Taiping, February 2023

Before starting to write this blog, I decided to take a look at the two blogs I wrote about my visits to Taiping last year, in March and June. I noticed that my Taiping visits are usually very similar: I meet friends, enjoy the Lake Gardens, explore the town and its heritage, have nice food. etc. This visit was not different, so be warned ;- .

On 15 February I took the ETS to Taiping I like train travel, it is more relaxing than driving. I always choose a seat in coach C, because the canteen is there 😉

In Taiping my friends Lay Chun and Kar Seng were waiting for me. We had lunch in the 226 Kim Hai restaurant in Aulong, where they are regular customers.

Nice food and as usual they didn’t let me pay for it. Malaysian hospitality!. From left to right, pork ribs, bitter gourd omelet (my favourite) and mantis shrimps.

After lunch they dropped me at Furama. From my hotel room I always had a view of a beautiful (but abandoned) bungalow. I was a bit shocked to see that the bungalow had been completely destroyed and replaced by a non-descript eatery.

After taking some rest I walked to the Novotel where I met my friend Derrick and his “gang”. They were on a road trip, staying overnight in Taiping and he had asked me to show them Taiping. As they had already been walking around in the Lake Gardens, I took them to Kuala Sepetang (Port Weld), where we walked around. Here a view from the bridge.

The first railway in the FMS, from Taiping to Port Weld, was opened in 1885. Dismantled in 1941, now only a signboard remains. On our way back we had dinner in Matang. The Light House restaurant is famous for its seafood porridge.

The next morning my friend Yeap picked me up from my hotel. We had breakfast together, another tradition. This time we had thosai in a mamak.

I had asked Yeap if he had contacts in the Taiping Sikh community, because I was interested to visit the Gurdwara Sahib. Not surprisingly he had, after breakfast we went to the Gurdwara where we met Datuk Balraaj Singh. The present Gurdwara was built in 1970 to replace a beautiful building, completed in 1921. The Taiping Gurdwara Sahib has an interesting history, going back to the times of captain Speedy, who in the 1870s went to India and came back with a group of Sikh sepoys to protect the interests of Ngah Ibrahim. A few years later they formed the Police Corps of Perak and in 1881 a wooden Gurdwara was built in the police compound. During the first world war, most Sikhs left to fight and many didn’t come back. Access to the gurdwara was problematic for their families (high security), in 1916 it was decided to build a new gurdwara.

Left the modern gurdwara, right the only remaining image of the beautiful old building.

Yeap’s wife was interested to see the gurdwara and joined us. Visitors are welcome, but you need a headcover. I had brought my cap, for Yeap and his wife there were shawls. What a handsome couple 😉 . We first visited the main hall (called the darbar), the entrance door was decorated with the Ik Onkar symbol, meaning literally There is only one Creator.

The darbar is a big empty space, dominated at the far end by an elevated throne on which rests the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism. First I thought we were alone, entering the hall, but coming closer to the “throne”, we noticed that somebody was sitting behind it, reading the book. It was the Granthi, the ceremonial reader of the Guru Granth Sahib.

A gurdwara also has a langar, a community kitchen, where free vegetarian meals are prepared by volunteers for everybody, irrespective of religion or race. There is also a school and a library. Left the communal kitchen, right a few classrooms.

The courtyard of a gurdwara always has a big flagpole, carrying the Sikh flag. As there was no wind during our visit, you can not see the Khanda on the flag , the official symbol of the Sikh faith, After finishing his reading, the Granthi came to greet us and offer us a cup of tea. Here I am standing between him and the caretaker of the gurdwara.

A nice experience and a very interesting religion!

I went back to my hotel but stayed there only a short time, until Goh, another THS friend picked me up and took me to his house. He is a good photographer, a few years ago we had explored Taiping, resulting in an blog Taiping Old and New. He is also an avid gardener and I had asked him if I could have a look at his garden. His wife prepared coffee and we had a nice “senior” chat

He had a big collection of Desert Roses. We are trying to grow them at home, not easy. He also showed me the budding flower of the Queen of the Night, a species of cactus that only blooms for a single night. I asked him to send me a picture of the flower, which he did the following day. So beautiful.

It was almost lunchtime, we went to the Casual Market, where we had char kuey teow. There are two stalls in Casual Market, preparing this popular food, this time we had the fishball variety. The official name of this food court is Larut Matang Hawker Centre, sometimes also called the Cashier Market, but Goh was adamant that this was not correct.

After lunch we drove to the foothills of Maxwell Hill. The next day an exhibition “A Tale of two Hills” would be opened in the Maxwell Base Camp, we decided to have a look already

Everybody was busy with last-minute preparations, but they still had time to show us around. Left Suet Fun (mentor of the project) explaining the project to another early visitor. Right a description of the four contributions. Narrative and narrator are the new fashion words 😉

The contributions contain photos, videos, text. Here are two narrators with their narratives.

After Goh dropped me at my hotel, it was time for a well-deserved rest, Later I went to the Lake Gardens. A few years ago part of the Circular Road has been closed for traffic after a few raintrees had fallen on the road. It is now the Raintree Walk, very popular. One more part , until the Zoo, is now also for pedestrians. Very good initiative of MPT (the Taiping town council).

Until now four of the majestic raintrees have fallen on the road.

Several other trees have fallen in the opposite direction and still manage to survive.

Some more pictures of the Lake Gardens. I like the photo of the ladies who have brought a table and chairs and are enjoying an afternoon tea (?) at the water edge.

A walk in the Lake gardens in not complete for me without having a look at the cannonball trees.

I had invited Bok Kin and her husband for dinner that evening and they suggested the new Brew House, next to my hotel. I asked them to notify me when they had arrived in the restaurant, then I would join them in a few minutes 😉

The food was not really that special, but it was very nice meeting them.

During my visit in June I had visited a number of Hindu temples with Muthu Pulai, another THS member. He had suggested a day trip to a Muniswaram temple in Prai (Penang) for the following day, but when I was back in my hotel, I received his message that he had to cancel the trip last-minute. So I had to improvise a program for the next day.. Fortunately my friend Halim was free.!

I decided to start with Chee Cheong Fun breakfast at my usual stall no 37 in the Circus Grounds food court opposite Novotel. Very close to Furama, on my way I passed the colorful Dobi Line.

At the CCF stall I met Foo, earlier working at Furama, having breakfast with a friend. The stall is now managed by the son of Mr Tong, who has retired. Food quality still the same.

