by Hyliana Mohamed
For the first time, Bukit Batok residents had a glimpse of what is within the solar system, in a sidewalk event organised by Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Astronomy Club, on Jun 28.
As members of the club set up their spy-like telescopes, curious onlookers paraded past to gawk. Mr Marthy, whose provision stall was next to the event, meandered back and forth before being the first resident to try the telescope. Like all participants, it was the first time he ever used a telescope – or saw a planet.
Ms Tay Lay Xiong, a resident, emphasised how important it was to have these events, as it gives people a chance to utilise a telescope which they might not have had a chance to do so before. “Old aunties like me (are) already so interested, so the kids should know about this too. Don’t always be on (an) iPad, go outdoors and learn something new!”
The publicity manager of the club, Eric Yap, says, “It’s difficult to develop astronomy in Singapore because there aren’t much stars here, so it’s tough to increase the awareness of astronomy in Singapore. Which is why we hold these events – so that people can get a glimpse of what’s in our solar system.”
“I didn’t know we could see these planets through our naked eyes!”
– Tay Lay Xiong
Low Wei Song, a club member who was there to help out, said that the number one misconception the public has about astronomy is that every time they spot a planet, they assume it’s a star. And most people don’t know that telescopes are not essential to appreciate the grandeur of planets. When Wei Song pointed out Saturn and Mars, Ms Tay exclaimed in great surprise, “I didn’t know we could see these planets through our naked eyes!”
Another common misconception, as further explained by Eric, is netizens believing that the colourful pictures of space and galaxy found online are real. “These pictures are heavily photoshopped. What you actually see is just black and white.”
The Astronomy Club will be holding a similar sidewalk event in October in collaboration with National University of Singapore. Location has not yet been confirmed.