12 December 2011

Watching Lunar Eclipse under Dark Skies

We had missed the June 15th total lunar eclipse this year due to cloud cover and during few days before the December 10th total lunar eclipse the skies were not at all promising. Few of us thought that it would be good idea to take a chance and observe the eclipse in a dark sky area away from the light polluted city skies. Even during our journey to the observing site we saw horizon covered with clouds and with our hopes dwindling we continued. As we reached our regular observing site the eastern skies had cleared which seemed to be too good to be true.
The first task was to find a clear horizon as the first contact of umbra was to happen at 6:15pm and the moon’s altitude at that time would be close to 6 degrees. We found the clear horizon much earlier and the full moon was shining gloriously.
 We started setting up the equipments and also started observing the moon waiting for umbral contact. As minutes passed from 6:15pm the shadow slowly started growing from the Oceanus Procellarum region and just over half an hour of start of umbral eclipse the shadow had reached near Copernicus crater which is close to 95km in diameter. 
The moon was a spectacular view towards 7pm in binoculars with Mare Imbrium, Mare Humorum, Mare Nubium all turning red.  Few minutes before totality began, the almost red moon with just little bright area left made moon to appear as a red planet with ice caps, reminding us of Mars.  We had a wonderful view of the totality though there were little clouds at the time of totality, it all cleared soon.
We now can tell with experience that if anyone wants to enjoy the total lunar eclipse fully, they should go to a dark sky area. The appearance of the red moon in the sky with all the stars in the  background is an amazing sight.
Planet Jupiter outshined everything in the sky, as the moon faded during totality, the bright -2.5magnitute Jupiter became the brightest object in the sky. The moon shines at a magnitude of -12 during full moon and only during eclipse that Jupiter or Venus can hope to outshine the  full moon and this time it was Jupiter’s turn.  We had a chance to spot many messier objects that are usually difficult to spot during full moon. The red giant aldebaran shining close to red moon made the region really special.  
We spent some time explaining the eclipse to the curious villagers and Madhava who had joined us for the trip was giving live commentary on radio explaining to the listeners about our observations.
We ate food during totality, something we always do to remove the superstition among people. As totality ended the moon started to brighten up and we continued observe the eclipse till the moon was totally out of umbra. As moon brightened we saw the faint stars disappear and slowly most of the stars disappeared as moon fully came out of umbra shadow.
It was a sad feeling after the eclipse thinking that we will have to wait till 2018 to enjoy such wonderful event of total lunar eclipse, but on looking back at the wonderful experience we had during eclipse, I think you all will agree that it’s worth the wait.

11 December 2011

Total Lunar Eclipse - 2011: a poor show at Bangalore

The eclipse that was awaited for long, an eclipse for which many budding amateur astrophotographs were waiting for turned out to be a poor show. The clouds that have been haunting us throughout this observing season turned out in full force and ensured that we only got a partial show of the total eclipse. There was a sizeable crowd that waited patiently - some even beyond 10 pm - but it was a largely disappointing show.

Some of our members who had traveled outside Bangalore seemed to have a better story to tell. We await their report and/or pictures. Here are some pictures taken during the public show at JNP grounds, Bangalore.


08 December 2011

Total Lunar Eclipse December 10th 2011

The last full Moon of the year will put up an amazing show this Saturday. We will witness Total Lunar eclipse on 10th December 2011. 

The umbral eclipse starts at 6:15pm, at this time Moon will be low in the eastern horizon at an altitude of about 6 degrees. Better to get to a place where we have clear view of the horizon with no obstructions from buildings or trees. The shadow will start from NE of the Moon. 

The shadow slowly covers the Moon's surface and the Moon will enter the totality phase at 7:35pm, with the Moon's altitude at 23degrees. 

The totality ends at 8:27pm with the moon's altitude at 36 degrees, the Moon will emerge from totality shadow slowly brightening from the SE. The umbral eclipse of the Moon ends at 9:48pm with the Moon fully coming out of earth's shadow.  

Here are a few sky maps of the eclipse at different stages.

Beginning of eclipse  6:15pm

Start of Totality 7:35pm

End of Totality 8:27pm

End of Lunar Eclipse of December 10th 2011

14 November 2011

ABAA outreach program

ABAA conducted an outreach program at Nellorepura Kannada School on 12th Nov. This is one of the schools adapted by company Broadcom India and it is called Project Lotus, as part of Corporate Social Responsibility effort of the company. Amrutha invited ABAA to give a talk on basic astronomy to the school kids.

ABAA thanks Project Lotus volunteers Naga Chandra, Sajith, Sundar and Amrutha for their effort and help in arranging the talk to introduce astronomy to kids. All of Project Lotus volunteers work for Broadcom India.

The talk was given by Mr. Madhava T S, Treasurer/Jt Secretary of ABAA. Madhava took the kids on a trip to all the planets through slides explaining the wonders of the planets and their moons.

