CCA Preview’14: Astronomy

Have you ever looked at the night sky and wondered how the stars are arranged into constellations? Or, seen a picture like THIS:

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and wondered how THAT happened?

If so, RI Astronomy Club is the CCA for you! At RI Astronomy, you not only get the chance to learn more about astronomy and astrophysics, you also get fantastic stargazing opportunities. And the best part: you get to meet like-minded people who share the same fascination with the night sky. Anyone willing to gaze at the treasure-filled night sky and risk a neck ache the next morning is eagerly welcomed as a member of the RI Astronomy family.

Astronomy (not to be confused with astrology) is the branch of science that deals with celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole. It explains things on vastly different scales: from the formations of nebulae spanning light years to the miniscule elementary particle reactions occurring within stars.

At RI Astronomy Club’s weekly Friday sessions, members give lectures to fellow members on an astronomy related topic, such as star formation and the solar system. After the lecture, if the skies are clear, the club goes for a star gazing session at the parade square. We break out the telescopes and point them towards fascinating celestial objects – from the planets in our solar system to distant star clusters and nebulae. The sessions are usually from 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm, but can last longer if there is star gazing.

stargazing

A star gazing session

While the lectures cover more basic content, accessible to those without basic knowledge of astronomy, we offer intense competition training for those more familiar with astronomy and astrophysics concepts. Competitions RI Astronomy members can participate in are NUS/NTU Astrochallenge, Singapore Astronomy Olympiad and, for those who qualify, the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics. RI Astronomy has performed consistently well in these events, clinching overall first place for Astrochallenge 2013 and earning several medals in both Olympiads.

Members also get the chance to go on overnight star gazing trips. Every year, RI Astronomy members make a trip to Pulau Semakau with The Astronomical Society of Singapore. Away from the light pollution of the Singapore mainland, members get to see and recognise full constellations, star clusters and nebulae. Another trip was made to Bintan, where members had the opportunity to attend interesting astrophysics lectures by day, and by night, marvel at a night sky virtually untainted by light pollution. Under the stars, members got a chance to chat, share stories and admire the universe. And at dawn, watch the sunrise together.

moon

The Moon from Pulau Semakau
(taken by RI Astronomy member Jing Guozhen)

milkyway

The Milky Way from Bintan
(taken by Jing Guozhen)

RI Astronomy is made up of members who have varying levels of knowledge of astronomy. But what ultimately unites us as a club is a strong passion for things far greater than ourselves and a desire to understand the universe around us. As long as you have that, you won’t feel out of place here at RI Astronomy Club.

“Sometimes when my friends ask me if I love Astronomy, I will reply yes. But what I really mean is that I love the bonds and the friends that I have met through Astronomy. To me learning all the fun and interesting knowledge, even winning competitions, are all penultimate.” – Benjamin Lim, RI Astronomy Chairperson

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