Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter School on Astroparticle Physics (WAPP 2009)

Mr. Sudeep Neupane and Mr. Riwaj Pokhrel, two brilient amateur astronomers and executive founder member of NASO left Kathmandu for the Winter School on Astroparticle Physics (WAPP 2009) which is being organized at Mayapuri ,Bose Institute, Darjeeling in association with TIFR, Mumbai during December 14-22, 2009 in Darjeeling.

Mr. Sudeep Neupane and Mr. Riwaj Pokhrel are the students of Physics and doing their M.Sc. final year from Central Department of Physics,Tribhuvan University,Kirtipur,Kathmandu,Nepal. Mr. Neupane is the co-ordinator of Campaign Against Light Pllution (CALP)-Nepal which is innitiated on September,2009 as a special project of NASOand Mr. Pokhrel is co-ordinator of Outreach Dpartment of NASO.

They will arrive Kathmandu on December 25,2009.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


-By Rishi Shah, President of NASO

The night skies of this month thrill sky-gazers with the beauty of planets, stars and the magnificence of various heavenly bodies that spread over the entire sky. As night descends on earth one can follow the zodiacal constellations of Capricornus (sea goat), Aquarius (water bearer), Pisces (fishes), Aries (ram), Taurus (bull), Gemini (twins) and Cancer (crab) stretching superbly across the sky from western to eastern horizon. The great square of Pegasus (winged horse) with constellation Andromeda (chained princess) that extends from its northeastern corner dominates the evening sky. Constellations Perseus (legendary hero), Auriga (charioteer) and faint Lynx (animal) are ascending the northeastern sky. Star Capella (Brahmahridhaya) sparkles in Auriga. It is barely fourty two light-years away. Lengthy watery constellations Cetus (whale) and Eridanus (river) are meandering through southeastern sky. Fascinating Orion (hunter) chased by Canis Major (great dog) and Canis Minor (small dog) are displaying their outstanding presence in eastern sky. Their prominent stars Betelgeuse (Ardra), Rigel, Sirius (Lubdhak) and Procyon (Manda) shine like exquisite gems in the sky. Constellations Cygnus (swan), Lyra (harp) and Aquila (eagle) are gliding towards western horizon with their fulgent stars Deneb, Vega (Avijit) and Altair (Sravana). Sirius belonging to a binary star system is the brightest star in the sky. It is scantly 8.6 light-years away.

Captivating planetary Ring Nebula (M57) decorates Lyra. Its reddish gaseous shroud has been expelled remarkably from dying sun-like star still dwelling at its centre. It is sheer two thousand light-years away. Enticingly strange spiral galaxy NGC918 has been located recently in Aries where arcane illumination has affirmed the existence of supernova SN2009js (massive star’s death explosion). It is sixty million light-years away. Engrossing open star cluster the Pleiades (M45) alias the Seven Sisters (Kritika) embellishes Taurus. It houses over three thousand stars surrounded by stunning blue reflection nebula and is solely four hundred light-years away. Circumpolar constellations Draco (dragon), Cepheus (king), Cassiopeia (queen) and Ursa Major (great bear) are circling around Pole Star Polaris (Dhruba Tara) that stays comfortably in Ursa Minor (little bear). Our galaxy the Milky Way runs mainly through Monoceros (unicorn), Auriga, Cassiopeia, Cygnus, and Aquila.

Elusive planet Mercury appears in western sky after sundown. It is drifting through Sagittarius (archer). Ruddy Mars glows in eastern sky late at night in Leo (lion). The mighty Jupiter coruscates in western sky among the dim stars of Capricornus. Far-flung bluish planet Neptune gleams in its vicinity. Distant planet Uranus could be discerned in barren southwestern sky between the circlet asterism of Pisces and eastern side of Aquarius. Ringed planet Saturn glints in eastern sky before sunup in Virgo (maiden). Giant star Spica (Chitra) is glistening charmingly below Saturn. Planet Venus remains out of sight this month. It is lost in solar glare, as it dashes towards Sagittarius. Diminutive dwarf planet Pluto is resting above Sagittarius. Asteroid Melpomene (18) is racing through Cetus. Comet C/2007Q3 (Sliding Spring) is tumbling through indistinct constellation Coma Berenices (Bernice’s hair) that floats above Virgo. Geminid meteor shower could produce 60/100 multi-colured meteors per hour at their peak on 13 to 14 December. They emanate from their radiant that lies above lurid star Castor (Kasturi) in Gemini and could be best watched in eastern sky after midnight till early morning. Geminids’ progenitor is considered to be asteroid 3200-Phaethon, which is believed to be the remnant of queerly extinct comet. Another Meteor shower Ursids could exhibit its maximum before dawn on 22 December, as the sporadic shooting stars emerge from the area close to star Kochab in Ursa Minor.

A minor partial lunar eclipse could be enjoyed from 23 hours on 31 December 2009 to 03:15 hours on 01 January 2010 (New Year’s Day) from our country and from different places in Asia, Australia, Europe and Africa. During the greatest mid-eclipse at fairly 01:07 hours just the dinky portion of southern limb of moon (merely eight percent of moon) would immerse in the deep shadow. Two full moons that are popularly known as long night moon or Yomari Purnae and the rare blue moon can be marveled on 02 and 31 December (the last day of 2009) respectively, while new moon is on 16 December. The winter solstice is experienced on 21 December with the shortest day and longest night in Northern Hemisphere. Christmas Day is celebrated on 25 December.

Two subsequent full moons are generally separated by circa 29.5 days and roughly 30.5 days are contained in one month. Even though it is oddly unlikely that two full moons would occur in a month, they happen regularly. The unconventional blue moon that would be seen statistically once every two-and-a-half years is prevailingly defined as the uncommon second full moon that falls in one calendar month. Over the next 50 years there will be about twenty blue moons that are randomly distributed over the years spanning from 2010 to 2060.

New Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) that would study and investigate Sun’s atmosphere and its functionality for five years is scheduled for lift-off soon. It would attempt to unveil the secrets of solar magnetic field inside Sun that determines the increase and decrease of solar cycles, sunspots with their eleven year rhythm, solar storms, coronal loops and ejection of solar particles and flares that disturb satellites, endanger astronauts in space and damage electrical grid on earth along with other diverse solar influences. During 1645 and 1715 the interval that became known as Maunder Minimum sunspots were hardly noticed and Europe and North America were both exposed bafflingly to bitter cold winters. It also coincided with the middle and coldest part of so-called Little Ice Age. Sun is presently in lull period and its next intense vigour is expected in 2013. The puzzling nexus between levels of Sun’s vehemence and alternation of earth’s climate would be analyzed and hopefully unraveled by SDO. The accompanying star map approximately describes the night sky over Kathmandu at about twenty hour local time during mid-December 2009.

Source: The Rising Nepal, Englsih National Daily,December 1,2009

December sky :Celebrate the New Year with the eclipsed blue moon

-By Kedar Badu,President, GASPO-Nepal

2009 will end with a bang as an eclipsed blue moon and the Gememid meteor shower grace the December skies. But before that, let's talk about the stars.
Orion, with his ever-ready hunting bow, will appear on the eastern horizon and herald the winter season. Along it, you will see the constellations Gemini, Taurus, Aries, Pisces, Aquarius and Capricornus. The latter three constellations are faint, and you might need a dark location to view them.

The Great Square (Pegasus) still holds ground overhead during dusk. Perseus, the savior of Andromeda, flies high in the northern skies. Look for the double cluster that marks the handle of his sword, an easy binocular target. Andromeda herself is due south and home to the great galaxy M31, the furthest object visible with the naked eye. Taurus is host to two fine open clusters, the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) and the Hyades that mark the V-shaped head of the Bull. The mighty Orion dominates the southeast.

