As part of the International Year of Astronomy activities, a regular monthly skywatch will be conducted at the Teen Murti House, collating the love and enthusiasm for the skies that is shown by members of the Amateur Astronomers Association, Delhi, and the staff of the Nehru Planetarium, New Delhi. The skywatch will be organized as a collaboration between the Amateur Astroomers Association, Delhi, and the Nehru Planetarium, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.
Amateur astronomers will be bringing their own telescopes and will share their love of the skies with all present, and the Delhi citizens are urged to take advantage of this event.
One of the aims of the International Year of Astronomy, is to draw attention of people towards views of some celestial objects through small aperture telescopes. It is 400 years since Galileo first trained a small handmade telescope towards these celestial objects and made startling discoveries that had crucial implications for the understanding of the position of the Earth within the Solar System.
When Galileo turned his telescope towards the stars, they remained points of light – he could just see many more of them as fainter and fainter stars started being visible through the telescope. When he trained his telescope on the Moon, it showed rugged craters and many other intriguing physical features which are now being studied so thoroughly through the Chandrayaan payloads.
When he trained his telescope at Jupiter – it appeared as a small disk – not a point of light! More interestingly, four tiny points of light appeared clustered close to it – what are now known as the four Galilean moons of Jupiter : Io, Europa, Gannymede and Callisto – so closely studied through many recent space missions.
His views of Saturn were even more intriguing – with what appeared to him as Saturn with two moons on either side – with their relative positions and aspects strangely varying. A few decades after Galileo, it became known that these puzzling aspects were observations of the rings of Saturn seen with very small telescopes.
And then, there was Venus. It showed phases like the Moon, when viewed through a telescope! All of these observations helped in a revolutionary way towards understanding and accepting the Heliocentric nature of the Solar System : the Earth was just one amongst a number of planets revolving around the Sun.
Now, 400 years later, there are so many of us yet unaware of what these views are like and their inspiring nature.
Public Skywatch on the 8th of August 2009
Be there by sunset, at the Teen Murti House front lawns, on the 8th of August to get some of these views through telescopes, for yourself.
Saturn will be low on the western horizon, with its rings not too visible through telescopes just at the moment, as the rings are tilted in such a way that we will be viewing them almost edge on. In fact, Saturn is going through a very interesting phase just now, where its ring orientation is going through such a geometry as to make the rings almost invisible. Jupiter will rise later in the evening and its views with two Galilean Moons on either side – Europa and Callisto on one side and Io and Gannymede on the other, should make interesting views.
The gibbous Moon will rise a little late in the evening too. And then there will be the wan remnants of stars that struggle to remain visible through the extremely light polluted surroundings of central Delhi. Well, be there to make friends with those wan remnants of stars and then try and go to a location far away from the city, to enjoy their soothing presence in dark village skies filled with myriads of these friendly beacons.
Skywatch on the 6th of September
Contact for further information:
Dr. N. Rathnasree, Nehru Planetarium, New Delhi: 9910939443
Vishnu Rettinam : Amateur Astronomers Association, Delhi – Mobile: 0999024091
Vidur Prakash : Amateur Astronomers Association, Delhi – Mobile: 09810468073
Raghu Kalra : Amateur Astronomers Association, Delhi – Mobile: 9810257114