Later Halim picked me up from my hotel. First we went to his house, He has a lovely house and a beautiful garden.

Halim has recently started painting and I was interested to see the results. I was quite impressed. A few months ago he had a mild stroke, causing him some speech problems and I was even more impressed by the way he handled this (hopefully temporary) handicap. He carried a notebook to write down what he couldn’t tell and was not shy to communicate with other people.

There are several places I always like to visit when I am in Taiping, many of them heritage related. We had a look at the Residency pillars, cleaned a few years ago by THS and other NGO’s. See my report Taiping October 2020. They still look quite impressive.

The same can not be said of the remains of the former Casuaria Resthouse, still a ruined mess.

Then it was time for lunch, in the nearby New Club

Halim told me that he could see a waterfall from his home in Taman Lake View and that he would like to visit it. I told him that it was the Kamunting fall (Sg Ranting fall). After lunch we drove to the Indian temple near the Water Reservoir, where the trail to both Taiping waterfalls starts. I told him the trail to the Ranting fall is not that easy. We will see, during my next visit.

Back in my hotel, there was the usual afternoon rain.

After the rain stopped, I walked around the town. The egrets were still coming back to roost, It is a fascinating sight to see the flocks of birds return around 7 pm

In Jalan Kelab Cina the façade of a shoplot has collapsed a few months ago, damaging a few cars parked in front. The owner has now put up shielding with a warning sign “Park at your own risk”. Through a hole I could take a photo of the interior. Will be interesting to follow the development, if any, of this property. Taiping has (too) many of those ruins.

Next I walked to the Central Market. Part of it, Siang Malam is being renovated. Left a picture I took last year June, right how it looks now. There is progress !

Left the interior of the Siang Malam, still a lot has to be done. Right the main building of the market. No visible activity since last year.

Not really hungry after my lunch in the New Club, I just had some snack food in my hotel.

The next day I woke up early for a day trip with my friends Henry and Soon Lay. Visiting temples and caves around Ipoh was the target of this trip. We did so many interesting things, that I wrote a separate blog about it Take Your Time. Here two pictures, to give you an impression.

The next day was already the last one, going back by ETS in the afternoon. First I had breakfast with Henry and Soon Lay in D’Cherry , Tupai district.. According to Henry the best Nasi Lemak in town. Quite good.

After breakfast they were willing to drive me around the town, so I could have a look at a few of my “favourites”

Recently the STAR published an article about the Taiping murals A total of nine has been planned. We passed one that was still under construction. Here is a picture taken by me next to a Google Earth Street View. Personally I have reservations about this approach, using the wall just as a canvas. Compare it with what Zacharevic has done in Penang and Ipoh, basically using the structure of the old wall instead of obscuring it..

Here is another (in)famous example. Again the wall is just used as a canvas. Infamous because Amelia Earhart never landed in Taiping. See my latest blog Did Amelia Earhart land in Taiping? Two recent newspaper articles, from the STAR : QuickCheck: Did pioneer female pilot Amelia Earhart make a stopover in then-British Malaya? (verdict: “FALSE”), and from the NST: Earhart’s Taiping mural will not be erased . Sigh, Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur

Then it was time for what I call the Shame of Taiping, the two heritage buildings on Station Road, the former Perak Railway building and the Rest House. In 2013 and 2019 I wrote blogs about it, Shame on Taiping! and Taiping Bandar Warisan. Here a few photos, when you compare them with the two blogs, you will see that the decay has progressed.

The Perak Railway Building (Later PWD). At least now solidly fenced off (after the interiors was demolished completely)

The Rest House has also been fenced off, but it is still easy to enter.

Opposite those two ruins, the impressive buildings of the King Edward VII school. But don’t be mistaken, when I visited the school in 2018, parts were not accessible because they were infested by termites.

Finally a photo of me and my favourite ruin. Located at Jalan Sultan Jaafar, behind KEVII I read that the the land is for sale for RM 1.3 million. I would like to find out who were the original owners/tenants and why this bungalow was left to rot.

After Henry and Soon Lay dropped me at my hotel, I packed my stuff, checked out and waited for Halim. Our plan was to visit the Kota Ngah Ibrahim, have lunch, after which he would drop me at the Kuala Kangsar station.

First we went to the Ansari Chendol, where the biasa chendol was still only RM 1.80.

Then we drove to Matang where the fort has now be renamed Muzium Matang. Because it is more than the fort now. The building next to it, which I always called Speedy’s bungalow, has been renovated and is open to the public, free of charge. That was the reason for our visit, the fort itself I had visited many times,

The beautiful building next to the fort was actually the Security Guardhouse of Ngah Ibrahim’s police force.

We spent quite a lot of time in the museum, lots of information, the captions were not always easy to read

The restaurant Halim had in mind for lunch was Selera Azrorasa, located in Matang Gelugor. Famous for its fish curry, he said. Nice location, very remote. We ordered food and soon discovered that the service was very slow. And it was still quite far to Kuala Kangsar. I was getting worried.

Finally we decided that we had to leave, we asked the waiter to “tapau” the food (common practice in Malaysia to “take away” food) . Ten minutes before departure I arrived at the station. Halim took our lunch home and told me later that the food was good. I ordered coffee and sandwiches in the train canteen 😉 A funny ending of a very rewarding Taiping trip.

Take Your Time

During my recent visit to Taiping, I went on a daytrip with my friends Henry and Soon Lay. In 2019, before the COVID pandemic started, we made a similar trip: Two Caves and a Waterfall. This time Henry had selected a number of interesting locations around Ipoh and Kampar. Too much for one day, especially as Henry’s favourite expression is “Take your time”

After picking me me up from my hotel at 7 am, we drove to Ipoh, where we had breakfast at Roti Canai Pak Syeikh, considered to be one of the best Roti Canai in Ipoh.

Our first destination was the Gua Wu Ji Ngam temple. Gunung Rapat has many Chinese cave temples, in 2018 I have visited several of them, here is my report Gunung Rapat Cave Temples. This temple is not very well known and it took us some time to find it. First we took a wrong sideroad and ended up near the Mirror Lake, which now has become a commercial tourist attraction (entrance fee RM 5).

Nearby is another temple , the Da Seng Ngan temple , already visited by me in 2018, so I only took a few pictures this time. The interesting story about this more than 100 year old temple, is that in 1974 a flash flood and a resulting mudslide completely covered the temple. It was only in 2006 that the temple was excavated and restored.

