Friday, July 31, 2009

Lunar Occultation of Antares Tonight!

An interesting celestial event is within easy reach of a pair of binoculars or a small telescope, on the night of the 31st of July, from all over the country.

The occultation of Antares by Moon occurs around 9:55 P.M. in Kathmandu while 9:52 P.M. in Bhairahawa,9:54 Biratnagar,9:55 P.M. in Chandragadi,9: 53 P.M. in Janakpur, ,9:52 P.M. in Nepalganj and 9:53 P.M. in Simara.

A Lunar occultation could be the passing of the Moon in front of any other distant celestial Object - a Planet, other Solar System objects, a distant Star, or a deep sky object. Of these, the passage of the Moon in front of the naked eye Planets or bright stars, is an event that is most accessible to people without any observing equipment.And tonight is the time for the bright star occultaion by Moon.

The Star being occulted, is Jyestha or Antares - the brightest star in Scorpio. It glows with a reddish hue that gave it the name of Antares - or a rival to Mars or Aries. Moon has this tendency to repeat its occultation of a particular object in the sky, again and again, over a period of a few months. A few years back, Moon seemed to linger and linger, close to Saturn, occulting it a few times. And then, it was Venus that was getting occulted again and again. Antares, or Jyestha, went through such repeated occultations.

The website of the International Occultation Timing Association asks for accurate timings of the Antares observations towards obtaining information about the Lunar Limb profile - the contour of valleys and mountains around the limb of the visible disk of the Moon. Accurate timing of any such lunar occultation of a distant star from any one given location on Earth, would be one bite of useful data towards obtaining this Lunar Limb profile. It is just that, with brighter star occultations, the possibilities of beginning amateur astronomers with very limited equipment, also contributing to these bites of data, is increased.

A good camcorder, with a little optical zoom would be enough to record this event. A good pair of binoculars would help in being able to time the event accurately. One would need to time the event accurate to within a 10th of a second, for the data to be useful. For those wishing to just enjoy an interesting spectacle in the sky : What they would need to do is to train their eyes (or a pair of binoculars or a moderate telescope) towards the Moon in the evening – the star Antares will be viewed close to the Moon.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Total Solar Eclipse on July 22 was Historic in Nepal

Hundreds of thousand of Neplese People watched Total solar Eclispe on July 22, 2009. The longest total solar Eclipse of 21st Century that crossed the half of the world took placed on Wednesday, 22 July, 2009.The once in a life time Total Solar Eclipse viewed from 14 districts while the partial eclipse observed from remaining 61 districts of Nepal from 05:45-07:47 hours in the morning. Maximum of 3:49 min of totality was seen from Bhadrapur according to our prediction. People from the path of totality felt strange during the Totality as their animals behaved as if the night had come.

Though Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) has predicted three good sites under the path of totality for the observation of Total Solar Eclipse which were Fikkal of Illam, Biratnagar of Morang and Gaighat of Udaypur districts,we planned to visit Biratnagar, second largest city of Nepal, regarding the weather conditions of the other two places. Unfortunately, we could not be there because of the Highway blockages by landslides due to heavy rain.

We organized a programme called Meet Your Scientists at Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) between 14:00-17:00 hrs on 21 July 2009. Key speakers for the Programme were Er. Rishi Shah, Academician of NAST and President of NASO, Jayanta Acharya, Lecturer of Balmiki Campus and SPoC of IYA for Nepal, Suresh Bhattarai, Sudeep Neupane founder members of NASO. G.D. Pudasaini and Utsav Kandel, two men behind the Nepal’s First Astronomy Documentary gave brief introduction about the documentary.

We arranged Total Solar Eclipse Observation Campaign on July 22, 2009 at NAST in association with NAST from 05:00-8:00 Hrs. The programme was live on Sagarmatha Television which is Satellite television and has a wide area of coverage around the world. Honorable Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal attended the programme around 06:30 Hrs. We arrange special arrangement for the Interview of Prime Minister and President of NASO on BBC London. The event was highly covered my Different TV cannels Like Nepal One, Avenues Television, Nepal Television, National Television and the FM stations of nations. We were on live telephone interview in different Radio and FM stations from different parts of Nepal to tell about the Total solar Eclipse and partial Solar eclipse. The programme was attended by more than 3oo people.

