We’ve Moved !

All.. This is to announce about our new website.. It’s been under development for a few days now.. We feel proud to unveil –

http://www.bas.org.in 

Hope you will all like it.. Any feedback or suggestions whatsoever is welcome. Please keep in mind that the site will be under constant updation and addition considering we’ve just got it up.. Minor bugs and content deficits are bound to exist. we’ll try our best to get it up and running full-fledged as soon as soon as possible

With best regards

Pavan

Posted in B.A.S. 2 Comments »

New Year Celebrations !

What a way to start new year ! Week full of observation and astrophotography !

 I wish I could take all you guys to my native! Lakshmisagara, a village about 5 Kms from Tarikere.  Clear skies ! and disturbing moon ;)  I had observations over a week, unfortunately i couldn’t take my telescope, it doesn’t make sense too ( its not working now ). but the real handy 7X50 binocular and digital camera are just sufficient to enjoy clear sky.

 Photos of constellations – which always been one part of my photography ! also helped me identify them and cross check their shapes with dim stars..

star clusters – excellent view in binoculars, and in photos !

Planets – Venus after sunset, Mars and Jupiter early morning, and saturn almost full night !!!

photos shared at http://www.flickr.com/photos/60342513@N00/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/60342513@N00/sets/72157594454104301/

  

 

I missed two stuffs for the whole week.. one a good telescope ! second BAS members !!!

Between Friends

It was a Saturday and as usual, we were in a mood to party. Since I am a bachelor and I stay alone, my house is an epitome of party place – come, party, go home if you feel like. The party started at 9:00 PM after a few of us had gathered. My drawing room is also the resting place for my 12-inch f/4.5 Dobsonian telescope and it is very difficult not to notice it – even in my house where everything else is a fish in a sea of my clothes. Everyone was asking me about it and I thought the best way to answer that question was to have my telescope speak for itself. At around 10:30 PM, we set the telescope up on the terrace of my building. 

We started with watching moon with a 32mm eyepiece and I am not going to waste any words trying to describe what the reaction was.  We then moved the telescope to Orion nebula. It was not at its best but was still very impressive. My friends rightly guessed that this object must be huge; but they were not expecting a figure of tens of light years. When I told them that what we were looking at was about 1500 light years away, everyone took a second look and this time the reaction was filled with exclamations. Later, I used a Televue Nebustar with a 20 mm eyepiece and the object was a beauty through it. 

M41 was decent – although not as bright as in a dark sky. Since it was a moonlit night, I did not expect a lot but it was better than what I had expected. Everyone was able to appreciate the object. M45 through finder was good.   Next was Saturn. Do I have to write anything at all here? I am tired of writing about how people react when they see Saturn for the first time and this time was no different. I do not have words to describe it. If you have seen Saturn through a telescope, you know what I am talking about; and if you have not, do that as soon as possible to know what I am talking about. And on that particular night, it was particularly brilliant. Cloud patterns were better than I had ever seen before. They were more like what we see on Jupiter – distinct. By then, more people had joined. We were about 10 and we had a great time on the terrace. We went back to moon, Orion nebula and M41. We called it off at around 12:30.  Many people showed interest in joining us for a star party.                                                                

Finally@School

After a long wait, we finally had our first school session yesterday at Vivekananda High School in Jayanager. Mr. Venkatesh had spoken to the faculty and arranged the session. 30 students from the school were supposed to turn up for the session but not all of them could make it. But luckily, one of the classrooms was being used by class XI students from some other institute and they were delighted to be a part of the session. Total turnout was around 35-40 students. The event was handled by Mr. Venkatesh, Amar Sharma and myself (Hemant Hariyani).

The session started at 19:00 with an introduction to astronomy and telescopes by Mr. Venkatesh. We had kept Mr. Venkatesh’s 9.25 inch SCT and my 12.5 inch Newtonian to show different types of telescopes to students. My finder scope was more than happy to represent refractors. The session was followed by a Q&A session and some of the students were really bright and knew a lot. 

At around 19:45, we moved the telescopes to the terrace for observation. While Mr. Venkatesh was setting his telescope up, my telescope was pointed to the double cluster in Perseus. It was much better than we expected from light polluted Jayanagar. It was a beauty and students were awestruck. After that, it was time for the usual first object – the moon. Needless to say, it did what it does to every first timer. Children were not ready to move away from the telescope. We started seeing the moon at 50x and went up till 270x. By this time, Mr. Venkatesh’s scope was ready and pointed to the moon. Moon was observed in both telescopes for at least an hour. Some children actually picked out peculiar features like lighted highlands in the shadow and bright ejecta. This was followed by a Q&A session. We told them about what various features on moon signify. 

Next objects were M31, M42, Sirius, Betelgeuse, Rigel and Gamma Arietis, and each of them got its share of attention, exclamations and questions.  Excitement was in the air, and questions kept coming. These events never end as planned. By the time we were done with these objects, it was close to 11 PM and Saturn was up. Anyone who has seen Saturn through a telescope will agree to the fact that it is arguably the best night sky object through a telescope. Seeing it for the first time is something that you will never forget in your life. Everybody could see Cassini division, cloud patterns, shadow of Satrun on its rings and its satellites. I could see five satellites of Saturn and everybody could see at least three. Some could see four or five. It was undoubtedly the “object of the night”. 

