a mysterious interdimensional hypersubspace rift thingy through the fabric of spacetime, can communicate with us and inform us of what we can expect to see in the sky each month.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The weather tonight (24th July)

Tonight's sky looks better than last week. Still cloudy but a chance of clearing.

PS. In the end my prediction was wrong. Instead of clearing, more cloud came over and covered the sky. In the few gaps that appeared we did catch a brief glimpse of Saturn and the stars Arcturus (Bootes) and Antares (Scorpius).

I'm sad to say that I don't make a good weather man :(
That's the third week in a row that we've been clouded out. It seems July is a very cloudy month.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eclipse Event 22 July 2009

If there was ever a day to remember that in the world of Earth-based astronomy the weather is king, it was today.
Heavy cloud and persistant rain made sure that this morning's Solar Eclipse was well and truly eclipsed, meaning to say that we and many others didn't see a thing.

Despite the rain an estimated 300 or so optimistic visitors came to the observatory at 8:30am.

As our motto says: The show must gone!
Actually, we don't have a motto, but in cases such as this it seemed appropriate.
With no eclipse and no live webcasts we did the only thing we could.......FAKE IT!

Now, when I say fake it, I don't mean use somebody's head and film it moving slowly in front of a bright light, no no no!
I mean we used our trusty software Starry Night Pro Plus to show people an animation of what the eclipse would look like if there were clear skies.

About 100 or so people stuck around for this "simulated eclipse" and a brief tour of the observatory. However, some were a little surprised when they saw just how small a 10% eclipse actually is and also that Singapore will not see a total solar eclipse until the year 2168.

There is a brief video report on the event currently available on Straits Times Razor TV:

Below are some photos of the event:

Above: Alfred setting up live webcast outside classroom.

Below: The webcast showing that even in China there was rain

Above: Yong got his picture in the paper (Lianhe Zaobao) treating visitors to a tour and Q&A session at the main telescope.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Scobbers' Pets

Hehehe here's a glimpse into the interesting pets Scobbers keep in the office...
At time of photo shoot, Andrew was not around. We decided this must be Andrew's favourite Pet:

SK's friend, Oarsome:

Hui Ting's Pet Miu Miu:

Yong looking at his favourite tank:

His pet eel, Eel.

See you tonight!