Part of the Earth's shadaw grazed the lunar landscape yesterday night. Here is a single image from CBSAP 127mm APO Triplet and Canon 6D. I passed it through Photoshop to add some sharpenening though.
Kaiser Tufail has been an inspirational speaker at LAST for a couple of years now. His presentations are very informative and the way he explains everything makes so simple to understand it all.
Last night, he gave a review on his tour to China which he did on bicycle! yes Bicycle!! It was filled with some of many many images he captured on the way, which showed the culture and beauty of the land he was traversing.
There were many interesting events as well, like his camping in the desert and the tent got blown away by the severe sand storm and then there were some problems which were due to the language barrier but he somehow managed it.
Thank you Kaiser Sahib for this wonderful talk.. everyone was thrilled there!
On the 30th of May, 2016, some members of Lahore Astronomical Society gathered at Zeds Astronomical Observatory for a visual and photographic session to observe the planet Mars through the array of telescopes, lined up at the observatory's roof top. This event was arranged because of the 1-in-a-decade event that was to go down! The planet Mars was closest to Earth (77 million kilometers) that night and appeared brightest in the sky. It was also the time when it would appear quite big (in 'Mars-through-a-telescope' terms!) through our telescopes. The sky was exceptionally clear and we just couldn't miss such an event! And we didn't!
First one to show up was our Executive Member, Kaiser Tufail Sb. He brought his Celestron 6" SCT with him and set it up in a corner and began observation as soon as Mars was in sight! Meanwhile, there were 2 telescopes getting ready for Mars. First, Sameer Rashid Shami's Celestron 8SE SCT with SBIG ccd cameras, mounted inside the new observatory. Sameer spent a good couple of hours setting up the scope (focusing, attaching his DSLR instead of SBIG, refocusing and simply waiting for the temperature of his OTA to acclimatize with the outside atmosphere for minimal turbulence). Meanwhile, Umair Asim was busy setting up his Celestron C14 (the biggest telescope at the observatory). He had a long tube inserted in the OTA to help ventilate some of the outside air into the telescope, for rapid acclimatization. I, Roshaan Bukhari, joined the group of 3 and brought the observatory's 10" Dobsonian reflector that I had borrowed a few days earlier. I began setting it up as well. Tried to center it on Mars and Saturn to get a feel for the atmospheric conditions, which were pretty bad for Mars (since it was quite low on the horizon). We were later joined by Ahmed Mudassir Khan Sb with his 6" refractor and Celestron AVX mount. Unfortunately, his mount did not power up due to some technical fault in the power supply unit (which was fixed the next day!). Some moments later, Maroof Mian, Mian Mateen, Shoaib Usman Banday and Usman Maqsood Mirza joined in. Aamna Saleem joined us as well!
Umair Asim soon announced that the Celestron C14 was available for visible eyepiece observation of Mars and Saturn! Visible observation from the giant telescope! Unbelievable is an understatement. I was fortunate to have seen Saturn with a 2.5x PowerMate and a 9mm eyepiece, along with Mian Mateen and Aamna Saleem. It was simply fantastic. The seeing conditions were such that the Cassini division would appear and disappear in a moment of milliseconds and one had to be patient if they wanted to see more details on the planet itself. The moments of clarity were astonishing. I and Mian Mateen tried our hand at afocal imaging of Saturn and Mars from the huge scope! The views, as magnified as they were, also magnified the atmospheric distortion. Our images looked promising but we knew we had to process them with a bit more technique and details would still be a little hard to bring out. We were, afterall, seeing the distant worlds at around 800x! We could easily see the rotation of Mars compared with our early observations (around 9pm) and our latest observations of the night (around 1 am). The planet and its surface features had indeed rotated out of and into view! Something so mundane and a 'back of the hand' fact suddenly appeared to be 10x more fascinating and amusing. There is indeed no alternative to a visual, eyepiece observation of the heavens!
Nonetheless, all our efforts were fruitful when the results came in the next day.
