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Friday, May 21, 2010

The Jewel Box

In the previous post we talked about an Android night sky application. If you do not possess either an iPhone or Android, an online version is available too.

If the night sky is clear later, we at the Science Centre OBservatory might look at The Jewel Box tonight.

The Jewel Box (N4755) is present in the Southern Cross (The constellation also known as Crux that acts like a compass in the Southern part of the sky). Hardly visible to the naked eye, the Jewel Box is a dazzling cluster of stars through the telescope.
A closer look:

Looking at the Jewel Box is a once a year event, because in Singapore on the Equator, we only get to see it for a short few weeks a year.

To catch the amazing beauty of this star cluster, allow your eyes to adjust to the dark first before you look through the telescope. You should be able to catch a few stars forming an outline of the letter "A".

Good luck finding the Jewel Box tonight! Hope to see you here at the Science Centre OBservatory!

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Google Sky Map for Android Phones

There are plenty of Sky Map apps on the iPhone, but how about the droids? I recently came across a really cool one by Google.

Google Sky Map allows you to explore the night sky just by pointing your phone to space. The screen serves as a window onto the sky, whereby you can explore the relative positions of planets, stars, constellations, and more, in realtime.

In the auto mode, Google Sky Map works just like a compass. As you move the phone, the view on the screen moves. Pointing the phone to a particular star allows one to find out its name. To find out what our fellow stargazers can see from the other side of the earth right now, point the phone to the ground. To find out what is in the sky in the afternoon, point the phone to the ceiling if you are indoors.

If you prefer, the traditional manual mode is also available. Just open up a zoomed in sky map (the whole celestial sphere) and explore by sliding your fingers across the screen.

An extensive database is also available for you to search for a particular object in the sky.

Everytime I play with this app, I am mesmerized by the dazzling array of stars that surrounds the Earth from every angle, and at any time of the day.

If you are holding on to an Android phone, go try it out now!

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