Amidst fears of rain and threatning dark clouds, The Bangalore Astronomical Society and it's members commemorated the sunny and gay ocassion of the group turing 1 year old. The meeting saw attendances registered by over 30 individuals, Some old and some new and the gathering proved interactive and useul.
Exactly an year before, On the 22nd of July 2006, And at the very same location, in the shades of big green trees and on a floor of sprawlingly lucious natural lawn, 8 of us had met up to brainstorm about creating a group that would provide some respite for all who 're astro-hungry. However, Little did I, Hemant, Amar, Atul, Harshad, Rakesh, Ravindra and Thejas know that what seemed to be a fairly useless gathering would go on to become what is now a well-established and active Amateur Astronomy Club in India.
The little brainchild of our rather ambitious plans and fictitious figments of imaginations (and subsequently christened 'The Bangalore Astronomical Society' sometime in September) has for sure come a long way since meagre beginnings of an Orkut community. The Journey has been unique and purposeful. For ourselves, the thrill of having created an institution that self-sustainingly works towards philanthropic, scientifc and hobby causes with equal credence has been rather exhilarating.
Our activity scale and schedule has varied with the seasons. Nonetheless, the enthusiasm towards Astronomy and the group has been unbridled and innate. While there were meetings and seminars galore to start things off, The excitement was but first kickstarted by our first successful observation event at Hosahalli on Aug 24th, 2006 . Ever since, there has been no more looking back and the observation events have flourished. The event would soon be followed by another Star Party at the same location the subsequent week , A trip to the Kavalur Observatory , A Star Party under the exotic skies at Hampi , The first trip to Yelagiri to witness the magical southern skies and the famous Comet Mcanught, Another Star Party at Thiruvallur with folks from TANASTRO, Observation of Two Eclipses in the month of March with the Solar Eclipse being coupled with the Messier Marathon 2007 - Held at CREST- Hosakote,Yelagiri and it's stunning skies again in April that sized a gathering of the most number of Telescopes we've seen anywhere around here.....and innumerable sessions at our usaul hunting grounds of Hosahalli.
Whilst that was about the Observation arena, The domain where BAS and it's existance has made a difference is to the Outreach Department. All through, There has been a perpetual lack of people popularising Astronomy and all thats exciting about it. There's a whole different dimension of bliss thats fuelled off inspiring someone and we've got a first hand experience at that. The typical Public Outreach events had been geared and engineered to thrill people and so we managed - to accomplish by providing peeks at Saturn, Jupiter, The moon, Orion Nebula....And from the heart of the Bangalore city. Be it shopping Malls, Apartment complexes or parks, The response at each event has been unique but with the common theme of being awe-struck. Since we started with the first of these, Targeted typically at kids in the Krishnanagar Apartments , Annasandrapalya - Off Aiprort Road..There has been no looking back. While our event at Dr Ambedkar Ground, BEL (in association with BUVV - BEL UdyogigaLa Vignana VEdike) gathered crowds of 1000 or so to take peeks at the Moon, Venus, Saturn and Orion nebula, Disparate Outreach events held to commemorate the International Astronomy Day (Apr 21st) at the Forum Mall and the event at Garuda Mall on the ocassion of the International Sidewalk Astronomy Night (ISAN-2007) gathered sizeable crowds and grabbed media attention as well. Notwithstanding any complacency, It'd be fair to say our contributions to popularising Astronomy as a hobbby and science have been substantial.
Apart, the most fruitful and satisfying off all thats happened in an eventful 365 days so far has been the programs we've had at schools. Although these events may may look modest in the sheer number count relative to the others, They've always been close to the heart of BAS. The beginnings were typically inspired off frenzied reactions of kids at our Outreach events. The first of these events was at the Sree Vani Education Centre , Magadi Road where Mr Hemant Hariyani made a thought provoking presentation to the kids making their imaginations fly wild about the extent and organisational hierarchy of our universe. Presentations at schools has since, continued with Mr Akarsh Simha and Hemant making presentations at The Valley School , Kanakpura Road and more. The other adopted mantra for School-events have again resorted to the Public Outreach / Skywatch events..With events being held at Poorna Prajna High School (By Mr Akarsh Simha), Himanshu Jyothi Kala Peetha (Mr Shashank H J) and more. Another of the more memorable off School sessions was at Sree Vani Vidyaniketan , Banaswadi - A Philanthropic educational institution run by the Rashtrothhana Parishat. The event spanned 2 days in all, Included a skywatch session follwed up with an interactive lecture session on the Solar System by Mr Naveen L N.
All that said, The last couple months have been rather lean on the activity scale with the Skies being continually shrouded by Thick Rain clouds. Whilst we wait for Nature and time to take their ways, There will be newer plans formulated for BAS to work with.
Back on the meeting, The Celebrations raged on and the rather ritualistic formality of the cake was done with. Also on (Courtesty: Me) was a presentation of Picture albums of all the events that have happened so far. Whilst the presentation itself was rather nostalgic, There were the delayed recalls of lighter moments through them all and I darsay some of the newcomers were impressed with our array of events. The servings came later and the menu included Samoasas, Arbitrary aerated drinks and all that would be permissible in a public park and to the context of the ocassion. Earlier, There had been a full-fledged introduction session as everybody new and old, introduced themselves to the group.
More than 20 individuals took up their membership on the ocassion while the rain gods got back to their work. We promptly moved from the open unto where there was a roof over our heads. The latecomers poured in along with the rain and we promptly kept their share of the celebration in waiting. Formalities said and done, The time hereinafter was dedicated to astronomy-related discussions and the ruckus raged on. The clock had by then, ticked over to 19:00Hours...and about the same time as exactly 1 year back when we had decided to call it a day. Handshakes were generously exchanged and Adieus generously bid as they made it out of Cubbon Park and the event concluded soon-after.
July 22nd shall go on to be a special day of the year for all of us here at BAS and remain permanently etched in our memories. In specific July 22nd 2007 shall even be further mementous owing to the fact of being our first birthday...We hope this is just the first of many many more eventful years to follow.
Update: Pictures are now uploaded and available at http://www.bas.org.in/Home/index.php?q=gallery&g2_itemId=762