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)