Earth Hour Sky Watch & Celebrations

WWF’s Earth Hour is a global campaign inspiring governments, businesses, communities and individuals to take a stand against climate change. It is the largest environment campaign in the history of our planet, successfully uniting the world towards taking collective action by switching off non essential lights for one hour in celebration of our planet.

Earth Hour was launched in Sydney, Australia in 2007, where 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour. Just a year later, Earth Hour reached 370 cities and towns in more than 35 countries across 18 time zones, and the campaign shifted from a ‘Sydney Event’ to a ‘Global Sustainability Movement’. Since then, every year Earth Hour sets new standards and breaks its own records on mass participation and support. 2010 received participation from a record 1.3 billion individuals across 4616 cities in 128 countries globally. Notable landmarks like Acropolis in Greece, Eiffel Tower in Paris, Hiroshima Peace Gardens in Japan, and Pyramids in Egypt switched off in support.

Earth Hour is a very dear event for the Astronomers from all around the world as Light Pollution is a major concern for us . The Earth Hour gives us a chance to tell people around the world how all our cities and towns are losing the beautiful night sky because we are spreading pollution and wasting so much energy. There were times 20 years ago when the entire Milkyway Galaxy was visible from Delhi itself… but now one will be a lucky person if he is able to spot a few stars in the Delhi sky.

The Amateur Astronomers Association Delhi has been an associate with Earth Hour since it first started in 2007. This is the second time AAAD came together with World Wildlife Fund in organizing a Special Sky watch for Earth Hour.

Smt. Sheila Dixit, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi will be the chief guest of the event. Along with the brand Ambassador of Earth Hour, The famous Bollywood Actress Vidya Balen. Bands like ‘Euphoria’ under Dr. Palash Sen will also be performing at the event

This year let’s go beyond the hour… Don’t forget to switch off lights 8:30 -9:30 pm on March 26th, 2011

If you wish to receive astronomical updates from AAAD register here:

Disaster Management Preparedness…. Be ready in an emergency

The recent 2011 earthquake in Japan demonstrated that nature can strike a havoc in our lives without warning and with devastating consequences. Similarly India also faces annual natural disasters like monsoon flooding, cyclones, land slides etc that occur routinely every year and also relatively rare events like industrial disasters, massive earthquakes and tsunamis like the one that happened in 2004. It is never too late to be prepared for such an emergency however unlikely it may seem to happen.

Threat Assessment
The first thing you need to do is to estimate all the possible disasters you may be vulnerable to. People living in coastal locations of India are always vulnerable to floods and cyclones in the rainy season. People in the Himalayan and Deccan plateau are exposed to a significant risk of earthquakes and landslides. If you live near Nuclear or chemical plants, you may be vulnerable to what is called Nuclear-Biological-Chemical threats. Identifying the correct threat will help you in planning appropriately for an emenrgency. Sometimes there are more than one type of risks that may be applicable to you.

Get a Kit
You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer.

Some of the things you can keep for any kind of emergency

  • Water for 3 days, both for phyisical consumption and sanitary purposes. A large jerry cane is a convenient way to hold water
  • Three day supply of non-perishable food. Sealed ready to eat food or canned food is a good starting place
  • Can opener if you are packing canned food
  • Sanitation Supplies: try keeping disinfectants and a soap bar handy
  • A First Aid kit
  • Flashlight and batteries. Please make sure batteries are stored seperately and not left inside the flashlight during storage.
  • Blankets
  • Emergency Cash

It is best to keep these items stored in a convenient location in a small duffel bag, so that you do not waste time locating these things in an emergency.