Meanwhile Jayanta Acharya, IYA SPoC for Nepal, arranged a programme on Takshashila Academy which was live on Avenues Television from 05:30:08:00 Hrs on July 22. More than 500 people attended including the German Ambassador to Nepal Verena Graefin Von Roden.

B.P. Koirala Memorial Planetarium, Observatory and Science Museum Development Board arranged a programme at Kathmandu Mall to view the Partial Solar Eclipse which was live on Kantipur Television during the Eclipse. Another television cannel, Nepal One TV did live of the Eclipse from their Studio during the morning of July 22.

Those who had booked tickets of Special Mountain flight on Buddha Air and Yeti Air thinking they could be above the clouds were also not so lucky because the weather system had clouds soaring to above 45,000 ft.

Buddha Air had two Beechcraft 1900Ds in the air, but the path of totality was completely covered up by clouds and by the time the planes flew over Ilam, where it was clearer the umbra had moved northeastwards towards Bhutan. Yeti Air had one of its Jetstreams parked in Biratnagar overnight and took off to make a holding pattern to see the eclipse.

Although people saw the eclipse, Mr Everest was completely shrouded in dark clouds. There was however a moment when Cho Oyu and Gauri Shankhar came into view, bathed in ghostly gray eclipse twilight.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

NASO continues spreading news regarding Total Solar Eclipse in Nepal on July 22,2009

Nepal Astronomical Society(NASO)is spreading news regarding through different means Total Solar Eclipse in Nepal which is the longest Total Solar Eclipse of 21st Century for the public awareness and the safe observation of the Solar Eclipse.People from 14 districts of Nepal can enjoy the spectacular view of the Total Solar Eclipse from 05:45 to 07:47 NST while rest of 61 districts will observe the partial Solar Eclipse.

Photo 1: From left,Er. Shah,Academician,NAST,President of NASO;Surendra and Samir Sagar,Reporters of STV,Rijendra Thapa,Founder Member of NASO

Regarding the generating awareness to the public NASO has been conducting the training for local people and the Students of Schools and Colleges of Kathmandu How To Make a Pin Hole Projection Box?.
So Far We have conducted the training in Celebration Co-Ed School,Jorpati;St. Xavier's College,Maitighar and for the Local people of Balaju and Chabahil of Kathmandu District.

Photo 2: Suresh Bhattarai,Founder member explaining about the telescopes,Binoculars, Solar Filters and Solar Eclipse Glasses

On July 18,2009 we were interviewed by Nepal Television(NTV) and Center for Information Network(CIN).NTV is the National Channel of state of Nepal and CIN is the umbrella network for more than 150 FM stations through the nation.On July 19,2009 we have been interviewed by Sagarmatha Television.All of them are preparing for the special programme that will be broadcast before the total Solar Eclipse(TSE) and other news regarding the TSE that will be telecast and broadcast before the Eclipse regularly through out the nation.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Press Release:Total Solar Eclipse in Nepal on July 22,2009(श्रावण ७ गते नेपालमा खग्रास सुर्यग्रहण)

The longest total solar eclipse of 21st century that crosses half of the world is taking place on Wednesday 22 July 2009. Its umbral path begins from Gulf of Khambhat in western coast of India and passes through eastern Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. After leaving mainland Asia, it hurries towards Japan's Ryukyu Islands and curves southeast through the Pacific Ocean where the maximum duration of totality reaches astoundingly six minutes and thirty nine seconds on areas southeast of Bonin Islands. It will end near Marshall Islands roughly after three and half hours. The awe-inspiring partial eclipse can be seen within broader track of the moon's penumbral shadow, which includes most of eastern Asia, Indonesia and the Pacific Ocean. This once-in-a-life-time total solar eclipse can be enjoyed on this day especially from 14 districts while the partial eclipse could be observed from remaining 61 districts of Nepal from 05:45 to 07:47 hours in the morning .The Sun and Moon are located between zodiacal constellations Cancer (crab) and Gemini (twins). The last Total Solar Eclipse seen in Nepal was on January 22, 1898 and the next one will be on May 14, 2124 A.D.

Solar eclipse is a spectacular natural phenomenon that occurs when the shadow of moon falls upon earth’s surface. The moon orbits earth that is also rushing around the Sun along so-called ecliptic plane. Both earth and moon produce no light of their own, but could create their shadows on one another by blocking the sunlight falling upon them. The moon is earth’s fascinating satellite. It is the fifth largest one in our Solar System. The mean distance from earth to moon is fairly 385 thousand kilometers.The moon completes its orbit around earth in 27.3 days (sidereal period), but due to periodic variations in the geometry of earth–moon–Sun, its phases are repeated every 29.5 days (synodic period). Its diameter is fairly 3.5 thousand kilometers.

