Mid-Autumn Festival & Moon Gazing

It’s a time of the year when the Mid-Autumn Festival comes along. It is a time when family come together to have an evening feast and gaze at the moon.  Admittedly, this year I had almost forgotten about it until a reminder from Hayley a day before! 

This year we didn’t have any great feast or mooncakes. (Honestly, who really enjoy mooncake with a couple of egg yolks inside? It’s like eating brussels sprouts at Christmas.) However, it was a coincidence that the Philips Observatory opened their doors to the public the night before the Mid-Autumn Festival. Of course, we were delighted to head down there with a few friends and gaze at the dark sky using their giant telescope.

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The ground floor entrance of the observatory. There are also other exhibits on the walls explaining interesting facts about the stars and planets. You will have to climb to the top to visit their telescope.

We were told that this observatory was originally built in the 1930s by Philips for their employees who were interested in astronomy. (Yes, you are right – Philips the light bulb maker and what a good company for keeping their employee happy back in those days.)

Now, the observatory is not just for employees, but also for the publics. Inside the dome, there is a bright orange telescope, which is 350 cm in length and 55 cm in diameter. It is capable of 600 times magnification and apparently one can clearly see the milky way using this awesome piece of instrument. It felt like we were playing with a cool piece of toy!

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Giant telescope at the top of the observatory, which can be swung 360 degrees. On the side of the telescope, there is also a counterbalance made out of cast iron. The hatch at the top can be opened in section.
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Hayley stepped up the ladder to the viewing platform where she could see the moon through the lenses at 49x magnification. We were very lucky to have seen the moon given that it had been very cloudy all evening.
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Volunteers explained all the technical specifications of the telescope and also explained many other things related to our solar systems and the universe in general.

Afterthoughts

We definitely had a great time there. We were really pleased that the volunteers explained how things work and various bits and pieces of astronomy in very technical details. Afterall, the city of Eindhoven is full scientists and engineers. You can’t get away from giving lame explanations.

Unfortunately, even with this big telescope, we weren’t able to see the lady and her bunny on the moon. Maybe she has hidden at the dark side of the moon? Afterall, many Chinese girls don’t like to get their skin tanned. Sitting on the deck chair at the bright side of the moon with a beer on her hand and barbecue next to her is definitely a no-no!

Trip Details:

  • The Dr. A. F. Philips Observatory is located in the Stadswandelpark, which is a short bike ride south of the Eindhoven train station.
  • Between October and April (aka when nights are longer), the observatory is opened to the public for stargazing twice a month. The volunteers of the observatory also explain interesting things about the universe.
  • Entry fee to the observatory is € 3
  • For more information, please visit their website: http://www.sterrenwachteindhoven.nl/

Have you seen the night sky using a high power telescope? What was your experience? Or who did you celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival? Comment below!

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