As part of the International Year of Astronomy activities and celebrating Teachers day, a sky watch will be conducted at the Teen Murti House, collating the love and enthusiasm for the skies that is shown by members of the Amateur Astronomers Association, Delhi, and the staff of the Nehru Planetarium, New Delhi. The sky watch will be organized as collaboration between the Amateur Astronomers Association, Delhi, (www.aaadelhi.org) and the Nehru Planetarium, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.
Amateur astronomers will be bringing their telescopes and energies for sharing their love of the skies with all present, and the Delhi citizens are urged to take advantage of this availability.
One of the aims of the International Year of Astronomy is to draw attention of people towards views of some celestial objects through small aperture telescopes. It is 400 years since Galileo first trained a small handmade telescope towards these celestial objects and made startling discoveries that had crucial implications for the understanding the position of the Earth within the Solar System.
When Galileo turned his telescope towards the stars, they remained points of light – he could just see many more of them as fainter and fainter stars started being visible through the telescope. When he trained his telescope on the Moon, it showed rugged craters and many other intriguing physical features which was being studied so thoroughly through the Chandrayaan payloads.
When he trained his telescope at Jupiter – it appeared as a small disk – not a point of light! More interestingly, four tiny points of light appeared clustered close to it – what are now known as the four Galilean moons of Jupiter: Io, Europa, Gannymede and Callisto – so closely studied through many recent space missions.
His views of Saturn were even more intriguing – with what appeared to his as Saturn with two moons on either side – with their relative positions and aspects strangely varying. A few decades after Galileo, it became known that these puzzling aspects were observations of the rings of Saturn observed with very small telescopes.
And then, there was Venus. It showed phases like the Moon, when viewed through a telescope! All of these observations helped in a revolutionary way towards understanding and accepting the heliocentric nature of the Solar System: the Earth was just one amongst a number of planets revolving around the Sun.
Now, 400 years later, there are so many of us yet unaware of what these views are like and their inspiring nature.
Be there by sunset, at the Teen Murti House front lawns, on the 5th of September 2009 to get some of these views through telescopes, for you.
This time we will also be screening ‘400 years of telescope’ a documentary on the history and future of telescopes around the world from 6pm to 7pm after which the public watch will begin.
Jupiter will rise later in the evening and its views with three Galilean Moons on one side and another on the other side – Callisto, Europa & Io on one side and Gannymede on the other, should make interesting views.
The almost full Moon will rise a little early in the evening too. And then there will be the wan remnants of stars that struggle to remain visible through the extremely light polluted surroundings of central Delhi. Well, be there to make friends with those wan remnants of stars and then try and go to a location far away from the city, to enjoy their soothing presence in dark village skies filled with myriads of these friendly beacons.
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