The Gua Wu Ji Ngam temple is located less than 100 meter away. The only information we could find about this temple is on Google Maps. When we arrived , only the friendly caretaker was there, who gave us permission to explore the temple.

Soon a group of devotees arrive for a prayer session..

The caretaker was willing to take pictures of us and of course we took a picture of him as well.

The temple is attractive and has two interesting features. The murals are one of them, rock paintings of deities.

The other one was the structure of the cave. Using metal stairs we could climb to the upper level where erosion (by seawater?) had hollowed the limestone rock. There were two levels of erosion. Must have taken millions of years.

Easy walking on the lower eroded level, with a nice view of the temple below..

The next temple we visited is also not well known. Again we could only find it on Google Maps. Not even sure about the correct name, probably it is Wat Dhammamonkon. Anyway, it is a Buddhist temple in Thai style, with two magnificent Naga’s guarding the entrance.

;;A beautiful tree stands at the entrance of the temple. Despite the warning not to carve into the holy tree, people have done that in typical Malaysian style: carving four numbers, hoping it will bring luck in the popular 4D lottery.

Actually this temple was not our destination. We were looking for the the Big Coral Cave, about 200 meter away from the temple. Again, only information in Google Maps

Henry at the entrance of the cave.

It is also a temple. Quite interesting. Many statues.

The same layered structure as in the Gua Wu Ji Ngam

Interesting stalactites and other limestone formations.

Exploring the cave, we came to another exit.

There must be many more interesting features in this cave complex. Henry tried to reach the opening in the picture below, but the rocks were slippery and we were not equipped for real cave exploring, so we have to come back another time.

Our next destination was the Istana Raja Billah in Papan, but first it was time for lunch.. Restaurant Meng Fuong in Pusing would have been a suitable choice, I had enjoyed their “puppy duck” and their freshwater prawns several times. But on our way Henry spotted a food outlet “in the middle of nowhere”, part of a coffee factory. We decided to give it a try

The name of the outlet is Cascada by Magical Beans. It was surprisingly popular, but we found a free table.

I had a Rosemary Chicken Chop that was was quite nice. Soon Lay had Cheese Baked Rice and Henry ordered a Burger.

The Istana Raja Billah is a mansion in Papan, built in 1896 for a Mandailing nobleman.

Unfortunately not open to the public, we could only walk around it.

I found one window, where the blinds had a small gap, just wide enough for my smartphone to take a picture of the interior.

More details.

While we were walking around, a family arrived, we chatted a bit and discovered that they were living in Sri Damansara, very close to Damansara Perdana where we are living. Characteristic for Malaysia, in my experience, you will find easily a connection when meeting strangers 😉

Although it was not in Henry’s to-do list, we had of course to visit Papan, one of my favourite locations in Malaysia. I have several times brought friends to this ruined village, see for example my blog Tour Guide! .

I had read in the news that recently Papan has been made a tourist attraction, but I was still shocked a bit how different the atmosphere had become. Look at all the signs. But for a first-time visitor it must still be a fascinating experience.

Two new galleries have been opened in Papan, one about its heritage and the other one about the history of New Villages in Malaysia. I am very interested in New Villages, Taiping has two (Pokok Assam and Aulong), so I was quite surprised to read on one of the poster boards: In some cases, 22-hour curfews were placed upon the populations of New Villages, such were the case in Tanjong Malim, Pusing and Papan. Papan a New Village, how can that be?

We decided to visit one more place on Henry’s list and chose the Vine Garden, another location with limestone formations, only found on Google Maps. Not far from the “mysterious” temple which Aric and I had visited recently, see my report .A Nice Outing.

A few pictures of this temple. Henry and I at the entrance gate.

Part of the collection of deities left behind by devotees.

During our trip we didn’t have the coordinates of this vine garden. We expected a trail, but there was not really one. We noticed a gate, Henry explored a bit, but found nothing. Our second attempt meant entering a palm oil plantation. Soon we found that it was water logged, so we decided to turn back. We may try again after the end of the rainy season, because we were very close to the Vine Garden, less than 100 meters!

Our drive back to Taping took longer than expected, because of big traffic jam. Henry and Soon Lay dropped me at my hotel to refresh and rest a bit.

Later they picked me up again for dinner. They suggested the Raintree Kitchen Restaurant and that was a good choice. Both local and fusion food.

I had smoked duck spaghetti and ambra as a drink. Henry and Soon Lay had the Nasi Ulam set and the Tomyam Fried Beehoon. A place to keep in mind.

It was a wonderful trip, thanks to Henry and Soon Lay

First ‘party’ in our penthouse

In December 2021 we moved to our new penthouse. It took us more time than expected to do the renovation and furnish it according to our (mainly Aric’s) taste 😉 . Recently we have started to receive guests..

Our first guests, in November, just for a drink, my Gang of Four.

In December a real dinner, prepared by Aric, for a group of friends.

And in January we invited Aric’s family for a drink at home after a dinner with them in a nearby restaurant.

After all this went well, Aric wanted to invite his family and relatives for a CNY gathering. About 25-30 people, in Chinese style where everybody brings a dish for dinner . Actually in the US this is called a Dutch Party 😉 We didn’t expect the party to be noisy, but Aric decided to “warn” our neighbors anyway, by putting a friendly note on their doors.

His sister Aei Ling arrived early to help with the preparations.

It had been raining heavily, after it stopped Aric had to put back a Chinese decoration that had fallen down.

Around 6 pm the first guests arrived.

The younger generation

And the older one, enjoying a glass of Malaysian Timah whisky

Many of the ladies were helping to prepare the dinner. I just provided drinks.

Our huge dinner table was very useful now, Here the ladies are putting everything on the table.

Dinner is ready! A delicious variety of food. Aric is inspecting.

He had himself also prepared various dishes, durian cake and blueberry cheesecake, but I took only a photo of one of his signature dishes: abalone.

Time for dinner. There was enough to satisfy everybody.

After dinner there was time for chit chat and watching TV.

The kids were playing cards in Aric’s office.

And the seniors were having a chat in the garden

Before leaving of course the traditional group photo had to be taken. . Here there are two, they look the same, spot the difference 😉

It was a very successful CNY gathering.

CNY 2023 Waterfall Trip

On 22 January the Chinese Year of the Rabbit started and on day 3 I went on a waterfall trip with my waterfall gang. A revival of an older tradition, more about this at the end of this blog. Destination was the Lata Juang waterfall, recently discovered by Joshua Tee and added to WoM. He is the new webmaster of the site and suggested that this waterfall might be suitable for a senior like me, easy access and only a short hike.

