Watch the Red Planet Mars and the Blue Moon at India Gate

Mars reached opposition to earth this week, allowing New Delhi sky watchers an excellent chance to see the Red Planet at its closest point.
As the Earth and Mars make their respective trips around the Sun, their positions with respect to each other change constantly. These positions occasionally fall into a straight line with each other and the Sun. Opposition is one such straight line, happening when the Earth lies directly between Mars and the Sun.

Mars and the Earth are closest to each other at this time; the nearness of the Red Planet to us increases both its brightness and size. For the period around 2010’s opposition, look for Mars to have a magnitude of -1.3, almost as bright as Sirius (the brightest star in the sky). Through even a small telescope, Mars appears as a reddish disc. Around the time of opposition, that disc reaches a maximum size – perfect for viewing surface features like the Martian icecaps.

Our very own neighbor moon is at its closest approach to earth also being the second full moon of the month it is also a Blue moon for India on January 30th. The Amateur Astronomers Association Delhi (AAAD), Nehru planetarium has decided to take the red planet and the blue moon to the public. We are setting up our telescopes for public view of Mars and Moon at the intersection of Mann singh road and Rajpath near India gate 7pm onwards on Saturday, January 30th 2010. It will be a totally free of cost public watch and is being done to generate interest to science in the society thereby fulfilling our fundamental duty to spread scientific temperament among fellow citizen. You are most welcome to attend this public watch and spread the word about it

Raghu Kalra
Rajiv Sharma

Annular Eclipse Results Presentation

Hello Everyone,

I have almost finished the power-point presentation of the location-equipment- results from Papanasam Cliff, Varkala, Kerala, northern edge of the Antumbral Path. It has taken a full week to process the images obtained from eight camera on various mounts and setups.

This was our first annular eclipse ever, one that have been called a glorified partial eclipse! (because the size of moon was quite small). Yet we planned and dared to remove the filters from our equipment during the central phases. The results from the expedition have turned out quite astounding. We are quite pleased with the photographs. Seems we are now quite prepared for the Annulars that are coming to India in the next ten years :), especially the one in Jun 2020 where sizes of Sun & Moon are almost equal.

We all hope to see you at Nehru planetarium tomorrow for the 30-40 min presentation titled “Location location Location”, at 1430 Hrs.

Eager to see results from other chasers too.

Ajay & Neelam Talwar
Nilesh Vayada, Raghu Kalra, Sneh Kesari, Deepak Dogra, Arjune Talwar, Nakul Talwar

Annular Solar Eclipse: follow up meeting

The eclipse is over now it is the time to share your experience of the entire time spent under the lunar shadow. So for those who want to get the feel of all the excitement that happened in varkala and back home in Delhi, are all welcome to be at the Nehru planetarium at 2:30pm in the AAAD room this Sunday (January 24th 2010) .
This is something that is must attend for all the members, it will be a great experience for you.

All are welcome!!

Annular Solar Eclipse: Public Watch

On January 15th, 2010 Friday, India gets the Annular Solar Eclipse, one of the nature’s best shows. People in most parts of India will witness the partial phases of 15th January Annular Eclipse but they will miss the most important annular phase. From a narrow patch of south
India, the heavenly sight of ‘Ring of Fire’ or annular phase of the eclipse will be visible.
Last time India could see this ‘Ring of Fire’ was on November 22nd 1965 and to see again not before June 21st 2020.

Global Scenario
The annular eclipse of the Sun will be visible from within a 300 km wide track that will traverse half of the Earth. The path of the Moon’s shadow begins in Africa at 10:44 IST and passes through Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia. After leaving Africa, the path crosses the Indian Ocean where the maximum duration of annularity reaches 11 min 08 s. The central path then continues into Asia through the extreme southern part of India, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), and China. A partial eclipse will be seen within the much broader path including entire India, or Bangladesh.

Safety parameters:
Like Total Solar Eclipse, Viewing an Annular Solar Eclipse is also a life time experience. But, viewing it without proper guidance and precaution can be dangerous for eyes. Sun can cause irreversible and irreparable Retinal blindness inside the observer’s eyes if he observes the sun without filters (this fact is also applicable for un eclipsed sun). Trying to photograph this event without proper filter may badly damage camera and eye. For safe viewing or shooting of the event, we need to have an item that can reduce the sun light to 1/100,000 in all across the spectrum. Contrary to common belief, items like used X-Ray plates, Smoked glass plates, CD, Magnetic disc taken out of floppy or water bath reflecting Sunray are not safe at all.
Instead, standard solar filters sheets (Available but expensive), or Number 14 Welders Glass (Available with Grill Factory equipment sellers) are safe as certified by National Aeronautics and Space Administration of America (NASA) Eclipse Bulletin.
The filters are to be used during entire duration of the annular Eclipse.
Beside these, pin hole camera, telescope projection or Binocular Projection on a screen are absolutely safe.

Public Eclipse Watch from Delhi

Delhi will see the partial phase this solar eclipse it will start at 11:53 IST, The max eclipse of 53% will be at 13:39 IST and the eclipse will end in Delhi at 15:11 IST.

For the citizens of Delhi, The Nehru Planetarium, Teen Murti Bhawan, and The Amateur Astronomers Association Delhi is organizing a special public eclipse watch from the lawns in front of the Nehru planetarium, Teen murti bhawan. Arrangements will be made by the Amateur Astronomers Association and Nehru Planetarium, Where they will setup many telescopes to show this solar eclipse from Delhi. This would be a free of cost public observation and all are welcome to come and watch this beautiful event and give away the superstitions.

For further information contact:
Nehru Planetarium,
Teen Murti Bhavan,
New Delhi-11

Ph#: +91-011-23014504

Or ,

Is this a scope, you’re kidding right?

Today I got to have a first hand look at a cheap Newtonian telescope that was designed at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore. The scope is an entry level instrument that costs just about Rs 3500/-. Pity there is a saying, you get what you pay for.

The scope we’re talking about is a 100 mm Newtonian designed by IIA and manufactured by Level Optics Pune. Least to say, I can nothing good to day about this instrument which is a paradigm in bad engineering

The scope construction is a Newtonian tube on a Alt-az mount construction. On a first distant look, it appears very nice aesthetically, but a closer look reveals it to be a piece of junk. Both the Altitude and the azimuth axis pivots are a single bolt that takes all the load. There is considerable play in this kind of a fulcrum, and the mount is something short of a spring, has absolutely no damping. Whats worse the alt mount is a half-fork type design, with the fork angle not being 90 deg. The center of gravity of the mount is biased to one side of the mount, and the associated “sag” is pretty visible.

The material used for the alt-az is a cheap square pipe welded by hand, with no regard to precision. What that does is that the scope can never look “UP” completely.

Other issues being that the focuser is not smooth, and is not of a 1.25″ standard. From just looking it looked like a 0.96″ barrel and comes with a single 10x eyepiece.

Other construction flaws, locking nuts are not very secure, collimation nuts could have been simple winged nuts and maybe it had been deigned for short people. The whole assembly is not even 3 feet high.
(Okay maybe its a tabletop design)

Finally i decided to put it back in the box, and may i let you know disassembly is such a bit**!

Personally I can go on and on about this thing but in all the scope is a serious joke and reflects poorly on the “engineering” abilities at IIA.

MORAL OF THE STORY: This telescope is what we recommend people to sty way from. Instead of encouraging people towards astronomy, its only going to drive them away. Our suggestion, save your money for something else. The brains behind this project (or you may say the lack thereof) have done a serious disservice to the astronomer brethren and to the Institute they represent