Monday, July 13, 2009

We engaged the public, we stargazed and we launched rockets 300 feet into the air ... all in a weekend!

Saturday morning didn't look a promising day for anything at all much less for Sidewalk Astronomy, with rapidly darkening sky and impending storm front that wouldn't let up. The sun was nowhere to be seen. It looked grim. It looked even more grim when the downpour finally came down on Miri City two minutes shy of 0900hrs ... the time Sidewalk Astronomy was supposed to start on the grounds of Miri City Fan Park.

This is the second year MNS Miri Branch has engaged CK Lim, an experienced astronomer, avid educator from Penang for our Astronomy Weekend. Together with Kong Lih Shan (now based in Sabah), Ernyza Endot and Sam Ting, we've gathered all the stargazers we need for an exciting 'show and tell' to the public. Aside for the pouring rain of course. Our astronomy program in collaboration with Pustaka Negeri Sarawak Miri Branch through it's SMART partnership and Borneo Tropical Rainforest Resort seemed hopeless by 0930hrs. We did not count on crummy weather.

Our astronomers being the lot with patience made of steel and fortitude forged from carbon fibre perservered. We set up all our gear consisting of 6 telescopes indoors inside the main Pustaka building, all determined to engage and awe the younger Mirians with astronomy. There were no shortage of lamp posts, leaves, flowers and car plates to illustrate the reaching power of a refractor telescope. Shiny chrome and pristine big glass also played their role well in attracting the public. Pretty soon our corner was filled with curious, enquiring minds bent on finding out what the fuss was all about.

And everyone knows, you only need one person to ask one question to get the astronomers going. The rest was easy ... this session is practically in the bag!

Round One : Astronomy-1, Weather-0.

CK showing a parent the components of a telescope used for stargazing, this time around we had to rely a lot on the imagination having no stellar objects to point the sights to.

A young would be nebulae hunter in the making.

Musa giving a helping hand with the knobs and turns.

Crowds gathered indoors from another function stopped to take a peek into our telescopes. Even a political secretary of someone important made a prolonged pit-stop!

Ernie's "V" for victory as if to say "Yep! We got them alright, all the way from 6 years old to 65!"

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