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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Solar Observation on Summer Solstice Week

When in Singapore, everyday feels like summer - mostly hot ( average of 24- 32°C) and humid. We do not experience the transition of the environment through the 4 different seasons. However, if you were in the northern part of this world, e.g. America, you would be looking forward to this weekend as Summer hits the region. During Summer, the warmest season of the year, the sun will stay up in the sky for longer, resulting in a longer day time and hotter days as compared to the rest of the year.

What happens during Summer Solstice?

The summer that people in the Northern region will be experiencing is a result of the Earth’s position in relation to the Sun. Happening from June to September, the hottest season begins with the Summer Solstice celestial event which happens around 21 June every year. The word 'solstice' comes from the latin words, sol (which means 'sun') and stitium (which means ' to stand still') as the sun appears to stop moving. On this day, the northern region will experience the longest day of the entire year.

Everyday, the Earth faithfully revolves around the Sun, as well as rotate about its own axis. As the Earth does not spin around a vertical axis, i.e., it has a tilted axis (23.4 degrees towards the plane of Earth’s orbit), the amount of Sunlight that reaches the different parts of the Earth changes as it orbits around the Sun. During this 3-month Summer period, the Earth’s axis tilts towards the Sun, and as a result, the northern hemisphere receives more direct sunlight rays than the southern hemisphere.  

Photo: BBC Science

Summer in America is Winter in Australia

While people in the Northern hemisphere are donning on their bathing suits and getting ready to hit the beach, people in the Southern hemisphere, such as Australia, are putting on extra layers to brace themselves for the chilly winter. As the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun and receives more direct light, the Southern hemisphere, which is at  the opposite side, receives less sunlight and experiences shorter daytime. Hence, regions at the opposite poles experience extreme differences in weather and different seasons.

Meanwhile in the South...

View the Sun on International Sun Day!

Have you been avoiding direct eye contact with the Sun because your parents or teachers have told you the Sun’s bright rays are damaging to your eyes? They are definitely right! Staring at the sun for too long is damaging to your retina and may even cause partial blindness.

We know you are curious about how the Sun looks like (and itching to look at it even for just a few seconds!). Here’s your chance to view the Sun directly and safely on International SUN-Day, which is held on 22 June 2014, the Sunday nearest to the Summer Solstice. The Astronomical Society of Singapore (TASOS) will be setting up some specially outfitted telescopes for solar observation at the Observatory for public viewing. Through these modified telescopes, you will be able to observe sunspots, prominences as well as the sun’s corona.

So make this SUNday a meaningful one by joining us to marvel at the beauty of the big flaming star. Everyone’s invited!

SUN-Day Solar Observation
Date: 22 Jun 2014 (Sunday)
Time: 3.00pm - 6.00pm

Venue: Science Centre Singapore Observatory
Cost: FREE for everyone!

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