Astronomy @ SJR Redwoods - Event Report

By p6; Published 04 May 2007

On a day that hardly promised anything for astronomy at all, this event almost got cancelled because clouds did not clear till evening. But we waited till the last moment and were rewarded with one of the most clear nights Bangalore has seen in past couple of weeks. This inturn resulted in a wonderful outreach session at SJR Redwoods.

BAS members co-ordinating the event were Mr. Amar Sharma and Mr. Hemant Hariyani with help from Mr. Sameer Thatte and Ms. Jaya Agrawal. Equipment used was a 12 inch F/4.5 Dobsonian telescope.

We started setting up our equipment at about 6:15 PM and a few people and children had already gathered by then. 15 minutes later, the telescope was pointed to beautiful waxing crescent moon with all of it just fitting in the field of the 20mm wide angle eyepiece. The sight was awe striking for almost everyone. After everyone had observed our celestial neighbour, it was the time for a closer look and we had nothing better than a 4.8 mm Nagler to do the job it has specialized in. This time around, the exclamations were even louder as everyone took a closer look at lunar craters, central peaks, shadows and a lot of other features. This sight has always managed to impress everyone. We even added a barlow to get a 'flying over the surface' view of moon at about 560X magnification.

Next object our telescope was pointed to is none other than the Lord of the Rings himself - Saturn. We Started looking at Saturn using a 9mm eyepiece trying to concentrate on the entire Saturnian family visible that night. Titan and Rhea were visible to everyone and a few managed to see Tethys and Dione. Saturn has never disappointed and it maintained its reputation only to leave the best of it for later in the night.

Orion nebula was about to set and we decided to look at it before using higher magnification on Saturn. The sword was hardly visible and we were not sure if the object would impress but then the UHC filter came to rescue as The Great Orion nebula stood out in the 20mm eyepiece to reveal the bright and dark clouds with the trapezium shining obviously. Although not nearly as beautiful as from dark places, it was impressive - particularly when we told people that what they were looking at was 1600 light years away and about 30 light years across.

We then used the 4.8 mm Nagler on Saturn and the object of the night shone like a gem on black velvet. Atmospheric conditions were stable and Saturn revealed all its beauty with the Cassini Division being obvious to everyone. Cloud patterns were visible too and everyone could see them without too much of a difficulty. It drew all the exclamations it deserves.

We briefly pointed the scope towards Sirius to show everyone what a bright twinkling star looks like through a scope - a brighter twinkling star.

This was followed by views of moon and saturn again and again for people who had missed out or wanted to have another look.

People in SJR Redwoods were really enthusiastic about the event and questions kept coming. The event lasted till about 10:30 PM. We promised to be back soon.