What is the best way to enjoy both sun and sand as well as observing the galaxy? The answer is by having a vacation in Port Dickson area in Negeri Sembilan – just one and half hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur – and visiting its famous observatory, the Baitul Hilal Complex, or sometimes referred to as the Teluk Kemang Observatory.
The modern observatory, situated in Teluk Kemang just 13 kilometres south of the seaside town of Port Dickson, sits on a headland with a wide and expansive view of the Straits of Melaka, providing the perfect backdrop for a little stargazing. Baitul Hilal – meaning House of Crescent – is the main venue for astronomical observation and activities. For example, every year, it plays host to a group of national Ahli Falak (astrologists) who will monitor the heavens and determine special dates in the Muslim calendar such as the beginning of the fasting month and the Eid celebratory holiday.
The complex is reputed to have one of the best facilities in the region. It maintains one of the biggest and sophisticated telescopes in Malaysia, a 24-inch beauty tagged at close to RM2 million, which provides reliable observations up to 0 degree.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.