BAS Volunteers Chandrashekhar and Pavan conducted an outreach session for the Children participating at the Summer Camp Organized by URISE Vishwa Seva Foundation at the Foundation's Ashram premises on Thursday, the night of 17th April, 2008.
The equipment for the session included Mr. Hemant Hariyani's 12" Dob. While we reached the venue at around 7PM, The event itself could begin no earlier than 9:30PM as the children were still involved in other programmes. Both Chandrashekhar and I were then introduced to the crowd and the Ashram Volunteers. A breif felicitation ceremony followed, and we were gifted mementos by Shri Vasudev Guruji.
We picked on a venue just outisde the Ashram premises with flat ground for the session. It was nearly 10PM by the time the finder could be aligned, and the programme could begin. The sky itself wasn't very phenomenal, owing the near full moon and the rampantly prevalant haze. We decided that Saturn and Moon would be the objects for the night. Since the younger children of the lot would invariably end up getting sleepy, we trained the telescope on Saturn. Chandrashekhar had in the meanwhile spent some interactive time with the kids. The children, with unbridled enthusiasm each took a look at the ringed planet and followed it up with awed reactions that we 've got so accustomed to.
Shri Vasudev Guruji and Smt Chinmayi too had a look at the planet, as did the other Volunteers. We followed this up by training the telescope on the moon. Most people were baffled with the near blinding brightness of the full moon in the eyepiece. The children noticed the intricate details of the craters and the volcanic plains on the lunar surface and followed up with questions later. By then, the time was 11:30PM and unwilling as they were, the children had to retire for the night, especially in the wake of the activities they had scheduled for the next day.
The other Ashram however, stayed on. We zoomed in on Saturn, switching to the 9mm plossl and everybody were awed by the features that it brought out. Most people could make out the Cassini Division, as could they see Titan and atleast 3 other moons. We engaged for longer amidst more gazes at Saturn and the moon whilst socializing and interactive between ourselves. We also had a brief talk about ISRO's chandrayaan project, whose headquarters sporting a huge dish was only a stone's throw away.
The lot of us finally retired for the night at about 1:30AM and hit the sack for a peaceful couple of hours of sleep. We rose at 4:30AM and started on the journey back home, before which we got a glimpse of some wonderful and transparent morning skies, With the southern sky of Saggitarius and Scorpius steadily heading towards culmination in the East. We dropped the telescope at Hemant's place after waking him up rather unceremoniously at 6AM.
In all, The session and the level of enthusiasm prevalent throughout was very heartening. We would like to thank Shri Vasudev Guruji of URISE for his support during the whole session. A word of Thanks to Mr. Kiran and Mrs. Hema who facilitated the happening of this event. A sincere word of gratitude to our president, Hemant, without whose generosity of lending his Telescope, this event wouldn't have been succesful. Last but not least, Ratheesh - the driver who picked us up and dropped us back, for his all-encompassing enthusiasm, support and comic relief.