It was quite a big group, my two waterfall godsons, Siang Hui and Nick (with wife Ping and niece Yin) came from Teluk Intan. Joshua, his partner Eve and fellow hiker Ong came from Kajang. They were wiling to pick me and my Dutch friend Paul up from my condo. My other godson Teoh also wanted to join, but had to cancel last minute because he got Covid.

We met in Gopeng and managed to find a Chinese restaurant that was open (not easy just after CNY!). .We had noodles with Yong Tau Foo, not bad.

From Gopeng we took the Simpang Pulai road to the Cameron Highlands. Soon we reached a minor side road, quite rocky, not suitable for a sedan car, but no problem for Joshua’s Ford Ranger. After about 1 km he parked his car and we prepared to hike. From left to right: Yin, Ping, Nick, Paul, Siang Hui, Eve and Joshua.

After a stream crossing we followed a clear trail.

Soon we passed a house, surprisingly nicely designed. Nobody at home, but later, on our way back, we met the owner, a grumpy man who clearly was not happy that we had visited the waterfall.

It was easy going, here and there a fallen tree blocked the trail, but Ong had brought his parang.

In less than half an hour we reached the waterfall, the last few hundred meters following the river.

And a nice waterfall it was. Two tiers, with a huge pool.

Time to enjoy and relax.

When you have been following my blog posts, you know that I have slowed down considerably the last few years. The years are counting, I am getting clumsy, I have lost confidence in the jungle, also because I have an allergy for wasps and bees. So, when the idea came up for a waterfall trip on day 3 of the CNY, my first reaction was not to join. But when Joshua said it was an easy, short hike, and a nice pristine waterfall, I started to hesitate. When Nick added, please come with us, I decided to join. Very happy that I did, as you can see in these pictures. The right picture shows me with my two “godsons” Nick and Siang Hui,, really a pity that Teoh could not be present.

We didn’t stay long, about one hour, here we are preparing to hike back.

Walking back the same way.

Back to Simpang Pulai, we looked for a restaurant and found a nice one

Quite acceptable food. Pork knuckle, fish, sotong, taufu, two veggies and a few beers. As I was happy after a successful trip, I wanted to pay for the lunch. Not easy in Malaysia, but this time I managed haha.

We started our drive back to KL at 3 pm, expecting that there might be a traffic jam, as the next day would be a normal working day. But that the jam would be so bad, was still a bit of a shock. It also didn’t help that halfway heavy rain started. But Joshua was an experienced and relaxed driver. We reached my condo at 9 pm, after 6 hours.

Sungkai (left picture) was especially bad, it took us about one hour to pass the town. The right picture shows the queue for the ladies toilet at a petrol station. For the men’s toilet no queue of course. To be a male has its advantages 😉

A very rewarding CNY waterfall trip.

The tradition to organise a waterfall trip on day 3 of the CNY started in 2012. To give you an impression of the CNY trips we made, I give a list here, with a picture and a link.

2012: Lata Naga Air. With SIang Hui, Nick and Harry. Yes, that’s me in the picture

2013: Ulu Lecin, with Siang Hui, Nick and Faye

2014 Upper Damak, with Siang Hui and Nick

2015 Lata Enggang, with Siang Hui, Nick and Rani

2016 Trong with Siang Hui, Nick and Rani. The plan was to visit upper Nyior, but we found it was out of bounds because a military exercise took place in the region.So instead we revisited Trong.

2017 An unsuccessful waterfall trip With SIang Hui, Nick, Teoh and Rani. We wanted to visit Lata Jala but failed

The next few years we didn’t make a trip with CNY for various reasons, one of them being of course the Covid pandemic. Only last year a trip was organized, again to the Lata Jala fall, that we had failed to reach in 2017. But I decided not to join, as explained above. This time Siang Hui, Nick,Teoh and Joshua reached the fall.

I really hope this tradition will continue, although I probably will not join myself.

Gong Xi Fa Cai

On 22 January the Chinese year of the Rabbit started. People wish each other Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) or Gung hay fat choy (Cantonese). Meaning Congratulations get rich.

Here is our CNY wish for all of you..

About the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac has twelve signs (Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig) and five elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water).The signs repeat in a 12-year cycle, the elements in a 10-year cycle (an element takes two years, one yin and one yang). The combination of signs and elements gives a 60-year cycle. On your 60th birthday you start all over again, that’s why this birthday has a special significance. I celebrated mine in Taiping, on Maxwell Hill, click here for a report

Here is the Zodiac wheel , including the elements, for one 60-year cycle, from 1984 until 2043. Use your birthyear to find your sign and your element. If you were born before 1984, add 60 to your birthyear and use the same wheel. For example, I was born in 1944. I add 60 to my birthyear, 2004 and see in the wheel that I am a Wood Monkey.

The date of CNY is variable (see below). can be between 21 January and 20 February., When you are born in that period, you need to know the CNY date in your birthyear. Here is a list of CNY dates between 1930 and 2030.

2023 is a leap year

The Chinese calendar is based on lunar months. An average lunar month (time between a new or full moon and the next new/full moon) is ~ 29 d 12 h 44 min, therefore a lunar year of 12 lunar months is about 11 days shorter than a solar year. Without correction the Chinese New Year would advance about 11 days each year. To keep in sync with the solar year, on average every two/three years one of the months is duplicated, a leap month. Compare it with the leap day (29 February) that is inserted in the Gregorian calendar basically every 4 year.

CNY this year was on 22 January. Next year it would be 11 or 12 January. But this year has an extra month, so next year , CNY will be actually on 10 February.

Here is a list of CNY dates, with the leap years marked in yellow. Also I have marked which month is duplicated. In this year 2023, the 2nd month is duplicated.

2016Feb. 8, 2016 (Monday)Monkey
2017Jan. 28, 2017 (Friday)leap month 6Rooster
2018Feb. 16, 2018 (Friday)Dog
2019Feb. 5, 2019 (Tuesday)Pig
2020Jan. 25, 2020 (Saturday)leap month 4Rat
2021Feb. 12, 2021 (Friday)Tiger
2023Jan. 22, 2023 (Sunday)leap month 2Rabbit
2024Feb. 10, 2024 (Saturday)Dragon
2025Jan. 29, 2025 (Wednesday)leap month 6Snake
2026Feb. 17, 2026 (Tuesday)Horse
2027Feb. 6, 2027 (Saturday)Sheep
2028Jan. 26, 2028 (Wednesday)leap month 5Monkey
2029Feb. 13, 2029 (Tuesday)Rooster

To determine which lunar month is duplicated in a leap year, is a quite complicated. If you are interested, have a look at my webpage The Chinese Calendar.

