Galaxy Astronomy Club and the Andromeda Observatory was featured in Channel U's TV show "Secrets in the Hood" (episode 5) on Tuesday 3rd September 2013!
Hosted by MediaCorp artiste Pornsak Prajakwit (@Pornsak_P), this TV series is about revealing the lesser known interesting places and good food at various parts of Singapore. The show is mainly in Chinese with Chinese subtitles when the locals being interviewed speak in English.
This particular episode was first broadcasted at 9pm followed by a repeat telecast at 12:30am (4 Sept).
If you missed the episode, here's the good news! You can watch this episode via internet streaming here: http://video.xin.msn.com/watch/video/episode-5/2ef2h7g60
The astronomy segment is from 33:03 - 38:25 minute marks.
I am not able to make the video player jump to this particular astronomical segment in my internet browsers. If that's the same for you too, just hit the pause button and let the programme buffer all the way before jumping back to the 33 minute mark to watch it. Watch it in high quality full-screen mode for best experience.
Since the astronomy segment is conducted in Chinese, I shall try my best to translate them for those who don't understand this language. My Chinese standard is only average. Please forgive me for any translation errors and feel free to suggest better ones by commenting at his blog.
The astronomy club president who is dressed in a white T-shirt is Jin Peng (JP) and the host is Pornsak. I do not know the name of that young lady that was being interviewed.
START OF TRANSLATION
In chronological order from 33:03 minute mark:
[Pornsak] Tonight we are going to stargaze. Let me take a look at the sunset first since the sun is setting.
(Narration) Suhaimi (Yusof) told me after looking at the sunset, I can still go to a special place in Woodlands to stargaze. And the stars there are extra big. Where will this hint lead me to? Do you believe you can see extra big stars in Woodlands? There's an observatory at the Woodlands Galaxy Community Club!
Suhaimi told me his family's favourite activity is to come here to stargaze. Apparently, there is an observatory at the 6th storey of this community club. I know Singapore Science Centre and (unknown) have observatories. But Woodlands CC? Ok. The truth will be known when the lift door opens. Feeling excited! Here we are!
[Pornsak] Wow, so dark. Who are you? Please come quickly and introduce yourself!
[Jin Peng] Hello, how are you? I can't really see you clearly! Haha. My name is Jin Peng.
[Pornsak] Hello Jin Peng!
[Jin Peng] We belongs to an astronomy club. We meet up on every Fridays and Saturdays.
[Pornsak] So it is a really an astronomy club. (Shining torchlight at own face). When I am speaking, I need to provide my own source of lighting! This is the first time!
Hello ladies! Can you make yourselves more visible else our TV audience may not believe you gals are really here. (Shining torchlight at the ladies) Feels like I am about to arrest someone. Please show my your identification cards!
Are there a lot people that come to visit this place?
[Lady] Yes. A lot.
[Pornsak] Really? You are not kidding me right?
[Pornsak] Lights! (Bright lighting revealing more people standing around) Wow. Hello, how are you guys? Really a lot of people here! Four telescopes here, so how long is the average waiting queue?
[Lady] About 5 to 10 minutes.
[Pornsak] So you guys have to stay outdoors here? What happens when it rains?
[Jin Peng] If the weather is unfavourable, we will inform the public about an hour in advance via Facebook and Twitter that the session will be cancelled.
[Pornsak] So what is name of your astronomy group?
[Jin Peng] Our group is known as Galaxy Astronomy Club.
[Pornsak] So for those who are thinking of coming, please check their Facebook page first. It may be possible to be raining here at Woodlands (north) even though it is not in Tampines (east) where you stay. You may not know.
(Looking at JP) You guys are located in the heartlands. So if I point this telescope towards the back (where there are residential buildings), am I able to look into the resident's houses?
[Jin Peng] No no no!
[Pornsak] Hahaha. Ok! (Pointing at the observatory) So is this space-ship like object the observatory? Do you have the keys to it?
[Jin Peng] Yes.
[Pornsak] So you are indeed the club president. Can you bring me in to take a look?
[Jin Peng] Yes. This way please.
[Pornsak] (Turning back) Thank you everybody! Shall not trouble you guys further! Thank you!
(Narration) Galaxy Astronomy Club helps the community club to take care of the only observatory in Singapore that is built in the residential area. It was set up with the help from various organisations.
