By Tan Keng Guan (22S03H), Chairperson, Aman Pathak (22S06G), Academics IC and Lee Rui Jun Audrey (22A13A)
Ever find yourself wondering about what came before the Big Bang? Or contemplating the significance of our existence the night before a major exam? What about looking up at the night sky and thinking “Huh, pretty neat.”? If so, the Astronomy Club is the right place for you!
Astronomy is the oldest of the natural sciences, and has been around for many centuries. When we look up and marvel at the night sky, we are looking, quite literally, at the very same stars our ancient ancestors must have gazed in wonder at hundreds of thousands of years ago. While those very ancestors could only ponder their many questions, we now have the privilege of using modern technology to answer some of them for ourselves.
Being in the most light-polluted city on Earth, where all we see at night are street lamps and bright skyscrapers, Astronomy may seem completely disconnected from the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced lives. Some might even consider it impractical and pointless.
Yet, for us astronomers who make an effort to stay back late in school every week, astronomy is so much more than an obligation to fill out time. It’s a moment of solitary communion with the stars, a time of self-reflection and awe-struck amazement at the beauty of the universe. It’s a session of sharing: a discovery of our interests with like-minded peers and the acquisition of knowledge from one another.
With the vastness of the universe and the interdisciplinary nature of Astronomy, it’s also no surprise that we’re a very diverse group of individuals; astrobiologists interested in life beyond us, astrophysicists interested in the intricacies of the universe, and practical astronomers passionate in exploring the beauty of our universe.
Nevertheless, we are united by our passion and love for this niche science we call Astronomy. For those who look up at the night sky, for those who have looked at Jupiter’s flowing cloud bands and Great Red Spot, for those who have marveled at the rings of Saturn or the craters of the moon, we know that it’s well worth the effort.
The beauty of Astronomy lies in its ability to captivate and inspire; there’s still so much to learn that new discoveries are still being made everyday. Think of it as a fun, never-ending video game, except instead of an end credit sequence you get rewarded with the secrets of the universe. As astronomers, we have a burning passion for exploring questions that most have never thought about, and discussing ideas that you will likely never encounter anywhere else.
So, you might be wondering, what exactly do we do? During our weekly sessions from 6.30 to 9.30pm every Tuesday, we have a lecture segment where our members learn about various intriguing topics within the vast realm of Astronomy. Every session then concludes with a stargazing session, where our members get to gaze at distant objects in the night sky right from our school, using our club’s many telescopes.
Apart from these sessions, we also have many important events throughout the year that you can look forward to. You will have the opportunity to represent our school in various national Astronomy competitions, such as AstroChallenge and the Singapore Astronomy Olympiad (SAO), while receiving ample training and materials if interested.
Our club also organises various activities to promote Astronomy among members of the public. The annual HCI-RI Astrigue, a one-day event aimed at sparking an interest in Astronomy among secondary school students, is the culmination of the combined effort of Raffles’ and Hwa Chong’s Astronomy clubs. Other events include Astronite, which is a family-friendly carnival for the general public usually held at the end of the year, and community outreach events at community centres.
Regardless of where your passions lie or even what your commitments are, the Raffles Astronomy Club has a place for everyone who would like to pursue this intriguing field of science. Whether or not you have prior knowledge, you can look forward to carnivals, competitions, overseas trips, front row seats for major astronomical events, and simply lots of fun!
In the words of the Eleventh Doctor, “All of time and space; everywhere and anywhere; every star that ever was. Where do you want to start?” Start your venture into astronomy with us, and be ready for an out-of-this-world experience!
*Cover image taken in accordance with SMMs during the prior phase of Covid-19 measures.