The Bangalore Astronomical Society frequently organises observing sessions, at least once a month, subject to clear skies. Most of these are held far from the city, as the location is required to be devoid of local lights. Sometimes, more than one session is held per month. Additional observing sessions are organised during special events like Eclipses, Meteor Showers, or guest appearances of Comets in the sky. Deep Sky Observing and Astrophotography are almost always part of the agenda.
A typical observing session is held somewhere atleast 70km away from Bangalore city. The agenda mostly includes deep sky observing and astrophotography. Deep Sky Observing refers to observing objects beyond the solar system, like Galaxies, Nebulae and Star Clusters. Some of the most interesting objects (like Omega Centauri pictured on the right) are observed every session. Observations are made using instruments ranging from the unaided eye and small binoculars, to sophisticated telescopes.
Also, on the agenda sometimes is "Astrophotography". This involves taking photographs of the night sky and of various objects in the night sky. The image on the right shows Constellation Orion as imaged during one such astrophotography session (Click on the image for a larger version). Astrophotography is done using anything ranging from mobile phone cameras to sophisticated Digital SLR cameras.
The observing sessions also cover planetary observations apart from deep sky objects. The visible planets are observed in detail and observers try to locate and resolve features on the planets. Saturn and Jupiter are enjoyed by all, whenever they are visible. Although most observing sessions are planned on days when moon is not visible, some of the observing sessions do offer good shows of the moon and craters and other surface features are observed on such nights.
BAS also organises observing sessions for events like Solar and Lunar eclipses. Observation of the eclipse and various phenomena that happen during the eclipse, and photography of the eclipse are part of the agenda. The photo on the right was taken during one of the recent BAS Lunar Eclipse Observing Sessions. Telescopes and cameras are set up to view and photograph the eclipse.
Whenever these celestial visitors show up in the sky, these are automatically included in the observing agenda. Both bright comets and faint comets are observed. Enthusiastic comet observers make sketches of what they see, like the one shown on the right.
Star Parties are events for people who are not well acquainted with observing to sharpen their observing skills, or for just anyone to enjoy observing. A typical star party is planned with a view to introduce the night sky to the participants, help them recognise constellations and stars, acquaint them with telescopes and their use, and help develop observing techniques and skills. Star parties usually involve a much larger crowd than a typical observing session. A typical star party crowd is shown on the right. A variety of equipment is used. Star parties also provide an opportunity for people to share equipment.
Star parties are conducted far away from the city, to avoid light pollution. BAS conducts a star party almost every month. In the past, the society has joined astronomy associations in other cities at their star parties.