[Pornsak] (Inside the observatory) This instrument looks like something that came out of a Star Wars movie. This is a big-Mac sized telescope! How far can this telescope see?
[Jin Peng] Very far. About 32 megalight-years (one megalight-year = one million light-years). One can also see Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, ...
[Pornsak] Really? So can I take a look now?
[Jin Peng] Yes. You can take a look at Saturn now.
[Pornsak] Look through this? (Pointing at the slender tube telescope (90mm apochromatic refractor))
[Jin Peng] Err...is this. (Pointing at the eyepiece which is attached to the "fatter" telescope (12-inch Dall-Kirkham))
[Pornsak] Then what is this for? (Pointing back at the refractor telescope)
[Jin Peng] This is to point at the object. Point towards the object we wish to look at. Whereas this (the primary telescope) gives a more zoomed in view.
[Pornsak] Oh, I understand what you mean. So this (the main telescope) is for viewing. But this (the refractor) is for adjustments.
[Jin Peng] Ya. We use these 2 (refractor and primary telescope's finderscope which are both mounted on the primary telescope) to adjust and ... ...
[Pornsak] Ok. If you do not mind, I am going to take a look now.
[Jin Peng] Ok. This is the magnified view of the object. You can see Saturn.
[Pornsak] Yes. It is at the 9 o'clock position in the field-of-view now. Is this Saturn? Just like what I saw in the books - a ball and a halo around it!
[Jin Peng] Yes. The rings of Saturn.
[Pornsak] Huh! (Takes a look at Saturn through the telescope again) Or is it you guys drew it inside the telescope? Hahaha.
[Jin Peng] No no no! It's really that dot of light in the sky!
(Narration) The club president says the telescope has been set up to follow Saturn wherever it is moving to.
[Jin Peng] After a few months you may be able to see different planets.
[Jin Peng] Yes. These few months you can see Saturn. After September/October you can see Mars rising up.
[Pornsak] Da-da-da-da-da! (Takes out an iPhone and point it around inside the observatory.)
[Jin Peng] Yes. This is one of the (astronomical) apps for iPhone.
[Pornsak] If I can use see Saturn using my phone, why do I need to come here and look at it?
[Jin Peng] Not necessarily. Because sometimes you need an internet connection. Secondly, you may only know roughly where Saturn is at in the sky but not its actual position.
[Pornsak] Oh. You can only see it as a dot but not its actual beauty right?
[Jin Peng] Yes.
(Narration while beautiful telescopes and astro photographs are shown) And do you know, constellations can actually be seen with the naked eyes? After every few months, some constellations will appear while others will be hidden. The club president says they teach others how to identify constellations. But to be able to know all the constellations very well might take a year.
The community club's weekly astronomical activities are opened to the public. For only $1 per person, you can see lots of stars right in front of your eyes! How can you miss such opportunities?
END OF TRANSLATION
There is still so much interesting stuff to blog about regarding this TV programme, but I am too tired for now to continue (preparing and writing this blog for the past 5 hours). Maybe another day. :)
But just one important comment here for those who are not familiar with JP. He knows his astronomy stuff very well. But because his not very fluent in spoken Chinese and the Chinese astronomical terminologies AND the fact that Pornsak is new to practical stargazing and telescopes, there are some minor astronomical misunderstanding created between the host and JP.
But ironically, this makes the programme more entertaining for me (and most probably other bilingual good-English-but-average-Chinese amateur astronomers)! For example, the part about which telescopes to look through. When I watched it on TV, I was like "OH MY GOD! Er...er....er.... what's "finderscope" in Chinese??!! Arghh!!" LOL!
In most TV productions, there will be a lot of things said and filmed that will not make it to the actual show. For a relatively technical subject like astronomy and practical stargazing, a minor edit or omission during a conversation during post-production may inadvertently change the meaning and context of what was being said!
Once again, congrats to Galaxy Astronomy Club for promoting amateur astronomy in Singapore! When was the last time you saw local amateur astronomy featured on TV for more than 30 seconds? Let alone a 5 minutes 22 seconds segment on prime-time TV at 9pm! So kudos to the suits behind Channel U for featuring astronomy in this series and Pornsak for being an entertaining host!
Weather permitting, go visit the Andromeda Observatory at Woodlands Galaxy Community Club this weekend while Saturn is still visible for this year!