Special Cases

Nuclear Radiation Fallout
There are three things you need to keep in mind during a nuclear radiation leak incident. Such a disaster may happen due to an accident, terrorism or warfare. To minimize exposure to radiation

  • Maximize distance between you and the source. The more distance between you and the source, the better it is. This could also mean evacuation or taking shelter indoors
  • Shielding: The more heavy dense material between you and the source, the better. A concrete structure will provide more protection than a wooden house
  • Timing: Most radioactivity loses its strength fairly quickly. this does not apply if the source that is emitting radiation has not been contained

Cancer Protection in the Event of a Nuclear Emergency

In 1982, US FDA approved the use of potassium iodide as a means to protect the thyroid gland from radiation poisoning due to nuclear plant emergencies. Radioactive iodine is the most common radioactive material released from fission products, which attacks the thyroid gland causing Thyroid cancer. By overwhelming the thyroid with a “stable isotope” of potassium iodide (KI), the body will not try to absorb the radioactive version.

For people over 12 years old, a 130 mg per day dose of KI is recommended by WHO. For detailed information CLICK HERE

Some known brands for thyroid protection are IOSAT, THYROSAFE (available on when I last checked)

Note: KI only protects against thyroid cancer, it doesnt give any protection against other radioactive materials and dirty-bomb products that produce radionuclides rather than nucleoisotopes.

Note: Please DO NOT use iodized salt as a source of iodine in such cases. You may have to eat bucket loads of salt to get the required dosage of Iodine, which would probably kill you instantaneously

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* World Health Organization

The perigee Full Moon aka The Supermoon Watch

QR code for Smart phone users
QR code for smart phone users
A public skywatch with telescopes, and a live planetarium show with full dome visuals will be organized by Nehru Planetarium, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, in collaboration with Aperture Telescopes and the Amateur Astronomers Association, Delhi, from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM on the 19th of March 2011, to better view and rationalize the Perigee Full Moon falling on this date.
Following the many fears and misconceptions that are doing the rounds of the media, relating two independent events – the disastrous 9 magnitude earthquake and the tsunami that occurred in Japan on the 11th of March 2011, and the perigee Full Moon falling on the 19th-20th of March 2011, the planetarium and amateur astronomers feel it necessary to dispel misconceptions, clarify the disconnect between the two events for the public, and help them view the perigee full moon in a scientific spirit.

Regardless of any correlation that may exist or otherwise, there is also the point to ponder, that minute increase in any tidal forces that may happen due to the relative near approach of the Moon and Full Moon/New Moon phase, cannot in any physical way cause quakes 10-15 days prior to this near approach and alignment. So, drawing conclusions from just two data points – that of the nearness of dates of the perigee full moon and earthquake in March 2007, and that of the nearness of the perigee new Moon of January 2005 and the tsunami of December 2004 – would be completely meaningless. No inferences should ever be drawn from looking at just two data points – any statistical correlation has to be checked over a number of data points.

Some students working with the planetarium are also compiling earthquake and Moon related data, to visualize and check whether any kind of a correlation at all exists between the Moon related data and earthquakes, looking at data for the last hundred years and more.

Results from this work, as well as general Moon related interesting information, will also be displayed as a small exhibition during the skywatch at the planetarium, on the 19th of March.

For further Info and RSVP : Click Here

If members of the press wish to receive press information and press release from AAAD and The Nehru Planetarium register at :

What?… a “Supermoon”

On March 11th 2011, a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake centered off the eastern coast of Japan destroyed hundreds of lives, set off a major tsunami that hit multiple continents. As Japan tries to get back on its feet again, and prevent a nuclear meltdown as we speak, some “smart” people blamed the “supermoon” phenomena for all this devastation.

So what is a supermoon anyway?

Its a loose concept based on the well known fact that the moon’s orbit is not perfect circle with the earth at its center. In reality the moon’s orbit is slightly elliptical. What this means for us is that the moon is closer to the earth on some days than others and consequently causes some degree of variation in tides on earth. However we can positively say that this disaster was not caused by the supermoon.

So who did it?

To answer this question, it is best to look at some lunar ephemeris data on the Moon. The table below shows how some data on moon rise, transit and set times, its equatorial coordinates etc. One of the quantities we are interested is the diameter. When any object comes close to the observer, it appears bigger and hence has a larger angular diameter. If we scan the data from 15-2-2011 to 12-3-2011, we can clearly see the moon comes closest to our planet on February 19th. That is more than a week away from the earthquake!