Planet observing

Jupiter and four of its moons will be visible low in the southwest, within the constellation Capricornus, around 9pm. Jupiter's four major moons will appear as tiny specks of light arrayed along a straight line to either side of the planet.
Mars will rise in the northeast around 10pm, and will be high in the southern sky in the early hours of the morning. Mars is above Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, and well to the left of the bright star Procyon, in Canis Minor. Mars is significantly brighter than either of these two stars and is much more orange in colour.
Mercury is at its greatest distance east of the sun on 18 December. You can catch a glimpse of it on nights when it sets two hours after sunset. Look southwest immediately after sunset within a couple days before and after 22 December.
Venus will rise in the southeast just an hour before sunrise, so for the most part will be obscured by the sun's glare. It may, however, be visible very low in the dawn sky.
Saturn will rise in the east around 1am, and will be high up in the southern sky by dawn. It will be to the upper right of Spica, the brightest star in Virgo, and to the lower left of Regulus. It will also be moving very slowly south-eastwards in Virgo.


The Gememid shower appears on 7-16 December regularly each year. It will peak around the night of 13 December, when you should see one meteor every couple of minutes. You can rest assured that visibility will be clear since there won't be any interfering moonlight this year. Watch out for the Quadrantids showers at December's end too.

Eclipsed Blue Moon

There will be a full moon within Taurus on 2 December and a 'Blue Moon' - essentially an irregularly timed full moon - within Gemini on 31 December. The Blue Moon will be partly obscured by a lunar eclipse from 12:36:26am to 1:38:37am, all of which will be visible from Nepal. The eclipse will peak at 1:07:28am at which point 8 per cent of the moon's disc will be hidden.

Wishing you all clear skies and a very Happy New Year 2010!

Source:Nepali Times,FROM ISSUE #478 (27 NOV 2009 - 03 DEC 2009)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Grand Astronomy Outreach to Celebrate IYA2009 in Nepal at Bhaktapur Durbar Square on November 19,2009

Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) organized a grand Star party at the historic city of Nepal- Bhaktapur at the Durbar Square on 19th November 2009. This became one of the greatest outreach program conducted by NASO till date. The observers were over 1000 (thousand) in number including students, local people, police officers, women, street children to high level officers. NASO used its two 76 mm Celestron FirstScopes and one 206 mm SkyWatcher Dobsonian reflecting telescopes to observe celestial bodies.

Fig: Star Party in Bhaktapur

Observers were quite exited to see the bravura Jupiter and its four Galilean moons- Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto including our own moon. People were quite astonished to see the rough surface of our moon and its craters. A number of questions were arisen which were answered by NASO team members. Also Er. Rishi Shah, Academician of Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and President of NASO explained the night sky exquisiteness to the locals. Canadian Film Company Acquainted Films Inc. captured the event for the upcoming 90 minute documentary entitled "Acquainted With The Nights". They also interviewed Mr. Suresh bhattarai, the executive Founder member of NASO and Er. Rishi Shah as a part of their documentary session.

Workshop on Astrophotography and Image Processing on Sunday,November 15,2009

A workshop on astrophotography and image processing was held at St. Xavier's seminar hall on Sunday, 15th November 2009. The workshop was jointly organized by Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) and the department of physics of St. Xavier's college. It was a half day workshop in association with "The world at night (TWAN)".

Fig: Participants of Workshop

There were almost 120 participants including students, teachers, journalists and other enthusiastic personnel. During the program, Mr. Babak Tafreshi, director of TWAN and Mr. Oshin, an astrophotographer (TWAN) presented their talk and showed different cameras and their techniques for taking night sky snaps. Participants found the program very informative and learnt many things about astrophotography.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Talk Programme on Astronomy and Meteor Science on Nov 22,2009

Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) organized a talk programme on Astronomy and Meteor Science at Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST),Khumaltar Lalitpur on Sunday, November 22,2009.

During the programme, Jennifer Dudley Winter,NASA Solar System Ambassador and Owner of Astronomical Tours LLC, USA and Fred Bruenjes, amateur astronomer, astrophotographer and owner of Moon Glow Technology,USA presented a talk on Astronomy Calls to the audience.

First row ( from left): Joe Malnar,USA;Jennifer Dudley Winter,Fred Bruenjes,Rishi Shah,Dr. Prakash Atreya and NASO Team.

Another Speaker, Dr. Prakash Atreya from IMCEE,Observatory of Paris, France presented a talk on Meteor Astronomy focusing on basics of meteor science. He also presented some of the results of Double Station Observations of Leonids Outburst 2009 led from Manakamana and Nagarkot for the first time in Nepal. This is the first time Nepal has been highlighted as an astronomical destination to the world.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Leonids Outburst Observation Campaign 2009 in Nepal

Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) organized Leonids Outburst Observation Campaign 2009 on 17/18 November at the Nagarkot Hill Station situated at the 2195 m above the sea level. this year, the outburst was predicted to reach its peak at 03:45 Hrs NST on November 18,2009. The best time for the observation was announced from 03:00-05:00 Hrs on Nov 18,2009.

The dark sky above the Nagarkot hill station supported more than 50 participants ( including students, teachers, amateurs astronomers, journalists, astro-photographers and tourists ) to observe the brightest objects, constellations, naked eye planets (Jupiter, Mars & Venus) and Leonids in the morning. NASO used its two 76 mm Celestron FirstScopes and one 206 mm SkyWatcher Dobsonian for the observation of deep sky objects like Orion Nebula during the Campaign.

Though the fuggy sky tried to make participants dissapointed, the participants showed their deep interest to keep watching for the meteors and possible fire balls. Er. Rishi Shah, Academician of Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and President of NASO explained, "We are able to see 150 meteors on an average per hour due to the fogs but did not see any fire balls though it was predicted during the outburst".

Canadian Film Company Acquainted Films Inc. captured the event for the upcoming 90 minute documentary entitled "Acquainted With The Nights". The event was coordinated by Mr. Sudeep Neupane, executive founder member of NASO and co-ordinator of Campaign Against Light Pollution Nepal (CALP-Nepal) started on September 12,2009 in Nepal as an special project of NASO to preserve our dark sky.

Friday, November 6, 2009

November Sky:Meteor showers, mighty Jupiter and the Hunter's Moon

-By Kedar S Badu

This month, we have two meteor showers, the Hunter's Moon and Jupiter dominating the evening skies. But let's talk of the stars first.

Along the Zodiac, from east to west, you can now observe the constellations Taurus, Aries, Pisces, Capricornus and Sagittarius. Just below Aries the Ram, enjoy the brilliant constellation Cetus the Whale, with its reddish, super giant binary star Mira, which will vary in brightness over successive nights. Note that the tail of Pisces the Fish points directly to Mira. Though summer has already given way to autumn, the well-known asterism of the Great Summer Triangle is still visible in the western skies. The Great Square (Pegasus) is just overhead.

In the northern skies, you can easily identify the constellations Auriga the Charioteer, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Draco and Hercules from East to West. If you are away from dazzling city lights, enjoy the Milky Way, which stretches from the northeast to the southwest. Pre-dawn stargazers have the opportunity to enjoy the Big Dipper in the northeast and the Winter Hexagon (a group of bright stars around the constellation Orion) located just overhead. While watching the Big Dipper, don't miss the Great Galaxy (M81) that is located 15 degrees to the northwest from the star Dubhe. Note that the two stars of the Big Dipper, Merak and Dubhe, point straight to the Celestial North Pole (Polar Star).

Planet observing

Jupiter in Capricornus outshines everything else in the southern sky, save the moon. You can see its four largest moons and a couple of belts with a small telescope.

