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S’pore alternative nightlife: Stargazing galore

SINGAPORE — When was the last time you looked at the Milky Way? All that air and light pollution in cities obscure the views so naturally, you wouldn’t think Singapore to be the place to survey the heavens.

SINGAPORE — When was the last time you looked at the Milky Way? All that air and light pollution in cities obscure the views so naturally, you wouldn’t think Singapore to be the place to survey the heavens.

Apparently, we’re wrong. To begin stargazing, one has to simply look up, according to Gary Chee.

The co-founder of Singapore Sidewalk Astronomy, (a non-profit group started in 2012 by friends) said that despite being a lightly-polluted urban city, we can still see the moon, planets, star clouds (nebula), star clusters, comets, meteors and, if you have the patience and knowledge, even galaxies.

“There is no need to always go to the darkest location in Singapore to enjoy stargazing,” Chee explained. “Dark-enough locations will do, since the sky conditions do not vary drastically over a small island like Singapore. For example, darker areas in nearby parks, rooftop gardens or even in the comfort of your own house with the lights switched off will do.”

The amateur astronomer’s advice? “Don’t give up too easily! Look up and have awareness of the sky condition on a daily basis. Sooner or later, you will be aware of clearer sky nights than before and be able to make good use of it for stargazing.”

His other tips include borrowing astronomy related books and DVDs from public libraries to learn some basic information to get started. Newbies can also install free astronomy apps like Sky Map (Android), Planets (iOS) or Cosmos Navigator (Android & iOS) and point your phone at the sky to identify the stars, constellations and planets.

“There is no hurry to buy a telescope immediately. Use your eyes or a pair of binoculars, and familiarise yourself with the stars and constellations in the sky,” he said.

But the best possible way to get started is to join Chee and the Singapore Sidewalk Astronomy in their stargazing sessions at Bishan Park, where you can look through their telescopes free of charge and get tips on how to enjoy this great hobby.

Singapore Sidewalk Astronomy’s next group event will be to observe Saturn, with its beautiful rings, and Mars, with its ice cap and dust storms, up close through telescopes for the next few months as they are getting closer and closer to Earth. So for all those with stars in our eyes, perhaps there is no better time than now to venture out and allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness and enjoy the soul-lifting sight of brilliant night sky.

WHERE TO STARGAZE

1. Singapore Sidewalk Astronomy’s favourite location to conduct stargazing sessions is at Bishan Park (outside McDonald’s, near Bishan St 25). For more info, visit their Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/SingaporeSidewalkAstronomy)

2. Alternatively, Science Centre Singapore holds free stargazing sessions at The Observatory every Friday evening from 7.45pm to 10pm.

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