We finally called it a day around 12:30 – and what a day it was. This day marked the beginning of BAS’ Astronomy@School program and it is a long road ahead.

Saturn pics

Below are a few images of Saturn that we clicked in past few days. 

Download and open in an image viewer to see true size. Browser may stretch images. 

Saturn image using Meade DSI on a Celestron 9.25 in f/10 SCT. 

http://www.mediamax.com/hemanthariyani/Hosted/saturn_dsi.jpg 

Above image in false color to highlight features. Please note that false color is used to highlight and not to color-code. 

http://www.mediamax.com/hemanthariyani/Hosted/saturn_falsecolor.jpg 

Afocal image of Saturn clicked using digital camera in video mode on a 12 in f/4.5 Newtonian with a 15 mm eyepiece. 

http://www.mediamax.com/hemanthariyani/Hosted/saturnsmall.jpg

A GOTO experience

We had conducted our group’s star-party on a Saturday, 23rd December. Here we had a new member named Mr. Venkatesh Sundarajan who’s a bank manager by profession. He had purchased a Celestron 9.25″ GOTO Schmidt-Cassegrain (SCT) telescope from abroad. He had brought this wonder to the star-party and as it was the first time he was using the GOTO scope we had a few problems and trials and errors setting it up. That day after realizing some of the mistakes, we thought of taking some care the second day when I went to his home some distance away near Banashankari bus-stop, a few kilometers from mine.

I reached his home at sharp 5 pm on Sunday, with just some incomplete sleep from the previous day’s star-party. We carried the entire scope and it’s accessories from his car as he had left as it is. We took it to the top floor/terrace of the 11-floor posh apartment. We set it up as he knew how to do it all, I was just looking carefully mesmerized at the hundreds of formalities involved, hoping to fix it deep within my brain. Until now I was a total stranger to GOTO scopes and such costly and heavy-duty optics, and I was desperate to get known to it, as it would surely be a big factor in my future ventures in astronomy, especially comet-hunting. He first put the counter-weights on it, then did some other adjustments and finally after all came polar aligning, the main root of all success in using such polar oriented scopes. In the North was another apartment in the same premises which was blocking our view altogether. Hence he used an alternate and novel idea, he used a  magnetic compass to orient to the North. This wasn’t what we supposed to do precisely, but it was the best option. After doing some rough alignment, he cranked up the power from the battery of his torch. Now came what I really wanted to experience, using the GOTO part of a scope. Until now mainly since the past year starting December exactly, I had found quite many deepsky objects (DSO’s), to be precise around 327 DSO’s (!) including the many 172 galaxies (!!) that’s clearly around 52% or more than half of the entire statistics (!!!) with a manual and hand-guided telescope, that’s what most of us get to do. But inspite of that, experiencing an auto-pilot sort of vehicle was something which anyone would await and crave to even see. And moreover the harsh sound of it’s motors that it created while slewing (moving) was truely as if an aeroplane’s engine is cranked up and it’s taking off!!

 First we used 2 star-alignment which was the option present there, and add 2 other stars for calibrating. After doing this the polar-alignment was quite near too good. First light we thought of getting Moon, which was bright shining there at Crescent phase. It centered the Moon nearly in the center, which we duely brought to the center using the hand-pad. The view was simply….breath-taking!! Next was Andromeda galaxy in the list in the Bangalore light-pollution. It was slightly centered in the center, which we again brought exactly to the center with the hand-pad manually. It’s core was only visible with the spiral arms drenched in background haze. Next to test the GOTO precision we entered it’s companion M32 in the hand-pad; it centered in the same position with that slight error. It was visible as a soft star. Next we tried to find M15, globular cluster, which was around 30 degrees above the horizon, but after staring and looking around, I gave up because it was nowhere there due to lights. All this time we were in the western part of his terrace, so we though of moving to the eastern part to get views of the new objects there rising. We moved the scope by hand and hence disrupted the polar aligment, and now thought to use the scope as a manual scope finding objects by hand, as aligning would consume lot of time again.

 In the Eastern sky we had new views, of Orion constellation and others. We found Orion Nebula, it was good with dark lanes in it partly seen, whatever could from a city. Next we changed the eyepiece to a 4 mm (not sure of the make of it, mostly a Plossl). The Trapezium stars in the center were split so wide apart that it made you feel that you’re looking at 4 seperate stars!! Initially I was confused into believing that! After this with the same eyepiece on I tried to find the double star, one of the very few that I know, Gamma Aries. Remember that all the time we were observing, the finder scope was constantly changing it’s position and not in synchronization with the eyepiece. Hence that wasted some time everytime. Finally after some trials and errors, first I got it with a wide-eyepiece, a 32mm or a 25mm. It was a beauty! two blue-white twins very close to each other! I dont remember whether I succeeded finding it in a 4mm or not.

