All posts tagged: sky

Saturn & Stargazing

2009 is a special year in the night sky. The Earth is exactly at the same level as Saturn in space, allowing us Earthlings to catch a vertical view of the second largest planet in our solar system, a one in 15 years phenomenon. To celebrate the International Year of Astronomy, the Science Center in Singapore has opened up its Observatory for free stargazing sessions every Friday night. This week, the main telescope was aligned to focus on Saturn and its moons, and it made for a spectacular sight. In the magnified view of the telescope, Saturn appears exactly like it was depicted in secondary school geography textbooks, complete with the rings. The rings, which are really pieces of dust and ice moving at tremendous speeds, look gorgeous! Of the 62 moons of Saturn, only 4 of the brighter ones were visible through the telescope, and appeared as though they were protecting the rings of Saturn. To the naked eye, or through a pair of binoculars, Saturn only appears as a bright star in the sky. …

Wish upon a shooting star

Shooting stars make a spectacular sight in the night sky. I saw one last week, when I was out star-gazing with a couple of friends. None of us seemed to be able to trace the history behind shooting stars and wishing upon them, so I thought I owe this post to my blog. For starters, shooting stars are misnomers. These streaks of light are actually broken little pieces of rock and dust, which, when close to the Earth, enter its atmosphere at blinding speeds, and heat up, glow and burn down. Apparently, on any given night, a shooting star should be visible every 10-15 minutes. This holds especially at the time just before dawn, when we face the direction in which the Earth moves. The frequency of shooting stars increases at certain times of the year, when the Earth passes through a region particularly crowded with dust and rocks (Meteor shower). Legend has it that wishing upon a shooting star makes the wish come true. It is believed to have originated in Europe, when Greek astronomer Ptolemy, …