Date       RA  (J2000)  Dec  Const- Elonga-  Dia- Rise  Tran-   Set 
                             ella.  tion     meter      sit        
2011     h  m   s    o  '  "         mag     '    h  m   h  m   h  m
Feb 10   3:00:41.5 +20:14:58  Ari   -9.7    0.10  9h44m 17h29m  0h20m
    11   3:53:55.5 +22:27:18  Tau  -10.2   30.49  10h20m 18h20m  1h24m
    12   4:49:58.6 +23:32:05  Tau  -10.7   30.95  11h04m 19h13m  2h26m
    13   5:48:12.6 +23:18:06  Tau  -11.1   31.46  11h59m 20h10m  3h24m
    14   6:47:33.8 +21:38:44  Gem  -11.4   31.98  13h05m 21h07m  4h15m
    15   7:46:52.3 +18:34:37  Gem  -11.8   32.48  14h19m 22h04m  4h59m
    16   8:45:13.8 +14:14:56  Cnc  -12.2   32.91  15h39m 23h00m  5h36m
    17   9:42:14.7  +8:56:30  Leo  -12.6   33.21  17h00m 23h55m  6h07m
    18  10:38:02.7  +3:01:37  Sex  -12.6   33.35  18h23m --h--m  6h35m
    19  11:33:07.6  -3:04:49  Leo  -12.2   33.31  19h45m  0h49m  7h01m
    20  12:28:09.0  -8:58:01  Vir  -11.8   33.12  21h07m  1h43m  7h27m
    21  13:23:42.8 -14:15:21  Vir  -11.5   32.79  22h27m  2h36m  7h55m
    22  14:20:10.5 -18:37:54  Vir  -11.1   32.38  23h45m  3h31m  8h26m
    23  15:17:29.5 -21:51:24  Lib  -10.7   31.92  --h--m  4h27m  9h02m
    24  16:15:10.8 -23:47:11  Sco  -10.2   31.47  0h58m  5h23m  9h45m
    25  17:12:24.1 -24:22:36  Oph   -9.7   31.04  2h03m  6h19m 10h35m
    26  18:08:13.8 -23:40:48  Sgr   -9.1   30.66  2h58m  7h15m 11h33m
    27  19:01:55.0 -21:49:41  Sgr   -8.5   30.33  3h43m  8h07m 12h36m
    28  19:53:04.9 -19:00:02  Sgr   -7.8   30.05  4h20m  8h57m 13h41m
Mar  1  20:41:44.6 -15:23:53  Cap   -6.9   29.82  4h49m  9h44m 14h47m
     2  21:28:13.7 -11:13:13  Cap   -5.3   29.65  5h14m 10h28m 15h51m
     3  22:13:04.6  -6:39:26  Aqr   -2.6   29.52  5h36m 11h11m 16h55m
     4  22:56:56.0  -1:53:12  Psc    0.2   29.43  5h56m 11h52m 17h58m
     5  23:40:29.6  +2:55:24  Psc   -2.3   29.39  6h16m 12h32m 19h00m
     6   0:24:28.1  +7:36:32  Psc   -5.1   29.40  6h35m 13h13m 20h03m
     7   1:09:32.5 +12:00:18  Psc   -6.8   29.47  6h56m 13h55m 21h06m
     8   1:56:20.6 +15:56:24  Ari   -7.7   29.60  7h19m 14h39m 22h09m
     9   2:45:22.4 +19:13:55  Ari   -8.3   29.79  7h47m 15h25m 23h12m
    10   3:36:55.0 +21:41:23  Tau   -8.9   30.07  8h20m 16h13m --h--m
    11   4:30:55.9 +23:07:23  Tau   -9.5   30.41  9h00m 17h04m  0h14m
    12   5:26:59.7 +23:21:50  Tau  -10.0   30.84  9h49m 17h58m  1h12m

A similar tidal effect happens when the moon reaches its apogee (farthest point from earth). This however happened recently on March 5th. which was still 6 days away from the disaster. An extra phenomena occurs when the sun, earth and moon line up. The tides from this lineup are much more stronger than the ones we have been talking about so far.

This is especially true if the moon is at the perigee and is either in an new or full moon phase. The expected tidal forces would have been stronger than usual. This is exactly what “astrologers” term as a supermoon. However, the effect is not that big a deal as astrologers would like to make people believe.

However there is nothing unusual about this and these conditions happen frequently. Media frenzies caused by low standard journalism like these UK Daily Mail, have done nothing but fuel superstition, and we at the AAAD felt it was necessary to educate people about this.

On the internet, you will find many articles connecting supermoon occurances with natural disaster. As a fraternity of science, we should caution people that one or two “coincidental” occurrences should not be counted as evidence. If this was truly the case, then we could be certain 100% of the time, each supermoon should cause a massive natural disaster.

Earth Hour 2011

India joined the Earth Hour movement in 2009, where 5 million Indians across 56 cities showed their support by switching off non essential lights and saving approximately 1000 MW of power in that one hour. Hundreds on educational institutions, 100 top public and private sector organizations, and governments of various cities participated.

Earth Hour in India reached new heights, with 2010 receiving participation from 6 million Indian across 128 cities. 600,000 students from different institutions and cities volunteered to spread the message of earth hour and increase outreach. 120 top private and public organizations participated.

At 8:30 PM on 26 March 2011, the world will come together once again to switch off for an hour. But this year, we aim to move beyond symbolism. We call for your action to sustain commitments and responsible actions beyond the hour. With your support, we hope to make Earth Hour a self- perpetuating drive that inspires us to correct the way we live, every single day.

Sky Observation Etiquette

1.Carry your dinner and snacks (bring some extra so you can share with others)(There is no food available around so u must bring your food)

2. One must carry warm clothing as it will get cold near the lake. Temperatures can go to 10°C

3. Carry chocolates: they are very helpful as they keep you awake and give you energy

4. VERY IMPORTANT!! always carry a torch covered with red cellophane sheet, any light source(torches etc) without a cellophane sheet is strictly prohibited .

5. Carry your equipment with you(even if you don’t have telescope you please join us anyways, there will be a couple of telescopes around you)

6. cover you camera flash with black tape so no light comes out and always keep the flash on off mode

7. We are not providing any transport so you will have to come on your own

8. If you bring a camera bring a tripod with it to shoot

A Night Under The stars

The winter is almost over and the sky on March 12th is giving an opportunity to observe the glory of night sky. The sky is getting clearer and the stars are shining brighter than before. Its time to unpack your telescopes and cameras and head to a good dark site this time Amateur Astronomers Association chose the famous Dumdama lake on the road to hotel Saras besides the lake . This day provides a great opportunity to witness the starry skies and therefore an observation has been scheduled on Saturday, March 12th at Dumdama.

Date of observation: March 12th, 2011
Day: Saturday
Observation Time: 1900hrs onwards
Venue: Damdama lake, Sohna, Haryana, near hotel Saras.
Click Here for directions to Venue
Please feel free to join us at Dumdama there is no fees

Essential things to carry during an observation

1.Carry your dinner and snacks (bring some extra so you can share with others)(There is no food available around so u must bring your food)

2. One must carry warm clothing as it will get cold near the lake. Temperatures can go to 10°C

3. Carry chocolates: they are very helpful as they keep you awake and give you energy

4. VERY IMPORTANT!! always carry a torch covered with red cellophane sheet, any light source(torches etc) without a cellophane sheet is strictly prohibited .

5. Carry your equipment with you(even if you don’t have telescope you please join us anyways, there will be a couple of telescopes around you)

6. cover you camera flash with black tape so no light comes out and always keep the flash on off mode

7. We are not providing any transport so you will have to come on your own

8. If you bring a camera bring a tripod with it to shoot

If you wish to join us please feel free to do so, if possible let us know that you will be joining, so we have a tentative idea about participants, write to us at below mentioned contact

Raghu Kalra
raghukalra@aaadelhi. org


AAAD is not responsible if the observation is canceled because of cloudy conditions though we will try and put information on this website if observation is canceled so check the website or preferably by calling the above mentioned phone number before leaving for Damdama