The plane of moon’s trajectory is slightly tilted (by about five degrees) to that of earth's trail around Sun. These two planes intersect each other at two points dubbed as lunar nodes. Earth scoots around the ecliptic, while the moon glides around its own orbital plane. When moon arrives near the node during new moon, it can eclipse the Sun. As lunar shadow plunges on earth, we can scrutinize the awesome solar eclipse, but when the moon is at opposite node’s proximity during full moon, it can be steeped into earth's shadow and we could witness fascinating lunar eclipse.

Amateur astronomers and eclipse-chasers could photograph this arcane celestial event. During final instants before totality, the light shining through valleys in moon's surface seemingly mimics beads on lunar periphery. The eerie last flash of light from the Sun’s surface disappears and displays the famous diamond ring image. Scientific community, amateurs and professionals are waiting eagerly during the present International Year of Astronomy to relish this incredibly thrilling celestial marvel. Watching solar eclipse directly is irreparably harmful to eye-sight. It is vehemently advised to behold this wonderful eclipse indirectly on reflected images or only through certified protective glasses or shades to avoid any permanent damage to the eyes. We strongly recommend making Projection Boxes, that are easy to make and safe for the Observation of the Solar Eclipse.

For more information please contact:
Rishi Shah, Academician, NAST; President, NASO-9851024673, 5000071, 5000273
Jayanta Acharya,IYA SPoC-Nepal ;Balmiki Campus-9841313313
Suresh Bhattarai, NASO-9841485867
Rijendra Thapa,NASO-9841151495
Sudeep Neupane,NASO-9841388524

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rijendra Thapa addresses at Planeray Session of 60th IAC ,12-16 October,2009 Daejeon,Republic of Korea

Rijendra Thapa of Nepal Astronomical Society(NASO) will be in Daejeon,Republic of Korea to participate 60th International Astronautical Congress during 12-16 October,2009.

Photo:Rijendra Thapa,IAF Youth Grant Award Recipient for Nepal

We,Nepal Astronomical Society(NASO) are very honored as our member has been awarded The First International Astronautical Federation (IAF)Youth Grant.The IAF has awarded the Youth Grants to the ten students and young professionals including Rijendra Thapa from Nepal from over 130 well-qualified applicants from 35 countries.

The Student recipients are:

* Victoria Alonsoperez from Uruguay
* Minoo Rathnasabapathy from South Africa
* Anmol Sharma from India
* Rijendra Thapa from Nepal
* Yu Zhang from China

The Young Professional recipients are:

* Manuel Cuba from Peru
* Nicole Jordan Martinez from Colombia
* Etim Offiong from Nigeria
* Saida Salahova from Azerbaijan
* Thu Vu Trong from Vietnam

The purpose of this plenary session is to demonstrate how young professionals and students in space-related fields across the globe are contributing to the global space community. It is widely accepted that attracting young people into the aerospace workforce is vital to the industrial base of nations involved in space-related endeavours.

The panel will be comprised of four students and three young professionals, sharing their accomplishments and hopes for the future. These seven young people were chosen from videos that they created. Clips of those videos will be made into an introductory presentation.

Four students and three young professionals will comprise the panel, and the moderators will be a young professional and a student with impressive communications and group facilitation skills. Geographically, panelists will be drawn from Asia, Europe, South America, Australia and North America.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Copernicus Remains Verified by DNA Analysis

A new DNA analysis of hairs found in a book that once belonged to Copernicus shows a match with the great astronomer's putative remains, seemingly confirming their identity.

The skull of Copernicus. Credit: Marie Allen

Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish mathematician, astronomer and Catholic cleric (among many other pursuits), developed a heliocentric model of the solar system, opposing the widespread belief that the Earth was the center of the universe.

Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish mathematician, astronomer and Catholic cleric (among many other pursuits), developed a heliocentric model of the solar system, opposing the widespread belief that the Earth was the center of the universe.

The bones were found close to the altar Copernicus was responsible for during his tenure as priest, and forensic facial reconstructions using the skull look similar to portraits of the man.

A team of Swedish and Polish researchers sought to more firmly ID the remains by comparing the DNA of the remains to that in hairs found in a calendar (now exhibited at the Museum Gustavianum in Uppsala, Sweden) that belonged to Copernicus for much of his life.