Gong Xi Gong Xi

In the period around CNY you will hear everywhere Chinese New Year songs. One of the most popular ones is Gong Xi, Gong Xi. When I hear it , I can not easily get it out of my head 😉 The same happens for me with the Bolero of Ravel.

Listen to Yao Lee and her brother Yao Min.

Until recently I thought that this was a very old traditional Chinese song. But I was wrong, when I was born the song did not yet exist. It was composed in 1945 by Chen Gexin, NOT as a New Year song, but as a song to celebrate the defeat of Japan and the liberation of China at the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War (World War II).

The Wikipedia article Gong Xi Gong Xi , has the lyrics of the song. Here are a few lines (in translation).

After experiencing so many difficulties,
Going through so many ordeals,
How many hearts are looking forward
To the news of Spring!
Congratulations, congratulations

Although there are numerous Gong Xi’s (Congratulations) in the song, there is a feeling of sadness. Chen was jailed and tortured during the war. Nevertheless, soon it became a popular Chinese New Year Song.

A bit off topic: the D-minor key

Actually the song is written in a minor key, D minor. Here is the score.

The Wikipedia article D minor. gives a list of classical musical works written in that key. I was surprised to discover that several of the works mentioned belong to my all-time favorites.

I can not resist the temptation to mention three of them.

Top of the list, the chaconne from Bach’s 2nd partita for solo violin in D minor. .The most beautiful music ever written. Some of the variations still give me goosebumps. I wrote a blog about it: The Chaconne

Two works by Mozart. Here is his piano concerto KV 466 in D minor, my favorite. Here played by Maria João Pires, also my favorite 😉 . I wrote a blog about her: I have fallen in love

And his Requiem in D minor. I didn’t write a blog about it, but I watched the movie Amadeus many times 😉

Ok, one more, sorry. Bach again, his Toccata & Fugue in D-minor for organ. I wrote a blog about this and other toccatas: Toccatas

Me as a Student

A few weeks ago I published a blog post Me as a Physics Teacher. Searching my archive for photos, I came across several pictures taken during my “student” days. So here is a post about my life as a student.

Here is the only photo I have about the start of my “student” life 😉 Taken when I was 5 year old, during my stay at the kindergarten school.

Some photos must have been taken during my primary school time, but I cannot find any in my archive. My results were good, I skipped a class and was only11 year old in 1955 when I went to the Christelijk Lyceum in my hometown Alphen a/d Rijn. In those days a Lyceum was a school type with two courses, a five year one (HBS) and a six year one (Gymnasium). The Gymnasium stream had Greek and Latin as additional languages (besides Dutch, English, German and French) and prepared for university.

I was admitted to the Gymnasium stream. Here is my 2 Gym class in 1956-57. I am standing, fourth from the right.

One year later, class 3 Gym. I am standing in the back row, third from left. Next to me my best school friend Bram and my physics teacher Smit, who played an important role in my decision to study physics.

Our Gymnasium class was already quite small, but in class 5 Gym it was split in two, Alpha and Beta. The alphas got more Greek and Latin, the betas more mathematics and science. Here is the small 5 Gym Beta class with our Greek language teacher Flink. He was a nice old-fashioned gentleman, and we accepted willingly the awful smell of his pipe tobacco (smoking in the classroom was still permitted in those days). Can you find me? Sitting in the center, next to my friend Bram.

The usual school photo, in class 5 Gym Beta. February 1960, I am still 15 year old, will be 16 in April.

The final examination for Gymnasium classes was quite special in those days. In addition to the written tests, there was also oral ones, taken by your teacher and a university professor. After an exciting day, the end result was discussed by teachers and visitors in the staff room. We had to wait in a classroom for the verdict. Luckily in our small group everyone passed.

Time to celebrate, here in front of my family house.

Many of us continued our studies at various universities. The famous Leiden University was close to my hometown and a logical choice, but I was the first in my (extended) family to go to university and my parents preferred the Christian Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. They managed to find lodgings for me with a nice (Christian) landlady. I was only seventeen year old, in retrospect too young.

I enrolled for physics and mathematics. and I also joined the student corporation of the VU. In those days the student corpora had severe initiation rituals. The aspirant members had their head shaven and were humiliated in many ways a couple of weeks, before they were accepted. Here is a picture I found on the Internet, taken in 1961. I still vividly remember the experience.

At the end of 1961 a few of my classmates had a kind of reunion. Our favorite teacher of Dutch language, Miss Dubbeldam, was also present. Notice that my hair is growing back already, pity that I don’t have a picture when my head was clean shaven.

My room in Amsterdam was actually a kind of garden house. Private, but to reach it, I had to pass through the house of my landlady. Here I am standing in front of my rooms, around 1963. I did not really enjoy those first years at university, as soon as the lectures finished (Saturday morning!) I took the bus back to my hometown and stayed there with my family until Monday morning.

After I was accepted in the student corporation, I became a member of the sorority (“dispuut”) Odysseus. Weekly we met for drinks and there were regular meetings, where you could train/show your oratorical skills. A nice “cultural” dispuut, but still too macho for the immature guy I was. After a few years I left the club.

I had a few good friends. One of them is Nellie, we first met when we were both freshmen, more than 60 year ago. Here I have joined Nellie at a party of her :”dispuut” Notice how formally dressed I am, in a three-piece suit..

I was a diligent student. On the wall of my room the certificate that I was a member of the student corporation.

In my room with some more friends. Jan, my best friend in those days, is trying to sing something from Bach. We were a serious bunch.

Pictures taken at the same time. I had bought an old piano and was still following piano lessons in my hometown. It must have been a party, with the bottles stored in the piano, but I don’t remember what we celebrated. .

In those days university studies were split in two parts , the “kandidaatsexamen” and the “doctoraalexamen”, more or less equivalent to present day Bachelor and Master degrees.

I passed my “kandidaats” in 1965. In those days taking four years for this degree was quite normal. For the second phase, we had to follow lectures, pass tests, but also .work in the physics laboratory, taking part in excursions to other universities etc. I chose nuclear physics as a specialism and worked in a group, led by Anne de Beer, who was doing research for his PhD thesis. A very enjoyable few years

In 1967 I took part in a trip to the UK where we visited several laboratories

At the end of the trip we enjoyed a nice dinner. Notice that we are smoking cigars.

