By alexdev; Published 10 Oct 2008

(Saturday 26th Sep 2008)
It started as an offsite for getting a relaxing experience but given the clear skies and extremely low light pollution it turned out to be a trip filled with astronomical observations.Our team of engineers at Oracle decided to go to this place called Kunigal about 80kms from Bangalore.There was very minimal light pollution,some humidity and clear skies, the only challenge being the horizon not clearly visible due the trees around(moreover we were on lower ground so our fault).I had carried a 10x50 binocs thinking that it might be handy and it turned out to be the instrument generating amazement and interest for a lot of guys who didnt know what astronomy was.How I wish I had a six inch reflector....

This was a great opportunity to show them some constellations,planets, bright stars and galaxies.Darkness fell just after 6:30pm on Saturday evening and the blanket of stars began to fill up the night sky.moreover it being a new moon day there was almost zero light around to disturb the night view.So our observation started by seeing Mars,Mercury and Venus just on the horizon about to set followed by the prominent Jupiter in Sagittarius.Another amazing view was the band of the Milky way which almost all of them thought is a galaxy you can never see even though you are a part of it.Some of the constellations that I could show them were the Orion,Scorpio,Sagittarius,Cassiopeia,the Great bear(almost down) and Pleides.We had a look at Andromeda, Orion nebula which was quite amazing through the binocs and also some open clusters.Some the stars were Antares,Vega,Polaris,Castor and Pollux(Gemini twins).This itself was a lot to digest but at least people realized that everything seen in the sky are not stars.

This just didn't end here,the injected interest got us to discuss about the Large Hadron Collider and Black holes,red giants etc which was a good sign about people discussing something that they would never normally do.

Apart from that astronomy you will pass by Vijay Mallya's stud farm which spans for 400 acres. This farm is used for breeding horses mainly for racing and is the oldest stud farm in India. The history of this farm can be traced back to the times of Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Srirangapatna who used it to breed horses for his cavalry to fight against the British.

So I guess the trip was a success from an outreach standpoint which would be done with every possible opportunity given the coming year is International year for astronomy and a lot of goodies planned for the benefit of astronomy.