Saturn will rise in the east in the early hours of the morning, and is well up in the southeastern sky by dawn. It will move very slowly southeastwards towards Virgo.

Mars, getting brighter by the day, will rise in the northeast at around 11:30PM and will be high in the southern sky just before dawn. Catch it on the night of 2 November as it crosses the beehive cluster (M44).
Mercury will be invisible beginning 5 November as it passes behind the sun and Venus will rise before sunrise. Catch it low in the southeastern sky at dawn but be warned, it's getting gradually dimmer.

The Hunter's Moon - the particularly resplendent full moon that enables harvesting (not to mention hunting) past sunset - began on 3 September and will be 98 per cent full on 4 November. Catch it as it passes close to the Pleiades star cluster (M45).


Two meteor showers occur about a week apart in November. The first is the Taurid shower, so called because meteors appear to shoot out of the constellation Taurus the Bull. This meteor shower begins around 4 November and peaks overnight on 11 November. Taurus will rise early in the evening so you won't have to stay up late. Don't expect too much since Taurid peaks at a mere eight meteors an hour.

The Leonids peak before dawn on 17-18 November and appear to come from the constellation Leo, which does not rise fully until after midnight. For early observers, note that Mars is leading Leo the Lion and Saturn is behind it. The radiant point is within the 'Sickle' of Leo, a hand's breadth to the left of Mars. There will be no interference from moonlight, giving you a good opportunity to enjoy the shooting stars. Meanwhile, sporadic (non-shower) meteors can be seen on any night, in any direction.

Source:Nepali Times,FROM ISSUE #474 (30 OCT 2009 - 05 NOV 2009)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Night Sky in November

-By Rishi Shah

The night skies of this month delightfully display many fascinating planets, alluring stars and other captivating marvels of the heavens. As darkness descends enchanting zodiacal constellations of Sagittarius (archer), Capricornus (sea goat), Aquarius (water bearer), Pisces (fishes), Aries (ram) and Taurus (bull) are seen unfurling across the sky from western to eastern horizon.

The great Square of Pegasus (winged horse) dominates the evening overhead sky. Attractive constellation Andromeda (chained princess) extends towards northeast from Pegasus, where the beguiling Andromeda Galaxy that is circa 2.5 million light-years away could be thrillingly observed. Constellations Cygnus (swan), Lyra (harp) and Aquila (eagle) drifting towards western sky. Their lustrous stars Deneb, Vega (Avijit) and Altair (Sravana) sketch imaginary winter triangle in the sky. Lengthy constellations Eridanus (river) and Hydra (sea serpent) are meandering in southeastern sky. Cetus (whale) and Piscis Austrinus (southern fish) are spreading glamorously with their coruscating stars Mira the variable and Fomalhaut that are 420 and 25 light-years away. Constellation Auriga (charioteer) is floating in northeastern sky. Its star Capella sparkles like a beautiful gem in the sky.

The shimmering veil of our galaxy the Milky Way unrolls mainly through Auriga, Perseus (legendary hero), Cassiopeia, Cygnus and Aquila. Circumpolar constellations Draco (dragon), Cepheus (king), Cassiopeia (queen) and Ursa Major (great bear) encircles Polaris (Pole Star or Dhruba Tara) that sits comfortably in Ursa Minor (little bear).

Planet Venus is dazzling in eastern sky before sunup in star-field of Virgo (maiden). Star Spica (Chitra) glimmers gorgeously to its south. Planet Mars is wandering through Cancer towards Leo. It climbs high in sky shortly after midnight. Mighty planet Jupiter is scintillating enticingly in Capricornus right after sunset. Ringed planet Saturn is glistening in Leo. Distant planets Uranus and Neptune are gleaming between Pisces and Aquarius and in the eastern part of Capricornus. Planet Mercury is hurrying towards Libra and Scorpius. Discerning it in solar glare is relatively difficult. Far-flung diminutive dwarf planet Pluto creeps inconspicuously above Sagittarius. Asteroid Vesta-4 is dashing through Leo. Asteroid Melpomene-18 rushes across broad Cetus. It could be perceived in southern sky soon after sundown through telescopes.

Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak during wee hours after midnight on 17 November, when plentiful shooting stars could be gleefully followed as they emanate from Leo in eastern sky. Leoinids originate as earth ploughs through the prolific debris stream left behind by their parent comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle with orbital period of 33.2 years. Its radiant-point lies in Leo’s sickle asterism. Ruddy Mars and Saturn glitter gloriously to its north and south. Comet C/2007Q3 (Sliding Spring) is tumbling through the expanse of several resplendent galaxies that belong to Virgo-Coma Cluster. Comet-hunters could relish its awesome presence through optical aid before daybreak in eastern sky.

Queerly dinky asteroid dubbed 2009TM8 measuring barely seven meters across flew past our planet from a distance of 348 thousand kilometers (closer than moon’s path that stretches to average 384 thousand kilometers) with frightening speed of utter 29 thousand kilometers per hour. Even though asteroid hunters watch continuously for rogue space rocks that could pose any impact risk to earth, peculiarly petite asteroids that could smack earth and could inflict serious localized damage to earth could often go unnoticed.

Famous as starburst galaxy the titillating irregular dwarf galaxy IC10 adorns Cassiopeia. As a distinguished member of Local Group of galaxies, it harbours numerous newly formed lurid colossal stars, including the luminous X-ray binary star system that perhaps houses puzzling black hole. As it hides behind celestial granules and stars near the plane of our galaxy, its light is dimmed by intervening dusty surroundings. Its vigorous star-concocting domains are illuminated with reddish hue. It is fairly 2.3 million light-years away.

Charming cosmic towering pillars created by cold molecular gas and inky gritty clouds reside within star nursery designated as Sharpless-171 that lies modestly three thousand light-years away in Cepheus.

The nebular glow is powered by the young massive hot stars. Their energetic light boils away the opaque substances that fragment the region. It also brightens the blanketing hydrogen gas and excites it to shine as red emission nebula that tucks snugly in the active central sector of Sharpless-171. Spanning moderately twenty light-years across, this star cradle was entered as number-171 in the exhaustive 1959 catalog of emission nebulae that was compiled by famed American astronomer Stewart Sharpless.

For accumulating wealth of data to guide scientists seeking water on the moon Centaur rocket stage-impactor (left over from its last June launch on Atlas-5 rocket) separated elegantly from its mother ship that belonged to NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) and slammed with vehemence into the lunar surface.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that is sailing around moon in fifty kilometers high orbit. Many missions, including India’s Chandrayaan lunar orbiter had indicated that probable signs of hydrogen compounds were present in areas extending towards moon’s South Pole. Scientists now require time to confirm their findings on presence (or absence) of water on moon.

The full moon (popularly known as beaver moon) falls on 02 November, while new moon occurs on 16 November. The accompanying star chart approximately portrays the night sky over Kathmandu at around twenty hours local time during mid-November 2009.

(Source: National,The Rising Nepal,National English Daily,Nov 2,2009)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Celebrating GN2009 and Campaign Against Light Pollution in Far West

Organizers (Step Nepal & NASO) preparing for the programme

NASO team heading towards programme venue

Dhangadi, Kailali

Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) team along with Campaign against light pollution team reached Kailali on 23rd October, the far west district of Nepal. A programme was jointly organized by Step Nepal (an NGO based in Dhangadi, Kailali, working in the field of S & T) and Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) for creating awareness in the society on the occasion of Galilean Night celebrating IYA2009.

Mr. Sudeep Neupane Presenting slides on STEPS INTO AMATEUR ASTRONOMY

Mr. Suresh Bhattarai Giving talk on WHAT IS ASTRONOMY?

