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!

Free..

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.!!

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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!

Free..

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

Nila Nila Oodi Vaa

The Moon, the nearest chunk of alien rock from Planet Earth, never fails to inspire awe and wonder every time you look at it and to think that India is going to reach for the Moon is absolutely amazing.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is going to launch the Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter tomorrow and it is going to be Legendary!

From the ISRO’s Website:

The primary objectives of Chandrayaan-1 are:
1. To expand scientific knowledge about the moon
2. To upgrade India’s technological capability
3. To provide challenging opportunities for planetary
research to the younger generation of Indian scientists

Chandrayaan-1 aims to achieve these well defined objectives through high resolution remote sensing of the moon in the visible, near infrared, microwave and X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. With this, preparation of a 3-dimensional atlas of the lunar surface and chemical mapping of entire lunar surface is envisaged.

We’ve also got a bunch of Indian payloads and have also accommodated a few foreign payloads and our orbiter is going to do some serious scientific work. ISRO has released this brochure with complete information about this mission.

October 22 at 06:20 Indian Standard Time is the date and time set for the launch and there’s going to be a webcast on the ISRO website, so don’t forget to catch it online.

P

India Rocks..

India is on the verge of becoming a space superpower and it should make every Indian proud. This should make humans all over the world stand united and feel good for what we, as a species can achieve.

Moon, here we come. In a few years it is going to get really crowded up there and someday we will spread our huge population to the moon too :p.

I’m sincerely hoping that the launch and the mission goes off without any major hitches. Here’s to Science and of course, to India.

Saare Jahan Se Accha, Hindustan Hamara
<< Those were the words Rakesh Sharma uttered 24 years back on board the Soviet Soyuz T-11, when asked by the then PM of India, Indira Gandhi, about how India looked from space. >>

Links:
ISRO
Unofficial Website
Indian Express

PS –

All said and done, NASA sent men to the Moon decades ago and that is the most awesomest achievement by us till date. Let us hope that this time instead of a space race, international cooperation takes us to greater heights and reach Mars in the near future. I want to see man land on Mars before I die :). I wish I were an astronaut, going places, seeing the earth in all it’s insignificance; I don’t even mind if it is a one way ticket to the stars.

Nature is God. Science is my Religion.

Space Links

Photos of the Earth and Moon – From Other Worlds – Beautiful set of pictures.

Carl Sagan. Legend. Must Read – Pale Blue Dot

Amazing Software : Universe Sandbox

Universe Sandbox is an educational toy for Windows based computers. It can run scale simulations of our solar system and galaxy while giving you the power to control gravity, time and everything in it.

One of the very few softwares that I would buy once I earn some money :P.

2001: A Space Odyssey Explained – Really Nice Flash Video about one of the best Sci-Fi Movies of all time.

Hubble Rescue

Solar System Mysteries – Brilliant Read.

Astronaut / Cosmonaut Deaths – Respect!

And Finally, International Year Of Astronomy 2009 – Yay! 😀

Space Rocks.. Free..