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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Space Rocks!

Space rocks comes in many shapes, sizes and can be constitute of many various substances! Scientists believed that Space rocks may be the remains of a planet that was destroyed billions of years ago or that it could be the debris left over from the formation of the solar system. No one really knows...Perhaps one day one day we will have confirmation on which one is more correct. The reason why scientists believed that space rocks may once be part of a planet is that some of them can be entirely made up of Iron and other heavy metals which are usually found in the core of planets!

Most of the space rocks are found in orbit around the sun. That orbital path is called the Asteroid Belt the other name for space rocks floating out in space is also Asteroids, smaller space rocks are called Meteoroids.

Any space rocks that has a diameter smaller than 1.6km is called a Meteoroid.

The picture above is drawn with artistic license, so please take it up with the proper authorities.

Sometimes the orbital path of a space rock would fall outside the Asteroid belt and come closer to earth than usual. Sometimes the gravitational pull from Earth may pull it even closer, and sometimes the gravitational pull of it may even cause the poor space rock to fall onto the surface of Earth at such great speed that the rock may create a streak of fire forming a long tail. We call this phenomenon "shooting stars" or meteors, we never call them asters. Occasioanlly if the space rock is large enough, or is made of denser substances like Iron, they may survive the journey all the way from space and smack right into Earth forming a crater. The left over space rock that survived is called meteorite.

This is the artist's childlike impression of a particularly large shooting star.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour 2009

Dear all! This is my 1st post on this blog! And although it's not going to be about astronomy, it's about something that affects everyone! (Drumroll....)
It's Earth Hour 2009! Today, 28th March 8.30pm -9.30pm!

Vote for Earth against global warming. And let your light switch be your vote.
Alright, it's 8.28pm now and I'm going to switch off my lights as soon as I finish this post!
Have you voted yet?

Friday, March 27, 2009

What's up this week!

Its Friday again and another week has gone by. I didn't quite get round to posting more blogs and the installation of the air-con seems to have stalled, which is quite annoying. I guess our dear fans will be able to enjoy a few more weeks of service before the A/C is operational. Although we are looking forward to using the air-con with great anticipation, there is something to be said for the noble fan. For one, it uses alot less energy and in these times of global warming that's quite a plus. Ok so it doesn't cool you down as well as the high energy consuming air-con but its a better friend to the environment. Having said that, I'd wish they'd hurry up and install that energy hungry beast in the observatory so we can have slightly cooler Friday nights, heehee :-). Its not as eco friendly as a fan but it sure is cooler and its only for two hours a week, not that bad right? Anyway, at home the fan is still my friend. I barely use air-con anymore and only use one fan when sleeping. As a result my utilities bill has come right down, which makes me very happy :0D. So that's my message of the week, a good way to look after our Earth is to find the right moviation...i.e. saving money. Reduce your electricity bill, get some spare cash and help the environment whether it was your intention to or not.

Back to our main business, Astronomy. I was hoping to start a regular series of posts regarding what we'll be expecting to look at each week including a starmap for the month so I'll start with tonight.

Just like last week our main highlight will be the planet Saturn. If there is time and it is clear enough we may look for some interesting star clusters also. For example, the Beehive cluster, M44 in Cancer. Slightly more ambitious will be the Eta Carinae nebula in Carina, difficult because it lies low in the south where there tends to be alot of light pollution. Of course we should be able to see the Orion Nebula, M42 again as Orion descend lower toward the Western horizon.

Here's a raw image that I took of Saturn at the end of last week's observatory session:

You might notice that it is on its side, that is because we are in Singapore, near the equator and therefore standing on the side of the Earth giving us a sideways view of objects in the sky. Saturn will only appear right side up when its directly overhead.

Although it is the end of the month, below is a Skymap for March for anyone located around Singapore. It shows the approximate position of the bright stars and constellations visible from our brightly lit island:

That's all for now. Look out for more updates for April next week.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Air-Con Has Arrived!!

