Saturday, March 14, 2015

Free public stargazing outside Bishan Park McDonald's - 14 Mar 2015



Weather permitting, there will be a free public stargazing session outside McDonald's at Bishan Park today 14 March 2015 from 7:45pm till late.

Come join us to look at Jupiter, star cloud and star clusters through our telescopes! And if we are staying late after midnight, the amazing Saturn (with rings!) and breathtaking last quarter Moon!

This is the location of McDonald's at Bishan Park -->  Google Map

For those taking public transport:

(1) Take train to Bishan MRT.
(2) Cross the overhead bridge to the bus stop (opposite Junction 8 mall).
(3) Take bus 13, 52 or 88,
(4) Alight at the second or third bus stop.
(5) Walk towards tallest building you see (Clover By The Park condominium)
(6) The park and McDonald's is just behind this condominium.

Please take note there is free SG50 concert at the park just opposite McDonald's today. Featuring local singers Kit Chan and Oliver Ong. More information about this concert can be found in this Straits Times article.

So for those who are driving, please take note of potential lack of parking space in the carpark inside Bishan Park. Please park nearby elsewhere or take public transport.

So come join us with your family and friends and enjoy a great start to the school holidays!

Follow my Twitter @astrosg for latest updates.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Free Stargazing Talk: How to choose a Telescope


The next public stargazing talk is titled "How to Choose a Telescope".

Date: Saturday, 7 March 2015
Time: 7:30pm - 8:30pm
Venue: Toa Payoh Public Library. Level 1 Programme Zone.

Admission is free. No pre-registration required. Late-comers welcomed!

There is a frequently asked question which is difficult to explain in a few words casually - how to choose a good telescope and where to buy it?

In this easy-to-understand multimedia presentation, you will learn:

(1) How to choose a telescope suitable for *you*.
(2) How to avoid common (and expensive) pitfalls.
(3) Pros and cons of buying telescope online and offline.

... and much more.

Weather permitting, we will be conducting live stargazing during/after the talk at the open ground outside Toa Payoh Public Library. My friends and I will be deploying our telescopes for the public to enjoy.

Come see Jupiter, Moon, star cloud and colourful stars like you have never seen it before! Interact with experienced and friendly amateur astronomers!

Bring your family and friends along and join in the fun!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Free Stargazing Talk: Jupiter - King of the Planets



The next public stargazing talk is titled "Jupiter, The King of the Planets".

Date: Saturday, 7 Feburary 2015
Time: 7:30pm - 8:30pm
Venue: Toa Payoh Public Library. Level 1 Programme Zone.

Admission is free. No pre-registration required. Late-comers welcomed!

Are you still among the hundreds of thousands who still didn't know we can actual see planets from Earth?

Even from a light-polluted city like Singapore, that is possible on a clear enough night. These planets may have been appearing on many nights outside your room window without you having the awareness to notice and identify them for what they are!

So let's start observing the planets starting with the biggest - Jupiter ... and its moons!

Come attend this talk to learn how Jupiter looks like visually, its interesting features, how to locate it in the sky and the best practices in photographing it.

Weather permitting, we will be conducting live stargazing during/after the talk  at the open ground outside Toa Payoh Public Library. My friends and I will be deploying our telescopes for the public to enjoy.

Still need one more reason to see Jupiter? It is closest to Earth during this weekend in 2015!

So bring your family and friends along and join in the fun!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Free Stargazing Talk - Astronomical Events in 2015



The next public stargazing talk is titled "Astronomical Events in 2015".

Date: Saturday, 3 January 2015
Time: 7:30pm - 8:30pm
Venue: Toa Payoh Public Library. Level 1 Programme Zone.

Admission is free. No pre-registration required. Late-comers welcomed!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Why not make a new year resolution to see ONE astronomical event you have not seen in your whole life? This is actually much easier to achieve than losing weight. :)

There are several astronomical events happening this year - comet, meteor showers, eclipses, planetary close encounters, ... etc!

Come attend this talk to see for yourselves how they look like, when and how to find them in the sky.

Failure to plan ahead to see them is planning to fail!

Weather permitting, we will be conducting live stargazing during/after the talk outside Courts Toa Payoh (instead of the open ground outside library due to the pasar malam there). My friends and I will be deploying our telescopes for the public to enjoy.

So bring your family and friends along and join in the fun in the first weekend of 2015!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Free Stargazing Talk - Orion the Hunter


The next public stargazing talk is titled "Orion the Hunter".

Date: Saturday, 6 December 2014
Time: 7:30pm - 8:30pm
Venue: Toa Payoh Public Library. Level 1 Programme Zone.

Admission is free. No pre-registration required. Late-comers welcomed!

Three stars in a straight line. Even non amateur astronomers recognise this unique and obvious pattern in the night sky. So did ancient Pharaohs and Egyptians thousands of years ago!

Credit: Wikipedia

Though it's monsoon period in Singapore, whenever the skies are partially clear, this is a great time to observe the magnificent Orion constellation and many cosmic wonders around it.

Come attend this talk to see for yourselves how they look like and how to find them in the sky. With this understanding, you will be able to enjoy observing them even more. Especially if you are going overseas to a dark sky country for holidays!

