CCA Previews ’18: Astronomy

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By Liu Xin (18S03O), Chairperson and Wang Zoe Ying (18S03R), Treasurer

This Friday night, Venus will enter Aquarius – the month ahead will be an energizing and financially lucky one, dear Capricorn. If you’ve been thinking of trying something new, this month would ideal to revitalize yourself through fresh experiences. It would also be a good time to consider taking up Astronomy as a CCA.

“It is written in the stars, therefore it must be true” – Source(s): Dude, trust me

Unfortunately, while we do not have the qualifications and ability to provide you with a horoscope based purely on your star sign, we can in fact give you something much better. Astronomy Club can help you distinguish between astronomy and astrology, while dealing with zodiacal constellations as well.

This Friday night, however, if you happen to walk past the Blue Room and look in, you would be able to observe members of Astronomy in their natural habitat. Our weekly sessions on Friday start at 6.30pm, and end at 8pm, with those who want to stay behind for stargazing staying in school until 9.30pm. Rainy or cloudy weather calls for spontaneous bonding sessions: unofficial club dinners together. We may only have 1.5 hours together every week, but we manage to make every second count. Our self-conducted sessions involving Y1-6 members cover a wide range of topics, incorporating perplexing concepts like special relativity, as well as astrobiology for those who just cannot math.

Farewell for the outgoing Y6 batch during our annual overnight camp

However, Astronomy is more than just another subject with lectures to struggle through every week. Aside from the weekly sessions that also incorporate hands-on activities with the telescopes, there are many competitions available to partake in.

Competitions such as SAO (Singapore Astronomy Olympiad), NYP Astronomy Quiz and NUS-NTU AstroChallenge are good opportunities for members to gain experience. They have consistently yielded fruitful results, with us coming up as champions in AstroChallenge in both the Junior and Senior divisions for the third year running, clinching us two Challenge trophies. Intensive training outside of CCA hours is also provided for SAO, catering to those who are already familiar with astronomy and astrophysics concepts and want to push themselves further.

We don’t just go for competitions though, we plan our own as well. Every year, we co-organise Astrigue along with Hwa Chong Institution. Astrigue is a competition organised for secondary school students. Eureka, targeted at the same audience, is also organised with the other science CCAs in our school biennially. Outside of competitions, we also plan AstroNite, an annual outreach stargazing event for other schools as well as the public.

AstroNite 2017: Starlight – Group photo with participants from 11 institutions and all walks of life

The slew of events doesn’t end there. Annual overseas trips to places such as Bintan, Indonesia provide an escape from Singapore’s light pollution, allowing members to appreciate the untainted night sky.

Photo of the Milky Way, taken by Y4 member Milton Lee during the 2017 Bintan retreat

It’s not easy being an astronomer. The late nights, the clouds, the bright tennis court lights – all these factors work against you when you’re trying to stargaze. But when it comes down to it, being in Astronomy Club is probably one of the best, most fulfilling experiences you can have.

“When I look up, many people feel small, but I feel big; because my atoms came from the stars.”

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

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.

RI Astronomy welcomes you, regardless of previous experience or background knowledge, as long as you have an interest in astronomy. For a fulfilling, fun and fascinating journey, join Astronomy Club now for an out-of-this-world experience!

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