Astronomy Outreach at LGS, Johar Town.

by Umair Asim

Ali Khan and i visited Lahore Grammar School even when it rained that day and was cloudy. Their Science teacher Shaista Irfan had arranged a star gazing session there and had brought a Meade 90mm ETX telescope.

We observed Jupiter and M42, also some bright stars as well. Constellations were identified and some of the history of Astronomy and telescope was discussed. Star maps were distributed and used by the students. Good job boys!

A visit to Punjab University, Space Science Dept

by Umair Asim

Punjab University is a big institute for educating thousands, here in my city. They have a Space Science Department and recently have showed great interest in Astronomy and observing with telescopes.

I got a call from the observer of their department and on 27th February, 2015, i went there to help them with the two big scopes they have in their department. One is from Meade with 14 inch mirror and the other is of Celestron having 8 inch aperture. Both have Alt-Az mounts.

There were some issues with initiating the power so we used it manually. Needless to say, the optics are amazing.. 14 inch mirror always is a treat to use. It was quite hazzy and partly cloudy, but still we were able to see moon and jupiter.

These images were taken by the students of the department and you can see how enthusiastically they were using the scopes. I am sure we will see a lot more coming from Space Science Department in the near future. I wish them all the Astronomical success!

LAST March Monthly Meeting

by Umair Asim

Yesterday, we had a great time at LAST monthly meeting at the observatory. As usual i started of by introducing Zeds Astronomical Observatory and what we did last month here. Our photometric submissions were 42 in total, although it was quite a cloudy and rainy month.

Rabeea Rasheed, who is a second year student of Lahore College for Women University, gave a talk on Astrobiology which was wonderfully explained. She had definitely done her homework there!

Good to see new faces in the meeting! Here are some of the pictures i took.

Solar outreach - LGS Astronomy Society

by Umair Asim

Students of Lahore Grammar School, Johar Town Branch, visited the observatory a few days ago. First i gave them an introductory presentation about the observatory which was followed by a tour of the building, the main telescope it has, Celestron C14 with all its extra gear and the adjacent 'Human Room'.

Fortunately the sky was clear and we first setup Celestron CGEM DX mount, mounted Lunt 152mm Halpha telescope on it, adjusted the pressure tuner, focuser and looked into the eyepiece. There it were.. a few but beautiful Solar Prominences. Lunt152 is an amazing instrument to see the Sun's lower atmosphere. With its big aperture, the details in the view are unforgetable indeed!  

Nothing comes close to a white light telescope setup to see the surface of the Sun, where Sunspots and Granulation can be seen at their best. CBSAP 127mm refractor with Herschel Wedge is such an out of this world combination for observing solar surface... Unfortunately, there were very few and small Sunspots at that day; Nonetheless, these young minds were intrigued by looking 'directly' at the Sun and asked many many interesting questions.

I am thankful to their Science teacher Shaista Irfan, who planned and organized it all. I am sure many more students of this school will be coming here after their exams.

Hamari Kainaat (Urdu) - Episode 3

by Umair Asim

Last month, in January 2015, a triple transit occurred on Jupiter. A transit can happen on Jupiter once in a week or so but the next triple transit will be not before 2032!

What is it? How and why it happens? What is the importance of Planet Jupiter in our Solar System? These are some of the questions we try to answer in this episode of Hamari Kainaat. So let's listen to it!

Lecture by Dr Salman Hameed

by Umair Asim

This lecture was given in at the end of December 2014 here at Zeds Astronomical Observatory. We had a good gathering in the cold evening. The lecture (in Urdu) was about the efforts we humans have done to know about the Universe and how it has shaped our understanding of who we are. I am sure you would all enjoy it.

Asteroid 139 Juewa video

by Umair Asim

This is from last night. This asteroid is from main belt and was first discovered in China by an American Astronomer in 19th century.

These images were taken from 12:18 - 12:58 yesterday night. There are total of 40 frames, here running at 10 frames per second. Each frame is of 30 seconds exposure in Astrodon V filter.

My back on the hand calculation says, it is moving at about 400 km/sec..Thats fast! Is that right?

Equipment: Celestron C14 Telescope

Mount: Losmandy Titan

Camera: SBIG ST9XE CCD Camera, internally guided

Software: FocusMax, MaximDL, Pinpoint, SkyX Pro

Here is a stacked image of all these ~ 40 frames. The streak is the path it took while imaging.


Some Lunar Images

by Umair Asim

Telescope: CBSAP 127 APO Triplet

CCD Camera: DMK21 mono

Mount: Celetsron CGEM DX

AAVSO Data Submissions

by Umair Asim

I have started submitting variable stars' data to AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers), the largest group for variable star observers in the world; it has more than 20 million observations and counting.