Here are some Photos from the session

29 October 2011

Jupiter in Opposition

Jupiter will be in Opposition today, 29th October 2011. This means that the Sun, Earth and the planet Jupiter will be in a straight line, as the Sun sets in the west, the giant planet rises in the east. This gives us full night to observe the planet. From small aperture telescope to large telescopes Jupiter offers so much to observe. Jupiter will rise at 5:40pm in the beginning of the month of November and toward the middle of November, Jupiter will rise at 4:40pm and set at 5am. Towards end of November, Jupiter will rise at 3:30pm and set at 4am.
Jupiter spends all month in the border of constellation Aries and Pisces.
Here are times for observing Great Red Spot(GRS) on Jupiter. The timing is for GRS meridian transit, that is when the GRS is the middle of Jupiter's disc, the GRS can also be observed one hour before and after the transit times. All times are in IST.

Time of GRS Meridian
Oct 29th



Nov 02nd































12 October 2011

Few photos from Dr. Suresh Mohan's Talk on Principles of Astrophotography

Dr Suresh Mohan gave an wonderful insight into the field of Astrophotography. The talk was truly inspiring. The talk made people who want to enter astrophotography field, understand the preparation and effort that is needed for a good Astrophotography session and also the talk helped in understanding many processes that goes on during an astrophotography session. Dr Suresh Mohan explained complex concepts in simple terms that was very easy to understand.

Here are few pictures of the session

Dr. Suresh Mohan getting ready for the Talk, Jayanth, President ABAA looks on.

Mr Prakash Subbanna, Vice President of ABAA introducing Dr. Suresh Mohan to audience

Dr. Suresh Mohan delivering the talk.

Dr. Suresh Mohan explaining star drift.

Prakash Subbanna delivering vote of thanks to Dr. Suresh Mohan.

Jayanth presenting a memento to Dr. Suresh Mohan

From left to right: Jayanth, Dr. Suresh Mohan, Madhusudan, Pramod Galagali Assistant Director JNP, Dr. B S Shylaja having a discussion.

From left to Right: Jayanth, Dr. Suresh Mohan, Anil, Dilip Kumar, Chandrashekar Gen. Secretary ABAA, having discussion.

05 October 2011

Talk on Principles of Astrophotography

ABAA invites you for the talk on Principles of Astrophotography by well known astrophotographer Dr. Suresh Mohan. Astrophotography is both challenging and rewarding field. Lot of hours go into making a good celestial photograph, from polar alignment of the telescope to imaging and dark room methods. Dr Suresh Mohan will cover these topics in his talk which are very important in making good and quality astrophotos.

Topic: Principles of Astrophotography

Speaker: Dr. Suresh Mohan.

Date: 09/10/2011

Time: 12:30pm to 2:30pm.

Venue: Basement, Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium.


All are cordially invited for the talk.

30 September 2011

Mars in Beehive cluster

On 1st and 2nd October morning the red planet Mars will be in Beehive cluster in the constellation of Cancer. Mars rises at 2am and by 3:30am will be in good position to observe and photograph. Grab the binoculars and enjoy the Mars stay in Beehive cluster. Beehive cluster or M44 as its known, is 3rd magnitude open cluster visible easily as hazy patch to unaided eye. Binoculars and telescope will help in resolving the cluster.

26 September 2011

Sunspots viewing at ABAA

On Sunday afternoon the sky was clear and this prompted ABAA members T S Madhava, Naveen and Natraj to take out the association's 6inch telescope to show general public the Sunspots and also safe methods of observing the Sunspots. Members also explained the reasons for Sun spots to the curious public. The response was really good with a question and answer session which continued till the sun set.

Here are few photos of the session:

Naveen, Natraj and Madhava setting up the telescope and focusing Sunspots.

Madhava, Naveen and Natraj making final adjustments.
Madhava happy with public response

Public viewing the Sunspot and discussing

Naveen showing Sunspots to Students

ABAA members enjoy Sunspots before Sun disappears behind the tall buildings.

Uranus in Opposition

Uranus will be in opposition today in the constellation of Pisces. When a planet, Earth and the Sun make a straight line with the Earth at the centre, the planet is said to be in opposition.  As the planet rises when the Sun sets, it gives full night for observing the planet.  The mean distance of the planet Uranus at opposition is 2.72 billion kilometres with a magnitude of 5.5 which is an easy target for even small pair of binoculars.
Here are carts that will be helpful in locating the planet. The sky charts are made for 8pm local time, by this time the great square will be in good altitude in the eastern horizon. First get the bright 2.8 magnitude gamma pegasi in the binocular field, then move south around 9degrees to get Omicron Piscim a 4th magnitude star. Move the binocular 7 degrees south east of Omicron Piscium to get the planet Uranus in the field.
Rising time for Uranus for coming days:

September 26th Uranus will rise at 18:12
September 28th Uranus will rise at 18:04
October 1st Uranus will rise at 17:52
October 4th Uranus will rise at 17:40
October 10th Uranus will rise at 17:15
October 16th Uranus will rise at 16:50