"The analysis of several hairs resulted in interpretable profiles for four of the hairs. Of these, two of the hairs have the same profile as the putative remains of Copernicus," said team member Marie Allen of Uppsala University.

The Uppsala researchers also made tests of a tooth as well as bone tissue from the remains. Results of the analysis from the Institute of Forensic Research in Krakow and the Museum and Institute of Zoology in Warsaw and the Uppsala laboratory were identical.

"Although these results points towards the materials being from the same individual, there is a probability of random match," Allen said.

The DNA material in this case was limited and also degraded. Therefore, a so-called mitochondrial DNA test was performed, but this test is less reliable. (Most DNA is found in the nucleus of a cell, but mitochondria, the energy producers of the cell, also carry DNA that is passed down from the mother.) This test is commonly used in criminal investigations, but only as circumstantial evidence to strengthen the case.

"The DNA results should be looked at and evaluated in the light of and together with the information from other disciplines as the archaeological, anthropological and facial reconstruction data," Allen said.

The results of the DNA analysis, first announced in November 2008, are detailed in the July 6 online issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse on July 7, 2009

A penumbral lunar eclipse took place on July 7, 2009, the second of four lunar eclipses in 2009. This eclipse entered only the southernmost tip of the penumbral shadow and thus was predicted to be very difficult to observe visually.This is the second of the four Lunar Eclipses in 2009.

A penumbral lunar eclipse is a phenomenon in which the Sun, Earth and Moon line up in tandem, hence the Moon is in the Earth's penumbra, or, when you look from the Moon, the Sun is partially covered by the Earth (partial eclipse.) During this phenomenon, the volume of sunlight to the Moon decreases, and the Moon's surface looks darker when you look at the Moon from the Earth.

Japan's Kaguya spacecraft, which circles around the Moon on its polar orbit, can witness this phenomenon only twice a year at most and it has already captured such a view on February 10, 2009, in a geometry remarkably similar to that of yesterday's eclipse.

Here are sketch of the position of the Kaguya duirng the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse and some spectacular images that are seen from the Moon to Earth.

Positions of the KAGUYA, Moon, Earth and Sun when images of the Earth-rise during the penumbral lunar eclipse

Image of the Earth by the HDTV (Tele-camera) during the penumbral lunar eclipse

Sequence images of the Earth by the HDTV (Tele-camera)during the penumbral lunar eclipse

Monday, July 6, 2009

Darkness after sunrise: Are you ready for the first and longest solar eclipse of the 21st century?

Whatever you are doing on the morning of 22 July, drop it. Get up early. Get ready for the astronomical event of the century: you're not going see a total solar eclipse that lasts this long again.

The total eclipse, the first since in 2006, will traverse a path that begins in India, passes through Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and then to China and the Pacific Ocean.

Those who see no distinction between astronomical events and astrology, say the timing is ominous. Eclipses are regarded as a bad omen and could portend more political turmoil ahead.

Whatever its mythical or political significance, the eclipse will be a spectacular sight. Cross your fingers and hope that the monsoon clouds will part and allow us a good view. But even under the cloud cover, there will be total darkness beneath the umbral shadow for about 3.5 minutes.

In Nepal, we have a ringside view of the total eclipse in the country's south-eastern corner: Ilam, Bhadrapur, Biratnagar, Dharan, Rajbiraj, Dhankuta and Janakpur. Fikkal in Ilam will be one of the best places to view the eclipse as the shadow crosses the south face of Kangchenjunga.

In the rest of Nepal,the eclipse will be partial. The new moon will obscure 96 per cent of the sun's disc as seen from Kathmandu where the eclipse will start at 5.45AM, reaching its climax at 6.42AM and ending at 7.45AM.

Though perhaps the sight will be unwelcome in a city where people jaded by power cuts and political wrangling have grown bitterly indifferent to the darkness.

Hopefully it will be more cheerily welcomed in Pokhara. Here, the eclipse will first appear at 5.46AM, end at 7.44AM, and reach it maximum extent, obscuring 93 per cent of the sun, at 6.42AM . In Dadeldhura in far-western Nepal, the eclipse will shield only 85 per cent of the sun but should last longer from 4.46-7.42AM.

So, now you have the facts. Turn your eyes away for the tv, disinter your nose from your books, and be a witness to this rare cosmic event.