This image is the screen shot of my submission report on AAVSO homepage. So happy to see 'PK' there at the website :)

The equipment and softwares i am using are as follows:

Telescope: Celestron C14

Mount: Losmandy Titan


Filter Wheel: SBIG CFW-8

Focuser: TCF

Filter: Astrodon Photometric V Filter

Softwares: Maxim DL and Maxpoint


'X class' Solar Flare

by Umair Asim

Sunspot 2192 got flared up with an X-class flare this Sunday. I received a notification of this flare on my iphone app 'Solar Monitor' when i was about to put Lunt 152 Solar Telescope on CGEM DX mount. My excitement got flared up as well!

Solar flares are the explosions on the sun, which can cause disturbances here on earth. X-class is a a very big explosion which can initiate radio blackouts on the sun facing side of earth. This was a X1-class solar flare.

Planetary Nebula- NGC 7026

by Umair Asim

This is a view in the Cygnus, the swan, constellation. The view here is almost 9*9 arc minutes, 3.5 times smaller than the full moon in the sky. This is the field of view of Celestron C14 telescope and SBIG ST9XE CCD camera; TCF focuser and a SBIG CFW8 filter wheel is placed in between them.

At one o clock in the image, there is a seemingly double star like object with some very faint nebulosity around it. Let me introduce:

Friends meet dead star.. dead star meet friends!

NGC 7026 is the closest astronomers could get to name it as poetically as they could (NGC stands for 'New General Catalogue'). This designation is of a star who died a thousand or a bit more years ago (exact date is uncertain) and lost its out layers into the interstellar space. These objects are called 'Planetary Nebulae'. The gas a star loses in its last stage of its death, keeps on becoming thinner and harder to see and in about 10,000 years or so, it becomes invisible mixing up with the interstellar medium.

The location of NGC 7026 is already in a bad place for us to observe. It is in the milkyway (most Planetary Nebula (PN) are because there the most stars live) so light loss (interstellar extinction) must be happening severely. And talk about my beloved city, Lahore, where i reach my sky-limit even before i open the telescope! (okay... that is not so true.. it takes a few minutes). When it comes to deep sky imaging, i am up against all the odds. But nevertheless, i did try to image this PN with a luminance filter. It has two bright lobes, very bright.. so capturing the nebulosity in the surroundings seemed harder. With a few test exposures, i settled on 4 minutes of sub-exposures. It seemed to give me enough light for capturing the nebulosity and not overexposing the bright lobes, i did however got a little bit of bloom in the neighboring star but that was not an issue for me.

Two nights and a total of 4.8 hours of luminance data. Calibrated carefully with a lot of Bias, Dark and Flat frames. Here is the magnified and resized image of this PN:

This PN has a complex lobed structure and many studies have shown a lot of intricate pattern in the nebulosity. See here and here and this talks about the central star in NGC 7026.

I found an image from H D Curtis of Shapley-Curtis Great Debate fame; this image is some 100 years old. Now compare it with my image:

okay so my image is not so clear.. remember: i live in Lahore!

So after a 100 years, we must expect some changes in the nebula's extending nebulosity... hmm.. what has changed here.. want to take a minute to compare?

Maxim DL provides a nice tool in 'Graph Window', called 'Area Plot'. This shows a 3D view of a particular user selected area in terms of brightness indication and the location.

See the two bright lobes are peaking in the intensity, changing colour from blue (sky background which is supposed to be dark but here the value is in a few thousands!) to red the brightest. Notice the nebulosity is also visible as small bumps in the background sky. Actually the dimmest nebulosity here in my image is just about 1.3 times the brightness of the background sky. Yes i was using LP filter, Hutech LPS2.

What else can i do with this image? hmm.. oh yes.. let's measure the size of this PN. So my image scale with my current setup is 1.045 arcseconds per pixel. I again used Maxim DL to show me the size of the nebulosity in pixel counts.

The line graph shown the intensity at each individual pixel and the total pixels the line has covered. They are about 40. So the line is covering 40 * 1.045 = 41.8 arcseconds.

If the distance of the nebula is 2000 parsac then using the ABC formula in astronomy, the small angle formula, the size of the nebula is 1.3 light years, which is a typical size of a planetary nebula.

Oh and this is what hubble space telescope could image in this PN.



SkyWatcher Dob 10 inch

by Umair Asim

I have started selling astronomical telescopes here in lahore! This was one of my big astro dream that people should be able to buy telescope within pakistan. As far as i know, Karachi and Lahore are the only two cities which are providing astronomical telescopes for sale now.

I had never used a skywatcher telescope before and i was keen to open up a box, any box and the one i opened was a 10 inch manual dobsonian.

Assembly was easy and quick. The telescope looked very nice.

At night i saw moon with it and the contrast was amazing indeed. Skywatcher produce very nice products! Here is the moon image i took with my cell phone, single frame no enhancements.