Category Archives: Uncategorized

Amazing Picture of the Day 6/6/2016

courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
volcanic euruption on Io seen from NASA’s New Horizons probe

Check out Tvashtar volcano on Io seen spewing molten material into space, as seen from New Horizons probe in 2007. Io experiences massive tidal forces from Jupiter’s gravity and this kind of volcanic eruption is not uncommon for Jovian moons. For a sense of scale, the volcanic plume is about 330 Km in altitude. New Horizon was built by John Hopkins Applied Phyisics Lab for a mission to Pluto. This photo was taken when it flew past Jupiter for a slingshot course correction towards Pluto.

Gear Up for Perseids Meteor Shower

Mark your calendar

The perseids meteor shower peaks on Aug 13th 2015 this year. The best part is there is no moon this time to spoil the show. But wait we live in Delhi, there is always the rains .. which might get the gold medal for this year’s spoilsport, followed by smog which might manage to get a silver. Pfooey!!. Forget what I said. Good things happen to optimistic people. Get out there and enjoy nature’s finest light show.

For the un-initiated, the Perseid meteor shower originates from the debris field of Comet 109P/Swift Tuttle, which visited us in 1992 and will do so again in 2125 when it may potentially slam into us. Nah I am not losing sleep over it. I leave the worrying to the next generation.

Its expected that you might to get see 80 meteor per hr ( ZHR ), which is pretty good. Perseids are called so because they seem to radiate from the constellation Perseus. Hence the name. The radiant ( the imaginary point where the meteors shoot out from ) of the Perseid meteor shower is at around right ascension 02h20m, declination +58°, All of the meteors will appear to be traveling directly outward from this point. The best place to look to see as many meteors as possible is not at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 90° away from it, since it is at a distance of around 90° from the radiant that meteors will typically appear at their brightest.

courtesy: sky and telescope
courtesy: sky and telescope

Observing Tips

1- Keep warm clothes and waterproofed clothing with you, it does get somewhat cold and damp at night
2- Keep company. Showers can sometimes not be too active as predicted. Its nice to have someone around to chat to till then
3- Contribute. You can time meteors and report them to IMO.
4- Observe from a safe and rural location if possible. City lights almost ruin everything.

Dance of the Planets 26th Jul 2015

Dear Members,

Earlier this month the close conjunction of the two brightest planets Venus & Jupiter was observed all over the world. The planets came so close to each other that they were visible in the field of view of a telescope. The two planets will still be close together as they move into the morning sky, where both will meet-up with Mars later this year.

This Sunday Noon, let’s take a look at how the planets are moving in their orbits and what face and size do they present to the observers on the Earth in the remaining 2015. We will also look at other great observations that you can make this year like the Geminids Meteor Shower, Occultation of Aldebaran by Moon.

Sunday Noon at the Planee
Dance of the Planets
Date – 26 July 2015,
Time – 12:30 pm,
Duration 90 minutes,
Venue- AAAD room at the Planetarium.

See you at the Planee!

Ajay Talwar

Welcome to Pluto

It finally here. It really is. NASA’s space probe to Pluto, New Horizons has finally arrived at the most mysterious planet of the solar system. Built by the John Hopkin’s Applied Physics Laboratory, this piece of engineering marvel survived the chill of deep space, and woke up in time to return the most detailed pictures of this planet till date from an altitude of mere 2370 Km above the surface of this planet.

Pluto seen by New Horizon’s LORRI Instrument

New Horizon’s Pluto mission is still bit tricky since its expected to be in vicinity of a large debris field of ice and rocks which is common in the outer solar system. The probe is investigating not only Pluto but also its five moons: Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra.

Comet Green Color is Not Cyanogen

If you’ve read a lot of material out there on comets or seen some lovely images of Comet Lovejoy C2014/Q2 lately, you’ve noticed beautiful green colors in most of these images. Most astronomers and astronomer magazines ( NASA included ) attribute it to emissions from a chemical cyanogen. Cyanogen according to astronomers is radical containing one carbon and one Nitrogen atom . In reality it is NC-CN. The C & N molecules linked by triple bonds. What is more funny is that the green does not come from cyanogen. Here is a picture of what the visible spectrum of Comey Lovejoy looks like. Thanks to Vikrant Agnihotri of Cepheids Astronomy Group for this

Compare this to work done by physicist W.Swan in 1856, who researched emissions from C-C dimers and published their visible spectrum.

swan bands
Visible Emission spectra of Butane. The “Swan bands” are annotated.

As you can tell the images are an exact match. Emission Peaks appear at 520 nm with satellite bands on either side. This wavelength corresponds to what we perceive as “green”. Astronomers seem to have gotten their chemistry totally wrong and its surprising how long this myth has been propagating

ESA’s Lost Martian Lander Beagle 2 found intact on Mars

courtesy NASA/JPL/MRO
Beagle 2 Image release by NASA JPL
European space agency’s Beagle 2 lander has been spotted by NASA’s orbitter MRO. In a image released by the agency shows the lander to be fully intact with no sign of debris.

The lander was supposed to land on Mars and deploy its solar panels like “petals”. From the image it seems like all the petals did not unfurl. “Without full deployment, there is no way we could have communicated with it as the radio frequency antenna was under the solar panels,” explained Prof Mark Sims, Beagle’s mission manager from Leicester University.

Monthly Skywatch 2015

There is a planned monthly skywatch every month, co-ordinated by the outreach committee of the Astronomical Society of India.

After some discussion with interest groups, the third Saturday of every month was decided as suitable for the year 2015. The first of these co-ordinated skywatch activities is centered on the 17th of January. It is planned that an online hangout will take place the Sunday before this event every month, which will include discussions for the planned observations and so on.

Some related discussions/help for beginner groups in the form of writeups and video uploaded to Youtube will also be undertaken by the community.

It is not necessary that everyone conducts the skywatch strictly on the third sunday of the month. For very good reasons – both Astronomy or weather dictated – groups might be undertaking skywatch activities on dates a little staggered around the main date. All groups conducting/having conducted skywatch activities in this countrywide co-ordination, are requested to place a small report (even a few words will do) here.

Starcounts for light pollution measurements are encouraged. Groups undertaking these measurements are requested to update this community page with limiting magnitude measurements with locations specified.

Jab sari duniya soti hai, hum tare ginte rehte hain 🙂

Link to Facebook group