This was our second star party with TANASTRO and it surpassed all our expectations which were already high since last gathering. We reached Ramencheri at 5:00 PM just before TANASTRO members arrived. About 45 people made it from TANASTRO and seven from BAS. Dr. Suresh, Mr. Ajay Talwar and Mr. Nilesh Vyada joined in a little later. Equipment included a giant binocular and more than 10 telescopes ranging from 4 inch to 12 inch with three dedicated setups for imaging and rest for observations.
After a brief setup period, with light still around, we gathered to formally introduce ourselves and to click a few group photographs. It was great to know so many people from different fields, from all age groups sharing the same passion and the same love – the heavens above. As soon as the introduction was over, it was time to get to work. While Mr. Vijay Kumar, Amar and others started teaching the newer members, I and Pavan started setting our photography equipment up. More experienced members started hunting for objects they had planned for the night. Dr. Suresh and Mr. Ajay then got into imaging and Mr. Nilesh had lot of accessories lined up on a stall. The star party feeling had set in and this night was going to be endless. Skies were clear and dark. Only thing not good that day was the glow of Chennai city.
Before we realized, it was dinner time. The dinner was as well arranged for as everything else. After a delicious meal, we got back to work. We could hear wows and all other exclamations from people who were looking through the scopes at various objects in the sky. I could not resist leaving my imaging setup to take a look at Sombrero and Black Eye Galaxy. Both these objects clearly showed features they are famous for. M42 was as wonderful as ever and M81, M82, M51, M13, Omega Centauri and a lot more kept the excitement up all through the night.
Dew set in really early and the equipment was wet at midnight. But that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the gathering and we went on and on till sunrise without a pause and all we could do was to just wish that the night was longer. But the sunrise was no less beautiful. After witnessing the heavens through the night, the sunlight showed us the heaven we were in. It was green and dew on plants and trees was shining like gemstones. Sun through the 12-inch was another awe inspiring sight.
TANASTRO and other guests left around 7 and we decided to catch some rest before the long drive ahead. It was a party that left us wanting more and will keep us waiting for another year. Kudos to TANASTRO!!