25 February 2010

Jupiter Conjunction

Hubble Views New Dark Spot on Jupiter

From past few months the Giant planet had been our companion in the evening sky. We have observed the planet Jupiter, the moons, the bands on the planet, the great red spot, mutual eclipse of the Galilean moons, followed the shadows of the moons on the surface of planet.

During the Galilean Nights, conducted world wide last October, we showed the planet to thousands, who got the glimpse of the giant planet for the first time. In most of the outreach programs, Jupiter was the 'star' attraction.

Jupiter became difficult to observe in the late January, as the planet was very close to the Sun. When we say, the planet is close to Sun, we know that the planet is getting behind the Sun. In other words, the Earth, the Sun and the planet Jupiter forms a straight line. This is called Conjunction.

On February 28th Jupiter will reach, Conjunction. On this day the Planet will be at its maximum distance from the Earth. Jupiter will reach a distance of 89,45,96,040 kilometers from the Earth. When close to the Earth, the planet Jupiter can reach a distance of 59,09,12,100 kilometers.

We will have to wait till the first week of April to see the giant planet again. In April the planet can be seen in the morning sky.

24 February 2010

Astro News: Star-forming region NGC 346

NGC 346, the brightest star-forming region in the neighbouring Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy, some 210 000 light-years away from Earth. The light, wind and heat given off by massive stars have dispersed the glowing gas within and around this star cluster, forming a surrounding wispy nebular structure that looks like a cobweb. NGC 346 is located in the constellation Tucana (the Toucan) and spans approximately 200 light-years. This particular image was obtained using the Wide Field Imager instrument at the 2.2-metre MPG/ESO telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. Images like this help astronomers chronicle star birth and evolution, while offering glimpses of how stellar development influences the appearance of the cosmic environment over time. This is an enhanced colour image based on three different broadband filters (B, V, R), as well as a narrowband filter (H-alpha, shown in blue).

The field of view is about 30 arcminutes wide.

Photo Credit: ESO

Annular Solar Eclipse 2010 video taken from Dhanushkodi

This video of ASE 2010 was taken by Prakash Subbanna, Vice president of ABAA from Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu.

20 February 2010

ABAA in News

ABAA's young and active member Akshay Kumar gave details of the Vesta's close approch and how to observe them through the print media. This came out in Time of India news paper helping general public to observe the bright minor planet. Here is the scaned version of the article. Good work Akshay.

18 February 2010

Annular Solar Eclipse as seen from Bangalore

Here is the Video of the Partial Solar eclipse taken by Anil. This was taken on 15th January 2010, as we know it was Annular eclipse and was visible in parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, but in Bangalore it was a partial eclipse. Good video Anil.

17 February 2010

Vesta photos taken yesterday

Vesta, the brightest asteroid has been quite bright nowadays. Yesterday was a great opportunity to identify Vesta since it was very close to a bright star Gamma-Lionis.
Many members of ABAA observed the asteroid. Here are some photos taken yesterday and a finder chart by heavens-above for comparison.

Finder Chart:

Narrow field image: (Canon 450D, ISO 1600, 10", 250mm, f/4)


Wide Field image:(Canon 450D, ISO 1600, 10", 55mm, f/5.6)


Photos were taken by Keerthi Kiran, member of ABAA.

16 February 2010

Vesta at its brightest today

Asteroid Vesta is the second most massive asteroid in the asteroid belt. It was discovered by the German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers on March 29, 1807 and named after the Roman virgin goddess of home and hearth, Vesta.
Vesta's size and bright surface make it the brightest asteroid, and it is some times even visible to the naked eye from dark (non-light polluted) skies.
In 2007 May-June, Vesta was visible to the naked eye with a magnitude of 5.4
Today is the best day to see asteroid Vesta.
Today Asteroid Vesta will be at opposition as seen from earth (Vesta will be very close to earth).
Therefore it will be brighter than usual. It will be shining at a magnitude of 6.1
So, it will be easily visible with a binocular or a small telescope.
Moreover, the asteroid Vesta is located in a favorable position. It is located very near to Gamma-Leonis.
The finder chart generated using Stellarium looks like this.

Asteroid Vesta will be bright throughout this week and will be easy to find.
Please utilize this great opportunity and tell us what you saw.

Magadi Astronomy outreach by ABAA

Astronomy outreach Program was conducted by ABAA on the 10th February 2010 at Alfala College Campus in Magadi.

200 High School students, 75 science teachers and general public participated in the event.

It was the part of 2 day VIJNANA HABBA, organized by the science teachers of Magadi taluk and 32 schools in and around Magadi Taluk took part in the program.

Sky Watching Session started around 7pm and ended at about 10pm. Celestial wonders like the Orion nebula, Pleiades star cluster and the red planet Mars were shown to the students, teachers and to the public present there. While Mr. Chandrashekar, Mr. Anil and Mr. Arun were busy with the telescopes showing the celestial objects, Mr Prakash engaged the students by showing them the constellations and explained the on how to identify them.

Students had some interesting questions about our solar system, cosmology, Telescopes, how to make them and costs involved. It was good to see the enthusiasm and interest among the students.

Team ABAA comprised of Chandrashekar, Anil, Arun & Prakash Subbanna.

08 February 2010

Jayanth's ASE 2010 Video on YouTube

This video was taken by Jayanth Basavarajaiah, President, ABAA at Dhanushkodi, Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu.

