Shoot the moon

Similarly to Jules Verne’s science fiction story where some folks built a space cannon and literally shot themselves into the Moon, John Hunter from the company Quicklaunch wants to do the same with a 3,600-foot gun. And he’s dead serious—he’s done the math. Making deliveries to an orbital outpost on a rocket costs $5,000 per pound, but using a space gun would cost just $250 per pound.

Click to find out more


Getting stuff onto space has always been a tough issue, and engineers have long realised the need to reduce the cost of space access. The most notable example, would be the Space Shuttle program, which was supposedly a reusable “space truck” compared to seemingly more expensive Expendable Launch Vehicles (multistage rockets). Unfortunately, costly maintenance issues and safety hazards have resulted in the Space Shuttle perceived as a failure.

Another option would be to construct a space elevator with cables made of carbon nanotubes as seen.

Space elevator


Yet another crazier option, would be to literally blast yourself to space by igniting thermonuclear bombs and capturing their blast as propulsion. To infinity and beyond!

Session 6 on the way!

Hi people,
It’s Week 3 already, hope all of you have been doing well 🙂
Moreover, NUS Astronomical Society is going to have another session this Friday.
Here are the details of the 6th event:
Venue                  : S16-04-30
Day/Date             : Friday/ 29th January 2010
Time                    : 7pm
Topic                   : Big Band vs Steady State
                                Everything that has begining has an end
                                The Ultimate state of universe
So, please come to our session. We are looking forward to seeing all of you there 🙂

NUS Astronomical Society
 Session 6 Poster

Hooray! Doomsday Clock Set Back A Minute !

This end-of-the-world clock, set up in 1947, is meant to convey how close we are to the end of the world via catastrophe caused by nuclear weapons or climate change, among other factors.

Perhaps partly due to the events in Copenhagen (or Nopenhagen) as well as worldwide cooperation to reduce nuclear arsenal, the Doomsday Clock has been set back 1 minute for the first time in its 63-year history. In moving the clock from 5 minutes before midnight to 6 minutes before midnight, scientists expressed optimism for humanity’s future.

How about the predicted 2012 doomsday prediction? According to the Mayan Calender, our Sun will be aligned with the Milky’s Way Galactic Center, shifting our poles towards the supermassive blackhole in the centre where all kinds of nasty radiation spew out, hence ending all life as we know it.  Fortunately, having our poles shifting simply because the Sun is aligned with the center of the Milky Way makes about as much scientific sense as saying you shouldn’t drive at sunset because your car might crash into the sun.

Still, if you have a morbid desire to see the world ends, do look at the more reasonable options.

Top 10 ways to destroy the Earth.

5 scientific experiments most likely to end the world. (Lulz and strong language awaits)

New Semester, New Session

Hi people,
NUS Astronomical Society is going to celebrate the new semester by holding our 5th session on this Friday.
Here are the details of the session :
Venue                : S16-4-30
Date                   : Friday, 15th Jan, 2010
Time                  : 7pm
Topic                 : Stellar Evolution
                                        Evolution of the stars
                                        White Dwarfs and Red Giants
                                        Seeding life with the death of stars

I have attached the poster regarding our next session. Please do come to our session for celebrating our new semester 🙂
We are looking forward to seeing all of you.
NUS Astronomical Society


Session 5 - poster 

Highlights of 2010

Hi people,

As school resumes in a few days time, let’s kick start off on what to expect for this year.



Jan. 15: Annular solar eclipse: A partial eclipse can be observed in Singapore, around 16:00 to 16:30. Do take care of your eyes when viewing a solar eclipse

Jan. 29: Mars comes close: Nope, Mars will never be as bright as the Moon, but it will still flare brightly as the red dot in the sky

Feb. 16: Venus-Jupiter conjunction:  Happy Chinese New Year and happy recess week!!! Two of the brightest planets in the night sky come within half a degree of each other. Unfortunately, it will be all too easy to lose the planets in the glare of the setting sun. After sunset, pull out your binoculars and check the area above and slightly to the left of where the sun dips beneath the horizon. You should see Venus just below and to the left of Jupiter.

March 28: Venus-Mercury pairing: Our final exams loom around the corner, and this one of the rare chances to identify Mercury. For two weeks in late March and early April, you can spot the two closest-in planets traveling together in the west-northwest sky just after sunset.

June 20-21: Comet McNaught in view? Comet McNaught C/2009 R1 was discovered last year by Australian comet-hunter Rob McNaught. Colorado Mountain College’s Jimmy Westlake predicts that it could put on a “nice show” around solstice time, particularly if you’re using binoculars. “Look northwest after sunset June 20 and in the northeast before sunrise June 21,” he writes. “If I am right, this could be an unforgettable view.”

June 26: Partial lunar eclipse: Earth’s shadow will take a bite out of the full moon before sunrise over the western United States, but the best places to see this eclipse are in the Pacific and Asia. Just look out for the Moon during midnight.

July 11: Total solar eclipse: Not visible in Singapore or anywhere near civilization. You might want to consider a cruise ship along the Pacific Ocean or a trip to the Easter Island.

Aug. 11-12: Perseid meteor shower:  Time flies and its the start of Sem 1 10/11. This year’s show should be better than usual, largely because it will be unsullied by the moon’s glare. Experts project that viewing rates could hit 90 meteors per hour under peak conditions. (PS: Peak conditions rarely happen in Singapore)

Sept. 21: Jupiter in opposition: The solar system’s biggest planet is practically as big as it can get in the night sky, due to its position with relation to the sun and Earth. A medium-size telescope should bring out details in Jupiter’s banded cloud patterns. We should probably be able to view it right before the recess week.

Oct. 20: Comet Hartley 2 passes by: This comet makes its closest approach to Earth on Oct. 20, coming within 11.2 million miles.’s Joe Rao says Comet Hartley 2 “should briefly become a naked-eye object” in morning skies, although you’d have to get far away from city lights to see it. In early November, the Deep Impact spacecraft will observe the comet from a distance of about 600 miles.

Dec. 13-14: Geminid meteor shower: The Geminids are generally considered one of the year’s most reliable meteor showers – that is, if the moon’s glare doesn’t interfere. The moon is due to set soon after midnight for this year’s show, which could produce peak rates of 120 meteors per hour. Join us at AstroBash to catch the Geminids!



Dates taken from :



Happy New Year!

For those that noticed the Full Moon amid the fireworks and partying during New Year’s Eve, you might have missed the fact that it was particularly blue.

Blue moon

Blue Moon is the term applied to the second full Moon in a calendar month. It’s an event that occurs roughly every two and a half years. This Thursday’s blue Moon is far rarer than that though, because it’s happening right on New Year’s Eve—a coincidence that happens only about once in every twenty years.

On a curious note, the modern definition of blue moon sprang out only in the 1940s, and it “involved factors such as the ecclesiastical dates of Easter and Lent, and the timing of seasons according to the dynamical mean sun” which is thankfully translated to be “the second full moon in the calendar month… or something close.”

If you do see an actual blue moon as above, put on a gas mask, seal your windows shut and stay indoors. Most probably, its a PSI reading worthy of an erupting volcano in the Indonesian forests.