The Mars Mania 2016 was a success! Everyone enjoyed the views of the planet Mars. Here are some of the images of the red planet taken by members of Lahore Astronomical Society from their amateur equipment from before, during and after the Mars Mania event we had at the observatory.
Here is a view of my big Solar Telescope.. The Mighty Lunt 152mm (6 inch lens), which shows (only) the photons being emitted at Hydrogen Alpha line which is 656.281 nano-meter. And this is where all the action of hot plasma (soraj se nikalti hoi aag) really is.
"On this date; the 6th day of April, the year 2016 A.D"
It is finally ready! The extension to the original Zeds Astronomical Observatory, after 12 years of the initial observatory construction, is finally here! Enter: Zeds 2.0 ! An observatory that can house 3 telescopes at any given time, ready for use.
The inauguration day was celebrated by setting up Sameer Rashid Shami's Celestron 8SE telescope on top of the Celestron AVX mount. Sameer had waited a really long time (almost a year) before the appropriate testing could be done (water proofing, electrical wiring and gauging weathering effects) to allow moving in the equipment.
The observatory has a roll-off roof that is more than twice the size of the original telescope room for, what can now safely be assumed to be Zeds 1.0! Currently it houses 2 telescopes. One being Sameer's 8" SCT on a Celestron AVX mount, the other being CBSAP 127mm Apochromatic refractor on a Celestron CGEM mount.
In the coming days, in addition to imaging galaxies, star clusters and planets, the new observatory is planned to be used for gathering photometric as well as spectroscopic data for stars and star clusters as well as astrometric data for Asteroids and Comets.
Bright days (or rather, dark nights) await us in the future!
LET THE OBSERVATIONS, BEGIN!
M13 Globular Cluster (NGC 6205), also known as Great Hercules Cluster, is a globular star cluster about 25,000 light years ( 2.36*10^17 km) away from us. It is first discovered by the famous Edmund Halley in 1714, who wrote:
"it shows itself to the naked eye when the sky is serene and the Moon absent"
William Herschel mentioned it in these words:
.. most beautiful cluster of stars, exceedingly compressed in the middle and very rich"
A distance of 25k light years and with the angular diameter of 23 arcminutes, the actual size of this cluster comes out about 150 light years. Towards the center, the star density is about 500 times more than our own solar neighbourhood. If there is a planet in the center of the cluster, the night sky would be blazing with literally thousands of stars much brighter than Sirius and Venus.
M13 Cluster is also famous because, once we have sent a radio signal to supposed Aliens in this cluster!
This image is a work in progress and I would be collecting more data of this cluster in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
- Celestron C14
- SBIG ST9XE
- SBIG AO8
- Astrodon Luminance Filter
- Maxim DL
2 hours of exposure, subs: 120 sec
"I remember when it was just 3 of us in a monthly meeting" recalled Maroof Mian, Senior Vice President of LAST, reminiscing on the old days when LAST's monthly meetings would be held in whatever cafe/restaurant was available and a fixed participant number was never guaranteed. Maroof Mian has been one of the, if not the most, consistent member of the group and has been a strong supporter of the idea of a monthly meetup.
"It is vital to a group's longevity." says Umair Asim, the President of Lahore Astronomical Society, in reference to the importance of monthly meetings.
As a lot of our members know already, the monthly meetings of LAST take place on the first Friday of a month at 7 pm. "These events are always free of charge and anyone can attend." emphasizes Aamna Saleem, the Event Manager of LAST, in every text message/email that she sends to registered members whenever a monthly meeting nears. Of course, this month was no different.
A lecturer for the Architecture Department of University Of The Punjab during the day and Marketing & Advertising Manager of LAST at night, Mr. Usman Maqsood Mirza, chose to deliver a lecture on the topic 'Colonizing Space' to a record audience of 53 people in a meeting room that can fit up to 40-45 people at max capacity. On-the-spot arrangements had to be made to accommodate such numbers, which was nothing but a very, very pleasant surprise. We at LAST are always delighted to see familiar faces show up at our meetings but without exception, new faces are an even better thing to see! We were, therefore, very happy to see that almost half of the audience members were new faces, new people from different backgrounds that we had never met before. They simply came to know about the event through social media and their friends.
