BAS's Workshop on Asteroids, Comets and Meteorites (conducted by Vishnu Reddy)

By admin; Published 30 Jun 2009

Bangalore Astronomical Society, with JN Planetarium organized a two day workshop on Asteroids, Comets and Meteorites, on 13th and 14th June 09.

The event started with a traditional invocation song by Abhishrutha, followed by an address by Dr. Shukre Chandrakant (Director, JNP Bangalore) where he highlighted the various activities supported by the Bangalore planetarium for amateur astronomers as well as for promoting science. Then Vishnu introduced himself, his style of presentation, set an informal atmosphere in the hall immediately. He had a knack of bringing complicated scientific ideas down to the understanding of the common man. After every talk, it was usual to have Vishnu circled by a bunch of excited amateurs, satisfying their thirst for knowledge.

As day progressed, and the main topics for the workshop were discussed, participants started interacting with Vishnu and he answered all question in as simple language as possible. Later he explained how amateurs could contribute to an exciting area of research that was just picking up, by utilizing the Total Solar Eclipse of 22nd July for vulcanoid observations. During the presentations Vishnu stressed that scientific methods should be picked up by amateur astronomers in India.

The most awaited moment of the workshop was to access the telescope at Badlands Observatory for observing remotely. Weather was clear, so we imaged quite a few deep-sky objects like Ring Nebula and M51, with amateurs from the audience pitching in to share their knowledge about the object. For astrometry we took 10 exposures of the comet. Astrometry tool was live demonstrated to the audience with the images of Comet Christiensen taken remotely and data were submitted to MPC.

On the second day, Amar Sharma, an experienced Deep Sky Observer and Comet observer demonstrated the visual observation of comets and comet hunting techniques.

During the discussion on Meteorites, Vishnu showed us how to identify and distinguish meteorites from other rocks, and how / where to find a meteorite. The Second most awaited activity of the workshop was practical meteorite hunting. While the participants were divided into groups, Vishnu placed a meteorite on the ground near the presentation hall and asked the participants to hunt for them. This activity pushed all the participants to demonstrated the skills they acquired during the presentations.

Towards the end of the day, On demand Vishnu delivered a really interesting and inspiring talk about how he went from being a journalist to an astronomer - all the hardships he faced, the lack of
money, and how other amateur and professional astronomers helped him "grow up" to become a professional.

This was followed by a valedictory function, which was chaired by Dr. Shukre Chandrakanth (Director, JNP Bangalore) who was accompanied on the dias by Dr. B S Shylaja, and Vishnu Reddy. Naveen Nanjundappa delivered the vote of thanks. The workshop ended with a group photo.

After the workshop about 21 participants joined on a trip to Hosahalli, an observing site located 70km away from Bangalore. Although skies were clear in the evening, they became completely overcast by the time we reached Hosahalli and it even started drizzling. However, participants enjoyed discussion with Vishnu Reddy and others.

BAS is thankful for the time and effort by Mr.Vishnu Reddy on conducting this workshop, which proved to be a very well understood and received by the audience. We hope to have Vishnu back on another workshop soon.

BAS would also like to thank all Participants, Volunteers, JNP Staff, and Event Coordinators for the wonderful arrangement during the workshop.

Event coordinators : Naveen Nanjundappa, Pavan K and Vivek Y.
Thanks for Volunteers Amar, Pramod, Achyut, Vishwakeethy, Alex, Satya, Pravin, Ravi, Akarsh.

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