BAS had organised an event at the Kalyani Nisargadhama resort where members had been to as part of a trekking expidition. Typical of tradition it was a high energy sort of star party with the people responding with gusto to an awe inspiring observation session especially for first timers.
The trip was planned and organised by Chandru and Naveen our usual faces at the BAS trips with me ,Rakesh, doing a little bit of canvassing at Infosys Technologies Bangalore. So we set off as one less than a dozen, Infoscions Shubha, Megha,Shivpriya, Visakh and myself,Paromita, Santosh, Ajay, Raghu, Naveen and Chandru. A swaraj Mazda to transport us carried the whole party alongwith naveen's 6 inch scope out of Bangalore. The drive took us nearly 10 hours to complete. The party halted at Kalyani Nisarga Dhama resort before breakfasting and leaving for the trek.
The astronomy scene hotted up at around 1930 hrs when all the company arrived dog tired and exultant after a wonderful sunset at Kodachadri peak and some exhilarating sights all the way through. There was a party of kids which had made it to the resort whom we had decided to induct into skywatching.The skies were pretty good for us urbanites with the faint glow of the Cassiopeia Milky Way lighting up the horizon and Orion looking magnificent with Sirius as a jewel. Naveen was manning his 6 inch and wielding the laser pointer to aid his objects. The kids gathered around naveen alongwith the company as the campfires blazed away in the background even as the chill penetrated our bones.
To start off it was Comet Holmes which was the star attraction or should I say Comet Attraction! People oohed and aahed as the magnificent and intriguing comet splashed on the eyepieces of the 10x50 binocs. Naveen by then was teaching people basic constellation easily recognisable objects in those. The idea was to make people familiar with the orientation of the constellation in terms of directions. The next most dazzling object was undoubtedly the orion nebula. Quite brilliant in the nebula club it made quite a sight even naked eye. M41 in Canis major was another one which caught peoples eye as a magnificent naked eye cluster besides Pleaides. Triangulam though not the same sort of brilliance was nevertheless a good sight. People by then were learning their way about the sky and Andromeda was spotted by the people with some guidance.
Planets at the time were Saturn and Mars, scope pointed at Saturn the 9mm eyepiece coming into play, people were awe struck by the Lord of the Rings. Mars evoked fewer fans but was still eye catching. By then came into view the bee hive cluster in Cancer which was spotted independently by Santosh. People got a chance to see a binocular in action on open clusters which is actually pretty indispensable when it comes to some objects.
Overall the star party itself ended by 230 hrs in the morning, with people getting an idea of what astronomy and observation was all about and at times even marveling at the limitless universe in relation to a limited human comprehension.