Our monthly meetings are centered on an interesting or a pressing/relevant Astronomy topic and is delivered in a very friendly, casual and a highly interactive way. The audience is repeatedly reminded of their freedom to ask any question or comment on whatever section of the presentation they have just seen.
The monthly meeting was scheduled to begin at 7 pm but in order to accommodate the constant influx of audience members, the start time was pushed forward to 7:20 pm. An introduction of the Lahore Astronomical Society and Zeds Astronomical Observatory was given by the President of LAST, Mr. Umair Asim. He recapped all the important news and events that had happened in the past month, relevant to Astronomy, at Zeds Astronomical Observatory. We found out that a very special set of data had been taken a few days prior to the monthly meeting. Something that had never been done in Pakistan before. Umair Asim took the audience through a very important concept in Astronomy called the H-R diagram (Hertzprung-Russel diagram). He briefed the audience about what the H-R diagram means and why is it important. In a nutshell, the H-R diagram is one of the fundamental concepts in Astronomy. It is a graphical representation of the categorization of stars on basis of their luminosity (the actual output of a star irrelevant of how bright/dim it appears from Earth) and temperature. Umair Asim proceeded to surprise the audience when he showed that recently he had been observing the open cluster, M67, from his observatory using the huge 14" SCT telescope (Celestron C14) and his newly acquired array of photometric BVI filters (without which such data cannot be taken) and showed how he had himself plotted the H-R diagram of some 38 stars in the M67 open cluster, right here from the light polluted skies of Lahore! This stuff had never been done from Pakistan before! True science being done through a private observatory in Lahore. Such data sets can be sent to foreign researchers and can be used productively! The audience appreciated the effort by a big round of applause and Umair Asim then proceeded to introduce the speaker of the day.
A few minutes passed during changing of the laptop connection with the projector in order to start the presentation. This encouraged some chatter in the room which was immediately gone as soon as the presentation's first slide was up on the screen, 3 dots. Everybody expected a title slide or a pretty picture of some future-sci-fi graphic showing a humanly figure, silhouetted against the surface of Mars or the Moon looking at the distant Earth, from the backyard of their new space colony or something! But all that there was were 3 white dots on the otherwise black screen and then this appeared...
You saw that right. "Lahore Astrological Society" with the topic of "Horoscopes". Now, this might make a few people excited but I can assure you that Astronomers are not one of them! Everybody immediately recognized the whole deal with this slide as the next slide was shown which had a big "APRIL FOOL's DAY" on it. This made for a very interesting start to the presentation and no one really saw this coming. The laughter was audible and this helped get the audience comfortable with the presenter and the topic, something that is valued greatly in a LAST monthly meeting presentation.
The presentation proceeded to first show classical ideas that popular sci-fi novels and comics had portrayed regarding human exploration of the space around Earth and specifically the establishment of human settlements on the lunar surface. The whole idea of humans colonizing another heavenly body, and that too the Moon which is the closest celestial body to Earth, had shown to be around for a long time and was no stranger to the world of science fiction.
The presentation revolved around the content of Usman's thesis work which had been done on designing and sustaining a lunar settlement for humans, set roughly 100 years in the future. NASA's budget was shown around the years that had the space race hit it's peak and the exponential increase in the NASA budget during the early and mid 1960s was correlated with an increase in the number of MPhil and PhD students turnover in the USA. These two data sets were clearly related to each other.
A highly detailed insight to the location, structure and operations within the lunar settlement were shown. In what was one of the most remarkable visuals in the presentation, a crater on the southern pole of the Moon called Shackleton was shown in a time lapse 'video' made by taking actual satellite images from lunar orbit, showing the changes in shadow on the crater and its rim during 1 lunar day (which is equal to 1 month on Earth). Due to its location (near the south pole), the floor of this crater (bottom of the bowl) remains in constant darkness as the Sun never goes high enough at the south pole of the Moon to shine it's light directly overhead into the floors of such craters. The animation was hauntingly beautiful and gave the audience a very easy-to-understand perspective of why this crater region was chosen for a future human settlement on the Moon. Usman grabbed the conveniently placed lunar globe to demonstrate the location of his proposed settlement.
