Friday, May 25, 2012


Today marks the end of my 3-month stint as a tuition teacher.

I remembered the first few days being a teacher, it felt weird, teaching the secondary and primary schoolchildren which are younger than my sister and brother. Suddenly, I was pulled back to the world of the secondary syllabuses, and being a teacher of all kinds of subjects - English, Mathematics, Geography, History, Science.

I taught them using the study methods I used when I was in secondary school last time... reading the notes without forgetting the big picture of what's going on - especially in Geography and History. I was pleasantly surprised when one of my Form 1 students actually took an interest to History - according to his sister lol.
My mathematics classses inherited Ms.Lim's fire, I can be damn fierce (and ridiculous, they say) when I spot a small mistake in their workings. 'As a maths students.. you should never get this wrong!' Haha.

The most enjoyable class was in the Standard 6 Science/Maths class actually. Apart from the cute primary syllabuses which studies the planets, seasons, eclipses and constellations, my teaching was made enjoyable by the enthusiasm from a student in the class, Isaac. Already I have 'earmarked' him as a potential leader of the Astronomy Club in the secondary school next time =) Take note Simpson. He is the future president of the club!

I have to end my stint as a teacher as I realised that I still have many other things to do in this precious break in my life. Not just wanting to work my ass off then go to study. There's so many things planned, that if I don't do it now, there's hardly a chance for me to work on it anymore.

So there you go, goodbye ERA!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Some thoughts on the Solar Eclipse...

Just some thoughts on the solar eclipse yesterday which amazed people across all ages, from China to 
Taiwan to Japan and across the ocean to the west coast of the United States. 

A montage of the May 20, 2012 annular eclipse as seen near Ikebukuro in Tokyo, Japan between 7:08 to 7:38 a.m. local time. Credit: Kim Nilsson

May 20 2012 Solar Eclipse near Sunset Beach / Huntington Beach, CA - timelapse / composition of "phases" of the eclipse during the approximate 2 hour duration. Credit: jimnista on Flickr.

The Moon's shadow during the eclipse as seen by Astronaut Don Pettit on the International Space Station. How does this make you feel? :-)

Monday, May 21, 2012


Grape-ing is literally translated into 'menganggur' in Bahasa Malaysia, the Malay word for 'unemployed', like round, juicy grapes hanging on the grapevines without nothing else to do in this world.

This will be my last week working and teaching in the tuition centre... time for some well deserved break... of 2 months plus. Haha. It's such a long break. But I reckon it's worth it, I will be using the free time to pursue my astronomy projects, which are : -

 1. Grinding and building a 6 inch f/6.5 Dobsonian Telescope. 

Using Amateur Telescope Making knowledge from Simpson which he learnt from USM's Dr. Chong, I set upon a journey to build a telescope of my own. This is the ingenious grinding table which involves fusing two garbage bins together. It's unexpectedly tidy and neat over at my 'workshop'.

Everything is just right, the shelves, the gentle breeze that blows once in a while, the table at the right height, the solid wood... This will be a nice start. :-)

2. Pipe Water Rocket Launcher

The first launcher was satisfactory... but as an aspiring engineer, there are always improvements to be made! Therefore I present you the Pipe Water Rocket Launcher! Pipe so that it is more portable and less likely to collect soil and grime compared to woodworks.

If possible, there will also be a fitting of a pressure gauge, a rotatable launcher and a pressure release valve so that it can be considered 'research grade' and can be used to do rocket and projectile experiments!

And there are a few more... more trips to dark sky locations to practise my star shooting skills, several events and astronomy conventions to attend... hope I will keep up this momentum! Godspeed!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Deep Sky Portraits Primer

Alas, I found the sweet spot for unguided deep sky imaging for the first time... And with blessings from really clear skies... here are the best of the pictures I've taken with my Canon 550D connected to Astroview 100mm. 

The Jewel Box Cluster (Kappa Crux) is a very beautiful star cluster right beside the left arm of the Southern Cross. As you can see, the red star surrounded by the blue stars give a really 'Jewel Box' feeling :-) Pictures can only convey so much... you have to aim the telescope and gaze from the eyepiece to really experience the cluster.  
Best in medium power. 

Omega Centauri is the largest globular star cluster (about the size of a Full Moon, the size, not the brightness mind you) and the first decent globular I have imaged. It lies in the southern constellation of Centaurus, under fairly dark skies it is not hard to find, shining at magnitude 4. 

Okay, well so you see there's a difference between a Open star cluster and a  Globular Star Cluster. An open star cluster is like the 'Jewel Box' and the more famous ones like Beehive cluster in Cancer, M6 and M7 in Scorpio, where the stars gather in a stellar metropolis but not too close to each other. A Globular star cluster, like the one above, has stars gathered most densely in the centre, then spread out to oblivion. Which looks nicer? :-)

These two shots are of the Lagoon Nebula, although without it's signature red nebulosity due to the polluted sky. The stars can be seen though. I confirm that this is the nebula by IDing the pattern of the mass of stars at the centre of the nebula. I sure do hope that I can photograph the nebula with nebulosity one day! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sidewalk Astronomy at Taman Rakyat Klang

By invitation of Mr. Raman in Klang, Simpson and I brave a 1-hour drive to Klang to help out in their 2-days Astronomy programme.

The pictures I took with my phone don't show much, but it's really quite an impressive event complete with LCD projection of documentaries, an astrophotography booths and up to 5 telescope for public viewing!
People lining up behind my scope to get a view of Saturn.
Yeah... that's how you do it. Just don't put your finger in the eyepiece... no, NO!

This has happened quite a few times... not just with children but also adults! Another thing children like to do is to climb the telescope to view in the eyepiece.... my EQ3 is crying inside!
 Some other scopes in the exhibition.
 Featuring my telescope again...! Look at the mass of people eager to get their first glimpse of Saturn the ringed planet!
 Group photo of the telescope in the exhibition. I packed up mine already before so not inside the picture. -,-
All in all it was a very nice event, great job to Mr.Raman and his astronomy club! 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Supermoon Sidewalk Astronomy at Kajang

In conjunction with the Supermoon phenomenon on May 5th, Simpson and I made a small booth at the Prima Saujana basketball court (where the Stargazers held their first and second stargazing outing) to promote astronomy to the public.

When we set up, Venus was fast sinking through the horizon... we managed to sneak a pic of the crescent Venus as its bright light makes through the turbulent atmosphere.

And here's the fabled Supermoon! Statistically, it's actually just 8% larger than the normal Full Moon size. Sometimes we see the Moon as if it's so big, it's actually an optical illusion of comparing the size of the moon to distant objects in the horizon. This is shot via the telescope under 22.4x magnification, that's why it's so big in this picture!

Simpson showing a neighbour a demonstration of Amateur Telescope Making while Isaac from my tuition centre playing around and having fun with my telescope :-)
 Isaac made this his profile picture. Bear in mind, stargazers woos girls :P
 It was very cloudy on that day...
I liked this picture as it shows me 'camping' around the telescope. Next time I wanna do it like this again, but in a wide, secluded field surrounded by no streetlights, only the starlights accompanying me throughout the night.