I’m back! I couldn’t resist writing another one, this time without the pointless waffling and have more pictures.....Mmmmm... I like waffles :o)

I just received word that our new air-con unit for the main observatory is here. Hurray!!! After 20 years the observatory will finally have air-con, Friday night stargazing will never again be such a sweaty affair. Actually, it remains to be seen how effective the cooling effect will be, especially as it has to cope with the huge opening in the roof that enables us to see the sky. There should at least a cooling breeze around the telescope, providing a more comfortable environment for all......hopefully.

Hearing the news, I was excited, naturally, so I ran down with my camera to record the prestigious moment of installation.

Here, the air-con unit is being carried up to the observatory

There it sits just waiting to come out of its box.

Although we will still have fans on around the perimeter of the observatory, it dawned on me that the fans on the upper level (around the telescope) will be seldom used once the air-con is up and running.
Dear fans, you have performed your duty with honour and will always have a special place in the observatory (probably a dusty corner in the storeroom). We bid you a fond farewell and thank you.

After the farewell ceremony, I was surprised to hear that the air-con will only be installed tomorrow....bother!!
Therefore, I took a picture of where the air-con will be located, with myself as a stand-in (literally) for the air-con unit.

To be continued......

We Are GO!!!

It is done, we have our blog! Hurray! Actually, we’ve been planning to start this blog for several months now but things have been busy at Science Centre lately for me and my fellow “Scobbers”. I must especially thank SK (aka Ruijie) who came up with the original idea and got it going.

This is the first time I’m writing a blog....can you tell? How am I doing so far?
Over the last 24 hours I’ve found myself thinking alot about the blog, thoughts like: What shall we write? Will it be good? Who are we writing to? Ourselves?? Each other? ??Our visitors????? How about everyone? Should I record the time spent blogging in my work record form? How long have I been writing now? Why so many questions? What am I talking about? How do I stop? What’s for dinner?

Ok I better stop here before I go totally off track, according to some of the scobbers, I have a tendency to be quite longwinded in my explanations. Can you tell? How am I doing now? Maybe it has something to do with being English? My Singaporean family and friends often tell me that when in the UK and asking for directions, people gave the longest possible answers, for example “Which way to the train station?” Answer: “What you have to do is go down the High Street across the mini-roundabout, past the zebra-crossing next to the newsagents and then onto the post office, turn right onto Penny Lane, cross-over the road and a little further down is the station.” Of course what you just want to know is “ go straight to the post office and turn right”. Now, I’ve never experienced this personally, its just what people tell me. I’m sure not all English people are like that, even if they are, there’s nothing wrong with a little friendly conversation.

Oh dear, I got carried away again. Back to the main purpose of this blog, Astronomy! In fact, I believe that it was no mere coincidence that heavy work schedules and procrastination caused the launch of this blog to be delayed until March. Originally, we planned it for January to coinside with the start of the International Year of Astronomy. However, starting the blog in March is perfect timing as it is the 20-year anniversay of the main telescope at the Science Centre observatory.
Although the International Year of Astronomy (2009) is significant as the 400-year anniversary of Galileo‘s first demonstration of an astronomical telescope (in 1609), we can also celebrate the birthday of Science Centre’s first telescope which, up until recently was the largest in Singapore.

Happy Birthday “Big 16inch (40cm) Cassegrain Relfector”!!!!
Hmm.......we may need to give it a better name. Suggestions are welcome;-)

My first blog post is done.......How’d I do?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

2 songs about the Moon that we love

A really sweet song by Ernie from Sesame Street about the MOON...

...and a super funny one from Sponge Monkeys.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Some Favourite Photos :)

Door to the dome containing the main telescope:

View of the evening sky on a certain Friday night, as well as the smaller dome:

A typical night with a queue to the main telescope and visitors having fun all around the area. Picture is rather grainy, but do you see the full moon?