Usman gave many reasons for this site selection.
1) Presence of water (in the form of ice) in the permanently shadowed crater floor, nearby.
2) View of Earth from this site; which would appear very close to the horizon and will always be there no matter what time of the day/month/year it is (yes, that is true!).
3) The length of a day on the site at which this settlement will be made (on the rim of the Shackleton crater) is much longer than, say, the equator of the Moon. This would make sure the power derived from solar panels is maintained for longer periods of time.
The audience actively asked questions, a lot of questions during the progress of the presentation which were expertly handled by Usman. He had certainly done his homework on the topic and left no questioner unsatisfied.
Usman then showed the ways in which life can be sustained within the settlements i.e. crop growth, basic life support, 'crew quarters' and living apartments. One of the most interesting things that I'm sure everyone learned was the complete uselessness of stairs in the lunar gravity. It turns out that in 1/6th the gravity of Earth, every time you would take a step on a stair step you would jump higher into the air for a lot longer than you would on Earth. This would make stairs rather a nuisance than a benefit. Therefore, no stairs shall be used and they shall be replaced by gently inclined ramps. Questions like meteor impact protection and communication with Earth were asked by the audience. The role of clear glass windows was emphasized by the speaker on grounds of keeping the crew/settlement members help stay away from things like depression and the feeling of loneliness.
This lunar settlement would house 150 people, each given their own area to grow their own food. It was shown that the bioregenerative 96000 square feet crop CELLS would be divided into sections of area 500 square feet each, in order to protect the remaining crops in case a fire breaks out in the crop field. The settlement was shown to be made on the slope of the crater wall in order to protect the settlement dwellers from the harmful radiation of the Sun. Plants would be grown preferentially in hydroponic solutions to save the cost it would take to bring an equal amount of soil from Earth on a rocket.
Usman showed how he had taken help from some people within NASA. People working specifically in the NASA Ames Research Center who replied to Usman's mail and sent 2 very helpful books to him for his thesis work which would ultimately make this presentation possible.
The presentation was concluded shortly afterwards. A Q&A session followed which lasted around 15 minutes. All members in the meeting room were directed to a group photo outside the room, near the lawn. This was the only time when the group photo was taken in 'panorama mode' of the camera simply because of the sheer number of the people that were present! Refreshments were served to the participants and a lot of post-presentation chatter filled the meeting room with some people leaving the premise for their homes and others staying a little longer, indulged in discussions on topics both inside and outside of Astronomy.
We thank everyone who participated in the event. Special shoutout to the President of LAST, Mr. Umair Asim and Event Manager of LAST, Ms. Aamna Saleem for organizing and managing the event superbly and of course to the speaker himself, Mr. Usman Maqsood Mirza for delivering a wonderful presentation on a different and difficult topic.
Monthly meetings are a regular feature of the Lahore Astronomical Society where a speaker chooses any topic related to Astronomy and gives an informal presentation that is kept audience friendly but informative at the same time.
March's monthly meeting featured Lahore Astronomical Society's Secretary, Roshaan Bukhari, giving a presentation titled, albeit obscurely, 'Almost Messier Objects', which revolved around a whole new category of interesting and relatively easy to see deep sky objects that are not a part of the famed Messier catalog. These objects that did not make it to the Messier catalog are part of what is called the Caldwell Catalog. Named after the famous British astronomer, Sir Patrick Caldwell Moore, this catalog is an amateur astronomer's guide to the wonderful objects that were deliberately, and in most cases unknowingly, missed by Charles Messier in his search for comet-like objects.
The presentation compared the Messier catalog with the Caldwell catalog to make clear the differences between these acclaimed collection of deep sky objects. A handout with a printed map of the night sky, marked with every object of the Caldwell catalog was also distributed among the audience.