At the end of 1967 an important event took place in my life, resulting in a big change in my outward appearance. It was hippie time, my hair grew longer, my clothing became informal and I got interested in popmusic. See my blog Musical Nostalgia.

In those days military service was still compulsory, but you got a deferment if you studied. In 1968 I was given a test to determine whether I had leadership qualities. It was fun, here I am (no 26), I didn’t try to qualify because I had already decided to become a conscientious objector in case I had to go into military service.

Anne, the leader of my group defended his dissertation on 20 December 1968. He asked me and another student to be his paranymph, an old tradition. Formally dressed in white tie, but with long hair, I was of course subject to funny remarks.

A few months later I obtained my doctoraalexamen (Master of Science degree), I became a doctorandus .My university asked me if I would like, to stay , get a part-time job as scientific assistant and do research for a Ph.D. .I was honored and accepted. As my interest was more in theory than in experiments, it was decided that I would do research in theoretical nuclear physics.

Although I was no longer a student, I was still entitled to a student identity card

For various reasons it took me a rather long time to do my research and write my thesis. Here are a few pages of my thesis.

Here I am defending my thesis, 2 September 1976. Paranymphs were no longer needed.

It was a public ceremony, colleagues from the physics faculty were present, my proud family on the first row. My physics teacher from the Lyceum was there (second row, second from right), I had already accepted a job as physics teacher and started a few weeks earlier. The principal of my new school was there and a teacher colleague with a few young pupils from one of my classes (one row below the top row, in the middle).

That was the end of my academic career, although I still published an article about my research in 1978

The River of Life again

When we walked the River of Life route recently, we started at the trail head near the Midvalley Megamall and stopped at Chinatown, because we wanted to have a look at the murals there. Click here for a detailed report. So we skipped the part from Chinatown to Masjid Jamek, considered the be the most beautiful part of the route.

As there are LRT stations both at Masjid Jamek and near Midvalley (Abdullah Hukum) , I suggested to Paul that we could walk another time, one way, from Masjid Jamek and going back by train.

We met at the exit of the Masjid Jamek LRT station and started our walk from there. A clear signboard gives information about the River of Life project.

Our walk started in front of the Masjid Jamek, one of the masterworks of Arthur Benison Hubback, built in 1909. Non-Muslims can visit the mosque, but there is a dress code. Left an explanatory signboard, right the mosque as seen from the main entrance.

The route passes the magnificent (old) Supreme Court building, another creation of Hubback (1915). Not in use at the moment and the interior needs urgent repairs. The picture has been taken from the new pedestrian bridge crossing the Gombak river. In the right picture Paul is looking at the mosque, located at the confluence of the Gombak and Klang rivers.

The next few hundred meters are for me the highlight of the River of Life project You pass the back of the former Government Office (1897). The front side, facing Dataran Merdeka, is probably the most photographed building of KL The tranquil , peaceful backside was an unexpected surprise for me

Continuing along the Gombak river, you have nice views of the Mosque and the confluence of the two rivers.

Before you reach the next bridge, there is interesting mural art. These three buildings are still in use, as can be concluded from the numerous aircon’s .

Almost next to it, this building looks vacated, not a good sign . The façade has been used to paint various sketches of Kuala Lumpur’s past

It looks like after the bridge you can continue at the same side of the river, but soon, the raod is blocked (left pic), so you have to cross the bridge here, where you can find a modern work of art. (right pic)

You will pass now the Central market (Art Deco , 1937). The left picture shows a part of its façade, with towering above it the new Merdeka 118 skyscraper, still under construction. It will become the second-tallest skyscraper in the world. I can’t resist the temptation to digress for a while. When I see a photo like this I immediately have the association with a phallic symbol and that these symbols have been constructed since time immemorial. The right pic shows the Asinelli tower in Bologna, built in 1107 😉 .

Left a detail of the Central Market and right one of my favourite buildings in KL, the Dayabumi building. Completed in 1984 and for one year the tallest skyscraper of Malaysia. For me it is a fine example of Islamic Architecture.

Passing the Dayabumi complex (left) we reach the Pasar Seni LRT station (right in the center), where we cross again the river.

From there we followed the same route as during our first trip, so not many photos. It is basically a bicycle lane and we noticed a few cyclists.

Mural art (left) and the Tun Sambanthan monorail station in Brickfields (right)

This time we decided to cross a bridge and continue at the other side of the river, so we didn’t walk through Brickfields. Distance is a bit shorter, but it is not interesting at all.

And there is one part where you have to walk a few meter away from busy, noisy highway traffic. Really to be avoided.

The Kalaimman temple is at the other side of the river. The majestic tree is now even more impressive

As soon as possible we crossed back to the other side of the river, and continued the trail until where we had started during our first trip. There was a sign near the building that it is the Southern Gallery. Completely empty, maybe there are plans to put some exhibits inside.

To reach the Abdullah Hukum LRT station we had to cross the Midvalley complex, where you can get easily get lost. Christmas atmosphere.

To reach the station we had to cross once more the Klang river.

Here is a Google Earth map of our walk, in green. For comparison also the route of the first trip is shown (in yellow) . Notice the part where we walked at the other side of the river, avoiding Brickfields. To be avoided at all costs, Brickfields is much more interesting,

River of Life & KL Murals

The River of Life (ROL) project was launched in 2011 and aimed at reviving the Klang River and Gombak River within the city of Kuala Lumpur, transforming the banks into waterfront areas with economic , touristic and commercial value through river cleaning and beautification. An ambitious project, here is the masterplan. Click to enlarge. I have put a few markers,the Klang en Gombak rivers, the Friday Mosque , where their confluence is and to the right Midvalley where the City of Kuala Lumpur ends.

In 2017 the first phase of the project was officially opened, the region around the confluence of the two rivers and the historic city center. A pedestrian bridge has been built across the river from where you have a nice view of the Masjid Jamek, and the river banks are brightly lit at night. During the visit of my family in August we took pictures from the bridge. The Friday mosque in the centre, left the Gombak river, right the Klang river. Spectacular, but too blue in my opinion.

Probably it is because of this part of the project that in 2019 the River of Life has been listed in world’s top 10 Waterfront Districts. .

C4 (Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism) is quite negative: River of Life – a vanity project that fails to measure up

Another part of the project is a biking/hiking trail along the Klang river between Masjid Jamek and the Midvalley megamall. My friend Paul had walked this trail and was willing to show it to me. He suggested to start at the Midvalley side,

The start of the trail is marked on Google, close to Midvalley, but we needed Waze to find it, at the end of a minor dead end road (left picture). A signboard River of Life made it clear that we had reached the correct spot. The building behing the signboard looked nice but was unused.