After this, we thought of winding the session, both of us eternally happy and totally satisfied with this small event, he because he had made his money’s worth by now knowing some new aspects of it, and me because I had come just a small step closer to learning something new what would help me in my future ambitious venture! I was all the more feeling better than before a “complete astronomer/observer” after having being slightly exposed to the other facet of observing apart from what I was regularly doing, manually hunting down objects, with only paper finder charts as the last resort and aid. This experience made me more familiar with the polar aligning concepts, using hand-pad controllers and moreover the comfort of sitting in a chair comfortably with a computer at your disposal whom you give orders and guide to find objects. How easily and without much body pains do those amateurs observe the night-sky, at the press of a button. Computers have made their presence felt even in this domain.

 Now all I’m waiting is for going again to a dark-sky, but this time for imaging celestial objects like galaxies, comets and asteroids, nebulae and clusters etc. with this 9.25″ GOTO telescope and a CCD imager camera. Hope that we get a chance to enter a new realm of astronomy now succcessfully, electronic astronomy!

Accidental Roadside

Well, all of us have heard them say “whatever happens, happens for good”.

Six of us had planned a trip to Hosahalli for one of our usual observation sessions. Ravindra on his bike while I, Amar and Akarsh in my car. Mr. Krishnan and his friend were to leave a lot later. They were to meet us directly at Hosahalli.

Nature seemed to be doing everything to stop us from making it to Hosahalli. We had a lot of confusion before leaving. We were supposed to leave by 2:30. My conference call got scheduled at 2 and Amar reached just after I joined the call. This delayed us by atleast an hour. After this, we got delayed a bit by traffic before we could pick Akarsh up from Hebbal. Ravindra was waiting for us in Yelahanka. We had asked him to come to the bypass but since he had a lot of stuff he wanted to dump in the car, we decided to go near his place.

Finally, everyone was in. Ravindra’s house would have been on the way had we gone the normal Dodballapura way. But since the road is not good, after a brief discussion, we came to a conclusion that it wasmbetter to go via Devanahalli. This involved taking a U-turn and we met a small accident while doing this. No one was injured but this delayed us by atleast 45 minutes.

As if that was not enough, we missed the turn to Dodballapura and did not realize till Amar had a deja-vu at a railway crossing. He had missed the turn on one of his earlier trips and reached the same railway crossing. Another 25 minutes of delay and we were on the right road. It felt good to be finally on the way. We even stopped to resolve a confusion regarding an object we were seeing just above the setting sun – was it Venus – or was it an approaching plane!!! Four astronomers could finally confirm that it was Venus.

Since my 12-inch telescope was being carried in the car, Amar was not feeling comfortable. We stopped at a railway crossing and Amar decided to get out of the car and hitch a ride from Ravindra who was polite enough to turn him down. Ravindra rides alone unless the person riding with him is of the opposite sex. Needless to say, Amar was back in the back seat of the car.

The Sun had set. We had done everything possible to reach Hosahalli before Sunset but it was dark when we crossed Dodballapura and we were on the usual heavily cratered road we all know so well. All was still good till Amar found that his mobile phone was missing. This was a good 20 mins from when we crossed Dodballapura. We tried calling it up in order to hear the ring tone so that we can find it in the car and to our surprize – someone picked up!! The lady on the phone told us that she had found the phone near the railway crossing where Ravindra had cleared any doubts about what his preferences were. She was in a village called Hamam near the railway crossing we now know so well.

Without any further delay we let Ravindra ride to Hosahalli assuring him that the telescope was already there and that he could start observing. Three of us turned back. After raching Hamam, we tried to call Amar’s phone up and guess what… it was SWITCHED OFF!!! When we almost started cursing our luck, we saw 3-4 kids playing on the road. We tried our not-so-good luck and one of them knew who the phone was with. We could not beleive it. The child took us to a house and one of the members of the family went away to get it from the person who had picked it up. This was going to take some time and a lot of children had gathered there.

On the spot, we decided to set up Ravindra’s binoculars and let all the children and grown ups see the sky through it. As usual, excitement in children made us forget everything that we had been through that day. Pleiades cluster would call them back again and again and again. One of the older people there also requested us to organize a formal event from them. We have it in our near future plans. The phone came back to us but we did not leave. The session continued for about an hour.

Mr. Krishnan called up and he told us that he was about to reach Dodballapura. Ravindra called us. He was frustrated. He had been at Hosahalli for about an hour. He did manage to get the telescope but we forgot to give him an eyepiece!

Thanking our luck, we decided to leave Hamam. We promised them that we would return soon with a much bigger observation event.  We met Mr. Krishnan and his friend at Dodballapura. They were in a car and were generous to let Amar travel with them. We finally reached Hosahalli at about 10:45 and had a great observation session through the night.

I generally do not beleive in co-incidences with hidden motives but this event actually made me wonder. If Amar had not dropped his mobile, or if we had not been delayed by various factors and made it before sunset to Hamam, we would not have had that great session for village children.

Not everything that goes wrong is bad. Well, as the say – “whatever happens, happens for good”.

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