Weather permitting, we will be conducting live stargazing during/after the talk. My friends and I will be deploying our telescopes just outside the main entrance of the library.

So bring your family and friends along and join in the fun!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Free Stargazing Talk - Clash of the Titans



The next public stargazing talk is titled "Clash of the Titans".

Date: Saturday, 1 November 2014
Time: 7:30pm - 8:30pm
Venue: Toa Payoh Public Library. Level 1 Programme Zone.

Admission is free. No pre-registration required. Late-comers welcomed!

Clash of the Titans. You read about this Greek mythology. You even watched the movie. Medusa, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, a terrifying sea monster and that cool flying white horse?

But did you know most of them have their corresponding star constellations in the night sky? And in them, some of the most amazing, mind-boggling cosmic objects? Some of them can be seen with just our eyes alone on a clear night!



Come attend this talk to see for yourselves how they look like and how to find them in the sky. With this understanding, you will be able to enjoy observing them even more.

Weather permitting, we will be conducting live stargazing during/after the talk. My friends and I will be deploying our telescopes just outside the main entrance of the library.

So bring your family and friends along and join in the fun!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Total Lunar Eclipse - 8 Oct 2014 (Wednesday)



On Wednesday 8 Oct, go to any location in Singapore with unobstructed view of the eastern horizon. From 6:52pm - 8:34pm, observe the Moon rising from the East.

There is a Total Lunar Eclipse happening on 8 October 2014 Wednesday.

Weather permitting, this is visible from Singapore and many other countries but not from Europe or Africa.

Here are the timings of the different phases of the eclipse in Singapore Standard Time (UT +8) rounded down to nearest minute.

TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE - 8 OCT 2014 (WED):

Penumbral Eclipse Begins          =   4:15 pm   (not visible, below horizon)
Partial Eclipse Begins (Umbra)  =   5:14 pm   (not visible, below horizon)
Total Eclipse Begins:                  =   6:25 pm   (not visible, below horizon)
Moon rise                                    =   6:52 pm   (rises from east at azimuth 83°)
Greatest Eclipse:                         =   6:54 pm
Total Eclipse Ends:                     =   7:24 pm
Partial Eclipse Ends (Umbra)     =   8:34 pm
Penumbral Eclipse Ends:            =   9.33 pm

(Source:  NASA Eclipse Website, Fred Espenak)

In the context of a Lunar Eclipse:

Umbra = inner, darker shadow of Earth.
Penumbra = outer, lighter shadow of Earth.

Image Credit: Wikipedia 

In the following simulation of Moon as seen from Earth during this eclipse, the inner circle represents umbra shadow of Earth and the other circle represents the penumbra shadow of Earth.


Image Credit: Wikipedia

Thus, the visually more exciting part of a Total Lunar Eclipse is from the beginning till the end of the umbra phase, i.e. from 5:14pm - 8:34pm. Since Moon only rises from 6:52pm from Singapore on that day, we will not be able to see the first half of the umbra phase.

If someone ask you how to observe this eclipse in Singapore, just ask them to read this blog. :)

Or, give them the shorter version - the first paragraph of this blog.

This is a timelapse video of the Total Lunar Eclipse in 2011 shot from Singapore by my friend Ivan Bok:




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Additional notes:

(1) The ability to observe Total Lunar Eclipse, like all astronomical event, is totally dependent on the weather. So manage your expectation as there is always a possibility of not seeing it due to bad weather - rain, cloud, haze, ...etc.

Moreover, the atmosphere near horizon is more turbulent compared to higher altitude. Even if you can spot the Moon very early just above the horizon, it may look fuzzy or slightly distorted.

Having said that, if there is only very thin layer of clouds and/or haze, Moon may still be visible through them, especially during a Full Moon phase in this case.

(2) Due to the haze situation, you may not find it safe to observe it outdoors. In that case, observe it indoors through windows or glass wall instead! Find one with a good unobstructed view of the east where the Moon will be rising.

(3) If you can't go to a location with unobstructed view of the eastern horizon (e.g. beach), try observing the eclipse from a tall building (e.g. roof-top garden, multi-storey carpark).

(4) If you have a telescope or even an old pair of binocular, trying observing the Moon with it. Unlike solar eclipse, lunar eclipse is very safe to observe with our eyes alone or through optical instruments. You don't need to observe it via its reflection off a pail of water. :)

(5) If you have camera, videocamera with decent optical zoom, try zooming in on Moon and take some photos and videos. Check out these incredible mega-zoom camcorder videos in this blog.

(6) The eclipse will happen near the horizon. At the end of umbra, it is only 23° above horizon. If you are into photography, you can make use of this fact to frame both the Moon and some nearby interesting terrestrial objects in your composition.

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*Weather permitting*, my friends and I will be at Bishan Park McDonald's this Wednesday to observe the eclipse. From that location, there is a good view of the eastern horizon.

We will be bringing our telescopes along for public viewing and to take eclipse photos through these telescopes with mobile phones.

Feel free to join us there with your family and friends!

Check my tweets for the latest updates on that day --> http://www.twitter.com/astrosg

Have fun observing this eclipse. Good luck and clear skies to all!