The session was highly interactive and the audience, as always, was encouraged to interrupt the presenter at any point for questions or comments.
Soon after the presentation, it was time for the group photo. More than 35 people showed up for the event and that included kids from Lahore Grammar School and staff members including the Administrator of Junior Boys Branch of LGS, Mrs. Shaista Irfan. The event took place at Zeds Astronomical Observatory's meeting room.
As soon as LIGO team announced the detection of Gravitational Waves, the world of Science was taken by a storm of.. well.. waves and waves of excitement!
Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy is a highly esteemed and prominent scientist in Pakistan. We requested him to enlighten us about his monumental success of Science and Mathematics.
Hoodbhoy so kindly accepted our request and on 23rd February, 2016, he gave us a great presentation on 'Gravitational Waves, Discovery and Detection'.
Here is a complete recording of his lecture and Q&A session with members of Lahore Astronomical Society. The lecture is available both on Youtube and Vimeo.
Just like our earth, our sun's internal structure has different zones. Underneath the solar surface, which is called the Photospehere, is a 'Convection Zone'. This is where the internal material comes up, cools down and then falls back. Hence we see a boiling effect on the surface.
Here is the super magnified version of the same image.. every bright round dot is called a granule which is about 700-1000 km in size, having a life of about 10 minutes.
So white light can show amazing details on the solar surface. Granulation, which is the 'boiling effect' due to convections zones on the surface, is clearly seen. But the most amazing sight is the sunspot.. and how about one not two but three of them together!
Took this image today, with CBSAP APO 127 mm refractor telescope attached with Imaging Source DMK21 CCD camera including a 2.5 powermate in between.
So i have been doing photometry with Astrodon V filter for sometime now. But i wanted to do more science at my observatory.
For Photometry, next step was to invest in more filters. Recently ordered Astrodon Blue and Infrared Photometric filters and they arrived yesterday.
With these filters, i also got Bahtinov Mask from Farpoint which will be used for CBSAP 127mm APO refractor.
These filters are now in place with their other cousins in SBIG CFW10 filter wheel.
Now where is the clear sky?
In this episode, we talk about the new possible find of Planet X in the outer most reaches of our own solar system.
"Hamarai Kainaat" episode 10:
In this episode, we talk about the new findings of exoplanets' possibility in globular clusters and what impact it can make on any possible alien life in the system.
After a long time, i have started solar imaging again. This image was taken today with Lunt 152 Hydrogen Alpha Solar Telescope and Imaging Source DMK21 Mono CCD Camera.
Got 6000 frames and selected 2000 of them and stacked and processed with Avistack and Registax. Final details were enhanced in photoshop.
Today Akbar Sahib brought his newly purchased Coronado PST Hydrogen Alpha Solar Telescope to the observatory and Roshaan and i was happy to see the details this "small" telescope was showing us.
Its a very light weight telescope but the optics are truly amazing. Sun was very sharp in the view and the typical red halpha color is always so pleasing for me.
I also tried negler 9mm eyepiece and loved the solar details. Roshaan did what he does best, when he took images from his mobile camera. I still have to see those images.
Akbar Sahib came all the way from Rawalpindi and before he left, he told me that he wants me to keep his scope for a sometime so i can further explore its capabilities. Now that is generous!
First thing i will be doing is to attach a ccd camera and aqcuire some AVIs. Let's see what it can show us in images!
From this episode, we are starting a new segment of "Nai Baat at Hamari Kainaat". Here we discuss the latest news of "water on Mars" and its implications.
Let's listen to our Astronomer, Dr Salman Hameed.
In this episode, we discuss how astronomers learn about different types of stars on H-R Diagram, why is it so important and how easy it becomes to know the life cycle of any star by looking at its place on H-R Diagram. Let's see how Dr Salman Hameed explains it so simply.
In this episode, we talk about stars.. how did we first know the nature of stars in the night sky? what amazing knowledge spectroscopy of starlight has given us? what different colors of stars can tell us about their physical properties? Let's begin our journey by asking these question to Dr Salman Hameed.