Sunday 17 March 2019

Astronomy Star Party March 2019

When Bangalore Astronomical Society (BAS) announced the star party in March 2019, I had almost made up my mind to not to miss. I have been trying to attend a star party for long, but due to some other commitments, I was giving it a miss. This time, I decided to attend at any cost!

All the process including registration etc was done. This time, the star party was arranged in a remote place off Hasan, around 210 kms from Bengaluru. I packed my luggage and most importantly my Olympus 10x50 binocular, Weifeng tripod WF-6662A, and adaptor to connect binocular to the tripod.

On Saturday morning, I left home and reached the destination by 2.30 pm. Other people were also coming to the place and settling down. It was interesting to see people coming from far off places like Mysuru, and Salem.

Around 3.30 pm, Naveen from BAS introduced himself and the volunteers from BAS to the crowd. He explained about the objective of a star party, what to expect from the event, and do's & dont's.

After that introduction, people were asked to setup their tents in the designated place. Since I had not brought a tent, I decided to sleep in my car. People who had brought their telescopes were setting up the instruments diligently. I also setup my bino with tripod.

Later, Naveen explained about telescopes, it's parts such as Optical Tube Assembly (OTA), mount, finder scope, eye piece etc. He explained the difference between each telescope which was mounted in the star party. He also explained what to expect from each telescope, and what you can't see! He also explained about the methods used to locate celestial objects like Altitude/Azimuth, and directions.

Later we went back to the tables, where he explained about constellations and how to track from one constellation to the other. By the time, all these explanations were done, the sky was dark, and people were excited to head to the open area and observe the sky!

Our first target was Moon as it was on the verge of setting at west. Vishwa from BAS had pointed one of the telescopes to the Moon. We all were excited to see the Moon and it's craters through the telescope. It was a good start!

Later, Naveen came to the floor and asked us to lie down on the floor. By using a Laser torch, he started explaining each constellation and it's stars, the story behind some of these constellations, how to identify some of the popular and bright stars etc. We were just blown away for his knowledge and experience, and we were all immersed in the beauty of the cosmos! Indeed, it was so much of information to digest in one night! We just loved it!

Later, we were directed to see some of the Messier objects through binoculars such as Open Clusters, Globular Clusters, and Nebulae. I realised what we are missing staying in a light polluted city like Bengaluru.

We didn't realise it was the time for dinner. BAS team had arranged the sumptuous dinner and we all gulped in no time! After the dinner, it was back to the late night show!

We also observed Arundathi star through binocular and telescope. When observed in bino, we were able to see two stars Mizar (Vasishta) and Alcor (Arundathi). When observed through telescope, we were able to see 4 stars - Mizar with a companion star, and Alcor with a companion star! It was such a delightful experience!

We were also shown some of the deep sky objects through telescope (I have listed all the objects observed below) such as clusters, galaxies etc. Naveen also explained the basics of Astro-Photography, how cameras can capture galaxies which our eyes cannot grasp. He also explained about some of the Astronomy concepts.

Bode's and Cigar Galaxy. Pic credit: Naveen from BAS

Omega Centuri. Pic credit: Naveen from BAS

It was around 2 am, when I decided to get a sleep. I had to drive back home next day early morning, and it was important for me to get at least 3 hrs sleep. Many people were still glued to night sky watching, but with heavy heart, I had to pack my bino and tripod and get to the car for sleep.

It will not be fair on my part, if I don't mention BAS volunteers Prithvi, Niranjan, Ullas, Madhusudan, Vishwanath and Siddi.

They were the backbone of the event and they were helping the participants in all aspects. They were patiently listening to our questions, and enthusiastically answering each of them. There was so much learning from the event, hats off to the BAS team!

Observing the cosmos will only reinforce the fact that we are so small in the universe (in fact, negligible), and it prompts us to think about the ego we carry and how insignificant it is in the universe!

As Carl Sagan states, astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. So true it is! I just experienced in this star party!!!

Cosmic Objects observed:

  • Auriga
  • Bootes
  • Cancer
  • Canis Major
  • Canis Minor
  • Corona Borealis
  • Gemini
  • Hydra
  • Leo
  • Libra
  • Orion
  • Taurus
  • Triangulum
  • Ursa Major
  • Ursa Minor

Stars (prominent). Vedic Astronomy names are Italicized
  • Alcor (Arundathi) and it's companion star
  • Aldebaran (Rohini)
  • Alnilam
  • Alnitak
  • Arcturus (Swathi)
  • Bellatrix
  • Betelgeuse (Ardra)
  • Canopus (Agastya)
  • Capella
  • Castor (Punarvasu)
  • Mintaka
  • Mizor (Vasishta) and it's companion star
  • Polaris (pole star, Dhruva)
  • Pollux (Punarvasu)
  • Procyon
  • Regulus (Magha)
  • Rigel
  • Saiph
  • Sirius (Lubdhaka)
  • Spica (Chitta/Chitra)

Deep-sky objects
  • M 35 (Open Cluster)
  • M 36 (Open Cluster)
  • M 37 (Open Cluster)
  • M 38 (Open Cluster)
  • M 41 (Open Cluster)
  • M 42 (Orion Nebula)
  • M 45 (Pleiades, Open Cluster)
  • M 51 (Whirlpool Galaxy)
  • Bode's and Cigar Galaxy
  • Omega Centuri
  • Leo triplet
  • Markarian's chain

  • Man made satellites
  • Meteors

Instruments Used (as many I remember)
  • 8" Newtonian Reflector Telescopes
  • Schmidt Cassegrain Telescopes
  • 20x70 Binocular
  • 10x50 Binocular

BAS Site:


Gopal Rao Addanki said...

Thanks for very informative report. I registered for the party but dropped out last minute for personal reason.

I am sure you would have seen Plaides too. Not far from Aldebran. It is Krithika star as per vedic astronomy.

Hope to make it next time.

Suresh said...

Thank you Gopal Rao for your comments. Yes we did see Pleiades as well. I have listed it under Messier objects M45.
Do try to make it next time.