When Virgil wrote those words in the Aeneid, he probably meant to go to the stars not just point at it. To be fair, pointing at the stars sounds like a very boring hobby. Yet here I am, 3 years on still doing exactly that. Now if you ask me why I joined NUS Astro, I still can’t give you a straight answer.
Was it to explore the actual beauty of the universe? Did I want to learn more about astronomy and share it with others? Or did I, by chance, meet an old friend on the way to the first GET1042 lecture in my freshman year whereupon he asked me if I wanted to join NUSAS with him? Who knows? What I know is, every single time I see someone laying eyes upon a scope-magnified star I feel a deep joy in my heart. Even if I was just pointing at a random star whose name I came up with when they asked, the excitement they feel is infectious.
I must have told the story of Orion and Scorpius to hundreds of people by now, but I still get hyped every single time. My friends have probably heard that story a hundred times now, yet they still LOOK hyped every single time. So why then are the stars such an exciting topic. I think it is quite simple. The stars have always been an unknown to us due to how far away they are. It is this unknown quality that has allowed us to imprint our own culture and beliefs unto it. Where once we attached a religious value to the stars, now we place it firmly in our scientific focus. The stories that we attach to these heavenly objects is the story of humanity. You can say that our love for the stars is our love for humanity.
After countless AstroSessions, AstroBashes, AstroChalllenges and other AstroWhatevers I have been to these past 3 years, what I once dismissed as a way to waste time every Friday has become a true passion. I find myself looking forward to every session and the chance to learn something new. A wise man once said; “Come for the Astro, Stay for the people”. I agree but I also wonder, why not both?
So, every Friday, come on by and stay a while. Let me show you some stars and tell you some stories. You may or may not have heard of them before, but I’ll guarantee you’ll enjoy an out of this world experience. Maybe I’ll bring you to a telescope and teach you how to use it. Then you can ask me where you should point it at. And I’ll tell you.
22nd NUSAS Executive Committee
(Updated 25th October 2019)