The first part of the trail is very pleasant. It is very wide as it is meant primarily as a bicycle route. The right picture , looking back at the Midvalley complex, shows a group of cyclists

Along the route descriptive panels give information about the history of the Klang river.

We passed building sites, still under construction. A nice sculpture with an unfinished building. A nice flower in front of a fence.

We could have crossed the white bridge in the background to the other side of the Klang river, but decided to follow the bicycle route.

Entering Brickfields. Beautiful trees. We passed the St Teresa school.

In the left picture above you can see a small white building. This is the Sri Poovaadai Kaliamman temple, built around a gigantic banyan tree. An interesting surprise.

After the temple it is not possible to walk along the river, but a blue bicycle ribbon leads you through Brickfields,

It is an interesting part of the walk, Brickfields is very Indian, We passed another temple, the popular Sri Sakthi Karpagar Vinayagar temple.

I walked around in the temple and took pictures.

Left the Tamil Methodist Church (1908), right a Muslim Surau & Mosque. Brickfields is multi-religious 😉

After passing through Brickfields the route joins again the Klang river. In the center the Merdeka 118 building, 679 meter tall, the second-tallest skyscraper in the world.

Murals along the route, at the other side of the river, a homeless person has hung his laundry to dry, and is taking a nap.

We passed the iconic Old Railway Station, a creation of Hubback (1917) and reached the underground MRT Pasar Seni station

Here we decided to leave the last part of the route, to Masjid Jamek, for another walk and instead explored the KL murals in the region around Petaling street in Chinatown,

Lots of murals have been created during the last years, to liven up the neighborhood. Many different styles. Here is a collection, without comments

I like it when there are some 3D elements, like the barber chair and the kids jumping rope.

In another back lane the walls have been painted with scenes of KL’s past. It attracts tourists, but it is not really my favourite

A nice contrast, skyscrapers around Chinatown. Two times Merdeka 118 (why did they not come up with a more interesting name?) and in the center a photo of the attractive Wisma Tun Sambanthan (1988)

We had to go back to our car, near Midvalley but didn’t want to walk all the way. Therefore we walked to the Maharaja Lela station of the Monorail and took it back to Brickfields

We were hungry, but it was too late for Thosai or Roti Chennai. Finally we found a Chinese pork noodle stall. Good quality food and not expensive.

After lunch we walked back the last part. Passing again the temple. Notice how huge the tree is. The last picture is at the empty building, near my car.

Here is the route we followed, the Monorail part in orange. It was an interesting walk, we are planning to walk one more time and then include the part near Masjid Jamek.

Me as a Physics Teacher

In 1976 I started as physics teacher. at a secondary school in Amstelveen. The physics department had an amanuensis (technical education assistant), Dick Vader, who was also an avid photographer. Of course we are both retired, but still in touch. Recently he sent me a collection of photos taken by him during my first decade of teaching and I can not resist the temptation to publish them in this blog.

I was a hippie in those days, 32 year old when I started, with long hair, that was already beginning to thin 🙂

1976-1977, Dick Vader is assisting me to make dry ice, for use in physics experiments

My first year was not easy. As a flower-power hippie, I found it difficult to exert authority. Fortunately I had a small group of final year students, where I could relax after hectic junior classes.

Preparing a demonstration of an alternating current motor

Look how they are watching the demonstration. A teacher’s dream.

I was still smoking pipe in those days. Not in the classroom of course, But no restrictions in the staff room and even the students were allowed to smoke in their own student canteen, and outside the school premises. Those were the days ;-). Soon I changed to cigarettes, to smoke pipe you need to be more relaxed

As I played the flute in those days and there was a school orchestra, of course I joined. Here with a French language teacher.

Still in my first year teaching. Explaining electrical circuits. I should have cleaned the blackboard better 😉 .

1977-1978 My second year. Feeling more settled.

Not 100% sure what I am doing here. Probably showing the existence of the critical point of carbon dioxide.

1980-1981 Helping my students with their homework.

In 1980 Rubik’s Cube became a popular toy. Once I had a competition with my students who could solve it fastest. I remember that I was not bad, but I didn’t win.

A teacher also has administrative duties (left). Not sure what I am doing in the right picture. Reading a stopwatch? My blackboard is still a mess. Pictures from around 1982

1983-1984 Here I explain a bit of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. Not really part of the physics syllabus, but I liked to show my students a glimpse of what they would learn at university (if they decided to study physics 😉 ).

1983-1984 Students in their final year had to do experiments themselves and report about them.

I had also to do experiments myself.

1987 I don’t remember what I am doing here and why my students are so interested to watch me.

This was the last photo , taken by Dick Vader. I continued teaching for another 15 years.

The Pillars of Creation

In 1995 NASA published this picture, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. It shows a small part of the Eagle Nebula and became instantly famous. Because in the “pillars” stars are born, the picture got the name “Pillars of Creation”.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990 and is still operating, with quite a few Space Shuttle service missions. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, a new picture of the Pillars of Creation was published in 2015. With a new camera installed, more details are visible,

At the same time this picture was published, an infrared picture of the Pillars. Infrared light can travel more easily through dust and clouds and that is why now you see stars in the pillars, where young stars are still being formed. But I hope you wonder how this can be an infrared picture as infrared light is invisible light. The explanation will be the main part of this post.

But first here are two pictures, recently taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. The JWST is an infrared telescope has and has two cameras on board to take pictures. The NIRCAM for near infrared light and the MIRI for medium infrared light. Here is the NIRCAM photo

And here is the image from MIRI, Amazingly different. And again, how can these be infrared pictures’?

Time to give some explanation about the pictures and also about the Eagle Nebula, where the Pillars of Creation are located.

About visible and invisible light

Light is an electromagnetic wave, as are microwaves, radio waves, X-rays etc, They all have different wavelengths. The wavelengths of visible light are often given in nanometers (nm), where 1 nm is 1/billionth meter. Or in micrometer (μm) where 1 μm = 1000 nm. The human eye is sensitive to wavelengths between ~380 and ~750 nanometer and sees the various wavelengths as different colors! The longest wavelengths are seen as red, the shortest as purple/blue with all the “rainbow” colors in between.. In this diagram the electromagnetic spectrum is shown. The infrared part can be subdivided in near infrared, mid infrared and far infrared

The Hubble telescope has two cameras onboard. Most of the iconic Hubble pictures have been taken by the Wide Field Camera. The present wide field camera (WFC3) can take photos in two channels, one for ultraviolet and visible light (UVIS) and the other one for near infrared (NIR), The range of UVIS is 200-1000 nm and of the NIR 800-1700 nm

The James Webb has two cameras, the NIRCAM for the near Infrared, range 600-5000 nm and the MIRI for the mid Iinfrared, range 5000-28000 nm (5 μm -28 μm).

