4 year old MF developed an interest in Astronomy lately. Last week, Jupiter and Venus aligned with Earth, resulting in two sparkling bright ‘stars’ in the sky which were actually Jupiter and Venus huddled together. >Read more about this on National Geographic.<
So last Friday, we made a trip down to Singapore Science Centre Observatory, hoping to see the planets through a telescope.
The observatory was open every FRIDAY from 7.45pm to 10pm, weather permitting. And it was absolutely FREE!
We walked along the long corridor from the main Science Centre, following the above sign to the observatory. There was a shop selling telescopes along the corridor – in case you wanted to buy your own telescope instead of waiting in the queue?
Along the way, there were some posters with pictures of planets to get the kids excited.
And we finally reached the Observatory!
Okay, this was NOT it. To get to the actual observatory, you needed to go out of the side door near the cafe. But before you do that, don’t forget to pick up a star map!
We were there in July, the Star Map we received had some facts about the Scorpius. Okay, I admit I know NOTHING about astrology and constellations. I thought July’s Zodiac was Cancer and Scorpio was for like, October. You mean Zodiac signs had nothing to do with constellations? What was a scorpion doing in the sky in July instead of, you know, a crab?
Just beside the Star Map counter, there was also a table with colouring materials for the kids.
We skipped that and went out to the lawn where the observatory was. We arrived at about 7.30pm and the observatory was not open yet.
There were people setting up their personal telescopes on the lawn.
The kids whipped out their Google Sky Map app (apparently only available on Android, but I’m sure there are similar Sky Map apps for iPhones. I spotted people around me looking at a similar thing on their iPhones.)
And they located Venus and Jupiter’s position! See that speck? That’s either Venus or Jupiter, not sure which one. Hah! I know as much about Astronomy as Astrology… which is really not much.
After the clouds cleared, we could see both planets!
And while the kids were busying themselves with the Sky Map, a queue had started to form outside the observatory.
Before we knew it, a long queue had formed before the door was even open.
Instead of joining the queue, we decided to go enjoy the air-con and let the kids do some colouring.
BAD MOVE. I advise you to have someone ‘chope-ing’ a space in the queue as early as possible instead of bumming it out, hoping to queue less later. The queue just got longer and longer and even after the door opened, the queue moved slowly because there was only 1 telescope.
We finally joined the queue and had to wait pretty long to enter. Once we entered the observatory, there were some posters along the corridor to entertain the kids while queuing.
There was a super cool magnetic board with magnets of the planets that you could move along their orbits. But sad to say, people did not heed the instruction to not remove the planets. When we were there, only Pluto and Jupiter were left.
And finally just before reaching the telescope, there was a map of the constellations.
I studied the map, trying to figure out if there was any relation between constellations and star signs. It was…. confusing. I gave up.
And we finally reached the telescope!
While we were almost there, the staff decided to try to see if Jupiter and Venus were visible. (It was pointing to Saturn when we reached.) So we got to witness the dome rotating!!
The staff took a peek at the sky and determined it was too cloudy. So we were back to Saturn.
The actual peek into the telescope was pretty short and kind of anti-climax. Okay, laugh at me, I really know nothing about astronomy and I really thought I would be able to see something like this through the telescope.
But instead, what we saw was similar to this:
It frankly looked like a computer graphic to me. I just got to convince myself that, YAY! I saw the REAL Saturn through a telescope!
Overall, although the view of Saturn through the telescope didn’t quite meet my *unrealistic and naive* expectation, the thrill of going to an observatory and peeking through a giant telescope was a great experience. Especially for the 4 year old.
PS: The 2 year old didn’t know how to look through the telescope. So I recommend this only for older children.
Alright, so if you are planning to visit, here are some tips for you.
- If you are driving, park at the carpark in front of KidsStop. The entrance of the carpark is along Jurong Town Hall Road. If you park at Science Centre’s main carpark (the one along Science Centre Road), it is a bit further.
- Arrive early and start queuing once you see people walking up the stairs to queue.
- Check the weather. Don’t bother going if it is raining or super cloudy.
- Younger kids may not know how to see through the telescope properly.
- Please DO NOT bring home the planets on the magnetic board in the observatory. 🙁
- You will be viewing different planets in different months. Below is the schedule for 2015, from Singapore Science Centre website.
(7.30pm – 11.00pm)
|Planets in View*|
|Jan – Mar 2015||Jupiter, Mars and Venus|
|Apr 2015||Jupiter and Venus|
|May – July 2015||Jupiter, Saturn and Venus|
|Aug – Oct 2015||Saturn|
If you are planning a day out with kids, I recommend visiting KidsStop in the day. There was a small section at KidsStop explaining the solar system and constellations, in addition to TONS of super fun activities for kids there.
KidsStop closes at 6pm on Fridays. So you will have time to go for dinner before visiting the observatory. Dining options at Singapore Science Centre include McDonald’s, Lijiang Restaurant and The Alpine Restaurant & Microbrewery.
Free talks will be held on the 2nd Friday night of every month. Here’s the list of talks from Singapore Science Centre website for the rest of 2015.
- July – Lord of the Rings
- August – Space Junk
- September – Fly me to the Moon
- October – Constellations & Chinese folklore
- November – Meteor showers
Time: 8pm & 9pm
Duration of each talk: 20 minutes
Venue: Science Centre Observatory
*The schedule is subject to changes. Please check SCOB’s Facebook page for latest updates.
So if you have nothing planned today, hop down to the observatory for a 20-minutes talk on Saturn, happening at 8pm and 9pm.
Information on Singapore Science Centre Observatory
Address: 15 Science Centre Road Singapore 609081
Getting There: 10-minutes walk from Jurong East MRT (NS1 / EW24)
Opening Hours: 7.45pm – 10pm every FRIDAY, weather permitting.
*The Observatory will be closed if the Friday is a public holiday. Please check Singapore Science Centre website for closure dates.*
Tel (for Singapore Science Centre): +65 6425-2500