Visit to Tech Dome and the associated PIXO observatory in Komtar, George Town, Penang.
Rhys and I visited Tech Dome and the PIXO observatory there today at the personal invitation of Dr Chong Hon Yew, the president of the Astronomical Society of Penang. He gave us a guided tour of the observatory and we also spent several pleasurable hours in TechDome itself. Tech Dome is a science discovery centre with plenty of excellent educational exhibits, which cover relevant science concepts up to GCSE level. It really is a good resource and worth its rather exhorbitant entry fee of RM 50 per person (around £13 each). I personally preferred to it our own ThinkTank in Birmingham.
A fair number of the exhibits were relevant to astronomy and I have included some photos of these below.
Dr Yew played a key role in setting up the observatory – he is quite inspirational, following in the footsteps of people like John Dobson in the states, believing that the best way to encourage the public to get interested in astronomy is to take large telescopes to where they are, rather than expect them to come out to dark sky sights – and give them a wow experience they will next forget. So, to this end, he has raised funds for some excellent scopes and mounts (see photos) covering day and night, and actively encorages young people to take on leadership roles in the group. The observatory has a magnification space with roll off roof and seminar room and a view of Komtar rising above it. They also have a large Lunt solar telescope and CCD imaging facilities and Rhys and I were fortunate to observe a number of excellent images taken by one of their members. These included one that they believe is to largest (pixel-wise) ever taken in Malaysia and there is a picture of Rhys and Dr Yew standing next to this photo below as well.
If you ever come to Penang, do take the chance to visit the observatory and Tech Dome and to contact Dr Yew and say Hi – you will be welcomed with open arms and perhaps have a chance to see the southern sky in all its glory!
Penang PIXO Observatory’s large Officina telescope on Paramount mount:
A view in the PIXO Observatory (below):
The observatory’s roll off roof:
Dr Yew explains solar photography to Rhys:
The sign outside the observatory:
Dr Yew and Rhys stand next to (probably) the largest (in pixel size) image of the Moon ever taken:
Rhys stands next to the observatory computer:
Dr Yew and Andrew/Rhys next to the inauguration plaque for the observatory:
The observatory’s seminar room:
Members of the Astronomical Society of Penang observe from this paved area next to the observatory. It is four stories high. They use this for night time observing and also for daytime solar observing.
There is also a dark sky site owned by one of the members where we will be going tonight to observe the meteor shower.
The following pictures are from Tech Dome and of relevance to astronomy.
Rhys plays old style space invaders on an arcade machine, like those we grew up with in our youth!
They are yellow bugs – but they are also programmable robots and Rhys is programming them here to get around a maze. Future space missions with be increasingly dependent on autonomous machines.
I am standing next to an information poster on the Astronomical Society of Penang:
Other astronomy-related astronomy exhibits at Tech Dome:
The following is a very effective exhibit – using many compasses and a central bar magnet it demonstrates magnetic fields like those around the Earth or Jupiter, that deviate solar wind away from the Earth and towards its poles, creating the aurorae: