Astrostuff..

Wikipedia –

Astronomy is the scientific study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earth’s atmosphere (such as the cosmic background radiation). It is concerned with the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects, as well as the formation and development of the universe.

Astrology is a group of systems, traditions, and beliefs which hold that the relative positions of celestial bodies and related details can provide useful information about personality, human affairs, and other terrestrial matters. Numerous traditions and applications employing astrological concepts have arisen since its earliest recorded beginnings in the 3rd millennium BC. Scientists of the modern materialist age consider astrology a pseudoscience or superstition.

For free’s sake, please stop getting confused about astronomy and astrology. The next person who asks me if i know palmistry once I tell them I love Astronomy is going to get punched on his face!!

Astronomy is Science. Astrology is well, bullshit. Free.. Anyway, for those who believe in Astrology please devote sometime to The BadAstronomer. If that article doesn’t clear your mind, nothing ever will.

Free.. And Check This Image out! Beautiful..

PS – Dr. Phil Plait, I salute you for all that you have/are done/doing. You  are one Absolutely Awesome Floo. Respek.

Free..

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Telescope!!

You can say this is the moment I have been waiting for all my life. Finally, after 20 years, I got to spend a night with a telescope in my hands. Now, how awesome is that!!!??? :D.

With an equally psyched friend for company, I spent the happiest stargazing night ever, making out the awesomely awesome constellations, the so so distant nebulae, the stunning Gas Giants and everything that there is in the night sky.

I have finally got better at spotting the constellations properly, thanks to one amazing software called Sideralis for mobile phones. It’s just fucking amazing! And you should have seen my face when I finally managed to spot the Orion completely ( largely thanks to the fact that I had traveled some 60 Km away from the Light Polluted Chennai to get Clear Skies ) :). Ah, The feeling that you get when you spot the Big Dog with it’s stunning tail ( The Canis Major ) or when you spot Mr. Hercules who seems to be standing there in the dark with his hands raised, poised like a true Hero, Absolutely Amazing.

And then, Saturn. Only now I understand why Saturn is the favorite celestial object of all fucking times. Appa, the rings, Breathtaking! Saturn is the Best Planet Ever, after Earth of course :P. And Titan, the largest moon of Saturn that was just a pixel in the image was really nice, and Jupiter with it’s beautiful bands of clouds and it’s moons lined up on either side was some sight:).

Not to forget Sirius, Betelgeuse and Regulus, The Beautiful Orion Nebula that was just a collection of dots in the scope and the Whirlpool Galaxy which is so distant that I got to see only an unresovled dot; besides the always stunning Ursa Major which thought me in a simple manner how everything revolves around Polaris, and did I mention that Saturn rocks?

I even managed to spot Leo and Bootes. Finally there’s our own Moon. Waning Gibbous, with the line bringing out the crescent shape that is breathtakingly beautiful surrounded by all the craters and mountains on that pure white landscape, brilliant :), and Saturn’s rings are the best ever!

So I managed to do and learn so much in one single night than I’ve done for the last 20 years. It feels good :). A round trip of about 120 Km and a night without sleep, but totally worth it, thanks to a friend with this amazing scope :D, thanks to which I was able to spot Saturn with it’s Rings :).

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Clear Skies!

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EDIT:

I forgot to mention the scope’s amazing Goto capability and the built-in Computer. It has a catalog of stars, nebula, constellations etc. and first, the finder scope  is properly aligned and the we point the main scope with any two stars visible at that time and calibrate it, after that all you have to do is just select the object from a long list and the scope will automatically move and point to the object! We literally fell down when selected ” Goto Saturn ” and it pointed to it with perfect precision and we saw the fucking rings. Technology. Science. Genius.!!

Pac-Man and The IYA..

So the first eclipse of this year is behind us now, even though it was an annular and a very very partial one, it still rocked.

First thing, I am sick and tired of people, papers, websites etc. warning us not to see the sun directly without any protection. I watched the eclipse with my naked eyes and used only my fingers to block out the glaring light and hey, I am not blind. This clearly shows that with a little precaution, one CAN see the Sun with our bare eyes. And I’ve seen though solar filters, and through welder’s glasses but nothing comes close to watching it directly with no aids whatsoever.

This time the eclipse was not as amazing as the one that we witnessed last year ( I saw that one without any protection too 😛 ) but these events made me realize one important thing, ask any stargazer, clouds suck and they can spoil it for you totally. But during eclipses a little cloud here and there helps you tremendously because it can filter out a lot of the sunlight and you can see the event directly without straining the eyes much and so clear skies do not always equal amazing observations.

And I just cannot wait for the Total Solar Eclipse this July 22. For once, it will be visible in India properly and it is going to be Legendary :D.

So to sum up, you can see the sun directly without harming your eyes;  for free’s sake, you can eat during eclipses ( Some traditions in our country are bullshit to the core );  you sure as hell do not have to take bath once the eclipse is over and the Sun does not shine more intensely during eclipses.

Finally, this year is the International Year of Astronomy :D. It’s been 400 years since Galileo first looked up at the stars though his telescope, 200 years since Charles Darwin’s birth and 40 years since the Apollo 11 landing. Brilliant! And this year people are doing an extra bit to promote Astrophysics and Astronomy to the general masses. As usual, it is going to be an amazing year for Astronomy and Science in general as we unravel and solve new mysteries of our world :).

Do check out the Astronomy Podcasts, one for every day this year, really really informative and once again I remind those who may have not taken notice before, visit The Astronomy Picture of the Day page every single day, it’s absolutely awesome.

Clear Skies and Happy Stargazing!

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Update:
http://spaceweather.com/eclipses/gallery_26jan09.htm
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap090128.html