20 July 2010

A visit to Sriharikota

12th Jul, 2010: India's space program received yet another boost, after the successful placing of remote sensing satellite Cartosat-2B and 4 other satellites by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) at 9:22am on last Monday.
The PSLV-C15 launch, which came after a 51-hour countdown at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota was described as 'perfect'. The launch vehicle placed the satellites, one of them a satellite built by 7 engineering students from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, into orbit.

A young member of ABAA Amogh had the privilege to visit SDSC and witness the launch. Here is his personal account.

My visit to Satish Dhawan Space Center(SDSC), SHAR
12th July, 5 am

I woke up with a start, dad was telling me to wake up. Today, was a big day for me. I was going to SDSC to see the launch of PSLV-C15.
My mom knew a scientist in ISRO who worked in the liquid propulsion systems department. He told my mom that there was a rocket launch on 12th July, so my mom asked him to give us permission to witness it as I liked astronomy and astrophysics a lot. So four of us were going in our vehicle to witness the launching. We stayed in Srikalahasti which is around 64 kilometres from SDSC. It would take us 1 hour to reach Satish Dawan Space Center. So we started at around 5:50 am from the hotel and reached SDSC by around 7:15 am.

There were lots of foreigners mainly Algerians, French and Canadians.This was because apart from Cartosat-2B and Studsat from India there were 3 other satellites on board. Alsat-2A form Algeria but built by the French, two Canadian nano satellites NLS 6.1 and 6.2 were going to be launched along with the Indian satellites.

6km from the launching site is an auditorium named M.R Kurup Auditorium. Visitors have to see the launch from there. It was a really big auditorium fully air conditioned with two big T.V's. But this was not the real excitement I wanted to see it in real. By around 10 minutes before the launch almost all of them who were inside the auditorium went up to the terrace to witness it in real. Then was the count doun 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and at 9:22 am we could hear the loud noise, see a small pencil like thing with a long tail of fire after around 10 to 15 seconds. When the rocket was out of sight we came back inside and saw the tracking of the rocket. It had a small deviation in its path but that was okay.They tracked for around 20 minutes and when all satellites were into orbit, mission succesful!

14 July 2010

A Sun Halo Over Bangalore

Last Sunday the 11th of July many in Bangalore witnessed a big halo around the sun. Around noon when the Sun was almost at the zenith, there was a rainbow like ring around the sun.

This fairly common sight occurs when high thin Cirrus clouds cover much of the sky. Typically found at heights greater than 20,000 feet (6,000 meters), cirrus clouds are composed of ice crystals that originate from the freezing of supercooled water droplets. Each ice crystal acts like a tiny lens.
Most of these crystals have a similar elongated hexagonal shape and light entering one crystal face and exiting through the opposing face refracts 22 degrees, which corresponds to the radius of the Sun halo.
Similar halo can be seen occasionally round the moon too...

If you saw the halo, leave a comment and tell us about your experience.