What can we see tonight?
Astronomy, personally, is both a science and an art. It brings together two supposedly distinct entities and continues to fascinate people of all ages throughout the centuries. As technology continues to develop and humanity march onwards towards greater scientific advancement, intra solar system travels, colonisation of neighbouring planets and the likes inches ever closer to reality. While all these are indeed rocket science, even the public can take part in humanity’s reach into outer space through various citizen science and astronomy initiatives, such as the public release of astronomy datasets. Today, not only do we know that we are made of star stuffs we are also in a much better place to ask questions about the universe that we find ourselves in than a couple centuries back.
The scale of the universe can be a troubling concept for many, the furthest most of us would have travelled in our lifetime would be half way across the planet in half a day’s time. Yet, even travelling to the nearest planet Mars in our solar system would take us more than a month at current technologies, and that is based off the calculations made for an unmanned space probe – the NASA’s New Horizons. Even further, the nearest star system – Alpha Centauri – lies some whooping 4.32 lightyears away from us; it would take us a lifetime (about 100 years) to get there currently.
While the universe is big, it certainly hasn’t stopped humanity from looking up into the night sky and wondering about our place in the universe. Physicists working on frontier research in astronomy and cosmology are asking questions about the formation of structures from the stars to the universe itself and perhaps we would some day arrive at an answer to all our questions about the universe. Such is the beauty of the sciences and the grandeur behind such a pursuit is what motivates many scientists to engage in the relevant research areas today – myself included.
Here at the NUS Astronomical Society, we hope to share with you our fascination and knowledge of the universe. As the late Prof Stephen Hawking elegantly puts it, “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” We too hope to help you appreciate the beauty of the universe and its grandeur.
Wait no longer – join us at our fortnightly meetings or come with us on our overseas stargazing trips during the semester breaks to learn more about the universe like you’ve never seen before.
20th NUSAS Executive Committee
(Updated 16th March 2018)