Before we describe in some detail how digital cameras record images, it is useful to have a look at the way the human eye sees colors.

How does the human eye see colors?

The retina of the human eye contains about 6 million nerve cells, called cones. These cones come in three different types, S, M and L, sensitive to various parts of the spectrum. The S type cones are sensitive to the blue part of the spectrum and are also often called Blue cones, In the same way the other two are often called Green and Red.

The brain is able to combine the response of these RGB- cells. For some people the M and/or L cone cells are not working properly. As a result they are colorblind.

How does a digital camera record colors?

Digital cameras have sensors consisting of millions of individual pixels that record the intensity of the incoming light, basically in a gray scale (black and white). That these cameras can take color pictures is because in front of the sensor there is a color filter, consisting of a mosaic of millions of red, green and blue “pixels”. A so-called Bayer filter. See the diagram below. Taking a picture, means actually taking a red, green and blue picture at the same time, but these pictures are “incomplete”. By mathematical techniques (interpolation) the full color pictures are constructed.


Here is an example, where three images, in red, green and blue, when combined, give the full image in natural colors.

The sensors in space telescopes do not have these Bayer filters, they just record the image in gray scales. However, various filters can be placed in front of the sensor and multiple images can be taken of the same object. For example, the Hubble WFC3 camera has a huge choice of filters, 47 for the UVIS channel and 14 for the IR channel.

Why so many? Some filters are broadband, they pass a wide range of wavelengths. From a scientific point of vew the narrowband filters are interesting because they pass only the light emitted by specific elements. Here is one example, hydrogen (H) emits red light with a very specific wavelength of 656 nm. So one of the filters only passes wavelengths around that value and a picture taken with this filter shows the presence of hydrogen. Similar filters can be used to check the presence of oxygen (O), sulphur (S) etc.

The Pillars of Creation pictures are “false-color” pictures!

On 1 April 1995, astrophysicists Jeff Hester and Paul Scowen published an article The Eagle Nebula, in which they showed a picture of the Pillars of Creation. If you think that was “just” a picture taken by the Hubble telescope, you are seriously mistaken. The PBS/NOVA website More than just a pretty picture explains in 19(!) webpages how the iconic photo was created. Very readable,

The WFC2 consisted actually of four cameras, each recording a quadrant. The top-right quadrant camera was slightly different, zooming to show more details. Resizing it to the format of the other three, causes the characteristic Hubble image with the “steps” in one corner. Here is the original image of this top right quadrant, in gray scales. What a mess. For an explanation how to clean this image, see the website. The second image shows the result of the various cleaning operations. What a difference !

We can do the same for the other quadrants.

Now we can “glue” the four parts together. You can still see a bit the seams between the four images.

For this mage a filter was used that only let blue-green light through from (doubly ionised) Oxygen atoms (OIII). Two more filters were used to create images in the same way. One filter let only the reddish light from Hydrogen atoms through (Ha), the other one selected reddish(!) light from ionised Sulphur atoms SII). Three narrowband filters, two of them in the same color range.

Here are the three filtered images

You might expect that the next step would be to give these image’s color corresponding to the filter used for each of them. The Ha and SII reddish and the OIII one greenish. But that is NOT what Hester and Scowen did. They assigned the RGB colors to the three images. Blue to the OIII image, Green tot the Ha image and Red to the SII image.

Final step is to combine them: the Pillars of Creation.

The main reason to assign “false colors” to the pictures is to enhance the contrast and to see how the various elements are distributed. Almost all Hubble photos are false color (also called pseudo color). Using the three narrowband filters for S, H and O and assigning them to RGB is so common that it is often called the Hubble Palette. Doing a Google image search for Hubble Palette gives a huge number of hits. Here is a part.

Other combinations of narrowband filters are also used. Here is an example where 6 filters have been used for the Butterfly Nebula. Besides SII, Ha and OIII, also ionised nitrogen, helium and oxygen. In the table the natural colors are given and also the colors assigned in the Hubble palette.

An American astrophotographer got curious how this nebula would look in the natural colors. Here are two images’, left the false color one and right the picture in natural colors. It is clear that the artificial image reveals many more details

It must be clear now that while with the Hubble telescope you have a choice to use false colors, with the JWST there is no other option, as infrared light is not visible. Here are the filters used for the MIRI camera. The colors suggested for the various infrared ranges are not significant, just to guide the eye.

For the MIRI picture three filters were used, F770W, F1130W and F1500W. In the above diagram I have marked them. For this picture they are assigned Blue, Green and Red respectively.

The NIRCam camera has many more filters, broadband, narrowband etc.

For the NIRCam picture 6 filters have been used, marked in the diagram above.

I have read somewhere that creating these images should be considered as art and I agree.

The Eagle Nebula

Finally a few remarks about the Eagle Nebula. When massive stars die, they can “explode” as a supernova, erupting their remnants into space. In these clouds of dust and various elements, new stars can be formed. The Eagle Nebula is such a cloud, here is a picture taken by an astrophotographer, using a telescope and a DSLR camera! Many of the bright spots in this picture are young stars already formed in the cloud. These stars are so hot that they emit UV light and even X-rays. This radiation can has enough energy to ionize the cloud. Such a cloud is called an emission nebula. The dominant reddish color is caused by hydrogen

The Eagle nebula is located about 7000 lightyear away and is huge, roughly 70 x 55 lightyear. It is a young nebula, estimated age is 5.5 million year. It is also a temporary event, the forming of new stars still continues and the radiation those stars will erode the nebula.

In the center of the above image, you can see the pillars of creation.Here is a dteail. Comapre it with the images of Hubble and Webb. Even these pillars are huge, the logext one is about 4 lightyear long.

A final remark. From the Hubble and Webb picture you might think that the pillars are almost like rock, impenetrable. But this is not true at all. The density of nebulas varies between 100 – 1 million particles per cubic cm. A high vacuum on earth still has considerably more particles per cubic cm. It is just the huge size that makes the pillars look like solid.