Mr. Riwaj Pokhrel presenting on GLOBAL WARMING

Mr. Sudeep Neupane giving talk on LIGHT POLLUTION

On 23rd October, a talk programme was arranged in District Development Committee hall in Dhangadi. There were four talks on different topics along with the documentary on Hubble & Universe by GD Pudasaini and Utsav Kandel. Co-ordinator of Campaign Against Light Pollution (CALP-Nepal) and Executive Founder Member of NASO, Mr. Sudeep Neupane presented a talk on “Light Pollution”. Talk on “Global Warming” was given by Mr. Riwaj Pokhrel (Founder Member-NASO) and Mr. Suresh Bhattarai (Founder Member-NASO) presented a talk on “What is Astronomy?” At the end of the talk session, Mr. Sudeep Neupane introduced “Steps into Amateur Astronomy” to guide astronomy enthusiastic which was followed by Sky Observation in the ground near by the programme hall. NASO team made an arrangement to observe Jupiter and Moon through Telescopes and Binoculars. There were almost 250 participants (including teachers, students, journalists and public) attending the talk and observational session. The public were seemed to be eager on all the topics and Light Pollution was completely new for all. A BBC Nepali Reporter Mr. Umid Bagchand, was interviewing the response of the public. Step Nepal team was managing and volunteering both the sessions.

Observers watching Night sky from Binoculars and Telescope

Group Photo of organizers in the observation site

Axis Vidhyashram
Dhangadi, Kailali
NASO team (Mr. Sudeep Neupane, Mr. Riwaj Pokhrel and Mr. GD Pudasaini) went to Axis Vidhyashram (Secondary School) on 24th October. A short talk session followed by Sky Observation was arranged there. Light Pollution, Global Warming and Astronomy were focused on the presentations. Students and Teachers of Axis Vidhyashram attended the programme. Step Nepal Team was along with NASO arranging programmes at Dhangadi. Little bit Sky Glow interrupted the Observers to watch low altitude sky objects.

Students observing JUPITER and MOON through Telescope and Binoculars

Stone Bridge Academy
Dhangadi, Kailali

NASO Team (Mr. Sudeep Neupane, Mr. Riwaj Pokhrel and Mr. GD Pudasaini) reached Stone Bridge Academy on 26th October. School Principal arranged a talk programme for school students followed by Sky Observation. Light Pollution and Astronomy was focused in the talk session. Observation of Jupiter and Moon were arranged through Telescopes and Binoculars. Observers were keen to know their Zodiac Constellation along with other easily known constellations. Observers were practically introduced the Sky Glow which annoyed them to observe night sky.

Star Party on Stone Bridge sec. school, Dhangadhi

You can log on to for light pollution campaign in Dhangadi Kailali Nepal

The Nobel Prize In 2009

-By Rishi Shah

The prestigious Nobel Prizes are awarded annually to those persons or institutions for having conferred the greatest benefit to mankind with their work in Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Literature and Peace. The prizes were established in 1895 in accordance with the will of a Swedish chemist, inventor and industrialist Alfred Nobel who made great fortune with his invention of dynamite. Additionally, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel was instituted by Sweden’s Central Bank only in 1968.

This year the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute granted the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. The trio American professors have unraveled the secrets of how the chromosomes can be copied during cell division and how they are safe-guarded against degradation.

Lengthy thread-alike DNA molecules carry our genes that are packed into chromosomes with telomeres as caps on their ends. If telomeres are shortened, the cells begin ageing. Conversely, if telomerase activity is high and telomere length is maintained, the cellular senescence is delayed. Peculiar inherited diseases are characterised by defective telomerase that indicates damaged cells. The scientists have been honoured for uncovering the fundamental mechanism in the cells that could lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies.

Likewise, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences offered the Nobel Prize in Physics with half of it going to Charles Kao from Standard Telecommunication Laboratories, Harlow, United Kingdom and Chinese University of Hong Kong for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication. The other half was jointly presented to Willard Boyle and George Smith of Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey, USA for their invention of the imaging semiconductor circuit (CCD sensor).

Low loss optical fibers are indispensable for our current communication society and global broadband communication such as the Internet. Light flowing in thin threads of glass has transferred the speed of telephony and data traffic like text, music, images and video extremely fast around the world. Kao has continuously improved fiber optics with innovative ideas after his breakthrough discovery of transmitting light signals via the glass fiber in 1966.

Boyle and Smith invented the first successful imaging technology using digital sensor Charge-Coupled Device technology that relies on photoelectric effect (elucidated by Albert Einstein, who bagged the Physics Nobel Prize in 1921) and revolutionised photography. Light could be captured electronically and easily processed for innumerable applications in entertainment, academic research and in our daily lives.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has bestowed the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009 jointly to Venkatraman Ramakrishnan from MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK, Thomas Steitz of Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA and Ada Yonath of Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel for their studies of the design and function of the ribosomes that control the chemistry in all living organisms by producing proteins. Understanding them is tantamount to comprehending the crucially enigmatic core process of how they translate vital DNA information into life.

The researchers have utilised X-ray crystallography to chart out the thorough positioning of innumerable atoms precisely that compose ribosome. They have illustrated the ribosome’s looks and its operation at the atomic level. Production of new antibiotics could benefit from these findings for saving lives and lessen human sufferings.

German author Herta Mueller, who with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose depicts the landscape of the dispossessed, received this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. Mueller was born in 1953 in the German-speaking town Nitzkydorf in Banat, Romania. She made her debut with the collection of short stories Niederungen (1982), which was censored in Romania. Later, she published the uncensored version in Germany and Drueckender Tango in Romania.

Mueller narrates life in a small, German-speaking village where corruption, intolerance and repression were evident. Her works highlights the details of daily life under a stagnated dictatorship. In Atemschaukel (2009), Mueller traces the exile of German Romanians in the Soviet Union. She emigrated together with her husband, author Richard Wagner, to Germany. She now lives in Berlin.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has honoured President Barack Obama with the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and promote sustainable cooperation between peoples. President Obama’s vision of and work for a world convincingly void of nuclear weapons has been laudably recognised by the committee.

The president has ushered in a distinct climate in international politics with multilateral diplomacy thereby emphatically encouraging the meaningful role of the United Nations and other international institutions that could play through dialogue and negotiations for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. His constructive commitment to addressing the issues that are triggering the menacing climate change on a global scale along with his conviction of upholding the values of democracy and human rights worldwide has been adulated.

President Obama has drawn the world’s attention and given the people at large the hope for a better future. The committee has endorsed Obama’s appeal: "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."

Similarly, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences respected American Professors Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University, Bloomington and Oliver Williamson of University of California, Berkeley with the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences for their analysis of economic governance. Elinor Ostrom has exhibited that common property could be successfully managed by user associations. Common property that is poorly managed should be either regulated by the central authorities or privatised.

Studying user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes and groundwater basins, Ostrom had observed that resource users adhere to classical postulations and standard mechanisms for decision-making. They rely on enforcement processes to handle dissensions. She has demonstrated that economic analysis could characterise various forms and rules of social organisations for promoting successful outcomes. She becomes the first female Nobel Laureate to win the Nobel Economic Sciences Prize since its inception.

Oliver Williamson has affirmed that business firms would serve as structures for conflict resolution. Economic transactions are undertaken in markets as well as within firms, associations, households and agencies. Economic theory has illuminated the virtues and limitations of markets, but has been traditionally less attentive to alternative institutional arrangements. Markets and hierarchical organizations with governance formats differ in their approaches while solving conflicts. Markets often entail haggling and disagreement as drawbacks and the crucial authority that indulges in mitigating contentions of firms could be abused. Competitive markets perform relatively well because buyers and sellers can settle any distention with their trading partners.

Except for the Nobel Peace Prize which is handed out in Oslo, Norway, the remaining distinguished Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economics are presented in Stockholm, Sweden on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. Each prize constitutes a special gold medal, a diploma and a monetary purse worth 10 million Swedish Kronors (SEK), which is currently equivalent to US$ 1.4 million.

(Source: The Rising Nepal, National English Daily,October 21,2009)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October sky:If you're a fan of Star Wars, this is the month to check out the skies above

The October constellations are a mixed bag. At sunset, the summer constellations glow in the west, but are outshone by the winter constellations after midnight. So just when you thought summer was finally behind us, these stars tell you: no, not quite yet. On the bright side, a lot of the constellations have vaguely Star Wars-esque names, so if you're a Lucas fan, this is the month to check them out.

The Great Square, a constellation within Pegasus, will replace the Summer Triangle as the most prominent night constellation. Watch out for the distinctive W-shape of Cassiopeia in the north, and also Perseus nearby. The Andromeda Galaxy is very noticeable as a large bright elongated smudge, even through binoculars.
If you have a telescope, you can catch sight of dust lanes in our nearest galactic neighbour (see star map). If you have binoculars, check out the rather stiffly named star cluster, M-15 (what did I tell you about Star Wars?). Don't worry: they're far more interesting than they sound.

After midnight, look out for the bright star Capella in the constellation Auriga. Right beside it, you'll see a large, smudgy patch. This is M45, the Pleiades, in the constellation. In the same constellation is Aldebaran, a bright orange star. If by this time you still have the energy for more stars, check out Orion (the hunter) in the southeast. Orion is easily one of the more distinctive constellations, with a belt formed by three stars set within the giant silhouette of a hunter.

Planet observing:
You'll have a great chance to see Mercury, that elusive little planet, in the eastern skies just before sunrise when it will be a little left of a brilliant Venus. Venus will be so brilliant you can pick it out fairly late into the morning.

Mars, in Gemini, is rising in the northeast well before midnight, and by dawn it will be climbing high into the southern sky.

Jupiter, in Capricornus, will be brighter than most stars and will set in the southwest around midnight.

Saturn, which was hidden behind the sun for a large part of September, will emerge in the dawn sky to the lower left of Venus, though it'll be considerably dimmer than other planets and stars. It'll be right beside Venus on 13 October.

If you tire of planets, the Orionid shower will be visible during the second half of October and will last for about a week or more. The best time to see these showers is early in the morning when moonlight won't blot them out. There will also be sporadic showers from other systems throughout the night.

Click on if you fancy vivid pictures of galaxies and other deep sky objects. These pictures were taken by NASA's newly repaired Hubble Space Telescope and are really terrific.

(Source: Nepali Times,National English Weekly,09 OCT 2009 - 15 OCT 2009)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Star Peace Event on September 21 remains successful in Nepal!

Nepal Astronomical Society(NASO) in association with Takhshashila Academy organized a star party to observe Jupiter and its Moon this evening at Takshashila Academy,Bishalnagar,Kathmandu.The start party started at 17:30 Hrs NST with the introduction of Jupiter and its Moon and Star Peace Project.Mr. Suresh Bhattarai, Star Peace Ambassador for Nepal said the Avenues Television,"Today's Star party is tribute to the Galileo for the verification of Heliocentric Theory of our Solar System proposed my Nicolas Copernicus.We want to show people that we can spread Peace through astronomy in Nepal and in the world"

Mr. Sudeep Neupane,Founder member of NASO and Event Manager of the today's Star Peace Event told the journalists that NASO is creating astronomical awareness in Nepal through different outreach and today's event was one of our regular event for celebration of IYA2009 in Nepal.

Photo:Wonderful view of sunset as seen from Takshasila Academy ,the venue of Star Peace Event.

Photo:GD Pudasaini,from left:Director and Producer of First Astronomical Documentary setting up telescope for observing moon , and participants observing moon through telescopes.

Photo:Rijendra Thapa,founder member of Nepal Astronomical Society,helping kids in observing moon.

Photo:Attempt for landscape astrophotography> The Moon captured in camera as viewed through telescope.

Photo:Enjoying the fun of viewing spectacular view of moon through binocular

During the event,Mr. Bharat Aryal,Principal of Takshashila Academy told that astronomy is important for the school students as it stimulates their quest for knowledge.He also promised to organized such event in future with greater involvement of the school students.Mr. Ayral is now Local Contact for Galilean Nights (GN2009) for Nepal.

During the star party Jupiter played Hide and seek to the clouds which made the participants disappointed for a while.Nonetheless everyone enjoyed the Jupiter through Three different telescopes and one binoculars.

You can watch the report on this event on Avenues TV tonight at 21:00 Hrs.So don't miss it!

Star Party to celebrate World Peace Day in Nepal !

Nepal Astronomical SOciety is organizing Star Party to celebrate World Peace Day on September 21,2009 in Nepal.This event is organized through out the world StarPeace colleague are going to draw a Peace Line on Earth.India,Bangladesh,maldives,Iran along with other eastern western countries like Brazil is participating in this event.

To participate in the Star Peace Event in Nepal,Please contact the Star Peace Ambassador for Nepal Mr. Suresh Bhattarai.

Programme Details:
Programme: Star Peace Event to Celebrate World Peace Day in Nepal
Venue:Takshashila Academy,Bishalnagar,Kathmandu,Nepal
Date: September 21,2009
Time: 17:30 onwards
Organizer: Nepal Astronomical Society(NASO)
Contact: +977-9841485867/9841388524

September 21 is named International Day of Peace by the United Nations. Every year on this day people from many nations respect peace and a world without war. This day is dedicated to peace, or specifically the absence of war, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone.

This year StarPeace following its main goals toward promoting peace and astronomy, has decided to celebrate International Day of Peace with the help of all astronomy clubs around the world who are joined StarPeace project.

This event is organized through out the world StarPeace colleague are going to draw a Peace Line on Earth. On September 21, amateur astronomers will bring their telescopes between people near one of their historical sites, such as World Heritages and will show our solar system's biggest planet, Jupiter and its Galilean moons.

Public star parties will starts from the eastern countries and countries will pass it to each other one by one. StarPeace will have worldwide public star parties in many nations, despite of their political views, religions, cultures and nationalities.

Monday, September 14, 2009

ICYA proves successfull to ceate global platform for the young people to meet each others reagarding astronomy

Photo:Participant looking for the map to the venue of ICYA on the street.

Photo:Great attention to the presenter! One of the participants presenting his paper.

Photo:Discussion of the future plans to meet again! people at tea break.

Credit:Ryan Laird,United Kindom

Friday, September 11, 2009

Astronomy In Nepalese Culture

-Rishi Shah & Suresh Bhattarai

Astronomy has played a crucial role in the development of our civilisation and culture. Early astronomy involved observing the motions of visible celestial objects, especially the sun, moon, stars and planets visible to the naked eye. Their altering appearances in the course of the year were used to establish the agricultural or ritual calendar, which influenced the chores of our daily lives. In some cultures, astronomical data were misinterpreted equivocally for astrological prognostication.

Indus Valley Civilisation (2600-1900 BC) had flourished around the Indus River basin in South Asia. Vedic civilisation had extended from the second millennia BC to the 6th century BC. The extensively astronomy-rich sacred texts of the Indo-Aryan civilisation were presumably compiled then. The Iron Age in the Indian subcontinent succeeded the late Harappan culture.

The Neolithic age in China could be traced back as early as 10,000 BC. During the imperial era of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Araniko popularly distinguished as astronomy-enthusiast Balabahu of Nepal, had visited China at the invitation of Emperor Kublai Khan. He had assisted the legendary Chinese astronomer Guo Shoujing exhaustively while constructing astronomical equipment.

Book of astronomy

Vedic cosmology hypothesizes that the universe is created and destroyed cyclically. One day of our deity Brahma, the creator, is referred to as one Kalpa (4.32 billion years or the approximate life span of our earth). According to the Veda, we are now passing through the 52nd century of Kaliyuga which started in 3102 BC. Vedic Jyotish is considered as the principal book of astronomy in the Indian subcontinent. Garun Puran teaches that the earth is spherical and the sun is an indispensable source of energy to all forms of life on earth.

Both the Rigveda and Brahmanda Purana expound the universe as rhythmic (oscillating) and infinite. It expands and then collapses constantly from baffling the concentrated point dubbed the . The universe, as an enigmatic living entity, is bound to the perpetual cycle of birth, death and rebirth. It is mentioned that the earth had evolved from the Navi (belly button) of Bishnu, inferring the Navi as the galactic centre.

The Hindu cosmological time cycles are described in Surya Siddhnata, which is probably 5,000 years old. Astronomer Arya Bhatta (476-550 AD) had theorised the revolutionary heliocentric solar system in 500 AD long before this concept was proposed by Copernicus in the western community in 1543.

Neolithic tools found in the Kathmandu Valley indicate that people have inhabited Nepal for about 9,000 years. One of the earliest confederations of South Asia was that of the Shakya clan. Its capital was Kapilvastu. Siddhartha Gautama (563 - 483 BC), who renounced his royalty and lead an ascetic life, came to be known as the Buddha (the enlightened one). He was born to the Shakya King Sudhodhan. By 260 BC, most of North India and southern Nepal were under the rule of the Maurya Empire. Maurya Emperor Ashoka the Great, the legendary Buddhist proselytiser and ruler (273 BC-232 BC), visited Kathmandu, Patan and Lumbini. He erected four Ashoka Stupas in Patan and the Ashoka Pillar at Lumbini, the birth place of Gautam Buddha.

From the findings at Handigaun, it appears that the Lichhavi rulers were in power from the 3rd to the 5th century and again from the 8th to the 13th century. A well-preserved life-size sandstone sculpture of King Jaya Varman, discovered at Maligaon of Kathmandu, contains inscriptions dating from 185 AD. Licchavi writings carved on the broken pillar at the Pashupati Temple reveal 459 AD and the Changu Narayan pillar engravings of King Manadeva refer to the year 464 AD.

There are good and meticulously detailed descriptions of the Kingdom of Nepal in the account of renowned Chinese Buddhist pilgrim monk, Xuanzang, dating from circa 645 AD. The Malla Dynasty ruled the Kathmandu Valley from the 12th to the 18th century. Peculiar stone structures in Tehrathum in eastern Nepal, which were probably used for time keeping and astronomical observation, were established during the Lichhavi era and are estimated to be 2000 years old.

About 500 metres from this area are five ponds. Umbrellas in the temples of Achham in west Nepal could have been utilised for time measuring purposes as well. All these precious artifacts bear testimony to the dominance of astronomy throughout our culture.

Mathematical astronomy had prospered in Nepal with the help of some sagacious astronomers of Nepal. The first engrossing astronomy book written in Nepal was Sumati Tantra in 576-880 AD and was published in the Kathmandu Valley. Another famous astronomer Shree Pati (1019-1066) had chalked numerous mind-boggling books on mathematical astronomy in Nepal. Siddhanta Siromani (1150) was propagated by Indian astronomer Bhaskaracharya. It had impressed upon Nepalese astronomy tremendously.
In 1409, astrologer Dharmapati Bardhan translated Sumati Tantra as Sumati Siddhanta in the form of an astrologer’s book. Even in the Malla era, for forecasting the future and to make calendars with ease, astrologers rigorously consulted these fabulous books. Sumati Tantra was inked in simple Sanskrit whereas Sumati Siddhanta is drafted in a mix of Newari and Sanskrit.

In 1494, Balbhadra of Jumla wrote Bhaswati Baal Bhodhini Tika in Sanskrit in a lucid manner so that students could easily understand the theory. In 1514, Ratna Dev formulated the Bhaswati Tika. Mathematician and astronomer Ganesh Daibajya disseminated Grahalaghava, Brihat Chintamani and Laghu Thiti Chintamani in around 1520.

Gaureshwor Joshi produced three different books (Graha Darpan, Laghu Darpan and Graha Dipika) on Mathematical astronomy in 1663. Laxmipati Pandey divulged Bhaswati Ko Nepali Tika in 1793 and built remarkable sun-dials. It was the first smart astronomy book addressed fully in Nepali.

In 1822, Pandit Padmanath Pant brought forward Laghudrig Ganit. Shiva Sankar of Dhankuta authored Sukhabodh in 1853. Gopal Pande composed Byakta Chandrika (1883-1914). He was awarded the Royal Honour in 1884 by Prime Minister Ranadeep Singh for correcting the mistake regarding the lunar eclipse in the first ever Nepalese calendar printed on hand-made Nepali paper. Pandit Hari Pokhrel in 1901 claimed that our calendar was not precise, because the calculations of the equinox had not been incorporated. Sparse reports on observational astronomy have been traced only from the 20th century in Nepal.


Symbols of the stars and planets are inscribed on our temples. Teachings of the Vedas and Puranas are chanted during Hindu festivals. Our unique lunar-solar calendars that predict the time of an eclipse, solstice and star positions with their nexus to our festivals are based on Vedic astronomy.

Mathematical astronomy that has encouraged the calculation of cosmic events needs modernisation regarding their accuracy and interpretations. There is growing interest in astronomy in our country. Many academic and social institutions as well as professionals have stressed on knowing more about the history of Nepalese astronomy and its contribution to Asian astronomy and to the world community.

Monday, September 7, 2009

ICYA 2009 kicks on today in Poland!

The International Conference of Young Astronomers (ICYA) which is a scientific meeting of undergraduate and PhD students of astronomy and physics as well as more advanced astronomers has started in Cracow Poland today.The conference will conclude on 13th September,2009.

ICYA is organised by the Polish Astronomical Society in collaboration with Polish universities (The Jagiellonian University of Cracow, The University of Warsaw, The Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznań, The Nicolaus Copernicus University of Toruń, The University of Zielona Góra, The University of Szczecin, The Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre of Polish Academy of Sciences) and hopefully will be supported by foreign universities and astronomical societies as well as international astronomical organizations.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

September surprise


If you look out the window this month and notice that the sun is setting in a different place every day, don't worry, the earth is not spiralling out of orbit: it's tilting toward the sun to welcome the season of autumn, beginning 23 September.

This means a new set of stars and constellations will make their debut. A couple of hours after sunset, you will see the Milky Way stretching diagonally across the night sky (you may need to wait for a load-shedding night to see this). Make sure to pull out a set of binoculars and observe this band of stars because it contains some fantastic constellations. You will see the W-shaped Cassiopeia, the Great Summer Triangle, Sagittarius and Scorpios. In the eastern horizon, just below Cassiopeia, don't miss the constellations of Andromeda and the square-shaped Pegasus. The Big Dipper will be only partly visible in the north-western skies, but the kite-shaped Bootes and the man-shaped Hercules should be clear.

There will be a full moon on 4 September, also called the 'Harvest Moon' because it helps farmers harvest past sunset.

Mars will rise in the north-east just before midnight but the view will be obscured late September when it is directly between the earth and the sun. The planet will drift eastwards through Gemini and head toward the bright twin stars of Castor and Pollux. You can catch a late glimpse of it again at the very end of September when it will be visible in the east just before dawn below a sparkling Venus, which should be clearly visible throughout the month.

Jupiter will be the only planet visible in the evening this month, and will descend toward the horizon as the evening passes. The planet can be best seen late in the evening when it's sitting a mere 20 degrees above the horizon. Telescope users will have a few chances to catch Jupiter's closest moons, Io and Europa, eclipsing and occulting one another on September 15, 22 and 29.

Saturn fans have less to cheer about since the planet will be invisible for some part of the month as it hides behind the sun. Since it's tilting away from the earth, its rings will lose their characteristic sheen as they reflect less of the sun's light. The last opportunity to view Saturn's rings is on 4 September at 6:45 pm. Catch the planet close to the western horizon.

(Source:Nepali TImes,english National Weekly,28 AUG 2009 - 03 SEPT 2009)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Night Sky In September

-By Rishi Shah

The night skies of this month display numerous planets, countless stars and various arcane celestial entities that decorate the heavens enticingly. As darkness descends on earth, the zodiacal constellations of Virgo (maiden), Libra (scales), Scorpius (scorpion), Sagittarius (archer), Capricornus (sea goat) and Aquarius (water bearer) are seen sprawling across the sky from western to eastern horizon. Kite-resembling constellation Bootes (herdsman) dominates the evening sky with its alluring star Arcturus (Swati) that is barely thirty seven light-years away. Semi-circled constellation Corona Borealis (Northern Crown) and keystone-patterned Hercules (legendary strong man) are floating to its east. Petite constellations Canes Venatici (hunting dogs) and Coma Berenices (Berenices’ hair) are slipping towards western horizon. Constellations Cygnus (swan), Lyra (harp) and Aquila (eagle) are soaring magnificently in eastern sky. Their coruscating stars Deneb, Vega (Avijit) and Altair (Saravana) sketch the bewitchingly imaginary Summer Triangle in the sky. The circumpolar constellations Cepheus (king), Cassiopeia (queen), Ursa Major (great bear) and Draco (dragon) are circling Polaris, the Pole Star (Dhruba Tara) that resides cozily in Ursa Minor (little bear). It is modestly 431 light-years away. Our galaxy the Milky Way runs amazingly through Cassiopeia, Lacerta (lizard), Cygnus, Aquila, Sagittarius and Scorpius.

Aquatic constellations Eridanus (mythological river), Cetus (whale) and Piscis Austrinus (southern fish) are unfurling across the southern sky. Their exquisite stars Mira the wonderful and Fomalhaut (Yamya Matsa) are twinkling charmingly. They are moderately 130 and 23 light-years away respectively. The awesome constellation Orion (hunter) with all its eye-catching stars like Betelgeuse (Adra) and Rigel enters the eastern sky before daybreak. It heralds the approach of winter provocatively.

Diffusely red glowing emission nebulae, blue absorption and murky absorption nebulae inhabit the captivating star cradle in NGC6559, which are five thousand light-years away in Sagittarius. Light from neighbouring stars ionizes hydrogen and protons in interstellar medium, where electrons recombine to radiate light in different hues. Minute dust particles that reflect blue light effectively to create bluish nebulosity absorbs visible light to forge inky clouds and eerie filaments. After stars explode with vehemence of unknown magnitude (supernovae) they leave behind questionably intriguing morass from where the scintillating nascent stars are born. They radiate energy copiously again. Such process of stellar evolution needs millions of years to complete one cycle.

As elusive planet Mercury drifts into the morning sky, it is rushing across the vast celestial expanse occupied by Leo and Virgo. It gleams delightfully below Venus. Resplendent planet Venus is wandering conspicuously around the region lying towards south from the famed Beehive star cluster (M44) in eastern sky before dawn. Ruddy planet Mars climbs the eastern sky late at night. It is glistening among the stars like Castor (Kasturi) and Pollux (Punarvasu) in Gemini. Mighty planet Jupiter is shining stunningly after sundown in eastern sky at the eastern side of Capricornus. Ringed planet Saturn can be discerned with difficulty in eastern sky in Leo, as it is basking in solar glare. It is gleaming roughly at the middle of an inclined line that joins two enchanting stars Spica (Chitra) in Virgo and Regulus (Magha) in Leo. Blue planet Neptune can be admired in Jupiter’s vicinity in Capricornus. Greenish planet Uranus arrives at opposition with Sun on 17 September. It stands in the barren area that unrolls southwards from Pisces’ circlet-asterism towards the boarder of Aquarius. Its entrancing sight can be relished patiently through good telescopes, as it is placed at the most advantageous point for observation. It rises as Sun sets and sets at sunrise on the next day. It is closest to earth at a distance of 2856 million kilometers, as earth, Sun and Uranus are lying almost in a straight line. Far-flung Uranus is astoundingly 3007 million kilometers from Sun. Light requires merely over two hours fourty minutes to reach earth. Distant diminutive dwarf planet Pluto is relaxing quietly in Sagittarius.

Meteor shower Alpha Aurigids peaks excitingly on the first of September in eastern sky before sunup. Their fascinating flashes of shooting stars emanate from the relatively empty zone lying south of the luminous star Capella (Brahmahridhaya) in Auriga (charioteer). Capella is sparsely fourty two light-years away. Epsilon Aurigae is one of the strangest eclipsing variable stars-system that is bizarrely housed in Auriga. One star is eclipsed by another when two orbiting stars periodically block each other’s light as the star passes in front of the other. In the extraordinary case of Epsilon Aurigae, the eclipsing object presumably appears to be gigantic elongated massive opaque disk with stars at its center. Their critical mass keeps the total discus intact and hinders it from fragmenting apart.

Asteroids Juno-3 and Melpomene-18 are dashing gracefully across Pisces and Cetus. Comet 22P/Kopff hurtles across Aquarius. Comet-hunters could thrillingly watch its movement with good optical aid during midnight in southwestern sky. It was discovered by German astronomer August Kopff in 1906. Its orbital period is estimated to be circa 6.4 years. Autumnal Equinox is witnessed on 22 September at about 21 hours Universal Coordinated Time (UTC). The duration of day and night is per se equal worldwide on this day. Full moon (popularly called ravishing harvest moon) falls on 04 September, while new moon occurs on 18 September. Indra Jatra is joyfully enjoyed on 03 September. Ghatas Thapana that ushers the glorious advent of Dashain festival is marked on 19 September. Venerated Bijaya Dashami is celebrated respectfully on 28 September.

( This article was published in The Rising Nepal,National English Daily,on Tuesday, 1 September,2009)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Galileo's telescope reaches 400th anniversary today!

Nepal Academy of Science and Technology,NAST,Khumaltar,Lalitpur and Nepal Astronomical Society,NASO,Kathmandu jointly organized a talk programme on The Impact of Astronomy in Nepalese Civilization presented by Mr. Suresh Bhattarai,founder member of NASO, to mark the 400th Anniversary of Galileo's Telescope at NAST Hall during 11:30-13:30 Hrs.

Photo: Mr. Suresh Bhattarai,founder member of NASO, presenting a talk on The Impact of Astronomy in Nepalese Civilization at NAST on 25th August,2009 to mark 400th Anniversary of Galileo's Telescope.

Photo:participants paying attention to the talk to get more insight about Nepalese Astronomy and Civilization.

It is 400 years since Galileo Galilei demonstrated his telescope, which would lead him to make new astronomical observations While many people have been loudly celebrating this year's double commemoration of 200 years since Charles Darwin's birth and 150 years since the publication of On the Origin of Species, another scientific anniversary has crept up relatively quietly, marking an event which arguably changed human thought and the way we see ourselves even more irrevocably.

Galileo's telescope helped the astronomer to learn more about our solar system. This is a reconstruction of the telescope. Photograph: Jim Sugar/Corbis(

Exactly 400 years ago today, on 25 August 1609, the Italian astronomer and philosopher Galilei Galileo showed Venetian merchants his new creation, a telescope – the instrument that was to bring him both scientific immortality and, more immediately, a whole lot of trouble.

Monday, August 24, 2009


-By Rishi Shah & Sudeep Neupane

A telescope is a unique astronomical instrument that has been invented cleverly to observe and study remote objects. Its invention was subjected to sequence of events that cannot be assigned to an exact time or place. There are several written references to telescopic gadgets in ancient times, but no solid evidence as to their construction and use could be determined and verified. After the Phoenicians with enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean had discovered glass around 3500 BC, while cooking on sand, it took about five thousand years for glass to be shaped into lens for the telescope. Historically since avid spectacle (eyeglass) maker Hans Lippershey (1570-1619) had probably assembled the first practically functioning telescope, he is often credited with its invention. He had allegedly applied for patent for exclusive manufacturing of telescopes in 1608, but was denied, based on the argument that the devices were already known to other parties. However, Lippershey was hired as telescope maker to the State of Zeeland which is now a province in Holland.

The telescope was introduced to astronomy in 1609 by the great Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). He became the first man to peer at the stars, phases of planet Venus and moon’s craters and watched four awesomely fascinating large moons of Jupiter along with arcane rings of Saturn. He revealed the sunspots and many other breath-taking entities of our universe. Galileo’s telescope was similar to a pair of opera glasses which applied an arrangement of glass lenses to magnify objects. It provided limited magnification of up to thirty times within uneasily narrow field of view. Galileo’s support for Copernicus’ heliocentric postulation prompted serious conflict with Catholic Church and caused him troubles. In 1704, the famous British genius astronomer Sir Issac Newton (1643-1727) improved the design and utilized telescopes intensively for astronomical purposes. He introduced innovative concept in telescope design whereby instead of glass lenses, a curved mirror was exploited to gather light and reflect it back to a point of focus. This reflecting mirror acted like a light-collecting bucket (bigger the bucket, the more light could be accumulated). The reflector telescope opened the door for magnifying heavenly images millions of times. He produced the first reflecting telescope which is dubbed as Newtonian reflector. Telescope making has evolved as an extraordinary discipline ever since.

The application of achromatic lens in 1733 partially corrected color aberrations (focusing failure) present in the simple lens and enabled the construction of shorter and more functional refracting telescopes. In reflecting telescopes, though not limited by the color problems as seen in refractors, the mirrors were improved by silver or aluminum coating. Refractor telescope can possess huge sizes like the one at Yerkes Observatory, Wisconsin, USA (circa 102 centimeter lens diameter with 19.4 meters focal length). The biggest reflecting telescopes currently boast of objectives surpassing ten meters like the modern Gran Telescopio Canaris (10.4 meters) in Canary Islands, Spain and the Large Binocular Telescope (11.7 meters) in Arizona, USA. In catadioptric telescopes mirrors are combined with lenses to form captivating images.

Telescopes can be classified under distinct categories with respect to their operation in peculiar electromagnetic radiation. Optical and radio telescopes are extensively used in astronomy. High energy particle telescopes and gravitational wave telescopes carry out specialized observational assignments. Except terrestrial telescopes operating in broad wavelength range, National Aeronautics and. Space Administration (NASA), Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA), European Space Agency (ESA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA) have been exploring universe through different types of space telescopes. Compton Gamma Ray (already decommissioned) and Chandra X-Ray telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) are NASA’s vital missions in the history of space telescope. HST is marvelously versatile iconic and comparatively expensive space telescope which has been divulging secrets and mysteries of universe since 1990. James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is being designated as the successor to HST. JWST would scrutinize space in infrared spectrum. ESA has also ambitiously lifted-off Hershel Space Observatory and Planck Telescope into space.

Besides the sophisticated telescopes for astronomers, homemade telescopes have contributed substantially for the betterment of astronomy activities. The advent of amateurs in building telescopes for their own enjoyment and education has come into prominence in the 20th century. The types of telescopes that they build vary widely from very modest to beguiling ones including refractors, Schmidt Cassegrains and Maksutovs.

The most important components of telescope are the optics, primary and secondary mirrors. When building a telescope its mirror has to be painstakingly ground and polished to an extremely accurate shape (usually paraboloid) although telescopes with high focal ratios could adhere to spherical mirrors.

Telescopes can offer the perplex beauty and fascination of our cosmos. They could couple us together with those queer celestial bodies that are lying eons of light-years away and connect us to their mind-boggling movements. Telescope making could emphatically stress the significance in creating awareness in astronomy in our society. Additionally telescopes help us to satisfy our personal interest for logical information on baffling phenomena and conundrums that are related to our evolution of life on earth. Since people around the globe are celebrating the International Year of Astronomy 2009 with the slogan the universe is yours to discover, we too could attempt to comprehend our puzzling universe and our Solar System through our own handmade telescopes.

Source:The Rising Nepal,National English Daily,Monday,24th August,2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nepal Advocates Asian Contribution to the history of Astronomy in Astronomy and Civilization,Budapest,Hungary on 10th August,2009

Photo: Founder member Suresh Bhattarai with Prof. Chandra Wikramasinghe,Director of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology,UK and he was a student and collaborator of Sir Fred Hoyle whose joint work on the infrared spectra of interstellar grains led to developing the modern theory of panspermia.

Photo:Founder Member Suresh Bhattarai with Zoltan Toth,Bhakti Vedanta College,Budapest,Hungary.

Photo:Mr. Suresh Bhattarai,Founder Member of NASO, with Prof. Menas Kafatos,Chapman University,Orange,California, USA.

Photo:Mr. Suresh Bhattarai,Founder Member of NASO, with Prof.Subhash Kak,Oklahoma State University,USA.

Photo:Mr. Suresh Bhattarai,Founder Member of NASO, with Atilla Grandpierre of Konkoly Observatory.He was Co-chair of the Symposium.

Photo:Prof. Norman D. Cook,Kansai University,Oshaka,Japan with Triadic Insights in Astronomy,Art and Music.

Photo: Alice Mary Williamson,London with The Contribution of Musical Theory to an Ancient Chinese Concept of the Universe.

Photo:Budapest as seen from the National park at Buda Hill.River Duna is in the middle of the photo as a white line.

Photo: Konkoly Observatory which was established in 1871 A.D.

Photo:Banquet Dinner at FONO with Hungarian Dance and Music.

Photo:Prof. Stephen Wolfram explaining Computational Universe during Video Conference.

photo: Laszlo G. Puskas,Hungary, with his Nanobionts and the size limit of life.

Photo: Atilla Grandpierre,Hungary, with On the first principle of biology and its significance for the unification of natural sciences,scientific world picture,religion,art and the future of mankind.

Photo: Prof. Menas Kafatos,USA, with his Quanta and the Conscious Universe.

Photo: Prof. Paul Davies,USA,with Why is the Universe Just Right for Life?

Photo: Mr. Suresh Bhattarai,Founder member of NASO,Nepal, with The Impact of Astronomy in Nepalese Civilization.

Photo:Kalman Bela with Cathedral as Observatories: Meridianae in Italy.

Photo: Zoltan Toth,Hungary, with Interesting parallels between ancient Vedic descriptions of the universe and modern cosmological theories.

Photo:Matyas Mero,Hungary, with User's Guide to the Universe and consequences of misuse.