04 February 2010

Star charts for the month of Feb 2010

Here are the star charts for the month of Feb 2010.
There are two stars one showing the evening objects, the other showing the morning objects.
The charts are generated for Bangalore using Cartes Du Ciel software.
To use the chart, take a print out of the chart, go out and hold the chart above your head in such a way that North of the chart coincides with North direction. You should be able to find your way through the sky with the help of the stars in the chart. If you have any doubts, mail us.

1. Evening Sky (about 8 PM)

2. Morning Sky (about 5:45 AM)

03 February 2010

Sky this month

Winter is the best season for observing the night sky. Just by going out and looking up at the sky, one can see many stars, planets, constellations and so on.


Mars: The highlight of the month is the red planet Mars. Mars is located in the constellation of Cancer the crab. Mars is at opposition now and will be bright throughout this month. After sunset, look towards east and the bright big reddish "star" you see would be Mars. Mars is shining at a magnitude of -0.79 today and by the end of this month, it would be reduced to -0.4. It will fade in the months to come.

Image courtesy: NASA

Jupiter: This month will be the last month to see Jupiter in the evening sky. The Big Gas Planet which is in the constellation of Aquarius, would be invisible by the end of this month. It can be seen just after the sunset towards west. It is -2.0 magnitude bright.
Feb 16-17, Jupiter will be very close to Venus but both the planets will be hard to see as they will be hidden behind big buildings.

Mercury: This month, Mercury will be a morning object. First week of this month, it will be visible half an hour before sunrise near the eastern horizon but later this month, it will be very difficult to see. Currently it is in the constellation of Sagittarius. It should be noted that Mercury never rises very high in the sky since its orbit is very close to the Sun.

Venus: Venus will be a "Evening star" again starting this month. I would be low in the western sky this entire month. It will start to rise up in the months to come. If you are planning to observe Venus, please take care not to look directly at the sun.

Saturn: The ringed planet Saturn will rise late in the night at 21:45. It is located in the constellation of Virgo. It will be visible to the naked eye as a bright star (magnitude +1.0). However, through small telescopes, it is a treat to the eyes. Through telescopes, the ring would look edge on.

Image courtesy: NASA

Here is a list of phases of the moon for the month of Feb 2010. The time given are in UT. To convert the time to IST, simply add 5 hours and 30 minutes to the given time.
    New Moon        First Quarter        Full Moon         Last Quarter
---------------- ---------------- ---------------- ----------------
2010/02/14 02:52 2010/02/22 00:43 2010/02/28 16:38 2010/02/05 23:49
If you are new to astronomy and struggling to identify planets, moon can be used to identify planets on these dates.

Feb 2nd: Moon was close to Saturn (8° away). Mar 1st, again, moon will be close to Saturn.
Feb 12th Morning (Before sunrise): Thin crescent moon will be 2 deg from Mercury.
Feb 26 -evening: Moon passes close to Mars (5°)

There are no bright comets in the sky right now.
Some comets which will be visible though small telescopes are Comet 81P/Wild 2 and Comet C/2007 Q3 (Siding Spring). Very dark and clear skies are needed to observe both.

Meteor Showers:
No major meteor showers this month.

Know your Stars
A program called Know your stars will be conducted in Planetarium every 1st Sunday of the month in collaboration with ABAA. Be there by 6:30PM to know more about the heavens. At the end of the session, there will be a sky watch session in which members of ABAA will show the highlights of the sky through telescopes.

02 February 2010

Annular Solar Eclipse 15th Jan-2010 Light Intensity Experiment: Jayanth Basavarajaiah

Here are the findings of the experiments done during the Annular Eclipse on Jan 15, 2010. The experiments were carried out by a team led by Jayanth Basavarajaiah, President of ABAA. This presentation was created by Jayanth.

If you cannot see the presentation please install latest Adobe Flash Player

Annular Solar Eclipse 15th Jan-2010 Light Intensity Experiment

01 February 2010

Jayanth Basavarajaiah in live program on TV9 to discuss brightest Moon

This event was covered on TV9 during the close approach of the Moon on 30/01/2010 . Jayanth Basavarajaiah, President of ABAA was invited as part of a two member panel to participate and discuss on the event. The other panelist was Prof. RC.Kapoor from Indian Institute of Astrophysics. This was a live program and the discussion was for half an hour had some interesting points were discussed. Jayanth explained the various things that can done during the close approach and how amateur astronomers take astrophotos and make measurements. It was made clear that there is no truth in claims of some that bad things will happen if Eclipse are seen and also it was made clear there no effect on humans or any other being during eclipse or close approach of the Moon. Jayanth urged people to come out and enjoy the wonders of the sky and not to miss out on grand celestial events such as eclipses and close approach. He also mentioned that ABAA members have been observing eclipses and celestial events for many years and no harm has come about to members from past 30 years.

In the discussion Jayanth also explained about ABAA and its activities and also mentioned that ABAA meetings at JNP every Sunday evening. Jayanth also told the panel that amateur astronomy belongs to people from all walks of life, at ABAA all are welcome. ABAA helps people in building their own telescopes, help them understand the working of celestial bodies, help them in observations and ABAA goes to school and conducts outreach programs for kids, he told.

ABAA members congratulate Jayanth on successfully conveying amateur astronomers activities and ABAA to the public through TV9 live program.