News: Don starry-eyed over Dec 21

The Star, 17 Dec 2012

IPOH: Despite the many doomsday prophecies surrounding Dec 21, 2012, an astronomy enthusiast is looking forward to positive events to occur on that day.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Astronomy Club adviser Assoc Prof Dr Chong Hon Yew believes that two positive events may occur on that day.

He is hopeful of a supernova (exploding stars) in the Milky Way galaxy and the possibility of mankind making contact with an extra-terrestrial intelligence civilisation.

“If people are thinking that there will be catastrophes such as devastating earthquakes, typhoons or tsunamis, in my opinion these are not going to happen.

“And neither is the earth going to collide with the killer asteroid, nor are the planets, comets, sun or moon going to finish the earth off,” he said yesterday.

Some have interpreted the apocalyptic prophecy as the day the Mayan calendar comes to an end, and have predicted that the world would come to an end on that day.

Dr Chong believed that astronomers worldwide who have been listening to radio telescope since 1960 might discover signals or contact with extra-terrestrial life.

He said he had been waiting for mankind to make contact with extra-terrestrial life since he was just a boy.

“Therefore, I believe on the night of Dec 21, some form of signal will be made.

“We have hundreds of solar systems and there is bound to be a civilisation somewhere out there,” he added.

As for the appearance of a supernova, he said no such phenomenon had been observed since 1604 in the Milky Way galaxy.

A supernova or exploding star is extremely luminous and causes a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months.

When this happens, millions of people are going to be amazed, he added.

He also encouraged people to come to USM from 6pm on Dec 21 for the Mayan Prophecy Star Gazing event.

He said there would be exhibitions and star gazing events, with a big clock placed there.

The event would last until the next day.

Participants at the event will get a certificate stating their participation in the event.