By Rachel Teng (17S06M), Chairperson
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
On a desert with two suns, 3 moons and a different night sky altogether, the astronomer strides out of his sand hut and peers disdainfully into the glare of the larger setting sun. As he glares balefully at it, he wonders to himself, as usual, why he remains on this barren planet. Sure, it may have little light pollution, but there is much to be wanted for every other aspect. Still, he muses, the night sky is worth the pain he endures in the day. For him, the important part of the day is yet to begin.
Starting 6 pm every Friday, we delve deep into our place in the vast cosmos, learning topics ranging from relativity, cosmology and astrobiology (aliens!), to other disciplines like history of astronomy, astrophotography and mythology. There is something for everyone, from beginners to the advanced! If skies are clear, we proceed for stargazing within the school using our very own equipment. While we enjoy using the telescopes and learning from each other, sometimes just lying down, dreaming into the vast night sky and chatting with our batchmates is more than enough. When it’s cloudy, we have spontaneous bonding sessions – unofficial club dinners together.
Perhaps what’s most cherished is the unique Astro community that exists within and out of RI. Our club comprises Y1-6 members, creating a culture of sharing suitable for every level of experience. More knowledgeable seniors guide juniors through weekly lectures, in addition to competition training for those interested. In 2016, RI Astro won champions at NUS-NTU AstroChallenge for both Senior and Junior Category, and 4 out of the 5 team memberswho represented Singapore in the 10th International Olympiad of Astronomy and Astrophysics held in Bhubaneswar, India were from our CCA. Sharing the same interests, members find a welcoming space, and also a platform to meet other passionate individuals in the wider community.
Although there may be terrible light pollution, and we see neither the milky way, nor the aurora, nor hundreds of stars, but what we do see are beautiful constellations, periodic meteor showers and daily laser light show FOC. That’s not all. We also organise events like Astrigue, an introductory Astronomy competition, and our annual outreach stargazing event, Astronite, themed “Ascension” in 2016.
Members enjoy a first-class stargazing experience, both local and overseas. For better skies, we have an annual optional retreat to Bintan, Indonesia or Port Dickson, Malaysia. Closer to home, we make trips to Semakau Island together with The Astronomical Society of Singapore (TASOS), or simply an overnight Geminids Star Party at East Coast Park. Did you know Semakau is the only island in Singapore reserved for astronomy purposes, having minimal light pollution, and exclusive access by TASOS?
It’s not easy being an astronomer. The late nights, the clouds, the light pollution – all these factors work against you when you’re trying to stargaze. Not to mention crappy iphone pictures of that gorgeous moon you’re trying to capture. But when it comes down to it, being in astronomy club is probably one of the best, most fulfilling experiences you can have. As the famous astronomer Neil Degrasse Tyson once said, “When I look up, many people feel small, but I feel big; because my atoms came from the stars.” Yes, the universe may seem way up there, inscrutable and unfathomable, but it is also right down here, within each and every one of us, beautiful and extraordinary.
For a fulfilling, fun and fascinating journey, join Astronomy Club now for an out-of-this-world experience!